The Active Network
ActiveWin: Reviews Active Network | New Reviews | Old Reviews | Interviews |Mailing List | Forums


Product: Microsoft Encarta Interactive English Learning Professional Deluxe
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: $130.00
Review By: Julien JAY


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Learning & speaking
3: On the move exercises
4: Conclusion

Microsoft has made this English learning software with the help of some well-known English teachers to give the product a real educational mean. To reach this ambitious goal, Microsoft Encarta Interactive English Learning mixes several multimedia technologies such as video, real-time 3D animations and speech recognition to submerge the user in a full English world. When you first start the software you should create your own profile. As everyone hasn't got the same knowledge each profile can be adjusted like this for the video: slower speech flux, simultaneous dialog translations in the language of the user, dialogs' titling in English. For the grammar & dictation exercises, you can choose the difficulty level (between 3: easy/medium/advanced).

Once the profile is created you have to choose the unit you want to start to improve the way you speak & understand English: Microsoft Encarta Interactive English learning offers more than 360 different activities grouped in 10 units that should allow every users to perfect their comprehension & oral expression with the exclusive "Listening" & "Speaking" activities that feature the Microsoft Speech technology as well as their grammar and vocabulary skills (and so their written expression) with the 'Practice' & 'Vocabulary' activities. More over the studying plan can be customized by the user that fixes its objectives according to its daily availability or for a special term. Whatever the chosen formula is, each working session comes with a predefined list of activities that should be completed according to a true teaching logic. If some exercises aren't finished during a session they'll be automatically added to the next one and the studying plan will be recalculated. When the user has chosen an unit he can choose a theme like for example 'a little formality', Encarta Interactive English Learning now offers the users 4 different learning activities named 'listening', 'speaking', 'practice' and 'vocabulary'. Each of this 4 activities feature different exercises type (like Word check, pronunciation, word choice, etc.) that the user can choose: once the exercise is chosen the serious things can start as the exercise begin: generally the user have to answered the questions that Encarta displays by checking checkboxes while listening (as many times he wants) to the video. Encarta Interactive English Learning Professional offers more than 30 videos that present business & everyday situations. Each video is associated to 12 workshops that has the goal to ensure you'll achieve high results under the virtual challenge module when the user feels that all his answers are almost corrects a single click on the check button will analyse the answers and corrects them while providing a result mark under a percentage way which is a bit unusual. Then the user is encouraged to begin a new exercise or activity. When the student has finished all the exercises of a unit the virtual challenge is waiting for him. What is the virtual challenge? A place where all the skills that should be acquired throughout a lesson are reviewed to ensure the user acquires them all. How does the virtual challenge work? The user enters in a 3D virtual environment where he can interact with the characters of the lessons but he is also submitted to the same problems or difficulties the characters encounter. The 3D experience that Encarta Interactive English offers via its virtual challenges is intended to provide users better interactivity and contacts with the English language: the exercise based on 3D animations are funny while serious at the same time and will be liked by everyone as they provide a real teaching plus by learning the real English and not the school book one.

Finally Microsoft Encarta Interactive English Learning Professional Deluxe offers grammatical notes for some lessons that deepen some basis as well as cultural notes to better understand the american way of living.


The speaking workshops lets you begin a character of the video and you'll have to speak for him. The software will then guide you to ensure the best possible pronunciation. Encarta Interactive English comes with a head microphone and its audio settings wizard will help you to tweak the microphone to the optimal settings for a good pronunciation. Note that you can also record your voice and listen to it. Moreover the virtual challenges push behind this because when user are evolving in a real (100% USA like) 3D world some video characters will ask questions the user will have to answer the right way with correct pronunciation.

3d virtual challenge


Microsoft has included a real report card into a simple & visual progress journal that allows everyone to track its progress as well as its training plan evolution step by step. The success level can even be customized according to the objectives & skills of each user.

<-- Introduction On the move Exercises-->


  *   *