Learn French with Asterix: Asterix and Son CDTV logo CDTV


It's a simple enough idea, but it makes one of the most impressive CD titles yet to appear. Essentially this is just a talking storybook of the Asterix and Son book from the incredibly well-loved series. And it's in French. So far, so what?
Well, for starters it's narrated. This means that what you get is the pictures, digitised so that each screen to appear is just one frame; the words written down, in the captions and the speech bubbles, and the words spoken by the narrator. For anyone learning a language, reading a favourite and familiar book in that language is a great way of developing. But when you've also got the speech, it adds a whole extra dimension.

You can read the story through with pictures, speech and no written words; or with pictures, written words and no speech. Or you can read it through with all three if you like, in 'interactive' mode, in which you can replay the speech bit by bit to help you understand it properly.

The coup de grace, however, is the last bit. If you can add Microdeal's Voice Master, which is a microphone with an interface that lets you plug it in the parallel port, you can go through the story in another mode. This lets you listen to a sentence, then 'record' your own version with the microphone. You can then play back your version next to the original, and see where you are going wrong. It sounds like a gimmick, but it does work surprisingly well!

Learn French with Asterix: Asterix and Son CDTV logo CDTV


A digitised cartoon book with narration in French. Essentially all it does is show you the story, narrated by actors, and allow you to play it without words on the screen or without a soundtrack.

This would be a waste of time on its own, but a new dimension is added when you use the Voicemaster gadget to record your own attempts at speaking Francais. The mike digitises in your own speech and you can then play it back, next to the original and compare them. It makes an extraordinarily effective way of analyzing how good your pronunciation is - or isn't.

The package is surprisingly good. You need both discs for the complete 'Asterix and Son' story, but each disc can stand alone.

Also available soon is a Spanish version, and due out soon is another two-disc set in each language based on the Asterix Black Gold story.

Learn French with Asterix: Asterix and Son CDTV logo CDTV CU Amiga Screen Star

SWANFAST COMPUTERS, Price: £69.98, Tel: 071 731 0846.

How school kids are supposed to learn to speak French by reciting hundreds of verb endings is beyond me. This two-disc set aims to assist in the learning of French in a rather more entertaining way, and is quoted as being suitable for anyone from 15 to 50.

Most of the discs are taken up by a talking book. Digitised illustrations from the original Asterix books are accompanied by the voices of French actors playing the parts of Asterix, Obelix and all their friends. With the default settings, the speech bubbles are left blank, and you're left to decipher the story from the French speech. If you need a bit of help, you can opt to fill the speech bubbles with French text, English translations, or even get a word-by-word breakdown of everything that is said. This is the most useful feature, as it helps you get a better understanding of word order, vocabulary and general phrase construction.

Also included is an 'interview' section. Here you can choose questions from a list, and direct them at either Asterix or Obelix. Both the questions and answers are spoken in French. If you have a sampler cartridge and microphone connected (such as Microdeal's Voice Master covered here), you can listen to a phrase, speak it into the mike, and then play it back to see how your accent compares to the French voice on the CD.

As educational software goes, Learn French with Asterix is very professionally produced, and would inject some much-needed interest into any French lesson.