A&B Computing

The Spanish Tutor Levels A & B
By Kosmos
Acorn Electron

Published in A&B Computing 1.08

Firstly let's make it clear that the Level A and Level B versions of The Spanish Tutor are in fact the same control program but that each tape contains a different selection of data files to use in conjunction with this control software. I think I would have preferred to have all the data files available on one tape and would have been willing to spend more on such a product. Kosmos decided otherwise and it does mean that if you only want to learn some vocab for your Spanish holiday then Level A will suffice, with its selection of everyday topics from vegetables and fruits to parts of the body and the weather (hopefully not to be a problem!)

Level B offers a further set of vocabulary files but also sets of adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions, various tense forms of common verbs and some useful phrases. The choice of material over both tapes shows a good deal of thought and successfully jogged the memory as well as encouraging further work.

On entering the main program the two main alternatives are to load the datafile for your own lesson or to create your own lesson. This latter alternative makes the program an excellent buy for schools as it allows for any number of files to be created, stored and retrieved. Full instructions are given.

The Spanish Tutor Level A

When the chosen data file has been loaded the choice of display times is offered. The Spanish or English word is going to be displayed on the screen and it is necessary to choose for how long this will occur. If a value of 0 is entered for either then the word will not be displayed at all (so that you can self-test without temptation to let the computer do the work for you!).

You must also choose which language is to be displayed first. You can ask for an automatic repeat of the lesson at this stage. These run-throughs merely display the word and it is up to the user to remember the meaning and judge whether it is learned or not. To test these assumptions there is a Test lesson. Here it is necessary to key in the answer and the program will judge your efforts. I particularly like the fact that an illegal character entry is countered by a beep from the computer and the fact that the end of the entry is automatically detected and the next question displayed. There are user-defined characters for Spanish letters and punctuation marks.

An option to mix up the order and/or categories of words would have been nice although the association of like words does help with the process of remembering them. When the English form came first it was often impossible to tell whether the masculine or feminine version of, say, brother that was required. On Level B I especially liked the way that it became apparent that some Spanish adjectives can have more than one meaning, depending on context. Greuso, for instance, can mean thick, but when referring to people, fat. Other slightly differing English equivalents were included and served to promote the successful learning of these words. The Spanish Tutor proved a thoughtfully created package and should be useful tool in Spanish learning for individuals and in conjunction with other aids in school.

Dave Reeder

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