language package includes 2 CD-ROMs, an audio CD, a 48-lesson
guidebook, and links to online enrichment and quizzes.
The first CD-ROM, Video Grammar Lessons Disc (see screenshot at
right), contains 16 lessons, each with a short video introduction, grammar explanations, a
conversation which incorporates some of the lessons learned (allows users to see, hear,
and read the dialogue in context), all followed by questions and answers on the topic at
hand. The questions are self-correcting multiple choice -- kids will get immediate
feedback once they choose an answer.
Choosing SoundStart will help users familiarize themselves with the Automatic
Speech Recognition used in the program. Players can practice the pronunciation of
50 common words using the record/playback feature, saying the words until the program
considers the accent is acceptable.
A multimedia Glossary is included and allows children to search for
words in Spanish and English, see them pictured and hear the words pronounced, then
practice saying them into the microphone.
help to teach and reinforce foreign language lessons. The Games Disc
contains a decent range of activities to help users do just that. Players choose a game by
first selecting the mode of play (listening, reading, or speaking), the topic (for
example, food, people, etc.), then a game from the 3 different levels.
Level 1 games focus on nouns, verbs, and simple phrases. Users can build on the
vocabulary of the first level by playing Level 2 games that include complete phrases and
sentences. Level 3 games provide an extension of the skills learned in the previous two
levels. They focus on dialogues and conversations and use a comic strip format for visual
Games include Concentration, Bingo, a multiplayer Square Off! (play against the
computer or a friend), Match Up, Family Tree, What Is It? (identify common household items
from descriptive clues), and many more -- 32 games in all.
contains some extras that help extend learning beyond the computer. The Audio Disc
provides on-the-go or simply leisure time learning, and is correlated to the guidebook
exercises. The 48-lesson guidebook is quite adequate as a supplement to
the program. Direct access to SmartStartonline.com provides additional web resources
including quizzes, links, and a Cultural Cafe where kids can learn about Spanish films and
For pre-and early readers, you might want to try KidSpeak
Spanish or KidSpeak 10-in-1
Language Learning (Smart Start Spanish Deluxe
is better for solid readers). Smart Start Spanish Deluxe
is better for children/adults who will benefit most from a straightforward, step-by-step
method of learning Spanish. Children who are more confident in their knowledge of Spanish
and who enjoy faster-paced games might try Spanish for the Real
World by Knowledge Adventure.
This program seems
to cover most basic angles and does a good job of emulating the natural way a
language is learned, incorporating listening, reading, and speaking. Note that
Automatic Speech Recognition is imperfect and might frustrate users at times.