French Software Reviewed

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Software Title:        Smart Talk French
Publisher :   Talk Interactive
Age Group : 10 yrs - adults
Curriculum Area : Language Development
Year of Publication : ‘97/’98
Mac, PC or other :    PC Microphone
Summary

This language cd-rom  contains three modes of learning : listening, reading and speaking.  It has several topics to choose from, including Number, Food, Home & Office etc.  The classroom teacher could use this program quite effectively to improve pupils’ vocabulary, listening skills and pronunciation.

Overview of Teaching with this Title

The program supports language development in all it’s forms. Special needs pupils could benefit from the use of the program’s listening mode.  With help, perhaps from another pupil they might also manage to use the other modes. The program allows the pupils to record their own voices, and this in turn can be played back.  This activity allows for the refinement of pronunciation.
This software package was used by pupils in pairs, and also individually.

Potential for classroom use would be particularly beneficial as backup to language acquisition in the French class.  It is a big plus that the pupil can select the topic he/she wishes to work on.   In some packages this facility is not allowed so that the learning is somewhat hit & miss.                                                                     
   
          

Content

The content is accurate, reliable and up-to-date.  It is culturally and racially balanced.  The scenarios are more geared towards older learners.  Scenes such as checking out an apartment for rent are included.  This is not terribly interesting for primary school pupils!
There are three levels of difficulty, but this really boils down to a choice between working on (!.) Vocabulary (2.)Phrases, and(3) Conversations.
I liked the fact that the pupils could slow down the rate of speech of the native speaker to suit their abilities. This would be a big plus for not-so-fluent learners.

As already mentioned, there is good all-round language exploration (oral / aural/ written word).

Design and Navigation

Product is well designed, colourful and offers plenty of variety.  It’s easy to navigate around the program.  The “Help” feature offers spoken guidance in French which can be a bit off-putting for beginners. 
A nice feature of this program is a link on to the publisher’s website.  Here the teacher can receive technical support, teacher previews etc.  The pupils can also view a daily language lesson which focuses on “Word of the Day”.

Installation and Use

The program installs easily, and proved easy to run each time.

Supporting Documentation

This is sparse, being contained in an insert in the cd-rom case.  However it does contain the transcripts of the conversations contained in the program.

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