Review - Tense Buster, 2001, Five-level Compilation

Library Journal, Volume 127, No. 3, February 15, 2002

CD-ROM – Tense Buster, 2001, Five-level Compilation

Windows 95/98/NT/2000. 2001.
ISBN 962-960-0730
Price: For single user, $296; $74 for each level; network license available

Despite the specificity of its name, the English grammar CD-ROM Tense Buster covers much more than just verbs. Across five skill levels, this disc teaches over 30 different aspects of the English language. Students of English as a second language (ESL) can learn how to ask questions, make comparisons, and report on what they've heard, in addition to learning how to describe what they did yesterday, what they're doing today, and what they'll do tomorrow. The disc can be installed with either British or American English; the on screen help makes it easy to figure out where to begin.

Each skill level (elementary, lower intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced) addresses seven or eight different concepts. For each concept there are lessons, exercises, tests, vocabulary lists, and tips. Tips are short and useful and therefore memorable. For example, students at the elementary level are encouraged to buy a vocabulary notebook, learn two words together ("cold" is the opposite of "hot"), and learn words in sentences.

Material used in exercises is amusing and varied enough to hold the attention of even a native English speaker. In one exercise, the user is asked to fill in the blanks in a transcript of an interview with a fictional rich and famous actor. "No,____ my fourth wife. She's my sixth wife," says the actor.

If students set the system to provide immediate feedback for every correct answer they will see "Well done!" and hear applause. For an incorrect answer, the system gives the correct answer with an explanation. Students who log in (with a name but no password) will be able to track their progress and make notes in an electronic scratch pad. In this and other ways, the disc makes good use of its multimedia capabilities. Also included on the disc is an Authoring Kit, which allows a teacher to create grammar exercises using the various Tense Buster exercise formats.

The Bottom Line: Tense Buster will be a good addition to the CD-ROM collections of academic and public libraries that count non-native English speakers and their instructors among their patrons.

--Carrie Macfarlane, Research Svcs., Widener Lib., Harvard Univ.

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