Personal Computer News

The French Tutor
By Salamander
BBC Model B

Published in Personal Computer News #059


The French Tutor is designed to help those wishing to grasp the intricacies of the French language up to and beyond O level. It consists of three main programs giving practice and testing of vocabulary, phrases and irregular verbs.

Menu-driven, the program starts with a rendering of the 'Marseillaise' and asks the user to select the category required. The relevant section is then loaded in, and a further menu calls for a filename. The 10 files of words for the vocabulary section each give 100 words. They are grouped into different areas: outdoors, homes, body, travel, etc. The computer gives you the option of deciding if you want French/English or English/French.

Since I took GCE O level French more years ago that I care to remember, I ventured forth into the program with some trepidation.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the words used were of the useful variety and the phrases the sort encountered in everyday use. Because some phrases were idiomatic it is a pity that the program is so pedantic. It's no use returning a literal answer, for example, if the programmed answer uses "it's" instead of "it is"; you will be marked wrong if you use the latter. Handily, however, before each set of five phrases you are given the option of seeing them with the answers. After each test the computer assesses your progress with a percentage marking.

A further option allows you to set up your own tests and a short program helps you with the necessary French accents and punctuation.

All in all I found this interesting and worthwhile program to be worth the money for the student wishing to brush up on his or her idiomatic French.

Geof Wheelwright

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