Whether you’re at school or work, learning another language can be an invaluable skill to have if only the learning part was fun. At school up to GCSE you have to study French, but for us oldies - learning after you’ve left school has to be something fun and interesting.
Mindscape's Learn to speak French v9 offers you just that, and has managed to include the multimedia elements of your computer to make this process as interactive as possible.
Loading the software presents you with a number of options - like language essentials, basic courses, more comprehensive courses and cultural movies to get you in the swing of things. Any choice from here is easy to select in terms of what you want to learn and at what pace you want to work.
Language Essentials gives you direct access to the dictionary, grammar, and pronunciation tutorials and this area while useful is very much learning words without a context.
If it’s conversational French you are after then you can head over to the courses the program offers. Here you are given the choice of taking a pre-test to ascertain your level of knowledge and this is really useful and you don’t have to waste time going over what you already know.
Unlike some programs that insist you must write everything, Learn to speak French has taken a different tack and the emphasis here is voice. Plug in a microphone and you are ready to go. Most of the classes are verbally based and there is always a meter to see how native to sound compared to the French voices in the software package.
As you can imagine, while you might get the odd look at home while you sit in front of your computer, it's the best and easiest way to learn and the voice recognition, if you are pronouncing it properly is very good.
The comprehensive lessons cover three topics - Travel, Shopping and Everyday Life and while business is notably missing from here there is enough topics to get you coping with French on an everyday level.
Apart from the standardised lessons there are interactive video role-plays to work on and these see the characters reacting to your answers like you’re in an adventure game. All done via the microphone, this is a really good way of learning and remembering the French and for us was one of the key points of this program.
Of course if you haven't got a microphone you can't realise the full power of this software, but then at the time of this review Mindscape are offering a free microphone rebate with every copy sold. Simply fill in the form in the box and they'll send you one free. What more could you ask for. If you still can't be fussed with all that then you can access the lessons without the verbal approach but you won't be taking advantage of the 4 CDs packed with interactivity will you?
If that microphone offer has ended, check out the selection we've reviewed as even the noise-cancelling variety are reasonably priced nowadays.