Animated Speech's Team Up With Timo: Vocabulary

Company: Animated Speech Corp.;
System Requirements: Mac: OS 9.2, 400 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM, speaker or headphones, microphone; PC: Windows 98; 600 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM, speakers or headphones, microphone
Price/Grade: $349 (24 students on three computers); K-4
Pros: Quick print reporting features; student profile and lesson customization features; intuitive user interface and consistent lesson design
Cons: User interface has no scanning feature/option to enable independent switch access by students with physical disabilities; English only without translation features
Team Up With Timo: Vocabulary is vocabulary-building software suitable for early learners, ESL students, and special needs students. It includes 127 category-specific lessons to support K-4 vocabulary mastery with lesson topics that include baby animals, parts of an airplane, the human body, and the weather.

Students receive instruction from a boy named Timo, an animated talking avatar tutor, which is an effective device for students with low confidence who would feel uncomfortable working with a real person. Students practice vocabulary through picture/word recognition exercises as well as listening, speech, spelling, and comprehension components. For example, the lesson about airplanes cues the learner with flashing images such as a propeller and wings to get the student to click on the matching words.

The software's intuitive user interface design and auditory and visual cues support students as they learn at their own rate; they can earn visual tokens as lesson components are completed. When all tokens have been earned for the lesson, a visual animation reward—such as undersea animals swimming—appears, which serves as a good incentive to learn. Although the program lacks translation features and video, Team up with Timo is a solid instructional alternative for students without access to one-on-one vocabulary tutoring.

Janet Hopkins is the author of Assistive Technology: An Introductory Guide for K-12 Library Media Specialists.