A.C.D.: The French Files
A.C.D. stands for Art Crimes Division. In this French language learning app, kids become agents who must find out who is responsible for the works of art that have disappeared from a Paris museum. As kids search for the culprit, they hold conversations in French and English and learn a ton of French vocabulary. While the game lacks a bit of organization and could improve its intuitiveness, kids who are learning French will find that it’s an entertaining way to learn the language.
- Learn key vocabulary words
- Use French phrases
- Search for clues
- Capture the suspect
When kids first open the app, they’re given the opportunity to set up a new game. This involves choosing a gender and customizing the appearance of their alien-like detective persona. From there, they’re sent on their first mission. The directions for each mission are given in a combination of French and English. Throughout the app, these directions are read in a variety of voices and even the main detective character seems to change voices throughout the app. This lack of consistency is a bit frustrating. Also frustrating is how the text lines up with the audio. Often the words appear on the screen much slower than the audio. This makes it difficult for kids to read and listen at the same time and causes trouble for kids who want to connect French words to their pronunciation. Kids will have a bit of trouble figuring out how to play, but it’s less because of the mix of languages and more because of the lack of instructions in the app. Basically, they go on a random hunt for vocabulary words and clues, but there are very few hints or other guides in the app to help them.
As far as learning French goes, this app does a fairly good job. With the mix of French, English, and illustrations, kids can generally figure out what is going on and what unfamiliar phrases mean. As they discover new clues and complete tasks, they’ll understand even more of the French that they encounter. There are two main educational components of the app – vocabulary and simple phrases. Kids learn new vocabulary words as they search for objects in the various settings. For example, they can tap on a tree and learn it’s called l’arbre. Other times, kids must infer the meaning of French phrases. For example, the app may instruct kids to “Parlez a l’entraineur” when they enter the gym. Kids are also given opportunities to type the French equivalent of English phrases. For example, when the trainer says, “Pouvez-vous m’aider?” kids must type in “Oui, je peux,” French for “Yes, I can.”
Kids will eventually figure out the correct answers and be able to navigate their way around the app, but there’s seems to be a bit of a disparity in the levels of activities. For example, kids who do not know that a piece of paper is “la papier” are not likely to be able to type in “Oui, je peux” or understand instructions such as “Trouver la casier.” The English instructions included in the app help, but they’re not consistent enough to be the support many kids will need.
Aside from the frustrations that come from not knowing exactly what to do at certain points in the app, kids will find that it is fairly entertaining. They will enjoy searching for objects and completing all of the missions. The mysterious background music helps enhance that experience, as do the different notes, clues, and messages kids discover as they play. Kids will also feel like they’re getting a handle on the French language as they successfully navigate the French instructions they have been given.
Given the organization and lack of consistency within the app, it may not be the best value. However, its unique approach to learning French makes it worth a download, especially for kids who have at least a couple months of French under their belts.
The app is free from social media, external links, and other content designed to take kids away from its content. The mix of French and English in the beginning stages is clear enough that kids can figure out how to get a new game set up on their own.
- NO external links
- NO social media
- NO 3rd party ads
- NO in-app purchase