Are you trying to raise a bilingual family? Raising bilingual children (or even multilingual) is a serious undertaking. So it’s always helpful to have fun resources to help you in the process -- and that’s where this Studycat review comes in.
Today, I’ll be reviewing Studycat and Studycat Club. Studycat is an app aimed at teaching children ages 3 - 8 to love learning languages. They currently offer the app in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, and French for home use or in the classroom.
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I’ve studied languages throughout my whole life, and have tried a lot of products for all ages: from Rosetta Stone to Drops. More recently, I tested out and reviewed 90 Day Korean and Japanese Uncovered for Fluent in 3 Months.
And since having kids of my own, I’ve been looking for resources to help my children learn the languages of their heritage (my kids are part Cuban and Filipino), of my own study, or their own interest.
Currently, we’re all learning Spanish, and it’s the language my oldest son’s most interested in. But since he’s 6 now, he gets frustrated sometimes and needs a more fun approach to studying.
When Fluent in 3 Months asked if I’d like to test out Studycat to review, I knew it’d be a great opportunity to introduce him to more Spanish.
For the review, I had my son play the Studycat Fun Spanish app for several days as part of his school assignments. I tested out both the Fun Spanish and Fun Chinese apps, too.
I was really impressed with some aspects of the app, while there are some flaws that could be improved on. But I’d rate Studycat apps a 4 out of 5 stars.
First, let’s talk about what Studycat is.
What is Studycat? Language Learning for Kids Age 3 - 8
Studycat is a learning app for at-home study or as a supplement to the classroom. Their goal is to encourage critical thinking and immersion-style gaming to build a foundation in the language.
Studycat was created by language teachers and is a global leader in educational technology. They’re an award-winning app, COPPA certified kid-safe, certified pedagogical quality, and feature no in-app ads.
Studycat has been around for almost 20 years. It’s used globally in classrooms and by parents raising bilingual children.
They’re aligned to Cambridge English: Young Learners, so it’s a supplemental aid to build upon what kids are already learning.
How Studycat Works
The app uses scientifically proven learning strategies through gameplay to help kids learn. It features original cartoon characters and songs to keep kids engaged through immersion.
The game guides you through different activities to build on new vocab and build curiosity. It even develops some reading and speaking comprehension.
Studycat is divided up into different categories of words kids love to learn, although it varies between languages. The categories include colors, animals, the body, food, vehicles, numbers, actions, and more.
Each category features about 7 lessons, each one a tile in the app.
You can pick any of the categories, but you have to start on the first tile of that category.
The first tile introduces some of the new vocabulary. The second tile builds on it with a fun game that builds curiosity. Then it tests their memory, followed by exploring games, spelling, and speaking games.
There isn’t much grammar taught in the app, but some basic phrases and grammar are used and learned through immersion.
Our Experience with Studycat Fun Spanish
I’ve used other similar learning games for my son, including Gus on the Go, Drops, and Endless Spanish. But my son asked to play Studycat more than any of those apps.
Studycat’s gamified learning is similar in style to other games he’s already played. One mini-game is even designed like Fruit Ninja.
In fact, the first day we played together, he didn’t want to stop. He played the game for more than an hour!
His favorite was a game where you have to describe a monster to the Cat Detectives. You have to memorize what the monster looks like fast, and then the cats ask you questions like “¿Qué color? ¿Qué ojos? ¿Qué boca?” (“What color? What eyes? What mouth?”) And you have to pick the correct parts of the body to describe the monster.
He was already starting to remember what certain words meant and could repeat them when I asked. Which was big! Even though we’ve been casually studying Spanish with him, he’s not wanted to speak it much.
He did struggle with a few of the games though, where the instructions weren’t very clear (especially for a kid who can’t read well yet). Sometimes even I was confused about what you were supposed to do.
But it was a fun time playing the game together, and he was even learning the Spanish alphabet.
Studycat Fun Chinese
I tested out Fun Chinese as well because I was curious how it would differ from Spanish. It’s the only Asian language Studycat offers currently.
I did notice that there were fewer categories and lessons for Fun Chinese. But I was pleasantly surprised at how well the game translates to Chinese.
