The Times Education Series GCSE English is an interactive CD-ROM set in Rowan Crescent in the town of Lakehurst, where the residents are ready and willing to help students with the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills required at Level 4 of the National Curriculum.
The program, written by practising teachers, is divided up into 16 chapters which include formal and informal letters, report writing, persuasive description, preparing notices and leaflets, writing letters of complaint, giving a talk–there’s even some old-fashioned essay writing. In each instance, the substance of the chapter relates to one of your neighbours in the street so, for example, you may find yourself helping the kid next door organise their homework essay, or correcting old Mrs Simmons’ formal letter to the council, designing a newsletter or giving an eye witness account to the police concerning an accident in the Crescent. Personalising the individual exercises like this makes it more interesting, though it would be even more successful if you could actually see the other residents, rather than just hearing their voices. Each chapter includes exercises and teacher’s tips to help you get things right and you can print out the exercises to practice away from the computer. As well as navigating the program by chapter you can also search for specific words such as “nouns” and “adjectives” and concentrate on them no matter where they appear in the program.
Alternatively, you can play one of five grammar games which cover spelling, plurals, apostrophes, parts of speech and difficult or confusing words (like ‘sweet’ and “suite”). These are simple, arcade-style games that can be played fast or slow (depending on your confidence levels) and are designed to help improve your skills in the five different English language areas.
GCSE English covers all UK examination board syllabuses and is a useful brush-up and revision tool. In addition, by setting it in an imaginary street, the authors have made it much more interesting than a traditional text book–an important consideration when it comes to attracting and then maintaining a student’s interest. –Rob Beattie
This program is highly effective at holding the interest of its users while presenting essential core English skills. The product is fully narrated, navigation throughout the CD is simple and the material covered is based on the requirements outlined in the National Curriculum for GCSE English. A clever combination of an interesting story, fun activities and helpful teaching points make this an excellent course accompaniment for all GCSE students. Topics covered include: Informal Letters, Playscripts, Persuasive Description, Report Writing, Newspapers, Formal Letters, Diaries, Giving a Talk, Fact vs. Opinion, Notices, Leaflets, Letters of Complaint, Essay Writing, Writing on Account.