If you have a Junior or Senior High student who intends to take the SAT or ACT, brushing up on their vocabulary is a necessity. One way to help melt the words into their memory cells, is to provide a visual along with the definition. VocabAhead has created a program that offers 1000 of the SAT words with accompanying videos, to do just that. The student clicks the word, then views the video whilst listening to the narrator, as they give several examples [too many in my opinion-sometimes the examples went on and on, to almost over explained it] of the definition (in sentence form). The site also offers a Study Room, where the student can create their own word list, review the videos and share them as well. Teachers have the option of posting the VocabAhead widget with word lists for their students (I guess as a homeschooling mom, this may not be so necessary) and the program is MP3 ready, so one could download the info into their player and take it where ever they go.
All in all, this is a good concept. The narrators are clear speaking and the cartoons/drawings are OK. If you have a child that thrives on visual and auditory methods for learning; the set up is conducive to this. By simply uploading the VocabAhead SAT videos CD into one's computer, or a DVD compatible player [see requirements below], the material is ready to click on to listen to. With 1000 of the typical SAT words, the student can go through the list at their own pace, to glean the meanings-and hopefully be able to recall them (especially on test day) with ease.
Even though this would appear to be a useful product, I discovered some things in it that simply bothered me-making it a not-so-good choice for our family. I found that on several occasions, the lines of parental respect were blurred to what can be construed as negative statements in regard to the role of the parent, and the parent"s religion vs the teen's. In one example, they chose to use the debate over abortion as the focus-which in my opinion has no business being a part of study tool on vocabulary, especially when there are many other subjects could have been used instead. I am thinking because the design crew figured they would be addressing preteens/teens, that this would be the way to go. But being that we do not agree with that line of thought, I need to discuss this for a moment. Of all the examples one could use to describe these words, I am flabbergasted as to why they would need to toss in some "digs" toward the parents/adults in general. Here is an example:
The mother's bias toward her step-son caused her to totally neglect him and favor her other child; as a result of this bias, the step-son was weak and malnourished.
No, that would be child abuse and Social Services would need to be contacted. This is just a lack of good judgement on the creators' parts. How is this a good example of the word? Here is another snippet for you, on the word abase:
In a similar way, parents who abase their children will wind up with kids who don't think very highly of themselves.
Are you kidding me? Why on earth does that need to be a part of this? Regardless if they even considered the negative overtone of these statements, or to the necessity of it-which I suspect they did not; it is a big part of the reason [the cost of the DVD seems a bit high to me] that I cannot recommend this. There are plenty of other sources out there that retain their integrity by using examples that edify, and explain vocabulary without the derogatory comments. And even though many of the words in the list do not fall under this category, I am compelled to state that I am not impressed. I guess my own BIAS against something which promotes such things is prevailing here. You can watch several of the videos on their site; and I strongly urge you to see what my other TOS mates had to say regarding this product, before you decide if it is acceptable for your family.
(for us really a 1/2 a raft)
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Visit the VocabAhead 1000 SAT info page to gain more insight regarding the material included on the CD.
Product available through Amazon for $24.99
jr.high/high school level
You can sign up to receive the "Word of the Day" through email; and they offer iPad/Phone apps, as well.
System Requirements (according the company):
Windows, XP, Vista or Windows 7. MAC: Intel based system. MAX, OSX, iTunes 8 or later.
512MB RAM, Sound Card, up to 4.7GB free disk space, compatible DVD-ROM player. Compatible MP3 player required for portable use.
Be sure to see what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, by visiting our TOS Crew Review homepage.
**VocabAhead provided me with a free VocabAhead One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos and MP3 CD to use and enjoy with my family, so that I could write this review. I did not receive any further compensation (product wise or financially) for my honest opinion of this product.