This is the French version of JumpStart Toddlers 2000 (see our review) designed for French-speaking children ages 2-3. Though not intended as a tool for teaching preschoolers French as a second language, its design lends itself perfectly to the task.
This title is hosted by a friendly little duck named Lisette. Because most of the 7 activities in JumpStart Toddlers 2000 contain 2 levels of difficulty, with the more challenging level quite appropriate for preschoolers, this title is ideal as a foreign language introduction for children up to approximately 4-5 years old. Vocabulary words are spoken clearly and include basic words from groups like colors, letters, numbers, and shapes.
Children tend to learn a foreign language most effectively through an immersion approach. Since this title is designed for the youngest of computer users, vocabulary words are clearly spoken and emphasized, and simple phrases help reinforce these basic words. For example, in the shape activity, the animal friend asks for a particular shape to fill a picture. Children hear the phrase "Il me faut un cercle". When children find the correct shape, Lisette reinforces the vocabulary word by saying "C’est un cercle". And, of course, repetition is an extremely important element in any form of foreign language instruction. Additionally, kids are afforded the opportunity to hear vocabulary words in basic context.
The activities reinforce basic concepts like color identification, alphabet and number skills, shape recognition, and more. Particularly unique is the music activity in which children turn instruments on and off as they listen to a classical music piece. Though this activity doesn’t rely on language and thus won’t help with foreign language instruction, it is a fun and powerful activity that helps kids identify different musical sounds and elements.
The free play creativity activity translates particularly well as a vocabulary booster. Each "stamp" object’s name is clearly spoken as a child picks it up and places it on the board. Thus, as children create a picture, they’ll be hearing the names of colors, letters, numbers, shapes, animals, and familiar objects. Simply creating a garden scene will help kids become familiar with such words as champignon, fleur, soleil, papillon, and more. As they fill in the sky with the paint bucket tool, they’ll hear the word "bleu". Excellent opportunities to learn are here in a natural, unforced manner as language instruction is almost subliminal.
Each activity features a song/music video all about the featured topic. Music is a powerful language and vocabulary booster, and the ones included here are stellar. The CD-ROM can be played in an audio CD player as well to enjoy long after the computer is turned off.
For more details, see our review of the English version of the program JumpStart Toddlers 2000 which received a 4 1/2 star rating and a Best of 1999 Award.