French Tutor (Salamander) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing

French Tutor
By Salamander
BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 1.05

French Tutor

An excellent package for anyone interested in improving or resurrecting their knowledge of the French language is now available from Salamander. It is billed as helping 'students of French up to GCE O Level and beyond' and this seems a fair summary of the standard aimed at. It could be used by a beginner but only alongside other conventional teaching.

The three programs on the tape are designed to give practice in vocabulary, phrases and idioms and irregular verbs. The manual is excellent quality and explicitly spells out loading operations for newcomers to the BBC. There is a cassette index which proves invaluable since each of the main tutor programs has a variety of data files to access. When using a cassette recorder with a counter, it is advisable to make a note of the position of each file for future reference.

The vocabulary test offers the option of working in English-French or French-English and there are data files covering outdoor, town, home and school situations. A particularly impressive feature is the full accenting capabilities, the accents being provided on the first four red function keys. Once a question is correctly answered it will not come up again and it goes on a tally which is maintained at the top of the screen. On completing the test or pressing Escape at any time during the session, you will receive a progress assessment. There is a revision list with all the words you answered incorrectly with their meanings.

The phrases test incorporates the option of working uniquely with five phrases. Each batch is learned and a test given. Only when you feel that you have gained proficiency need you have to answer them all correctly to go on to the next group.

Irregular verbs follow the same pattern. This time however, you are able to select which tenses you wish to be tested on. A simple Y or n answer decides. The same with specifying which verbs out of the ones loaded are to be employed. Answers have to be preceded by the appropriate pronoun and a second try is given should you get it wrong first time (by keying A). If the second attempt is also marked wrong then striking L reveals the whole tense of the verb concerned.

In general this is a very successful method of practising French vocabulary. The screen format is clear and uncluttered and colour is carefully used for highlighting. There could have been more aural prompts but this didn't really mar the performance of the programs. The packaging is nice but seems a bit excessive for a single cassette. Nevertheless it's worth the money.

Dave Reeder

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