Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Language Builder® right for my child or student?

The Language Builder from Stages app is designed for use with children with Autism who are preverbal or who are learning their first several hundred words. The app includes drills for Identical Matching, Similar Matching (generalization), Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, repetition of Picture Identification, and Sorting/Categorization. If your student is past these concepts the app may be too low level for your needs. The app is designed for use in home, therapy, and educational settings.

The Language Builder from Stages app is designed to help automate the process of Discrete Trial Training (DTT). The program provides consistent question -- response -- reinforcement trials with built-in prompting. You have the ability to choose the words that your child is familiar with and add words as they learn. However, a basic understanding of ABA or DTT curriculum is very useful. If you do not feel comfortable with selecting the correct word sequences for your child, it is best you consult with a trained therapist or educator.

It is better to consider the developmental and language level of the student, rather than his or her chronological age. The Language Builder from Stages app is designed to teach basic language skills to students who have limited or no receptive or expressive vocabulary or who are struggling to identify words consistently. That being said, the app is most commonly used for students who are 3 to 7 years old.

Students who already have a large vocabulary can benefit from the maintenance aspect of the app and from the categorization skills taught within the sorting activity. However, in general, the app is best for students whose language skills are more limited.

All of the words included in the app are nouns.

The basic version includes 90 Basic Stage images: 6 Apples, 6 Cookies, 6 Cats, 6 Birds, 6 Shoes, 6 Shirts, 6 Airplanes, 6 Cars, 6 Chairs, 6 Beds, 6 Balls, 6 Bicycles, 6 Flowers, 6 Cups, and 6 Spoons. With these images, you can do all of the Identical Matching and the Similar Matching activities, and you can do the remaining activities (Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting) with 15 additional words (90 total images).

The Pro Version contains over 600 words from the categories of Animals, Foods, Transportation, Furniture, Clothing, Toys, Everyday Objects, Insects, Sea Life, Musical Instruments, Tools, Body Parts, Safety Sign, Shapes and Colors. The PRO version also gives you the ability to create your own flashcards for use in the activities.

A detailed word list is coming soon.

The app is designed to do the same activities that most therapists and educators do with the Language Builder Cards: Identical Matching, Similar Matching, Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling and Sorting. The app simply offers a digital alternative, which may be more enticing to some students. The app also has a "Picture Identification" activity which allows the student to scroll through images and hear the word paired with the picture...  a good passive vocabulary acquisition activity.

For the busy therapist, traveling to multiple homes, the app may be easier to transport than the bulky box of flash cards. And for educators, the app may last longer than paper cards!

Yes! You can now create unlimited student accounts, save the settings for each student, and track their progress with extensive record keeping.

The basic version includes 90 Basic stage images: 6 Apples, 6 Cookies, 6 Cats, 6 Birds, 6 Shoes, 6 Shirts, 6 Airplanes, 6 Cars, 6 Chairs, 6 Beds, 6 Balls, 6 Bicycles, 6 Flowers, 6 Cups, and 6 Spoons. With these images, you can do all of the Identical Matching and the Similar Matching activities, and you can do the remaining activities (Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting) with 15 different words (90 total images).

The Pro Version contains over 600 words from the categories of Animals, Foods, Transportation, Furniture, Clothing, Toys, Everyday Objects, Insects, Sea Life, Musical Instruments, Tools, Body Parts, Safety Sign, Shapes and Colors. The PRO version also gives you the ability to create your own flashcards for use in the activities.

There are no additional activities in the pro version than in the basic version.

Why did we do it this way?

The reason is that we don’t want to force parents whose children are moving more slowly through the word list to purchase the entire app at once. By offering a reduced price version with the ability to purchase a few word packs at a time, parents will have enough images to get started, and can buy word packs only as they need them.

My overall recommendation is, if you are a PARENT start with the basic version and add words as needed. If you are a THERAPIST or a TEACHER, purchase the PRO version. You will likely be working with multiple students at all levels of word acquisition so you will need the greater selection.


I have Language Builder on my Ipad -- I have a few questions.

No. At this point you can only sort into a maximum of 2 categories. For the next release we are trying to change the app so you can sort into 3 categories. This will require switching to landscape mode and/or greatly reducing the size of the sorted images. We will try to balance the limitations of the iPad screen size with the need to add maximum functionality.

You are able to "sort" into only one category. This is a great way to introduce the activity to your student and make sure they understand the drag and drop motion required to succeed at the drill.

Each activity starts with a Demo Activity. The demo screen says "How to Play" at the top. This is just a quick visual to show the basic motion of dragging and dropping a card or tapping a card to select. If you do the motion once it will bring up a button that says "Start Game." this will take you into actual play mode and use the settings that you programmed. At this point you cannot turn off the intro activity, however we are planning to add that option to the next release.

The Picture Identification activity allows the student to scroll through words (which you have selected from the Word List) and hear the word identified verbally while seeing its text label, if you choose.

In the Expressive Labeling activity the student is expected to speak the words that represent the pictures shown on the screen.

The Expressive Labeling activity DOES NOT have voice recognition capability and DOES NOT deliver reinforcement. The app, and the iPad itself, does not have the ability to determine if the student using it has said the word correctly or not. As such, the Expressive Labeling activity requires therapist participation.

