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Peer Review

La Fontaine



Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 13, 2003 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: Started in 1995 and regularly improved over the past years, this website offers
an on-line, searchable edition of the complete La Fontaine fables and, for some
fables, English translations and audio files. The site includes a biography of
the author and a timeline. The original Latin fables by Phedre will be added
Learning Goals: To develop reading comprehension; improve knowledge of 17th century literature
and civilisation; learn about an author who remains a major cultural reference
among French-speaking peoples. The audio files provide material for phonetics
and listening comprehension practice.
Target Student Population: High school and college students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Intermediate and advanced levels.
Type of Material: Reference. Text and audio files.
Recommended Uses: Intermediate and advanced grammar courses; phonetic, culture, and 17th century
literature courses.
Technical Requirements: Media player for video clip in the Credits section.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This website is highly commendable for the quality of its text editing. All
texts have been carefully proofread, making this edition as reliable for
instructional use as a printed edition would be. Readers will enjoy the
possibility of leafing through the twelve books of the fables faster and more
efficiently than using a printed edition. The search engine will retrieve a
specific title in a few seconds.
Selected fables contain audio files, accessible by clicking on the illustration
to the right of the fable text. The sound files increase the pedagogical value
of the site, making it very useful for phonetics courses.
The English translation will be useful to some users, while also easy to ignore
for those who prefer a target language only approach.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: La Fontaine's fables are traditionnally part of the French curriculum, starting
as early as elementary education in French-speaking countries, and as early as
the second semester in FSL. Therefore there are plenty of applications already
built into the curricula, from grammatical uses to cultural, stylistic and
phonetic ones.

The clear focus of this site allow faculty to create effective learning
assignments around it. Instructors can create their own comprehension and
expansion questions on the individual fables for use by students. In culture or
language courses the website will be a major resource for students preparing
presentations or recitations. In classrooms equipped with a connection to the
Internet instructors can project the website on the screen and assign two or
three different tasks that will be performed at the same time by different teams
of students.

One of the great lessons provided by this site is the very story of how a family
was resourceful enough to collaborate on a web project that not only resulted
in their learning, but in a lasting resource for an international
audience.Stereotypical portrayals of computer usage among young people as an
isolated, dangerous activity are challenged by this project. Faculty can engage
their students in a discussion on how the Internet can be used wisely and for
the greater good. Articles and a video clip on the Famille Vidaud can be found
in the credits section and can be used profitably in class.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This website is very easy to use. A simple, seamless design provides a table of
contents in the left frame of the screen, while the selected fable appears in
the center frame. A third frame on the right contains the search box and a
series of links to other information or news. At the bottom of the center frame
a link to a printable version of what appears on that screen (e.g. a fable) is
offered to the reader.

On the Credits page, the ability to enlarge the Express and Liberation articles
about La Famille Vidaud is a nice feature.

The search engine is easy to use. For the time being, it retrieves the fables
whose titles contain a specific word. For example a search for "grenouille" will
retrieve the fables that contain that word in their titles.
Concerns: One of the video clips (from Canada) on the Credit page does not work due to an
outdated link.

Other Issues and Comments: It is worth noting that this website is the work of the Vidaud family, a father
and his four children. The idea came from the children in 1995, and the whole
family worked together in the website design under the father's supervision.
This is now the third edition of this wonderful collaborative project, which
reached an average of 500 hits per day last year. Hence the quotation on the
"Mais le pere fut sage, de leur montrer avant sa mort,
que le travail est un tresor."