Review - North American Idioms: An Interactive English Language Learning Resource


Library Journal, Volume 126, No. 8, May 1, 2001

CD-ROM - North American Idioms: An Interactive English Language Learning Resource

Windows 95+/PowerMac 7.5+. 2001.
Price: $79.95

Try saying, " That exam was a piece of cake," to someone learning English and watch the look of confusion that comes from taking you literally. Fortunately for student of English –and their teachers– a CD ROM product is now available to unlock the mysteries of the bizarre idioms we use. North American Idioms: An Interactive learning tool that is as engaging as it is instructional.

Learning idioms can be frustrating in any language, and in English it is especially challenging, but this program makes it fun. Intermediate-level language learners are introduced to a variety of idioms in the context of real-life situations. There are 16 units here covering 12 idioms each. In "Planning for Greece," the idioms include common expressions like "going out on the town," "having a ball," or "playing it by ear." Click on one of the expressions and get a written explanation and at least two examples of usage. Then click on an audio icon next to each written explanation and example to hear the words read aloud. The real fun begins when you click the video icon on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen. A full conversation is enacted using all the expressions presented in the lesson. Although none of the actors will be winning awards for their performances, they do pronounce words clearly and slowly enough for a student to follow easily.

While the content only "scratches the surface" (Idioms, Unit 3) by presenting 192 idiomatic English expressions, the producers have focused on the common expressions English speakers use all the time, such as "in any case," "by the way,” and "as a matter of fact." The sections that go along with each unit review the lessons in a variety of learning styles, such as using matching games and choosing the best response in a conversation. Review questions reinforce each idiom through different styles of reiteration that is varied, not redundant. One suggestion I have for improving the activities section is by not making users click the "next" button after every question; they should automatically progress after each question is answered. The Bottom Line: North American Idioms: An Interactive English Language Learning Resource is a product that is entertaining and intuitive to use. The target audience may be younger students of English, but it will be tremendously helpful to adult learners as well. Highly recommended for public libraries, libraries supporting ESL programs, and individuals learning English as a second language.

---Elizabeth McKeigue, Access Svcs., Widener Lib., Harvard Univ.

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