Software Reviewed By:  Amina Nihlawi and Chiang Shu-chun

Title of Software: A Whale of a Tale: Leap into Language 1

Product name

A Whale of a Tale: Leap into Language 1



Platform / Operating system

The website mentions these system requirements:


System Requirements (Minimum):


  • 486/66 Multimedia Computer
  • 8 MB Ram
  • VGA monitor (256 colors)
  •   Windows 3.1 or Windows 95/98
  • SoundBlaster Compatible
  • (8 bit, 22 kHz)
  • CD-ROM Drive (2X or better)


  • Macintosh (68040 Processor) or
  • Power MacIntosh
  • 8 MB Ram
  • 256 Color monitor
  • Mac OS/7 or later
  • SoundBlaster Compatible
  • (8 bit, 22 kHz)
  • CD-ROM Drive (2X or better)


ESL/EFL Level(s):     Basic   Low Intermediate   Intermediate  High Intermediate  Advanced
(Click all that apply.)

Age group:     kindergarten   elementary grades  middle grades  high school  college age  adult interest
(Click all that apply.)

Type of Program:
Check all that apply.

Problem Solving  Drill and Practice  Simulation Informational   Game Student Tool  Teacher Tool ESL-Specific Non-ESL Specific  Testing  Text Reconstruction  Text Construction  Exploratory activities
Other: ______________________________

User friendliness:

not at all somewhat average good excellent

English Language Areas Covered:
Check all that apply.

Reading   Speaking  Writing  Vocabulary  Grammar  Listening   Cultural Competence  Computer
Conversational  Other: ___________________________

Describe the program and its functions/components briefly.  What is the content?  What does the program try to accomplish?


This software program is designed as an interactive learning tool for students that want to improve their understanding of language arts.

Pedagogical considerations--Program Operation:
How easy is the software to use?   Consider 4 of the criteria on the right?



  • Is there an instruction manual and/or an on-screen help option?  In the program, there are three icons; Instruction, Test, Activity. The Test icon is the only one that has a Help button.

  • Are the program functions and instructions easy to follow, or do they cause frustration (what kind?)? The Instructional lesson is very frustrating. Facts of the lesson are constantly presented non-stop. The only option that a student has is either to exit the lesson or go back to the beginning of it. The lesson doesn’t stop to ask comprehension questions, which is frustrating for young students because you literally have to chunk all the information.

  • Can the learner control the program (the options he/she chooses), or is there a set sequence that must be followed?  There are buttons on the bottom right of each page. So, the student has the option to quit the lesson and go off to another one or just go straight to the Test. Thus, lessons can be opened easily and quickly. The learner can move from lesson to lesson easily. The learners can control the program they choose.
  • Can the learner's work be saved? Unfortunately, there is no option for the student to save his/her work.

Pedagogical considerations--Feedback:
How does the software program evaluate the learner's response?  Consider 3 of the criteria on the right.

  • Does the program present an authentic task? The program does present an authentic task. It presents students with authentic language arts lessons, such as possessives and compound words, that they will learn in school.
  • Does the program interact with the learner by allowing input and modifying output? The program does not allow student interaction. This especially occurs in the Test section where students are presented with a series of non-stop questions. After the test is complete, the student receives his/her grade and an option to view the correct answer.

Does the program foster critical thinking? The program does not foster critical thinking. The topic lectures are non-stop without pausing to ask comprehension questions. Thus, the program has the learner repeat exercises indefinitely.


Pedagogical Considerations--Content
Select the appropriate criteria on the right.

Well organized  Well sequenced  Enjoyable
Interesting   Factually correct  Helps learning
Provides effective practice  Introduces new language understandably  Provides meaningful interaction between computer & learner  Provides communicative interaction between students     Creates challenge without anxiety
Free of excessive violence  Free of stereotypes
Takes advantage of computer's unique capability 
Comments: Explain some of the content features above in more detail.
The program is not enjoyable and not interactive. It provides good lessons with nice pictures, but does not take advantage of the many facets of a computer game. The designers could have made the program more game-like, because all the materials on the program are presented explicitly instead of in a fun way that would interest kids.

Pedagogical considerations--Program Output
Select the appropriate criteria on the right.

Attractive screens
Attractive Graphics
Attractive Sounds

Print option available

1.  State the program's strengths and weaknesses from a pedagogical point of view.

2.  Mention how/where this software fits/doesn't fit into current learning and teaching theories.










The program provides great authentic lessons about language arts. In that perspective, I would recommend to all elementary and middle school students. It also has wonderful and attractive art work that would appeal to young students and keep them “in” the program. The colors are bright and the illustrations are clear for learners to do prediction. The fonts are big enough and the text is appropriate for the levels. The design is just like turning a page on a book, not like a web page, so it is more attractive to children.    

The program was not very interactive. Each lesson was long and examples just went on and on. Thus, students were being lectured at, which is not attractive for young children. During the Test part of the lesson, students were given a series of questions and received their final score at the end of the test along with a “review” of the correct answer.



#2 This program can easily be adapted to classroom lessons. It can complement a current language arts curriculum and can provide the teacher with another learning tool to help students understand difficult grammar points (e.g., possessives and contractions). Thus, developing a classroom learning environment that is suited to students’ different learning styles.