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interactive book software
Joe Rock and Friends, Book 2 is a classic interactive storybook program, with a couple of nice educational twists. In this program, the user not only gets to select from three different stories, but also chooses the language (English, Spanish, French), and the level of vocabulary with which the story is presented.
Each of the stories - Joe and the Big trouble, Joe and the Priates, and Joe's Bad Dream, features a different adventure for our hero, Joe Rock. Joe is actually a rock. Not a mountain, not a boulder - just your basic, everyday, paperweight-size rock. Each story is about 30 pages in length, and has a few lines of text in a window beneath a colorful illustration. The user can elect to read alone, or have the program read the lines aloud. When read aloud, the words are individually highlighted as they are read. And if the translate option has been selected, the user can click on an icon and toggle the text between the initial language, and one other.
Joe Rock and Friends does a good job at achieving the program's intended purposes - improving reading skills and vocabulary, in multiple languages and levels. It uses colorful, clear, non-animated illustrations to transmit key story elements without the excessive distraction that animation would introduce. And by the program's careful synchronization of highlighting words in the text with the spoken word, users are able to simultaneously visualize and hear word breaks -- especially helpful when learning a new language. The stories provide students practice reading, listening, and speaking. When the program reads the stories aloud, it does so in a very clear collection of voices, and at a reasonable pace.
Even though these are simple short stories, they utilize non-simple vocabulary and grammar. For example, the Spanish language version set at the simplest vocabulary level makes use of multiple verb tenses, including: present, past, future, and present subjunctive. For non-native Spanish speakers, this might be comparable to a second year high school level.
Joe Rock and Friends, Book 2 presents three fun, original stories, combined with excellent illustrations -- and each in three languages. Students, both young and old, looking for exposure to and practice with new languages, will find it attractive.
Joe Rock and Friends ran without any installation required, directly from the CD on our test machine. Nice! After inserting the CD, the program starts automatically, and asks the user to select a language - English, Spanish, or French. Users can then pick a story, or stop and change any of three different configuration options dealing with vocabulary, translation options, and screen resolution.
Program navigation is simple and intuitive. Click a green arrow to turn the page, a red arrow to go back a page; click on a speaker icon to have the page read aloud. Our reviewers reported no difficulties.
Joe Rock and Friends is a useful reading and language learning tool, as a supplement to the more standard fare of textbooks, worksheets, and audio tapes.
PC: Windows 2000 or later, Pentium 350 MHz or faster cpu, no hard drive space required, 128 MB RAM, 1024 x 668 color display, CD-ROM drive, sound card .return to top of page
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