I know ZERO Chinese, but I was learning the colors pretty easily in only a couple of minutes. There were several audio tracks showing how to pronounce the Chinese characters, too. One mini-game does teach you the Chinese characters with pinyin to help you read.
And surprisingly… It was fun as an adult too! One of the levels is like Tetris, and it was really addicting to play.
It’s definitely focused on learning through immersive listening, though. So you won’t learn a ton of Chinese characters.
Studycat Club Features
The Studycat Club contains extra resources and study materials for parents and teachers to help their children learn. It includes worksheets, songs, helpful blog posts, and webinars.
Some of the webinars are pretty cool, especially for teachers. For example, there’s a Task-Based Language Teaching webinar where you learn how to sequence activities for your class or child. There are several about learning through play.
If you’re teaching your child English, then the Studycat Club will be most helpful. The majority of resources are for kids developing their English skills.
But there are some helpful worksheets for all the languages they offer. Coloring pages, writing sheets, and more.
It seems this is a feature they’re continuing to expand upon. And I do think it could use more expanding, but it’s a nice supplement to the app.
Studycat Pros and Cons
The app does a lot of things well, but there are definitely some areas of improvement too. So here’s what we (me and my son) thought the benefits were:
- The app features fun characters, games, and songs that make kids excited to play. They’re all unique to Studycat.
- There’s a lot of repetition to help kids learn new words without it becoming monotonous.
- You can repeat the mini-games over and over, and each time is a bit different.
- The mini-games are super fun and like games kids already know. Their aim is to keep them hooked.
- No ads or other distractions, and you can play the game offline. So no worries about internet safety while learning!
- The focus on learning through play-based listening skills and immersion is helpful. There are different voices (female and male) and inflections used which help make listening easier.
- The app is easy to navigate even for kids on their own.
- It’s a great study aid for parents and teachers to supplement classroom or textbook study. Studycat is designed to complement kids’ language lessons.
- You have access to bonus resources through the Studycat Club.
- The content and categories are topics kids love so they want to learn.
- The game currently teaches about 350 words, which is a great starting foundation for children.
- It’s fun for adults too!
- Some games are difficult to understand in terms of what to do. The instructions are minimal, and there’s no voiceover instructions in either language. This can make it harder for younger kids who can’t read yet.
- There’s very little grammar taught. This is a supplementary vocab tool.
- Kids can unlock and play through all the levels quickly. So while the games are very fun, I’m unsure how long they’d want to keep playing (considering there are monthly and yearly packages).
- There were a couple games that didn’t make much sense. For example, one game has the child repeat what they hear and the game records it. In the next round, the game plays back what the child said, and they have to click the correct answer. My son usually said something completely different to be funny, so in the second round, it was impossible to know what the correct answer was. Also, it seems a bit strange because if you’re pronouncing it completely wrong, you’re getting the wrong kind of feedback from the game.
- There are fewer categories in the Fun Chinese app than the Fun Spanish app, and the Studycat Club is more geared to English learners.
- I don’t know that it offers enough to set it apart from other cheaper apps from a parent perspective. (From a kids perspective, it offers more fun games.)
- Limited to only 5 language options: English, Chinese, Spanish, German, and French.
Other reviewers also commented about some of the gameplay features being difficult or confusing, such as ELT Planning. While Yeah Lifestyle also reviewed Studycat with her son and also found the app fun and engaging to play.
In my opinion, I think the cons could easily be fixed, and aren’t deal-breakers by any means. The most important thing for me was that my son actually enjoyed learning Spanish. It was a big deal!
Let’s Wrap It Up! Studycat Review Summary: 4 Stars, and Thumbs Up from the Kiddo
I definitely think Studycat is worth a try. Especially if you’re struggling to get your child interested and engaged in learning the language.
While the app is somewhat like games such as Gus on the Go, it’s more gamified and addicting. The play-based learning was helpful in making my son want to learn and play. He kept asking to play again!
And as a parent trying to raise bilingual children at home, I think it’s a helpful app to start them off and create excitement about the language. I’d love to see them expand on the material and language options.
I give it 4 stars out of 5, and my son gives it a thumbs up.