Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



EazySpeak Spanish

EazySpeak Spanish

Spring 2005 Software
Ages: 12 & Up
Price: $24.95
Platform: windows 98 2000 me xp
Review:
With Doki (as in “Oki Doki”), a personality-filled cartoon man, middle and high school students of Spanish can learn vocabulary and grammar through different role playing scenarios. Players travel around the city, selecting different locations to explore, all the while learning theme-related vocabulary and phraseology. Some of the “zones” around the city include: The Alphabet, The Calendar, The Time, The Bank (Numbers), The Travel Agency, The Hotel, The Hospital (Parts of the Body, Ailments), The Clothes Store, The Restaurant, The Supermarket, and The Police Station (Personal Descriptions, Occupations) in Level One and The Office, Doki 2050 (The Future), Doki A.D. (The Past), Doki TV (The Present), Hotel Gaudi, and The Tourist in Level Two.

Within each “zone” in the city, players can move through different activities to practice the vocabulary within that theme. The activities provide players with substantial practice in reading, writing, speaking (if they actually repeat the phases as the moving lips icon suggests) and listening. Because the dialogues are presented orally and in writing (through the word bubbles that appear over the speakers’ heads), players can practice listening to and reading the conversations. For a greater challenge, however, players can opt to turn off the word bubbles and practice listening alone. Within each zone approximately 20 to 30 new theme-based words and contextual phrases are taught through a variety of interactive activities. These activities offered a wonderful combination of humor and instruction as Doki and the other characters present vocabulary through both realistic and absurd situations.

One of the funniest scenarios was playing the part of a doctor who selects the remedy for the ailment of which a patient complains. In one of the dialogues the patient complains of a broken heart and players must select a chocolate bar from a table of medical supplies to remedy it. In another, players must listen to descriptions of potential criminals in a line up at a police station and then determine which person fits a certain description as provided by the investigator. The line up contains a married female doctor, a divorced waiter with two sons, an alien with 100 daughters, two brothers who are single students, and a widowed business woman with three children.

The last activity in many of the zones is called, “Te toca a ti”, or “It’s your turn.” In this activity a phrase is given orally and in writing with a missing word. These phrases are derived from activities already presented in that zone. Players must use contextual clues to determine the missing word and then spell it correctly using the typing tool. This mini keyboard offers players accented letters and letters unique to the Spanish language (ñ, á, é, í. ó, ú, rr, etc.) to use if necessary. Players must spell answers perfectly to advance.

In this reviewer’s opinion, it is these often unexpected and witty scenarios that separate Doki from many of the other interactive foreign language CDs. The dialogue, although seemingly occurring in odd or unusual situations is quite logical and relevant - much of it would be appropriate for business or travel – therefore not best suited for the youngest language learners. EazySpeak Spanish also offers interesting “extras” like a Talking Dictionary in which an icon or word for each new vocabulary word in the zone can be heard by clicking on it and a Talking Calculator for practicing larger numbers as you pay your bill in the Restaurant zone. Additionally, players can click a Doki Chat Room icon and proceed to the Doki online link where Spanish can be practiced with other Doki players in a chat room. Microphone Karadoki also allows players to practice pronunciation of vocabulary through a sounds and pronunciation game and compare pronunciation with Doki’s at a record facility.

EazySpeak Spanish offers a creative and original approach to learning. The extensive “out of the box” tutorial, with its choices of languages in which instructions are provided, explains very clearly how directions should be followed during the activities by taking cues from a series of icons that require different responses.

Angel Menefee   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Angel Menefee, a mother of three, tutors public and private school students from pre-kindergarten through Grade 12. Mrs. Menefee has authored foreign language, art and music curricula.

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