Ortholud is a rich learning tool which can be used to complement face to face teaching. The self-correction exercises use pictures, sounds and games to make learning French fun and is an excellent resource for homework and test preparation, independent review and practice. The website is organized around the five levels of the French primary school system: CP or 11ème (Year 2/1st grade); CE1 or 10ème (Year 3/2nd grade); CE2 or 9ème (Year 4/3rd grade); CM1 or 8ème (Year 5/4th grade); CM2 or 7ème (Year 6/5th grade). Navigation is made easy by the use of several categories: Conjugaison, Grammaire, Ortographe, Vocabulaire, Lecture, Jeux divers. Similar language and educational links, a list of schools that currently use the exercises as well instructions regarding the navigation of the website are also provided in the section Divers.
Type of Material:
Drill and practice; quizz and mini-test; development tool.
Parts of the site, including the FLE picture flashcards with audio, can be used by parents who would like their young children to be exposed to the French language at an early age. The site also contains useful exercises for students of all ages who are learning French as a second language. It can be used as a complement to traditional or online French instruction, as well as by individuals are studying French on their own.
The practice exercises can be used as whole language class activities, homework, weekly assignments, and independent, fun-learning activities.
HTML, latest version of Java, Firefox is recommended web browser
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The site is designed to improve listening, reading, and writing skills through the middle school level (similar to ACTFL's Advanced Low level) for native French speakers. Students learning French as a second language will also gain knowledge in French culture through the site's reading activities (featuring Tintin, The Smurfs and La Fontaine's Le Corbeau et le Renard) and listening activities (conducted through a series of cloze exercises created from lyrics to popular French songs).
earners have multiple opportunities to practise and review important language concepts. For instance, the folders and subfolders in the Vocabulary category are grouped under thematic listing. By matching the new words to their meanings with pictures and pronunciation, learners can use the visually appealing cues, sounds, and dictées en chanson to learn new vocabulary in an enjoyable way rather than memorizing long vocabulary lists. A large number of exercises expose learners to authentic French culture: video clips, easy to access transcripts of popular songs and video sequences, brief readings.
Target Student Population:
The target student population for native speakers of French is 6-13 years old. Beginner to intermediate language learners; most suitable for primary school students. However, the site is appropriate for use by non-native French speakers of all ages.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Because the exercises are organized by level of difficulty/age of student, there are no prerequisites for the first set of activities in each category.
The use of the website can facilitate the acquisition of French as a foreign language. Students may benefit from the strategy of transferring knowledge acquired in the classroom while developing their cognitive and language skills independently through enjoyable, self-correction exercises.
These simply and consistently designed materials are useful for language development: grammar review, vocabulary enrichment, reading and listening comprehension exercises. The immediate feedback to learners can help them improve their language skills and set new goals for self-paced instruction.
The content and language of the learning material is correct and the site offers a variety of exercises (crossword puzzles, hangman, dictations, etc.) in order to keep students engaged.
Possible enhancements would be: updating of video clips and songs; adding a glossary of grammar and vocabulary terms used. If the animation were updated, it would be even more appealing to students.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The language exercises and games included in the website are well-designed and useful for young second language learners. The word recognition, spelling challenges and vocabulary definition develop learners’ creativity and motivate them to use grammatically correct language while having fun. The language exercises, activities and games allow for interactive participation and may be used for class preparation and self-assessment.
Although many of the activities are presented as a contest, students would perhaps be more motivated to complete them quickly and accurately if the website offered a computer (or classmate) opponent and/or if the site kept track of a student's personal best score or his/her peers' best scores. Alternatively, students could be offered a "reward", such as a short video clip or a beautiful picture of somewhere in France.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The website is easily navigable by category and level of difficulty. The video and sound quality and the transcripts are suitable for classroom and independent use. The content is colorful and engaging and the links are developed for young children to be able to navigate and include a variety of images. The directions are clear and learners can easily access materials.
The advertisements which appear on the site can be easily confused with the site, itself. In addition, It is not always easy to redo an exercise: The "Help" section reveals that it is necessary to press F5 in order to repeat an activity. Finally, the activity lists are a bit crowded: a better layout, with more space between each option, would make the site more user-friendly. Although this does not take away from the utility of the site for second-language learners, in the main menu dedicated to native speakers of a specific age ("Par classe"), the link for CM2 does not work.
Other Issues and Comments:
Teachers and learners will appreciate the simple design of the exercises. The materials will increase language awareness and develop knowledge about the various strategies needed for effective language use. Teacher candidates could also use this website as a model to develop fun and educational language activities for all students or for small groups of students with special needs that need extra practice with basic concepts and skills.
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