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Froggyspeak

I've just come across this interesting and free little site which has scripted situations and a story read aloud at slow and normal speed. It's called Froggyspeak. The strap line is "Learn French at Your Speed". The authors do invite donations, however small, to help run the site.

Each situational dialogue or story chapter is broken down into sections which are read aloud slowly. You can then listen to the whole dialogue read at normal speed. Here are the situations:

Le Cycliste 
Le Chanteur 
La Belle Conductrice 
L'Agent Immobilier 
Le Café du Port L'Hôtel 
Le Médecin Généraliste 
Vacances Relaxantes 
La Route pour Rouen 
Les Nouvelles Lunettes 
Les Ouvriers Invisibles 

In addition, there is a story in episodes called Les Aventures d'Albert.

The writing is accessible and witty.

Here is a short extract from one chapter of the Albert story:

"Nous avons un problème. Les Parisiens ont commencé à acheter des animaux exotiques comme animaux de compagnie et, parfois, ces animaux deviennent trop grands et trop difficiles à garder alors leurs propriétaires les jettent - dans les égouts: et ils se reproduisent ! "

"Ainsi, nous avons une colonie d'alligators sous Montmartre. Nous voulons les emmener à la Ménagerie. Mais ils sont heureux là où ils sont et ne veulent pas se déplacer. Ces créatures sont très nerveuses, même névrotiques.'

 "L'un d'eux est énorme. Il souffre aussi de paranoïa. Il avait été traité par un psychiatre pour animaux mais, malheureusement, l'alligator n'aimait pas le psychiatre et il a mangé ses pieds !C'est pourquoi vous avez besoin de gants épais et de bottes solides." 

You can see that the level is broadly intermediate to high intermediate, but it's made more accessible by a pop-up translation option.

How would you use the site? That's the slightly tricky point. You could present it from the front and play the audio files, but you might as well just read it out, provided your accent is up to the job. You could use the texts as a basis for class oral work - questioning, true/false, correcting false statements etc, but that somewhat takes away from the fun of the stories.

I would be tempted to let students read and listen individually in class via iPad or in the computer room, or for homework. You could design some simple meaning-based worksheet material to check that the reading and listening has been done, bearing in mind that translations are available to the students on the page. This would rule out some exercise types, but you could, for example, do gapped French sentences based on the dialogues or story, but which are not lifted directly from the text.

Anyway, do take a look and see what you think. The authors do welcome feedback. I would say that the quality of the recordings, whilst more than adequate, is not tip top. The site has a homespun look, but is easy to navigate and functions well.

This is yet another example of generous-spirited people sharing useful material online.

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