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Une semaine avec My French Coach: Day Two

It's another day at DS Fanboy, and this week, that means more quality time with Ubisoft's My French Coach. All week long, we're on a mission here -- French language mastery! Or at least a valiant attempt to get through as many lessons as possible in seven full days. If you missed the overview on day one, you might want to back up a little. If not, then let's roll on through the second day's excursion with the language trainer.

During the second day's session, I decided to do not one lesson, but two. I also learned that cockiness does not pay -- but the butt-kicking I endured was completely worth it, as I managed to increase my list of mastered words by a great deal, and grew much more confident with the mini-games and various features of My French Coach.

Record your own efforts!

Before I go too far into today's recap, however, I wanted to take a moment to show off the "Compare" function, which I crowed about in yesterday's installment. This is the feature in which you can record your own pronunciation and sync it up with the game's statement. I continue to find this really helpful on words I find difficult, like the listed soeur, which means "sister." It's even helpful, in fact, when you think you've got a word down pat; you may confidently record your version and sync it up, only to find that you've been placing a little too much emphasis on the wrong syllable. Of everything I've encountered so far in My French Coach, this is certainly the most impressive feature.

There's more available in this menu, however. Notice the settings down above the bottom buttons. I mentioned those yesterday -- you can change volume and speed of the French translations. The game really goes the extra mile to cater to your needs.

The two lessons I completed today were very different. After doing dates yesterday, today I was faced with weather and family. And those of you who asked about how in depth the training title gets will be pleased to know that the difficulty definitely ratcheted up today ... and since I'm only a fifth of the way through, that really bodes well for the latter stages of My French Coach.

The Flash Card game

The format of the lessons does not seem to change. You're presented with the main subject, given a list of words in both French and English (and you can listen to the spoken translations as often as you'd like, or move into the Compare screen above), and then there are several screens that not only take you into mini-games, but give you a little more background and detail on how to use the words in the lesson. During the first of today's lessons, weather, I was a little concerned, because the game was presenting me with phrases -- but no audio track! It started to look like My French Coach was going to focus on words only, and I would have to piece together how to speak phrases on my own. During the following lesson, however, I was disabused of this assumption, when the game began to present me with phrases like, "Here is my father, John," followed by both the spoken and written versions in French.

It was also nice to learn things that are immediately useful. I can now point at my pregnant belly and declare: C'est mon fils! Gotta love the DS and all the practical applications of things one can pick up between traditional gaming sessions.

As though taking on two lessons wasn't enough, I also decided to up the difficulty of the mini-games near the end of my session. I had been playing on easy, but moved up to medium. This was a mixed blessing -- it allowed me to master words more quickly, because each success was worth more points, but it also made things harder. The Word Search game had previously only hidden words horizontally; on medium, some are also vertical. I assume that on hard, diagonal will come into play. The game seemed shorter as well, but I confess I was not watching the clock -- I was too busy hunting for soeur, which continued to be the bane of my existence.

I also tried out Flash Card, which I only opened as I finished yesterday. It's the opposite of Multiple Choice; it offers a word in French and then gives you the English definitions from which to choose. I moved up to medium on that one, as well, and was thrown a curveball: rather than consistently giving me the written word along with a spoken overlay, the game started offering a mix of either written-plus-audio and audio only, so you have no visual cue on which to rely. Since you never know which it's going to be, it really helps you to learn faster! But the failure quotient goes up also, at least at first.

I also discovered my first problem with the title: the Hit-a-Word mini-game seems to suffer from some touchscreen accuracy problems. I will test this further, but it's very difficult to hit the sweet spot on the gophers. But that small problem was balanced by my rank going up. I ended day two as a pre-schooler instead of a toddler. I'm moving up in the world!

See also: The My French Coach series in its entirety

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