BonPatron, the popular online French grammar and spell-checking tool, is the creation of McGill’s Dr. Stéfan Sinclair (Associate Professor of Digital Humanities), and Dr. Terry Nadasdi (University of Alberta).
BonPatron is designed as a teaching aid for those looking to improve their French writing abilities. It is the only online tool of its kind that allows the user to gradually educate him/herself and improve composition skills. The user inputs text directly to the window in the online program, and BonPatron identifies the common errors: red font for spelling, a red box for definite grammatical errors, and a yellow box for probable errors. Rather than correcting automatically, the site points out and explains the errors, so that the user learns how to correct them.
BonPatron is especially helpful in the classroom: students can learn to self-correct on BonPatron first, and work with the teacher to perfect the final draft. Rather than overwhelming the student with every error that he/she might have made, BonPatron works in stages: the most common errors need to be corrected before the more complex errors will be pointed out. For this reason, the BonPatron team urges the user to submit the composition, correct the initial errors, and then resubmit to BonPatron for the next level of correction.
BonPatron also pays particular attention to users for whom French is a second language. The error-checking software is sensitive to common errors made by English speakers (‘Anglicisms’), and the site gives an option to have errors explained in English rather than in French, to ease the learning process.
BonPatron offers a subscription to a Pro version, recommended for the classroom. The Pro version saves the student’s work in a writing portfolio, provides a verb conjugator, a word finder, interactive exercises based on the specific errors, and is free from advertisements. A trial version for BonPatron Pro is free for up to 5 days.
Please visit bonpatron.com to start!
For more information about its benefits in the classroom, visit http://bonpatron.com/en/Edu/ (site in English)