This foreign language program features a pleasing presentation and an excellent set of learning styles. For the purposes of this review, we tested both French Explorer and Spanish Explorer titles (many languages are available).
The software is divided into two units, each containing eleven lessons. Each lesson can be attempted using the five main skill setslistening and reading (combined), listening only, reading only, speaking, and writing. Each skill set contains a preview of the lesson (designed for users to explore the lesson before proceeding to the exercises), one or more exercises, and one or more tests.
For example, Unit One, Lesson Four in the French Explorer program teaches cardinal numbers from 1-10. In most cases, users will probably begin with the Listening and Reading skill set. In this lesson, users can move through the lesson contents in an open-ended fashion by selecting "preview". There are four exercise sets for this option. Here, users are presented with a set of four photographs, and they must select the picture that best describes the given phrase (in both text and audio), such as "six, sept, huit". Some exercises require matching audio with text (no visual). There are four tests in this study, best attempted after the exercises.
Writing exercises involve listening to a phrase, typing what is heard, and checking the answers. If incorrect, the first error in the text is highlighted. Users can continue to attempt to correct their work, and if they are totally stumped, they can resort to the toggle feature that shows the answers. Speaking exercises require the use of a microphone, and Reading Only exercises involve looking at a picture and choosing one of four text phrases that best describes the photo.
Users can select any units and lessons, but these are organized nicely so that working through them in order makes sense. The photographs are vibrant and exceptionally clear. There is little of the confusion that is sometimes found in other programs that results from lack of clarity in terms of what the pictures are meant to represent. The exercises are repetitive, but very effective.
Although many useful phrases are taught in this program, missing are a number of basic phrases that are present in most travel foreign language software programs. As such, this program is more suited as a supplement to a student's foreign language courses. In fact, this is a refreshing feature from the perspective of children taking foreign language courses. Lots of reinforcement of vocabulary and sentence structure is featured ideal for the student!
This program is effective because the immersion approach matches most children's natural learning styles. Instead of explicit grammar lessons and translations, users absorb vocabulary and sentence structure in a manner that is natural and unforced. Most users will improve their listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills in the featured foreign language. Advanced students of the language are unlikely to find much challenge in the program, and very beginners might struggle a little. Rosetta Stone Explorer titles are best for intermediate students.