This site provides podcasts (downloadable audio files) and optional accompanying PDF files for learners of French as a foreign language.
Type of Material:
Tutorials/Audio and written PDF files
French language students can use these podcasts to supplement and enrich traditional classroom instruction. Travelers might want to use some of the beginning lessons to prepare for a trip to a French-speaking country. The files could also be points of departure for a conversational French course.
The podcasts download best on a high speed Internet connection. The podcasts are downloaded in MP3 format and can be played on an MP3-compatible media player. If one wants to carry the podcasts with him/her, he or she needs an iPod, MP3 player, or would burn the files on a CD-ROM. Learners should know that they do not have to own ipods to hear podcasts; they can listen on their computers.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Learners will reinforce their knowledge of French through listening as well as reduce anxiety levels about language learning.The goal for this site is to develop one's listening comprehension, pronunciation, and speaking skills in French. One does learn some vocabulary and grammar in the audio explanations and PDF files.
Target Student Population:
The podcasts are appropriate for learners of all levels, as they begin with basic introductions and proceed from there.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
None, although it might be helpful to be a beginning student of French.
Evaluation and Observation
The content is engaging and correct. The tone is comfortable and not overly didactic, while at the same time very clear and effective.
An instructor and students classroom- testing the site thought that the podcasts were very well done. One of the students said that she liked that the content focused on USEFUL French. Another appreciated that the podcasts presented EVERYDAY situations that are often not addressed by textbooks. Another student noted the DIVERSITY of the topics and that the material is CURRENT, as new podcasts are produced every week.
The English explanations seemed a little complicated and might be best left to the accompanying PDF files.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The topics of each lesson are relevant, current, and demonstrate real life usage of spoken French. One of my students noted that since many students use computers and audio players on a daily basis, they might be more inclined to make use of these podcasts to learn French. She also said that learning French in this manner is "more exciting" than traditional textbook work.Many auditory learners would be more likely to listen to such a podcast than re-read a printed explanation of the same material. This is a real asset to online learners who learn better by listening.
One of the students noted that the English spoken in the explanations is an Irish pronunciation and some American students might misunderstand sometimes.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The podcasts were very easy to download and play back on a computer media player or save to a CD-ROM or MP3 player. Although they are called podcasts, they did transfer successfully to one of my students Zen Nano Plus player, so they are not just for iPods. This is a common misconception that prevents many users from trying podcasts.
Both students in the test class and the instructor noticed that the lessons were archived in reverse order, with the first lesson at the bottom. They found that potentially confusing. One student also suggested categorizing the podcasts by learner level (beginning, intermediate, advanced, etc.) Also, when you download the podcasts, the lesson number is not always a part the file name, so users should download, then rename the file so they will know which lesson is which.
Other Issues and Comments:
One student did note that the accompanying PDF files were available for subscription purchase and thought that although one could access the audio files for free, the PDF files might be useful for reinforcement of vocabulary and grammar.