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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was intrigued by this bargain-priced pack having previously used the (very expensive) 'Tell Me More' and the more modestly priced Michel Thomas method to learn/improve European languages. I had never before attempted to learn an oriental language but, as I have to deal with Japanese clients on occasion, I thought it might be useful to be able to exchange the odd word with them in their own language. The pack promises that you will learn to speak your chosen language confidently after thirty days - I am pretty quick at picking up languages but this claim is, in my view, very optimistic unless perhaps you have some prior knowledge of the language. It certainly isn't true of my attempts to learn Japanese!

I have to say that I was impressed with the material available and also with the fact that the course material covers both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. I also liked the fact that the software installs on your PC without the need to insert discs (which is how the Tell Me More programme works) - you can just use the software when you have a spare minute or on the move as opposed to having to remember to bring the discs. It is also useful that there is a printed user manual. It is a generic manual covering the Berlitz approach rather than being a study guide which matches the course. That said it is a rarity these days to find any user manual in hard copy.

I found the flash card system quite helpful, although this will obviously be a personal thing as different people will have different learning styles. There is a range of activities such as sentence unscrambling, grammar reference and more. The Berlitz programme isn't as comprehensive as 'Tell Me More' but then at around twenty pounds compared to over four hundred I think it is pretty good. The Berlitz programme also includes a pronunciation checker (you need to have a microphone) which seems at least as good as the more expensive programme - I was learning a different language so it is difficult to compare directly.

Initially I was looking forward to listening to the audio CD in the car as I have done with other language courses. Unfortunately, as another reviewer has commented, the technique used to link a word to its meaning so that you remember it is dreadful on the Japanese audio CD. It is fantastically funny in one sense but useless as a means of making something stick. The first thing you hear on the CD is the Japanese for good morning which sounds like the US state of Ohio so the suggestion is to think of the US state in the morning. Fair enough you think but the next bit introduces the formal greeting to be given in the morning and the instruction is to think of the state of Ohio in the morning going to a piece of moss shaped like an I (really!). It just gets more and more bizarre thereafter (involving Bozo with a D at the front or thinking of someone with a large toe) and so convoluted that the idea that these prompts will help is simply hysterically funny. I struggle to see how anyone would find the audio CD of any practical use. I listened to the Mandarin audio CD to see if this was a standard approach but the audio there is completely different and much more sensible, involving listening in to a teaching session.

Despite the Japanese audio CD, overall the course isn't bad and indeed, in view of the price point, you get a lot for your money.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've tried books, audio CDs and computer programs before when trying to learn languages - this is by far the best I have seen and that is partially because of the fact it is a blended approach. You get audio CDs that reinforce the lessons from the computer, along with a system that supports a wide variety of learning styles. The courses are well structures and start off with useful, if somewhat unexciting, conversational phrases.

Unfortunately, in a few places it shows a sad lack of care and consistency that can be frustrating. As one example, some of the phrases include ending punctuation and others do not - thus, when you are asked to type in what a phrase means, you are marked as incorrect if you leave out a trailing full-stop for some words and phrases, and not for others. The software does come with a 'dictionary' that you can add to, telling it that your answer should be treated as correct - unfortunately, I found this niggling and it interrupted my flow of learning.

That small objection aside, I would have no problems at all in recommending this, and I plan to continue using it myself.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'd used the first version of Berlitz's Learning System before with other languages- the software remains the same, only the language you're learning changes. In this pack you get the updated version 2, and the language 'books' (data packs) for both Mandarian and Japanese, along with one audio CD for each. I find the fact that both languages have been bundled together a little bit confusing, as you learn them as entirely different languages- you could use this pack to teach yourself Chinese without learning a single word of Japanese, or vice versa.

Unlike other reviewers, I had no problem at all installing the software (on a Windows Vista 64-bit system), it worked first time. The hundreds of phrase learning MP3s dropped straight into my iTunes, all properly ID3-tagged, labelled and iPod-ready. All the language data gets installed on your hard drive- so conveniently you don't have to insert the DVD-ROM every time you use it, but if your hard drive is quite full you might find yourself a bit short of space.

The interactive interface is good. It's a clear and quite colourful point-and-click approach which even quite young children would be able to find their way around no problem. The main bulk of the teaching process is based on flashcards and simple learning by repetition at the beginning, but as you advance through the language (I concentrated on Mandarin) the software gets more advanced to match, such as interactive line-by-line videos, and allowing you to record your own speaking exercises (microphone required). Since version 1 of the software, Berlitz have added a much wider variety of games, such as crosswords, "Vocabulous!" (which word is missing?) games, and the slightly odd screensaver-like "Word Whirl". The increase in variety and challenge is a big improvement over version 1, and the Mandarin and Japanese 'books' are well thought-out.