This was done purposefully because we know that the pronunciation range of verbal responses may vary so greatly for students with autism and other special needs. These students may require successive shaping by the instructor as they learn new words. For example, when first teaching the word apple, the vocalization “ah” may be accepted as a correct response. The instructor would then shape that response to become the whole word, “apple”, gradually over time.

Accordingly, we have opted to give the instructor control over the reinforcement for this activity. The app will provide the pictures and the command, the instructor will need to gauge the student’s response and provide positive or negative reinforcement as appropriate. When satisfied with the student’s response and after providing appropriate reinforcement, the instructor or the student can use the arrows at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next word.

You can use up to 5 distractor words at one time, in a field of 6 cards. There is no minimum. If you do not select any distractors, there will be only one card in the selection field.

If you select more than 5 distractors, the app will rotate different distractors to fill the field.

Currently the app presents the cards in alphabetical order. The next release will give you the option to change the card order or to have the cards appear in random order. This will be a free upgrade, and should be available in the first quarter of 2015.

Target words are the actual words you want your student to be practicing during an activity. For example, bicycle.

Distractor words are the other words that will appear in the field from which your child will be able to choose. For example, airplane, car, and chair. Target and Distractor cards are used in the Identical Matching, Similar Matching, and Receptive Labeling activities. To select Target and Distractor cards, first tap Activity Setup in the top right hand corner of the screen. Then tap the name of the activity you want your student to complete from the list on the left of the screen. You will then see the Word List setting at the top of the right column. Tap Word List to see all words that can be used within the activity.

To choose a Target word, tap the name of the picture representing the word(s) your student is learning. You will see a blue check mark appear to the right of each word you have chosen as a target word.

To choose a Distractor word, double tap the name of the pictures representing words other than the word(s) your student is learning. You will see a red D appear to the right of each word you have chosen as a target word.

To change a word from a Target to a Distractor, or to change the settings so that a word is not used at all within the activity, continue to tap the word. Words that do not show either the blue check mark (target word) or red D (distractor word) to their right will not be used in the activity.

For more information, please see http://www.stageslearning.com/pages/target-distractor

The Language Builder Cards can be purchased on the Stages Learning Materials website at http://www.stageslearning.com/collections/language-builder-complete-set .

Can I track multiple students?

Yes! This feature was recently added to the Language Builder from Stages App. You can create unlimited student accounts, save the settings for each student, and generate reports on each student’s progress.

Because every student learns at a different pace, we did not want parents to have to buy the pro app, which is more expensive, if they didn't need all of the extra words and images that come with it. The basic version of the Language Builder from Stages App comes with 90 flash cards representing 15 words: apple, cookie, cat, bird, shoes, shirt, airplane, cars, chair, bed, ball, bicycle, flower, cup, and spoon. With these images, you can do all of the Identical Matching and Similar Matching activities, as well as the remaining activities (Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting) with these 15 different words.

Once your student has mastered these words, or if he or she is working on different vocabulary, you can purchase a word pack to supplement the words already in your app. By using word packs, you can purchase just the words your student needs, as he or she needs them! If at any time you want to upgrade to the Pro version of the app, your word pack purchases will go toward the price of your upgrade. The six available Language Builder Word Packs are: Animal, Myself & My Stuff, Everyday Objects, Foods, Transportation & Signs, and Shapes & Colors.

At this time the app is only available in English. However, our most recent release gives you the ability to create your own flash cards. In this way you can add and label flash cards, and record the accompanying audio in any language you wish.

** Important Note: The Make Your Own Flash Cards feature is available only in the Pro version of the Language Builder from Stages app

Yes! Our most exciting new feature is the ability for teachers, clinicians, and parents to create their own flash cards. Now you can take a picture of the object, record your own audio, and use it within the Receptive & Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting activities! Not only does this feature allow you to create flash cards for words that are not available in the app, but you can also create flash cards for words other than nouns. The Language Builder from Stages app is based on the Stages Learning Materials Noun Cards, so the words in the app are all nouns. However, if you are working on other parts of speech with your students, such as verbs, you can now create your own verb cards using the Make Your Own Flash Cards feature. Another option for the Make Your Own Flash Cards feature is to label and record audio for the photo in a language other than English. In this way the Language Builder from Stages app can now be used with students whose primary language is not English, or for students who are learning a new language as well!

** Important Note: The Make Your Own Flash Cards feature is available only in the Pro version of the Language Builder from Stages app


What features are in development for the next release?

Right now, when you select cards for an activity, they are presented to the student in alphabetical order. The next release will allow you to select a specific presentation order for the cards, or have the cards presented in randomized order

Currently, in the sorting drill, the app automatically selects which pictures within a category the student will be given to sort. The next release will allow you to select which pictures the student will sort.

The maximum categories a student can sort into is currently 2. Future releases will allow you to sort into 3 or 4 categories.

The app currently only operates in portrait mode. The next release will also operate in Landscape mode.

We are currently working on a system which will allow for student accounts to be accessed on multiple iPads. What this will mean is that if parents have the app on their home iPad, and the teacher has the app on their iPad at school, they can each access the student's account with saved settings and progress-report information. That way everyone working with the student will be working on the same lessons, and building on the student's existing progress. In addition, we will offer a web portal where parents and teachers can access information on the students work, and share notes on other aspects of the student's educational program.

We expect this feature to be available in mid 2015.