Online flaws aside, A+ French offers a great route into the language for anyone interested in self-improvement, but with minimal inconvenience and expense.
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The last time I looked up from a French textbook, it was to admire the teacher Miss Carter’s fabulous cleavage. In fact, the only French I ever bothered to learn was: J’aime des mésanges de Mlle Charretier. When it came to choosing French as an exam option, I was told my fate lay with the CSE class, which – lacking the lure of Miss Carter – I declined to take. Until opening A+ French, I hadn’t studied so much as a non since. This title is perfect for ashamed monolinguals like myself, who lack the time to learn evening-class French. If A+ French had been available to me at school, I may have continued with it – Miss Carter or nay. No matter how old you are, learning languages is as dry as dust, becoming fun only when getting to use it conversationally with natives. What A+ French offers is an abundance of learning tools that dovetail nicely with each of the 15 lessons. From the starting point (noun genders) to its conclusion (past perfect tenses and past conditions) these tools help breathe life into the learning process. Tools include games to inject levity – involving word-insertion, unjumbling words, and crosswords – as well as conversation practice, in which the user types replies to queries involving subjects that become more complex with each lesson. The A+ series of language-learners takes a scientific approach, offering a pitch analyser, which displays the soundwaves created by your pronunciation of given phrases next to that of the talking-head teacher’s. This way, you can see, as well as hear, that you’re on course. The features that form interface furniture are also mightily handy. There are display panels that give the meaning of any given word or phrase when clicked on in the lesson window, as well as a grammar pop-up menu that defines the nature of any highlighted word. You’ll require a microphone for this feature to work. One thing that A+ French failed to deliver on was its promise of online multiple-choice quizzes at the end of every five lessons, all of which crashed the browser (Internet Explorer 5) when it came to processing results. Unless my shocking French sent it into meltdown, there’s a bug lurking somewhere.