German Software Reviewed

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Software Title:         Multimedia Flashcards Learn German
Publisher :   Heinman
Age Group : 10-12
Curriculum Area : Language Development
Year of Publication : 1996
Mac, PC or other :    Apple and Windows CDROM

In combining pictures text and sound, this product endeavours to make an interactive flash card system,which may be useful in basic language teaching. The program begins by inviting the user to choose one of three sections: Learn, Games and Record. In the Learn section, the vocabulary is introduced through large colourful and attractive pictures accompanied by spoken word and written text. The games section contains Find the Card, Match the Pairs and Beat the Clock, all of which can be played at three different levels, constituting nine games. The record section affords the user the opportunity to practise pronouncing vocabulary. This product may be of benefit to younger pupils with teacher intervention to help focus the user.

Overview of Teaching with this Title

What curriculum areas does this software title support, please List the curriculum strands and objectives addressed?

The software supports listening, speaking and reading skills. It introduces a variety of vocabularies such as: colours, plurals, professions, actions, prepositions, and places.There are no modifications supported.Very little of the material is presented in an innovative or imaginative way. It is felt that other types of class work would achieve the desired outcome as easily and in some instances more effectively. Unfortunately the flashcards cannot be printed.
The title was used by small groups of two or three pupils.
The strength of this title is that it is easily navigable and the games present short manageable challenges. Unfortunately the vocabulary content is limited and unstructured. Interactivity is unimaginative and restricted. The flashcards can't be printed out nor can a list of vocabulary.


The content is accurate, reliable and up-to-date. There appears to be no cultural, gender or racial bias. All the characters are animals e.g. wasp, tiger. They are child-friendly and non-threatening. Both male and female voices are used. Non-traditional images (such as a female doctor and a female dentist) as well as traditional images (such as a male farmer and a female teacher) are included. The 10-12 age group involved in evaluation for the SIP21A project found the product somewhat babyish. They were especially disappointed with the simplified "cinema" animations. There are multiple levels of difficulty and challenge. Yellow represents the easy option. Vocabulary is based on one section or theme and if the wrong card is clicked, the game is made easier by removing it from the choice. The red level involves a mixture of sections and the blue level revolves around prepositions and actions incorporating more difficult vocabulary again. For every correct answer three points are gained on all the levels however in the red and blue levels an incorrect answer results in the deduction of one point. There is also a game that invites the user to beat the clock.
The user can choose the level of difficulty as outlined above however they have no choice over the rate of delivery.
The information is poorly structured to support learning. Language is divided into the following areas: Vocabulary A, Vocabulary B, Colours, Plurals, Professions, Vocabulary C, Actions, Positions (meaning Prepositions) and Places. With regard to vocabulary A, B and C, a random selection of approximately sixty nouns are included altogether however they follow no particular theme or sequence and are not necessarily the first most needed words in a foreign language. In the "plurals" section, the twenty nouns are presented in plural form. The singular form is not given as well for association or comparison purposes. No list of vocabulary covered in the program is available for the teacher or user. The beautiful flashcards cannot be printed.
The software concentrates on visual and aural association of vocabulary. The pupils can also record their own words and sentences.

Design and Navigation

The onscreen help is not always available and not particularly helpful. The volume can be adjusted. The product doesn't support the use of the keyboard instead of the mouse.
The interface is uncluttered but the functions of the icons are not all immediately obvious.
You cannot bookmark where an individual has been nor record an individual user's place.
The spoken feedback is pleasant and encouraging. Scores are also used to motivate the users. Award certificates can be printed out.
Records can be kept and set up before hand. A print out of the records shows the user's name,.date last used, and award achieved if any. On screen records display the user's name, the score, the date last used and the number of sessions.

Installation and Use

An auto play facility is built into the product so the program will start as soon as you insert the disc and the product launches quickly. The program responds adequately to input from a child/adult.
To my knowledge there is no network version available and the sample evaluated was run on one PC only.

Supporting Documentation

There is no supporting documentation with the product except the CDROM cover which gives a brief description of the product, details the minimum system requirements and installation instructions and contains the software licence agreement and Eurotalk catalogue.The loading and operating instructions are clear.
More information is required to explain what the software does and how it behaves before running the software. The curriculum content should be outlined, and a list of activities or games given to describe the product more comprehensively.There are no ancillary teacher notes and pupil activities.

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