The French Experience. CD-Rom for Multimedia PCBBC Pounds 44.99 (inc VAT) Credit card hotline: 01483 268888.
Both Unterwegs for German and En route for French are beginning to be recognised in schools as very welcome CD-Rom additions to learning resources for beginners in key stage 3.
Each uses a combination of video, audio and text material to stimulate use of all four language skills. They are organised by topic to complement leading coursebooks and also by learning objectives within the topics. They utilise differentiation techniques by varying the practice activities offered depending on the strand selected. (The strands follow the Nelson course arrangement from Zickzack Neu and Route Nationale.) This progression, following a common initial presentation, is the strongest feature, as it allows simple listening, readingspeaking and writing tasks to be used to consolidate the vocabulary which has been introduced. There is reference vocabulary, grammar and an assessment and scrapbook package.
No CD-Rom course is sufficient by itself and interaction with the computer is a limited form of social language use, but these programs offer more structure and variety than many others and they are very much focused on the school population. They are colourful and motivating, and in their sound quality offer good back-up to the normal diet of teacher and cassette talk.
The French Experience CD-Rom from the BBC is a double-disc package which offers a great deal of material centred on a series of survival topics. My only quibbles are that changing from one disc to the other and managing the topic menus are not particularly seamless.
It claims to be suitable practice material for GCSE and NVQ language units at level 1. There is a good variety of approaches through videoaudio presentation, sets of activities based on reading and speaking and extra pieces of video listening with transcript in English. There are cultural notes, phonetics, vocabulary and grammatical reference material, and a profiling record facility - all in all an impressive package which would suit adult and older beginners in school.