Who killed Max?

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Red Herring

From Learning Curve, in both French and German

Single licence pound;50, five users pound;150, 10 users pound;200, 20 users pound;300

www.learningcurve.info

Ever fancied yourself as an Inspector Rebus or Miss Marple? Here is your (and your pupils') chance to solve the murder of Max Herring, a well-respected journalist, using your knowledge of French or German.

The aim of the game is to identify the murderer by interviewing the 20 suspects in the town, completing many tasks along the way and making sure you do not run out of your E10,000 expenses.

What is appealing about this game is that it gives pupils a reason to listen, read, complete simple drag-and-drop exercises and deduce from clues, all in the name of bringing a criminal to justice. Each character works in one of the shops or organisations of Rougeville (French) or Rotdorf (German) and so you have to interview, for example, Dominique, le medicin, and Sabrina, le prof. They both give factual information about themselves, spoken in clear French, and their replies can be read and translated into English. The player completes a casebook and, to find out the final piece of information (which has the real clue) from each suspect, the player must complete an exercise.

There are visual clues in some locations and a fascinating scene-of-crime investigation which involves breaking the code of a safe and logging on to Max's computer. The lie detector turns red if a suspect is not telling the truth, there is a TV report and various items can be sent for forensic tests. When the player has pieced all the parts of the puzzle together, he or she can accuse someone and see what happens.

This is an unusual way of using ICT and has evidently been developed by a modern languages teacher. The topics covered are all commonly taught and the level would be appropriate for Year 9 or key stage 4. As the game may take some time, pupils can save what they have done and return to it later.

The graphics are bright and colourful, the use of sound is welcome and after a few minutes' practice the game is easy to navigate.

This innovative use of a murder mystery to reinforce the language is great fun and reasonable value for money, a welcome addition to the sometimes dreary curriculum post-14.

Wendy Adeniji is an MFL consultant

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