As many words as you want

9th March 2001 at 00:00
WordPROF French CD-Rom. Zeno IT Ltd, PO Box 22333 London W13 8GU. pound;29.99 + pound;2.30 pamp;p.

This CD-Rom has a simple objective, summed up in its subtitle: Improve Your French Vocabulary. As the accompanying sheet points out, the average GCSE syllabus requires a knowledge of some 2,000 words, giving a learning rate of one a day over a five-year course (or 2,000 in the night before the exam if, like many students, you prefer to organise your work that way). A sensible approach might be five words before bedtime.

Think of a number and WordPROF will give you a study plan for any period and level from beginners to a good A-level and beyond. The CD is suitable for Windows 95 or 98 (a version for Windows 2000 is being developed).

It has various devices forgetting its 9,000-item vocabulary into your head. New words are presented (on screen and spoken) in groups of five with English translation, then tested. There are revision lessons, vocabularies and animated scenes (though my PC proved unable to load the last of these). It tells you when you get the answers right, wrong or nearly right (mistakes are gently corrected); but it can be over-meticulous: if you key in "the fish" for "le poisson", it will be marked incorrect: the expected answer is "fish".

On the whole it does what it sets out to do. The translation method and the lack of context will displease some purists, but students will find WordPROF a simple way to cover the ground and, perhaps, a lesson in organising their time.

Robin Buss


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