It was a while before I could get to review GramEx, because it is only available in the languages building. Whenever I tried to use the computer rooms, they were taken by classes. Finally, one morning this week I left my house before 9am and luckily found an empty room. The amount of trouble it took to actually access this had put me off a little even before I’d started it.
However, I found that once I had started GramEx Français (one of my advanced languages) that it was almost worth it. As it is obvious from the name, the TELL package is specifically aimed towards improving the grammar of languages. In the labs at U.L., it is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The GramEx Français offers a range of grammar to revise: the pronouns, verbs, indefinite and definite articles, and the passive voice among others. I didn’t have time to check out all of the different options because it was early morning and I was pressed for time in case a class or a group came into the classroom, so instead I picked three options: les articles, les démonstratifs, and les pronoms relatifs. The programme starts off by summarising the information which students are about to revise. Then, the student picks the number of exercises he or she wishes to do. These exercises take the form of sentences with a blank space, where one of the options (such as qui, qu’ or que) is supposed to go. The student clicks on the correct answer out of these multiple choices. The answer is corrected (often with a ‘Bravo!’ or ‘Formidable!’ or an explanation of the answer which was selected but happens to be wrong. If the student picks the wrong answer, then there is an opportunity to go back to correct that. Once the entire selection of exercises is complete, the student must try to complete the ones that he or she made a mistake on earlier.
There are a lot of really good points to GramEx Français, especially in the pronoms relatifs category. There, students must first test their knowledge of subjects and objects. I liked the way that I could choose how many exercises I wanted to do, because it suits when one is stuck for time, or perhaps studying for a test and just trying to quickly review grammar. It’s also easier to click into GramEx than go online and resist the temptation of Twitter and Facebook! However, the sheer hassle that it takes to actually access the TELL programme in the first place is very off-putting. The languages labs are not open late and if a student has class until six or meetings in the evening (as I often do) then it’s not easy to find the time to access them. During the day, it seems that the labs are occupied just whenever I have an hour to spare! This is not ideal for language learners. I would recommend GramEx and I’d like to use it again, but it remains to be seen if I’ll get the opportunity!