CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 1 . . . .September 2, 2005
In Eazy Speak French, learners have a chance to explore the cartoon world of Doki City. As they visit different places in the city (the hotel, the police station, the grocery store), they practice everyday conversational language through a variety of interactive exercises that focus on building vocabulary, listening, pronunciation, and spelling skills.
In Level 1 (beginner), learners can make a reservation at a hotel, order something to drink at a restaurant, fill a shopping cart at a grocery store, or plan an escape from prison. In Level 2 (intermediate), they can explore the past, present, and future; practice vocabulary related to the office and personal belongings; and learn functional expressions for making a phone call, asking for help, complaining, and checking into a hotel.
Navigating through the city and the two levels can be tricky at first; however, the longer learners use the program, the more familiar they become with the different tools and their functions (a pop-up window for each icon on the main player screen would facilitate this). The tutorials are strongly recommended in order to get maximum use out of the program as one could easily get lost or miss something. In the 10-minute tutorial (rated PG), a note of caution appears: "Some scenes may be disturbing to younger viewers." There are a few images and situations which may not be considered suitable for younger viewers (ordering alcohol at the bar or buying cigarettes at the grocery store, for example). Previewing is recommended to deem its appropriateness.
A definite strength of this program is that everything takes place in Doki City. Learners decide on the route they wish to follow through the city and can move freely from location to location, activity to activity and level to level. This contextualization is wonderfully done and makes language learning fun, interactive and meaningful. The scenarios are interesting and often humorous, the visuals colourful, and the sound effects realistic. The language used by the characters is natural, clearly enunciated and full of intonation.
In addition to a variety of language-rich activities, Eazy Speak French includes a talking dictionary, a talking calculator, a pronunciation component, and a built-in chat feature which allows the student to talk to other Doki players on the web. The learner can also choose among German, Spanish, French, English and Greek as the language of instruction.
Doki City is a fun and exciting place to discover and explore, and it provides a wonderfully engaging context in which to learn basic conversational skills in the target language. This program would be of great interest to adolescents and young adult learners of French. It could be used as a self-study learning program or as a language supplement in a French immersion class for older learners.
Heather McIntosh is a TESL instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.