App Review: Skriv og Lær HD
Heidi Håvan Grosch
We can’t deny that we live in the age of technology, and more and more schools are embracing it, using apps to teach. “It’s very exciting to see how technology can be used to engage students, differentiate to meet individual needs, and move learning forward—all while having fun,” comments Deb Rykken, an educator in Minnesota. The app Skriv og Lær (Write and Learn) for iPads, first developed in 2012, is currently being used in schools in Norway both to teach children who are native speakers as well as becoming a tool for new immigrants, refugees, and other non-Norwegian speakers learning Norwegian. “The last year this app has experienced a wave of rapid development,” reports the creator, Håkon Wold, crediting the educators in the Skriv og Lær HD Facebook group for their valuable feedback.
I wondered how a non-Norwegian person living in the U.S. might take to the app, so I asked Deb to try it out. As the user manual is only in Norwegian, this was a true test of how the app would work in Norwegian language learning for a non-native speaker. She only had time to scratch the surface of possibilities, but here are some of her comments.
• She reported that the app was “highly interactive and engages multiple senses (sight, sound, touch).”
• She felt that as an English speaker with very limited knowledge of Norwegian, it was difficult to navigate the app. “It would be necessary for teachers to provide instruction to students like me before independent use of the app is possible,” she noted.
• The easiest tab for her to use was ORD (word), which uses a game format that keeps score and allows the student to see their progress. For example, Deb was asked to spell a word spoken and shown in Norwegian. One of the icons allowed her to have the word repeated as many times as necessary; another icon counted down from three the number of attempts she made to identify each letter; a third icon narrowed her choices by boxing in certain letters; and a fourth icon “helped” by flashing the correct answer. She could also click on each blank letter to hear the sound of each letter in Norwegian. (Deb commented that she got hooked on this feature, but kept getting the same set of words instead of new ones. Perhaps it was an anti-addiction device?) The ORD tab also has a differentiation opportunity, where the student can choose both the level of difficulty and speed at which the vocabulary is shown. Deb reported that this was difficult to figure out without direction, but still thought it looked interesting.
• She was also able to figure out how to use the ABC tab. In this tab, a Norwegian letter is pronounced and the student is asked to identify it. The same additional features are available as in the ORD tab, with the additional feature of showing a red bar that shows progress on the alphabet. She advocates that non-native Norwegian speakers actually start with the ABC tab before the ORD tab so that they can learn the sound of each letter first.
• She found the SKRIV (write) tab to be the most difficult to navigate, as it had four additional icons: DIKTAT, SKRIV AV, FORTELL, and TREN PÅ. Deb felt it might be intended more for Norwegian speakers learning English, and although the options were “very cool,” she was concerned that the English pronunciations didn’t sound quite right. She was able to figure out the DIKTAT and SKRIV AV options, but never quite managed to find out what the FORTELL and TREN PÅ icons meant, another indicator that training manuals in English, or instruction from one who knows, would increase the learning curve exponentially.
Despite a few frustrations and glitches in the programming, Deb still felt the Skriv og Lær HD app was useful, saying, “this app has been helpful for me to learn some Norwegian, and I plan to continue the exploration.” If you are interested, check it out on iTunes or contact the developer, Håkon Wold, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.