Thursday, 14 February 2013

Parlez-vous Français?

I haven't studied French, in an academic setting, in a very, very (one more? oh go on then...) very long time. Twelve years in fact, when I was studying at college for my French A-Level under the expert tutelage of the indomitable Mme Taylor.

Despite being very obviously not French (with a name like Delyth?) she was an absolute powerhouse in the lecture room. Woe betide anyone, 'though,  who didn't do their homework, or turned up late, or interrupted her class whilst teaching. As one girl did. Her infringement? Popping her head 'round the door and asking to borrow a dictionary. Funnily enough we never saw her again. She could put the fear of God into you when she wanted to but boy did she get results.

Anyway...

Having not revisited the language in over a decade (aside from watching copious films over the years, but I'm not sure that counts, what with having English subtitles and all?), and given that I'm a self confessed Francophile and the fact that Mr. G's Mum (and thus assorted uncles, aunts and cousins) and a good friend of mine are French (oh and, y'know, trying to stop my brain from atrophying any further thanks to the ole, M.E.) I thought it high time I reacquainted myself. I can speak it, not altogether fluently, but I can make myself understood. Just about. Sort of.

My writing, however, is rusty in the extreme. I can cobble together a few emails and text messages but that's as far as it goes. Really comprehension is my strongest suit.

So, in an effort to even things up a bit, I did what any self respecting smart phone user does. I found an app for that.

Enter MindSnacks. Purveyor of educational and interactive language learning tools. The app itself is free, but you can purchase additional exercises if you wish to do so.

It's incredibly user friendly, comprising of word challenge games that you have to master in order to progress up a level. The interface is simple and charming, there's a definite whiff of kawaii about it but don't let that put you off- the app is aimed at all age groups. And if, like me, you love a bit of cute then MindSnacks will be right up your street.

The games I've played so far have been fast paced and fun. Whilst they might seem a little on the repetitive side, it's this repetition  that really works in getting the words to stick. Personally I find the drilling method of language learning works best for me but it might not be for everyone.

The games feature native speakers announcing the words, whilst they're on the screen, so you get a double whammy of aural and comprehension exercise whilst also familiarising yourself with the spelling of the words too.

MindSnacks gets a firm neuf points from me. It'd have got ten but for the fact you have to pay to access more lessons. Otherwise, this is a great little app and well worth downloading if you want to tentatively get back into learning a foreign language.


Image courtesy of MindSnacks.com


MindSnacks is available to download free from the App Store.

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