The Oxford Interactive
The Oxford Interactive Picture Dictionary CD is based on the book of the same name. The CD gives the meaning and pronunciation of 3,700 words using images and voices in American English. In addition to the dictionary component, the software has a wide range of activities that could be useful for more advanced learners as well as beginners.
The main menu consists of twelve units that are divided into a number of topics. When a topic has been selected, a detailed picture appears on the screen. Learners can see and hear a word or phrase corresponding to any part of the picture. There are a number of activities that go with each topic. The basic activities consist of identifying the correct picture or typing the word or phrase correctly in response to a visual or spoken prompt. Each topic has a test, and the learner’s progress can be monitored. There’s a Flashcard Maker where the learner can practise the vocabulary with onscreen flash cards. A couple of games keep the practice from getting monotonous. One simulates a game show where the learner gets points according to the difficulty of the question, and another is a countdown where the learner has to answer all the questions in a certain number of seconds. There are some good reading and writing activities for more advanced learners which incorporate the vocabulary of each topic. Some topics have a short text, such as a memo or an interview. There are activities accompanying these texts, such as cloze, dictation, and a writing assignment patterned after the text with hints for useful phrases. Learners can access a dictionary while writing. They can choose only the current topic, all words, or their own list.
Although the Oxford Interactive Picture Dictionary is somewhat expensive, there are so many activities and the material is presented in such a practical, user-friendly manner that this software seems well worth the price.
The Protea Interactive Picture Dictionary
The Interactive Picture Dictionary, which is distributed by AlphaPlus, is produced by Protea Textware in Australia. It contains over 800 key words which are arranged in six main groups with several topics each. The words for each topic are listed in alphabetical order on the left side of the screen. When the learner clicks on a word in the list, the word is spoken and a visual image appears. To provide context, a sentence containing the word appears on the screen. The sentence can also be spoken. The voices are Australian, although there may be a North American version available in the future. Each word has accompanying activities which consist of typing missing letters, typing the word from memory or typing the word in a sentence. There are spelling and vocabulary tests for each topic. A special section for verbs shows the simple present, simple past and present continuous forms. For beginning learners who need a lot of repetition and want to work on their spelling, this software would be excellent.
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