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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Rosetta McLeod
Chris Bourne

Basic Vocabulary provides the solid core of nouns which are used in the other English Language Tutors.

The menu offers three choices, Describe, Spell and Command, together with seven possible sections. The words in each section are given in the accompanying booklet, and each section contains five groups of four words, such as 'table, chair, bed, stool' and 'plate, jar, saucer, dish'.

If the Describe option is selected, the screen display shows pictures of four objects in different colours (red, blue, green, yellow and pink are used), and you must type in the correct phase which will describe the highlighted picture. This might be 'a blue table' or 'a pink chair'. In this first option, the noun is spelt out above each picture, then if Spell is selected, the name of the highlighted object alone has to be typed in. The final option allows you to command the computer to' colour the fish pink' and so on.

As with the other three English Language Tutors, this program uses colour coding as an indication of pan of speech. White-green-red, for instance, would mean that the computer is expecting a determiner, an adjective and a noun - 'a red car'.

This program is certainly very useful for teaching spelling, colour, and simple parts of speech, and the animated graphics provide a child with a good incentive to complete each section.

This program, which provides considerable practice in reading, aims to teach pupils to attend to question form.

The menu provides 14 options, graded in difficulty, and each section is presented in two parts, first with and then without the colour coded lines denoting the part of speech required. The interrogatives used are 'What?', ' Which?' and 'Where?' and you have to identity and name the various objects pictured on the screen, or type in the colour of an object, or where it is in the picture.

It is possible to use the program with or without penalties for incorrect answers, and the teacher can select the number of errors allowed before penalties are incurred. As with the other programs in the series, the screen display has been sensibly thought out to enhance the learning process.

The object of this program is to teach an appreciation of group nouns or category names. Some of the categories covered include fruits, vegetables, crockery and clothing.

The program is based around four screen displays each dealing with a set of group nouns, and after the choice of screen has been made, the menu asks for a selection of tasks such as answering questions like 'What's the (noun)?'. For this task, four group names are given at the top of the screen, and under these twelve objects. One of the objects is highlighted, and the question of which group it belongs to is posed.

When this has been mastered, two objects are highlighted, and this time the question 'Which is the (group noun)?' must be answered. The next series of questions demand that the answer be given in the plural form, and it is also possible to choose to answer a random selection of questions.

This is all very well thought-out and carefully structured, and the attractive use of graphics and colour is extremely effective.

Prepositions can pose quite a problem for many young children and this program sets out to teach not only the meaning, but also the spelling, of the commonly used prepositions. Some of the sections dealing with prepositions of movement - such as into, onto, to and from - feature animated graphics to make the meaning clear.

A nice touch is that after every second section has been completed, a revision section is presented and if persistent errors occur, you are sent back to the relevant practice section.

The screen graphics are especially good in this program, and the careful structure which has been adopted is extremely impressive.


Control keys: all the letter keys are used
Keyboard play: responsive
Graphics: very good
Use of colour: bright and attractive
General Rating: a very carefully thought-out series of programs which would be particularly useful for children with learning difficulties.

Not Rated

Screenshot Text

The opening menu from the Category Names program in Options' English Language Tutor program.