Options for Online Language Study

Spanish Whiz

Braser Soft’s award-winning Microsoft Corp. Windows-based program, Spanish Whiz, is designed to help users learn Spanish quickly. In the new Version 3.1, both the main program and the Sound CD (which includes more than 4,500 sound files to help improve pronunciation and listening skills) now include on-screen translations. The “Help” files include a complete discussion of Spanish grammar, and the main program is divided into three levels to help beginners, intermediate and advanced users. The emphasis is on presenting and testing fundamentals. Spanish Whiz includes common Spanish vocabulary and verbs, as well as practice in typical problem areas such as ser and estar, por and para prepositions, the imperative forms, the subjunctive, and idiomatic expressions. Self-quizzing, dictionaries, and an option to build one’s own word list round out the features. Contact: Braser Soft, www.braser.com.

Interactive Foreign Language Murder Mystery

Un misterio en Toluca and Un meurtre à Cinet are interactive foreign language murder mysteries for students of Spanish and French, respectively. Written by foreign language professors at California State University, San Bernardino, and published by Heinle and Heinle Publishers, the projects follow a similar format. Students follow a trail of clues to identify the murderer. There is no one answer: Clues can be compiled in a number of ways that lead to different conclusions. Students must use the many “official” documents and maps provided and interview their fellow students (who take on identities of people in the town) in order to reach a decision. Many foreign language products engage students in inauthentic, uninteresting dialogues with one another, but the murder mysteries provide a compelling context that encourages real conversation. All material is in the language of study, and students communicate using e-mail, e-mail lists, and a Web site, speaking and writing solely in French or Spanish. Because some characters in the mysteries play larger roles than others, instructors have flexibility in assigning meatier parts to weaker students who need more foreign language practice. Up to 14 students can participate. Contact: Heinle and Heinle Publishers, (800) 237-0053, www.heinle.com.

Learn to Speak eLanguage Software and Online Instruction

Students using the Learning Co.’s Learn to Speak CD-ROMs to study foreign languages can enhance their learning with eLanguage’s online language instruction. In addition to learning the word of the day, users can practice conversation, study vocabulary, or learn about the culture of a particular country. Users can customize the study process to fit their learning styles. The Web site also includes several reference tools, including a word phrasebook, talking dictionary, grammar guidebook, verb conjugator, and related Internet links. Primary materials are available only in Spanish, French, German, and Italian. However, numerous resources are online for students of everything from Arabic to Zulu. Contact: The Learning Co., www.learntospeak.com.

TeLL Me More Pro

TeLL Me More Pro is speech-recognition software by Auralog Inc. that allows students of French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, and English to interact with native speakers and evaluate their performance. Designed for language schools and programs, the system is composed of a personalized, flexible pedagogy with which instructors can create customized pathways for learning. The software’s tracking system and class management function monitor the material covered and allow instructors to evaluate the performance of each student. The exclusive Spoken Error Tracking System automatically detects errors in pronunciation. Spoken and written expression, comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar are all addressed in 1,600 hours of learning, including interactive dialogues, exercises, a glossary, a dictionary, videos, grammar rules, and hundreds of conjugated verbs. Contact: Auralog Inc., (480) 829-1984, www.auralog.com.

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