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Joystiq presents

Une semaine avec My French Coach: Day One


As soon as Ubisoft announced their language trainers, we here at the DS Fanboy offices just knew we'd have to take one for a spin. The real question was ... which to choose? I love studying languages and have made a casual hobby of it over the years, and thus have a little bit of knowledge in a lot of areas. Of the two languages at hand -- Spanish and French -- I struggle more with French, so that seemed like a natural choice for the big test. I love the sound of the language, but the peculiar (to me) accents, the soft, slurring sounds, and all the similarities between the singulars and plurals often leave me mystified. Written French I can handle in small doses, but spoken leaves me struggling. Can Ubisoft's trainer help me master my difficulties in the space of one week? There's only one way to find out!



My French Coach starts off a little intimidating, at least in my opinion. Since French pronunciation is where I suffer, seeing all these phrases (except for the comforting "Je m'appelle," which all fledgling speakers should know) without an audio track was a little alarming. When you start to punch in the letters of your name, however, the game recites the letters back in French. Nice touch! But then the text continued, without a further audio track, and the worry began to creep in again. Surely My French Coach couldn't be all soundless text, could it?

Before I had much time to worry, the game threw me into a placement test to determine the level at which I should start. Here I think I did well; I have a good head for vocabulary, and as long as I only have to read it, everything is as slick, as they say, as snot on glass (though less disgusting). I came out of it at level eight, which meant I got to skip the first seven lessons and begin with #8.



With all the preliminaries out of the way, I was ready to begin my lessons. My French Coach started me off with dates and times, which was good, because that's something I never really got down. Here, the audio started to kick in, with helpful lists with translations. But I discovered another feature as well, and one that immediately impressed me. Not only does My French Coach provide helpful spoken translations, but you can change the speed at which they are given (for anyone who's ever used tapes or CDs when learning a language, this is a boon). The best part? You can also record your own efforts -- and then sync them up with the game to test your accuracy. That is a really nice feature, especially since we all have those words with which we struggle. I can just never seem to get heure (hour) quite right.



Of course, with the simple word lists out of the way, it was time for the mini-games. In my first day of training, I opened up four: Multiple Choice, Hit-a-Word, Word Search, and Flash Cards. The last I unlocked as I finished my session, so I'll have to check it out tomorrow. The others are pretty straightforward: in Multiple Choice, you're given a meaning, and you must select the appropriate French word from a group of four. Word Search is the traditional word-finding game; here it's nice, because it helps to focus your spelling. Hit-a-Word is the odd game out -- it's whack-a-mole, but with gophers and French words. Hilarious and helpful.

By the end of my day's training, I not only finished my lesson, but mastered the ten main vocabulary words within. C'est bon!


See also: The My French Coach series in its entirety

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