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Review CornerSoftware
My Reading Coach
Rating: four stars
The Bottom Line
This reading support program presents a personalized and instructive method of improving reading and spelling skills for anyone requiring extra practice. It combines audio and video to present its 47 lessons and reviews, without much in the bells-and-whistles department. As such, users need to be self-motivated in order to persevere through the program.
Ages: 7-Adult   Subject: Reading/Pre-reading/Spelling  Brand: Mindplay
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
My Reading Coach Product Overview
Jim Larrabee, a 25 year veteran speech pathologist and reading specialist, is your digital teacher in this software program based on his proven phonics-based program. This package contains 47 lessons as well as practice activities designed as reading support for anyone ages 7 to adult requiring some extra coaching and reading practice.

This package contains 3 CD-ROMs with one-on-one lessons that combine video and audio to teach spelling, reading, and reading comprehension. A cartoon assistant named Sam helps reinforce concepts taught. My Reading Coach is now available in this single-student edition that can be used at home or for home schooling. It allows the user to complete the program in up to 100 hours or one year, whichever comes first.

The first lesson introduces the letters m, n, p, and a. Students can watch the introduction that demonstrates the letters and their sounds. Proper mouth position is taught for correct pronunciation. For example, students can recall the sound that m makes by remembering that it is the "lip-together" sound (and if you put the lowercase letter m on its side, it even resembles lips), and that n's sound is the "tongue-up" sound. Next, they work on the different sections: Word Building, Listen & Find, Reading, Spelling, and Writing. Each of the 47 lessons is structured similarly. Users practice letter sounds, build words, and practice spelling. Later lessons include topics like blends, policeman e, 2 syllable words, 3 syllable words, and compound words, to name a few.

The program is sensitive to the performance of its user and automatically schedules review tests and reassigns lessons if necessary. Student progress is tracked and reports are generated based on performance. Printable worksheets are available for away-from-the-computer practice.

My Reading Coach is quite forgiving and positive. A certain amount of commitment is necessary because this title is not glitzy in any way. Kids will likely need encouragement in order to complete the program. The motivational rewards that we have come to expect in software packages for children are not present — you won't find games or "prizes" for a job well done. On one hand, the coach presents lessons in such a way that is most appropriate for older children, yet the encouragement and praise given seem best directed at younger kids in the suggested age group.

This title is very focused and quite comprehensive. Each lesson is to-the-point, yet complete, and short enough to hold attention.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium processor, 32 Mb RAM, and 8X CD ROM. Headphones are recommended.

Skills Covered
phonics, spelling, pronunciation, letter formation, reading comprehension

Educational Value
The lessons presented in this package are well-organized and very educational. Much emphasis is on speaking clearly and developing listening skills.

Entertainment Value
An amiable and encouraging host helps to keep interest, but on the whole, this program is best for people who are motivated to learn. Lessons are straightforwardly presented without game breaks or other distractions.

Installation is cumbersome, and though in many ways the interface is straightforward, it could have been a little easier. Otherwise, the program is well-organized.

Motivation and commitment to learning will be essential in order for users to follow through to the end of this program. The level of content is high with 47 lessons each broken down into 5-6 parts.

Dollar Value
The single-student edition is $99 US.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: July 2000