Saturday, December 27, 2008

A story about "My French Coach"

by Ubisoft

I got a Nintendo DS for Christmas, along with Ubisoft’s My French Coach.

When initializing, the game tests you to start you at the correct level. I started at level 10, which sounds great! But they give that level a rank of “Pre-Schooler”. Oops!

I didn’t read the manual before starting, but jumped right in. I give the game kudos for how easy it was to start.

The software consists of learning modules and game modules. Mostly, I’ve been playing four games: word search (hunt for French words in a square matrix of letters); a whack-a-mole style game where you bop the critters holding the French word that matches the English word you are hunting; a multiple choice quiz game where you’re given an English word and a set of four French words to match it with; and a similar word match game called “Flash Cards” which isn’t really flash cards. In the Flash Cards game, you are given a French word, sometimes spoken and sometimes written, and then given a choice of four English words with which to match it. So the multiple choice game and the flash card game are similar, but differ in which direction you are translating to/from.

Will I become fluent in French by playing this game? I do not think so. However, I have found that my motivation in studying French is sporadic at best. In contrast, I know that I can obsessively play video games for hours. So much so, that I have stayed away from video games for many years, since I tend to be unable to play them in moderation. And indeed, in the last 24 hours of possessing this game, I’ve played it for about two hours.

My hope is that this will be a good motivational tool, to drive me to pick up my French text books more often. I think the interactivity will help in keeping me interested. Time will tell.

I have to be wary of the temptation to buy a “real” video game module for my new Nintendo DS. One of my nieces was playing MarioKart on her Nintendo, and I asked her to show it to me. It was quite a lot of fun! I can see myself ejecting “My French Coach” in favor of a mindless video game and never coming back to it. Maybe I could play just for a little while…

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