CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
Eazy Speak Spanish: Levels 1 & 2.
Montreal, PQ: Kutoka Interactive, 2004.
1 CD-ROM, $29.99.
Minimum System Requirements:
Windows: System: 98 ME, 200, XP; Processor: Pentium II 400 MHz; Memory (RM): 128 MB; Video & Sound: Direct X Compatible; CD-ROM Drive: 12X; Hard Disk Space: 65 MB.
Macintosh: System: OS X 10.2; Processor: G4 450 MHz; Memory (RAM): 128 MB; Sound: Standard macintosh; CD-ROM Drive: 12X; Hard Disk Space: 65 MB.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
This program is based on the DOKI Learning System which is described as "The quick and easy way to a new language." It uses cartoons and immerses the student in the new language by using practical, real life situations. Thus, you travel to a Spanish speaking country and act like a resident, or traveller, shopping in a supermarket, eating in restaurants, and dealing with the police. In addition, you can visit a hospital, go to a hotel, a bank, and a bar. In the process, you are introduced to basic phrases, terms used in conversation and a vocabulary of 800 words.
Easy Speak Spanish begins with an entertaining, ten minute, tutorial that shows how to use DOKI. It also has a five-minute guide to the games' special features that explains the purpose of the many icons. They, and all the activities, are based on sound academic principles. In order to enter the system, Flash is necessary. The need for Flash is is not obvious from the package since it is not listed as a system requirement.
As indicated, there are two levels of instruction to the course. In Level One, DOKI arrives by biplane and flys over a cartoon city. When the cursor is moved onto one of the buildings, a notice indicates what subject will be dealt with at that site. A click on a hotel, for example, takes you to a restaurant. In Level Two, Doki arrives by surfboard, which changes to a skate board once he is on land.
There are various themes in the program, in addition to going shopping or to a hospital, that should help students learn Spanish easily. These include words for the Language of the Office, Discussing the Future, Parts of the Body, and Everyday Activities. One also learns the days of the week, months and seasons, how to buy a plane ticket, book a hotel room, how to tell the time, and to identify parts of the body. There is also a small calculator where a voice sounds the numbers the learner clicks on. All such activities are practical.
As one tries the various exercises, Spanish words are both spelled out and spoken as a cartoon picture of an item appears. Thus, at the supermarket, a cake is shown with the words una torta and then a voice says torta. In some cases, it is not clear from the image just what the item is. An example is cerveza, the word for beer. Unless one knows in advance what cerveza is, the bottle could be mistaken for a soft drink bottle. Some words, such as champu and azucar (sugar), sound so much like their English equivalents that the learner will have no difficulty.
In other sections of the game, similar problems occur. In From the Past, for example, one sees images for un bosque, una comida, and una piedra. This reviewer had no idea what the images were supposed to represent.
Apart from these frustrations, Easy Speak Spanish is amusing and easy to use. Everything is bright and colourful. It should appeal to any child who can read.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.
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