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Mind Your Language joins Ubisoft's My Language Coach series as the first titles to bring linguistic brain training to the DS. If offers a more fleshed out video game with language learning elements, as against My French Coach's thouroughgoing language lesson focus.
Self improvement games tap into the popular trend in self development and therapy. Experiences as diverse as Brain Training DS and Wii-Fit have popularised the idea that games can be about more than just having fun - they can improve your brain, body and even mental outlook on life.
Mind Your Language: French is unique because of its combination with a 'proper' minigame based experience and language lessons. It took a little longer for the kids to get into than other DS games. It is packaged more like an educational program than a toy. Once they got started though it became a popular choice. This turned out to be much more of a game that includes linguistic puzzles, rather than a lanaguage tool that includes the odd game.
Players explore a school environment, talk to other students and teachers, collecting letters and vocabulary as they go. In this respect it's just like a game. The language learning is then injected into the different minigames that need to be completed to progress.
My oldest enjoyed the running around exploration part of the game, although once she got to the actual learning stage is was a little too tricky. The games are pretty touch challenges in their own right, add in the second language aspect and some of them have you doing mental somersualts to complete.
Although this game lacks the initial level setting test, and voice recording function of My French Coach from Ubisoft, it actually turns out to be a properly challenging grown up experience.
People will pickup Mind your Language becuase they want to learn a second tongue. Here however they also get a pretty solid video game into the bargain.
Once I had realised this and let the kids have a play as well as using it myself, I soon 'got' why this was such a good family title. Breakfast conversation soon turned to various spellings of french words, or how many nouns and adjectives we each had in our backpck (in the game).
The general exploration section of the game can be played at your own pace. The minigames themselves - where the bulk of hte language work is - take around five to ten minutes each. This is quite long for minigames and reflects the addition of a foreign language which extends the challenge considerably. Some of the games insist on starting from scratch after any missstep - this can make them draga bit and last a lot longer.
Younger players may find the minigames a little on the hard side. But played with an older, or linguistically agile sibling and they can have alot of fun here.
Intermediates and experts may find the videogame side of things a little distracting when they just want to learn another language. Those that want a more direct approach and less of a game will get on better with the My Coach series from Ubisoft.
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