As you would expect from a team of ex-teachers making EdTech products, we love English! In fact, we love language in all its forms: speaking it, reading about it, writing about it, and particularly talking about it. Since its inception six months ago, we’ve spoken about it non-stop, and have received lots of fantastic feedback. We wanted to share with you how your advice has continued to shape DoodleEnglish.
When we first launched DoodleEnglish, we wanted to share our love of reading with the world! There are so many incredible books out there, so we thought it would be great to include questions based on popular children’s literature.
We created questions such as “Which characters does the Mouse meet in The Gruffalo?” and “Dr Seuss wrote a famous book called ‘____ Eggs and Ham’, but what colour were the eggs?” and popped them into the app. While some of our users enjoyed these questions, others were concerned that children hadn’t come across these books and were unable to answer them, so we made the decision to remove them.
Instead, we replaced them with questions which relied on more generic knowledge and simultaneously introduced children to some of our favourite books and authors. Today, your child may receive questions such as “These books were all written by Dr Seuss. Which title contains a made up word?” and “Julia Donaldson wrote The Gruffalo. She also wrote some books which have titles that rhyme! Which of these books does NOT have a title that rhymes?”.
According to the national curriculum, children in Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 ought to write simple dictated sentences, which include words taught so far, to give pupils the opportunity to practise their spelling and punctuation. We included dictation questions in our database for this reason.
The most common feedback we received about the dictation questions was that they were hard to understand, and that they were often too long.
Because we make use of your device’s text-to-speech functionality, we can’t change the voice from our end (it is possible for users to change the voice through their device settings – if you’re on Apple, we recommend Serena, or an enhanced female voice). However, we have taken the length of the questions into consideration and have shortened all dictation questions so they are a more appropriate length.
We are working hard on creating additional content that will ensure children using DoodleEnglish have an incredibly solid base upon which they can build their knowledge and understanding. We’ve worked with class-based teachers around the country to gain their feedback on what they think is missing from the programme and what should be prioritised.
We are very grateful to everyone who has provided us with feedback on our programmes so far, and are looking forward to finding out more!