Language Development through Hamaguchi Apps

  • Helping Your Child Develop Language with Hamaguchi Apps


    By Patti Hamaguchi, M.A., CCC-SLP


    On October 31, 2011, in between passing out candy to throngs of adorably costumed kids who rang our doorbell, I received the email that I had been anxiously awaiting—“Your app has been approved and is ready for sale.” It had been a long, long road for the better part of a year to get to this place, including spending weekends in recording studios taping narration, drawing out countless very crude drawings (as in something akin to a preschooler’s scribbling!) for our animator/illustrator to bring to life, and trouble-shooting one technical glitch after another with our programming team, often into the wee hours of the night. And now it all came together. Our first app, First Phrases HD, was born! Shortly thereafter we had three more produced and join the group: Fun with Directions, More Fun with Directions, and Picture the Sentence. There are lite versions of each of these available for 99 cents, and the full versions cost $9.99.  They are available for the iPad and the iPhone.


    Let me tell you a little bit about each one:


    First Phrases: This app helps the child break down a 3 word phrase into parts. By touching each picture part (. e.g. “Eat—the—carrot”), the child can hear and see how the phrase is put together. Right after this is done, an animation appears that shows the phrase in action, with any number of characters demonstrating the phrase in beautiful color animations: a bear, a cat, a mouse (a dog, a boy and girl are available as an in-app purchase for an additional 99 cents) Afterwards, a microphone/recording page (optional) pops up and gives the child the opportunity to say the phrase again. If help is needed, there are picture boxes to touch, hear, and see which provide visual and auditory support for those children who need it. Specific verbs and characters can be selected.


    Fun with Directions: This app provides activities for practicing 10 concepts: give, push, open, close, top, middle, bottom, color, erase, touch. There are three levels: easy, intermediate, and advanced. The directions become increasingly more complex at each level. There are sound effects and surprise animations throughout the game. If desired, the user has the option to include a “Superstar Direction” which asks the child to restate the last direction they heard and record it for expressive language practice. This is our most popular app!


    More Fun with Directions: This app picks up where Fun with Directions left off and is set up in a similar way. It targets 12 spatial concepts: up, down, in front, behind, on, under, put in, take out, above, below, turn on, turn off.


    Picture the Sentence: This app targets receptive language comprehension and visualization so the child can “see” what the words mean and learn how when linked together, they create meaning. It provides visual supports for each part of a given sentence at the Easy and Intermediate levels, and no visual support at the Advanced level. Users can select any of the following 4 syntax forms: subject + verb, subject + verb + object, subject + verb + prepositional phrase (location), subject + verb + object + prepositional phrase (location). Pronoun subjects can be selected (he/she/they) and text on or off. A cute “Door Game” is used as a reinforcer at whatever interval the user chooses. Just touch a door! Find an animal that pops out to say, “You found me!” Settings options include a progress/data tracker that allows you to email/print data and replay missed items.


    First Words International: This is our newest app, and we are very excited it is finally here! It has games, which help develop receptive and expressive vocabulary for 50 words in SEVEN languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Russian, and Hindi. Words can be depicted with photos or color drawings. Cute animations are available as reinforcers. “Learn the Word” exposes the child to the word and 5 different representations of it, to improve generalizations. “Find the Word” asks the child to find the picture named from a group of five pictures. The “Say the Word” game features a spinner and recording feature to see if the child can say it. Settings options allow custom word lists, a progress/data tracker, and more!


    Creating the apps has been a true labor of love. We decided to make them so that the children in our Cupertino speech therapy practice would have access to apps, which would help them develop the speech and language skills they need. They are our best test subjects and inspire us to keep making more! Watching their faces light up is our best reward. We continue to refine them and add new features, while also hoping to produce another six apps for 2012 including: Surprise! Animated Storybook, Tell Me About It! Objects, Between the Lines (Inferencing) and Who, What, Where! Check out our website at to get on our email announcement list or on Facebook!


    Patti Hamaguchi, M.A., CCC-SLP is a licensed speech-language pathologist and the Director at Hamaguchi & Associates Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists Inc., (Cupertino) and the CEO of Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development. She is the author of Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know (Wily & Sons, 2010 3rd ed.), A Metacognitive Program for Treating Auditory Processing Problems (Pro-Ed, 2003) and It’s Time to Listen (Pro-Ed, 2002).  Currently, she and her colleague, Dr. Deborah Swain (Swain Center in Santa Rosa), are working with a major publisher to develop a standardized language assessment for children on the autism spectrum.

One Response to “Language Development through Hamaguchi Apps”

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