ESL and Foreign Language Software

Designed like a game, the EazySpeak language software (available in English and Spanish) from Kutoka Interactive (www.kutoka.com) is a practical program for students 12 and up who want to learn a second language. Students find themselves in Doki City, where they interact with the humorous Doki characters who present scenarios that mimic the same communications hurdles they may find if they were really visiting a foreign country. Both versions have two levels that help build further comprehension of basic phrases, better conversational skills and a broader vocabulary.

The Professor Toto Educational Kit (www.professortoto.com) helps children learn Spanish and French based on the Thibaut Technique — an attention-grabbing learning technique that utilizes lively games, happy vocabulary songs and colorful visuals. Each kit contains DVDs, CDs and books, as well as parent reference guides that allow students to practice their conversational skills at home.

SUBE: Language Learning Thru Art, Music and Games (www.sube.com) was developed as part of a program to help Latino children maintain their Spanish language skills. Using the building block and scaffolding approach, SUBE users learn Spanish by building academic and cognitive skills through games, music, art and informal conversation, with support and positive re-enforcement that enhances confidence. These blocks of support are eventually removed once students become more comfortable with the language.

Guaranteeing perfect recall when learning Spanish, French, Italian or German, the Before You Know It Educator Edition (www.transparent.com) relies on flash-card lists with more than a 1,000 words, 200 phrases and native speaker recorded sound. The software also allows educators to expand and customize their own lists of words specific to their teaching needs, review for tests, or further build their students’ vocabulary.

English Discoveries (www.englishdiscoveries.com) is a multilevel ESL program that features color graphics, full-motion video, animation, digitized sound and music, and an introductory tour in the student’s native language. The software system teaches ESL through intensive practice in reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary and language, as well as offering a record-keeping component to track student performance. The pronunciation models for speaking and listening also help teachers when trying to communicate what a particular word should sound like.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.

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