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My Spanish Coach DS Review

27/05/2009 Family Teaching Gamer Review
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My Spanish Coach DS

My Spanish Coach



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As a parent and educator I've been dubious about these language games, yet my children seem keen to play them, so I found myself looking over their shoulders with this Spanish tutor. I was immediately impressed when the game directed them to play with the sound turned up, or if they couldn't have the volume up that they should use headphones. Hearing spoken language is one of the main ways that children pick up language skills, so to me this is vital in a teaching game like this.

The game opens with a test of your current abilities in the language which is useful as it enables the users to start at different levels. You are taught vocabulary on different topics and can then play a variety of mini-games in order to drum the vocabulary into your brain. I found these slightly mindless, but the children all seemed to really enjoy them, and the more you play, the more activities you unlock. You can adjust the mini games' difficulty level as well. As you access more vocabulary you move up the ranks in the game.

This record and playback tool is the real aid for genuine language learning.

Like other language tutor games that I've watched the children play, this one annoyed me in a similar way as it teaches vocabulary in a stand-alone way, and this is practically useless in a real situation. It's all very well to know what individual words mean, but unless you can string them together in a sentence they are not much good - apart from possibly being able to decipher text in that language.

The game does have a phrase book which seemed comprehensive, and an option to record your own speech, which you can then play back alongside the spoken Spanish. You even have the option here to slow the spoken Spanish phrase right down, which is a very useful feature. This record and playback tool is the real aid for genuine language learning, but unfortunately the phrase book is only a sidekick to the main game.

My daughter who is actually learning Spanish at school has definitely found it useful alongside standard school Spanish lessons.

It would make a useful addition to your kit for foreign travel. However, we recently went to Spain on holiday and none of us know any Spanish at all. I'd borrowed a couple of phrase books but because I was unsure about pronunciation, I didn't really manage to speak any Spanish - perhaps if I'd practiced a few phrases from this game I'd have done better!

The children have enjoyed the game immensely, so I shouldn't be too negative - it obviously will help them to have a broad vocabulary base when they come to learning how the language fits together, and hearing the words spoken regularly during the game will enhance their pronunciation skills as well. My daughter who is actually learning Spanish at school has definitely found it useful alongside standard school Spanish lessons - apparently she doesn't mind being considered a "boffin" if it helps her to be a little bit ahead of the game!

Written by Melrose Fish

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Melrose Fish writes the Teaching Gamer column.

"Welcome to my teaching Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS lite and PSP game reviews. As well as being a parent of a teenager who is learning languages at school, I'm also fluent in French, and a trained educator myself, so I hope to bring a bit of teacher know how to these educational game reviews."

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