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TOS Crew Review — VocabAhead

February 7th, 2011

Product:VocabAhead CD

Details: A CD with videos and MP3s of over 1000 vocabulary words taken from SAT level lists.

Price: $24.99

What we loved . . .

  • Pop and go! No downloading or figuring out complicated software instructions. You pop the CD into the computer and click the word you want to view. It pulls it right up for you and your student to view
  • Goes beyond a word and definition. Often vocabulary means simply writing a word and definition, but VocabAhead uses each word in multiple sentences so students can get a good grasp of the definition and the appropriate context in which to use the word. They also include different usages to broaden their working knowledge of the word.
  • Word of the Day Anyone can sign up for their word of the day email on their website and have a word emailed to you. Painless vocabulary expansion. ;)
  • Lots and lots of words. With over 1000 words, this CD offers students a great way to prepare for SAT or other college entry exams.
  • Made for a variety of learners. With the simple video, the printed definition, and the audio of the definition and usage, all students can easily learn from this product.
  • Helpful online tools. On their website you can register for free and then create word lists, study your word lists, and get quizzed over the lists. You can also view many of their videos and check out the Apps they have available.  Even if you do not think you are interested in their product, their website is worth looking over.

Some considerations . . .

  • Simple concept. While sometimes simplest is best, I felt the videos were a bit lacking. They were mostly just a printed definition and a picture visualizing the definition. The minute long explanation is beneficial, but better accompanying graphics would have enhanced its use.
  • Just definitions. Maybe I’m just weird, but when studying words I like to know their background. Not that I’m some expert in foreign languages, but knowing the roots that it came from and breaking the word apart helps me understand it and makes me more likely to remember it next time.
  • Maybe critical of parents? Maybe I’m just over reacting, but a few of the definitions seemed to paint parents in a less than positive light. They talked about parents who “abase” their children and being “captious” (overly critical). I would prefer if they left negative parenting examples out of their definitions. I don’t know if they were trying to appeal to their presumably teenaged audience, but I didn’t appreciate it.
  • One more . . . I was just about to wrap this up and was clicking through a few more definitions and have decided that I will not have my son using this tool afterall. For the word “debauch” it has a cartoon picture of a pole dancer and says that she debauched the morals of the virtuous men watching her. Seriously? Virtuous men at a strip club? That is an image I think I will keep out of my vocabulary lessons.

Well, I am disappointed that I cannot recommend this product any longer. After looking at more of the definitions it is clearly not presenting these words from a similar worldview to mine. Now I have a greater understanding of why people push the original Webster dictionary back when morals meant something. I know it is only a small percentage of the definitions that are in question, but I find it unnecessary to find any questionable content in material of this type. I am very discouraged at the path that this supposed vocabulary building tool went down.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through VocabAhead as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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