An instructional tool for learning South African Sign Language is built around a distant cousin of “The Great Big Enormous Turnip.”
Presented optionally in English or Afrikaans, the standard cumulative storyline is reduced to a set of wooden cartoon tableaux in which a farming family is introduced, does chores, pulls a gigantic carrot (which only takes three screens) and, with help from the livestock, chows down. The text is likewise simplified and stilted—“The farmer’s wife feeds the chickens. The rooster is on the roof. The hen and her chicks peck at the mielies”—with verbs printed in a different color and nouns highlighted. Tapping separate icons activates an audio reading and a signed rendition in a small video screen in the corner. The two are not synchronized but can be run at once. Tapping highlighted nouns will prompt an audio pronunciation and, on the side, an identifying picture, a video signing and a hand-spelled diagram. Though SASL is based on American Sign Language, it is not the same, which limits the usefulness of this app and its several series mates on this side of the Atlantic. Moreover, along with being dull, the English text has several typos: “The carrot is to big!!” and other blunders should be corrected in an update.
An intriguing approach to learning a foreign language but rough around the edges: possibly of greatest interest to students of sign languages. (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad instructional/story app. 5-8)