On the down side, the two American audio CDs that are bundled in are both, frankly, poor. The Mandarin one is passable but the Japanese one is the worst I've ever heard. After introductions which claim that memorising phrases is not the right way to learn, they proceed to bombard you with learning by rote, at full speed, without care and attention to the learning process. Some of the 'memory bridges' suggested in the Japanese book are so bad they're hilarious. Here are two genuine examples:
- "when you want to apologise to someone, you can ask them to sue you. But you have to get them to sue you all the way to the end; the moss end. Drop the 'D' from 'end' and say 'sue-me-moss-en'"
- "to ask 'how are you?' in Japanese, ask again for the key to someone's feelings; substitute the 'O' sound for the 'A' sound in 'again', then imagine you are asking someone who is sitting at a desk saying 'ahh'. This will help you remember: ogen-key-desk-ahh."
Um... what? Perhaps some people revel in learning foreign phrases in such a convoluted and confusing way, but for me it doesn't work at all. On top of it all the Japanese disc is badly edited, with accidental repetition of partial phrases and some audio glitches on top.

I'd recommend the Berlitz software as straightforward, well-planned and deservedly popular, but the accompanying audio CDs are a let-down.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It seems I'm not the only one here who had problems trying to learn Mandarin... and it wasn't the fact I found the language difficult. Like some other reviewers who have experienced problems with this product, I just couldn't get the software to work!

Try as I might, I just couldn't get the software to install on my machine, which is a shame, as I had high hopes for it. I have just recently reviewed a couple of 'TELL ME MORE' software language courses and had hope to do a comparison review...

The Berlitz package seemed to have many of the same features and a lot less of the cost> If it measured up well it could have been an excellent alternative buy for those trying to learn a language. Sadly, now we'll never know.

At this price, it's still probably worth a punt before you splash out on a TELL ME MORE language course, but sadly I won't be 'Turning Japanesa' with the help of this course anytime soon.

Sorry if this review wasn't much help, but my hands were kind of tied. Maybe these reviews of mine will help you in your buying decision further: TELL ME MORE French v10 10 levels+business (PC DVD) TELL ME MORE French v10 10 levels+business (PC DVD)... Who knows, mayeb they do a Japanese of Mandarin option.
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on 26 July 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I didn't experience any of the problems that some people have with Windows 7 64 bit. Some settings on the computer may need tweaking, but it IS compatible with Windows 7.

There is an incredible amount of content within this product - the DVD contains the main programme and flashcards, and the audio CD reaffirms the teaching. There is also a good range of content, covering beginner, intermediate, and advanced. With one little disclaimer - I'm not sure this is suitable for an absolute beginner. The first lesson goes straight into phrases, yet some grasp of the alphabet would be jolly useful in reading and understanding the language, rather than just parroting the phrases set out on the screen.

It is clear and easy to follow, and excellent value for money. This would really help someone taking a language course to help between lesson with practise and culture. A splendid product, that would be utterly excellent with a few more additions at the start to help complete newcomers to grasp the language better.
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VINE VOICEon 25 August 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Like some of the other reviewers I also experienced issues installing "Bertlitz: Chinese & Mandarin Premier" onto my PC. I don't usually have issues installing software, so found this disappointing but was able to manually load the program files.
The reason I chose this software is that my wife is Japanese and I thought that after 10 years maybe it was time for me to learn more than a few basic words & maybe understand what she & my kids are saying about me behind my back. It will probably be a while before that happens as I'm not a natural linguist; however this software is very accessible and ingenuous. The learning methodology is very straight-forward and I really like the flashcards. My wife, who is a Japanese language tutor doesn't really like this method as it's not particularly intensive but for someone like me who just wants to dip into the language to learn a few basis at their own pace - it is ideal.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An easy install on a mid 2007 iMac running snow leopard. Started with Chinese but found it hard so started Japanese, and that seemed hard to.

I was using it at night after a long days work, but my concentration was not up to the required level. Learning a language never seemed this hard at school, and thats where this lets you down. You need loads of motivation and concentration to succeed, and when your on your own, you are not 100% committed to the course. The dated interface and way it works do not help you get over this.

Overall good value, but do not expect to learn a new language in a a few months.
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on 23 August 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is inexpensive software and a great product for any Student, Tourist or for Professional use to enhance your skills this is excellent Language software to own.
The modules including visual and listening for this software are very good.
The software is clearly defined on all aspects of the modules for listening and learning.
This software can help with School exams or assist a Career because it is relatively inexpensive and packed with helpful information, it is a very useful program to own.
If you want your child or yourself to learn Chinese or Japanese I would recommend the Berlitz premier version which is available for many languages.
Berlitz Chinese & Japanese Premier Version 2 (PC/Mac)
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As you would expect from Berlitz this language learning package has been made with care and an understanding of the theory of language learning. I have two children who are interested, respectively, in Chinese and Japanese. They have already used this product on an occasional basis and given it a definite thumbs up. In some ways, it requires rather more self discipline than the average learner can muster because they are responsible for their own progress. However, the signs are that if they decide to take it really seriously the progress they make will be rapid.
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on 17 March 2011
this is a good value product, chinese is quite a difficult language to learn and this dvd is very helpful
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