Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Learn French by MindSnacks

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Solid language learning has addictive games, stellar progress tracking

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • World Languages
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-8
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5 images

Pros: Appealing characters, simple navigation, and extensive resources make this a stellar go-to tool for learning and reviewing.

Cons: Some games fly by and feel a little rushed. Games are addictive in the extreme.

Bottom Line: A fun, consistently entertaining way to explore and build French vocabulary.

Teachers could use Learn French as a great companion to a beginning or intermediate French classroom. Encourage kids to choose specific lessons to review for class or allow them to choose their own sections to play and review. Teachers might gauge students’ progress by checking the completion percentage on different lessons or the words mastered on students' main profile pages.

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This French-language app from a publisher with several foreign-language and test-prep courses lets users explore 50 lessons covering topics from numbers and colors to verbs and idiomatic expressions. Users select a lesson and browse a list of vocabulary words, each of which is paired with an image to illustrate a word or concept. Clicking each vocabulary word allows users to see its enlarged image and hear it pronounced. Several lessons feature an information pop-up screen that explains the topic, a verb conjugation, or a grammatical nuance.

Users then click back to the app’s main screen and select a game to test their learning. Each game offers a simple challenge, such as spelling, rapid recall, image recognition, or error recognition, and features animated characters and images from the vocabulary list. As users progress through each lesson, they earn experience points and badges both for covering many lessons and for drilling lessons repeatedly.

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Some of the best features of MindSnacks are its progress-tracking capabilities, both for fun activities and for serious skills. Kids can see how many lessons they’ve completed, which words they’ve mastered (including how many times they’ve seen a word during gameplay), and how many experience points they’ve accumulated. The user profile lets them dig even deeper. With an at-a-glance graphic of their mastery of skills, kids can see their progress on image recognition, spelling, rapid recall, and error recognition, and they can also see which games address each skill.

Additional subtle, smart functions throughout speak to the app’s high quality. For example, kids can click a word at any point in the app to hear it spoken, whether it’s on the lesson page or reviewing words for mastery on the profile page. Even though the app includes just just nine games and 50 lessons, opportunities for reading, listening, and reviewing feel limitless.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Users won’t delve deeply into grammar, but nine built-in games challenge and delight.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

With multiple ways to engage and lots of ways to track progress, this is a great tool for learning French and making it stick.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Settings dashboard is extensive and easy to customize, especially if you don’t love the jaunty soundtrack. Easy-to-read help glossary offers great info.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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