We've arrived in Madrid for the last week of our Spain trip. In the more than seven weeks to date, we have just seen a small part of this country, but are taking many impressions with us.
After our time in Barcelona, which we enjoyed very much (and which also gave us some insights into the Catalan language and political struggle, see our blog...) we traveled south. With visits to Granada with its marvelous Alhambra, and to Sevilla with its Giralda (left), Alkazar and Torre del Oro, we followed in the steps of our Spanish 1 “hero” David - and we learned much about the long and often violent history of Spain.
We also visited Aranjuez and the summer palace of Spanish kings so we could utter the words: “Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez sind nun zu Ende” - the first sentence of Schiller’s play “Don Carlos” (“The pleasant days of Aranjuez are now over”).
While in Madrid, we are also following in David‘s footsteps - indeed our apartment is in walking distance of all the places mentioned in Level 6 of Spanish 1: Parque del Retiro (see picture on the right with the monument of Alfonso XII), the Prado, and even the Plaza de España and the “Museo Chichote” (a bar frequented in earlier years by film stars and other famous folks). There are more museums in Madrid than we can visit in our time here, but we certainly are trying our best.
And equally important, our stay in Spain has given us ample opportunity to try out our Spanish and to collect new ideas both for our Spanish 1 as well as for our future Spanish 2 course...
The great advantage of an online language program such as GamesforLanguage.com, as compared to language textbooks or CDs, is our ability to immediately and constantly improve our program. Early users will have noticed a number of changes over the last few months:
We've moved "The Story": In the easy first Scene - where the flight attendant asks our "hero" what he would like to drink - the dialog of "The Story" appears right at the beginning. However, for some users, listening to “The Story” without knowing the vocabulary, was frustrating. It therefore now follows the vocabulary games for the next 17 Scenes. Users will have acquired a vocabulary of around 350 words by the end of Level 3 (after 18 Scenes), and will now be able to guess the meaning of the next dialog. "The Story" will therefore appear again at the beginning of each Scene with Level 4.
Verb Picks: Following the suggestion of some users, we've added a simple conjugation game.
We've expanded the Memory Game: The initial Memory game now includes all new vocabulary (not just 8 key items). We were at first reluctant to overload the learner, but as we ourselves learned Spanish (see this blog and others that follow), we felt that each and every new word should be practiced.
We've added Word Hero: This recall game practices the vocabulary of the previous Scene.
We've added Recall and Record: In this game, the user recalls the vocabulary of a Scene of one (1) Level (i.e. 6 Scenes) earlier, and practices their pronunciation again in phrases and sentences.
Changes in the works
Downloadable grammar sheets: Not all users are interested in more detailed grammar instructions relating to the phrases and sentences of "The Story." However, for those who do, we're planning to offer downloadable, targeted "grammar sheets."
Personalized vocabulary list/game: We're working on a game that will allow users to create (then add/delete) and practice a personal vocabulary list.
Story audios: We'll shortly have mp3 audios of all scenes available for download. This way users can also listen to "The Story" on the road.
We’ve changed our mind!
Although apps have been the hot item for a while now and we already had a prototype in the works, we've changed our mind. We were growing weary of the many issues with apps, including having to wait 14 days for Apple to approve any changes and needing separate applications for Apple and Android.
We are working on a “responsive” website that tailors its display for optimal viewing on your device, whether mobile or desktop. “Responsive” design is quite new, but we are fortunate enough to have a “crack” developer on our team – our son Pascal – who just implemented such a “responsive” website for another start-up, www.Fundraise.com. Look for a new design and website for gamesforlanguage.com, which will work on all devices, in the coming months!
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