Rertrouvez le sourire (Find the smile) is a highly interactive online game for French language learners. The player takes on the character of a detective to solve a mystery that unfolds. To solve the mystery, the player navigates through Paris and responds to certain clues and commands. A number of decision points require that the player answer basic questions in French. The "smile" belongs to none other than the Mona Lisa which, for the purpose of the mystery has been stolen from the Louvre. The questions and tasks that the player must confront to advance the game all involve typical first-year French language topics: identifying oneself, describing a lost object, asking for directions, buying a metro ticket, going to a restaurant and renting a hotel room. Cultural information is also integrated through the graphic interface itself and popup cultural notes.
Type of Material:
Educational online game
This activity is best used in an independent setting or in small groups in a lab.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The user will reinforce listening and reading comprehension in French.
Target Student Population:
First year French students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
First year French
This site was designed to be maximally interactive while incorporating the typical learning scenarios that one encounters in beginning French courses. Users who enjoy video games may find the cartoon quality a bit less realistic than the games young people play for entertainment these days, but they will still enjoy the native speakers and the ability to interact with the simulated context from unit to unit. The situations are very real-world and mirror what any tourist might encounter on a first trip to Paris. There are ample possibilities to stop and practice phrases that would come in handy on a real trip. The Info plus feature gives the user further insight into culture and history. There is also a compact grammar reference that can be accessed and hidden easily. It is not at all intrusive, but is there if the user needs it. As for the spoken French, it is possible to read transcriptions and to read translations if one wishes. The script is translated into a number of languages including English.
This software was designed in 2001, hence the reference to francs rather than euros.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This is a very effective learning tool for students who prefer to study language in context rather than engage in tedious drill and practice. The situations are realistic and the mystery itself engagingly whimsical. Learners are apt to stay with the activity to solve the case. In the process, it is possible to practice quite a bit of French in an enjoyable format.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
For when it was made, it is a well-designed program where the instructional purpose drives the use of technology and not vice-versa. For the most part, the navigational design is straightforward and intuitive.
For the current gaming generation, this software may seem somewhat basic, but the opportunity to practice French in an engaging way might override this concern.
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