Spanish Levels 1, 2 & 3 (Instant Immersion) (Spanish) CD-ROM – 31 Mar 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
**Content vs. Packaging vs. Layout
***Cost vs. Benefit analysis
****Pro's and Con's/ Recap
*Instant Immersion, is a 8 c.d. + 1 DVD language tutorial program created by the
European company, "Euro Talk."
From the product description, the set "guarantees" that it is the quickest way to learn a
foreign language: in this case, Spanish. And, it should come in handy living here in
Miami. The product has a lot to offer (and that shouldn't be discounted), but it may be
overselling its capabilities.
**Content vs. Packaging vs. Layout--The packaging is a very slick two-sleeve box set
with a beautiful woman and idyllic setting on the cover. All of the discs, all nine (9) of
them are cramped together at the bottom of the second sleeve. The entire remainder for the
packaging from the opening sleeve to the top part of the second sleeve is empty. What a
waste of packaging, nevermind the waste of creative graphic designing.
The layout has a childlike-theme to it. As a result, it is very simple to follow, but at the
same time, it felt like they were talking to a five-year old. I suppose if you're starting from
scratch with no knowledge whatsoever, then maybe this is the most enticing way to
Each of the discs has a hodgepodge of vocabulary, common phrases and response sections.
Six (6) discs, the first section, cover the basics: building on elementary (but, common)
words to business/ internet/marketing.
One (1) disc is a mystery game, "Who's Oscar Lake?" This is a game that reminds me of
"Clue," where getting the right answer enables one to move on with a bit more knowledge
about the mystery character.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Bad News: Neither Immersion Spanish nor Rosetta Stone lives up to its marketing hype. Let's face it, learning a new language is hard. Advertising that suggests you can learn a new language in hours or days from a DVD (or any other method) simply isn't true. Programs like this are mostly useful as a quick refresher or as a complement to regular classes.
The Good News: This program feels roughly comparable to Rosetta Stone, and its price is dramatically lower, which reduces your investment and risk significantly if you buy it and it don't end up using it as religiously as you expected (which is what happened to me with Rosetta Stone).
Punch Line: I wish that I had known about this product before buying Rosetta Stone for 500 dollars. Given what a program like this (Immersion or Rosetta) can do for you, it's worth about 50-100 dollars. I regret having paid 500 dollars for Rosetta Stone, which didn't live up to the hype and basically turned out to have about the same value as Immersion Spanish's 50 dollar product. Oh well ... live and learn, I guess.
By the way, my son particularly likes the game features of Immersion Spanish, and I like the ability to transfer the audio CD to my iPhone. Both are neat features.
That is not to say that you cannot learn a great deal of Spanish using this program, but it is not nearly as smooth or user friendly as its Rosetta Stone counterpart nor does it employ a natural language approach ('dynamic immersion' in Rosetta terminology) to learning a language. On the other hand, it is considerably cheaper than its Rosetta stone counterpart and this more traditional approach to learning a language may be more familiar to some users.
Please note: I have reviewed all of the disks and canvassed the content, but certainly have not progressed through all of them. I will try to update the review later when I complete the course. I have used Rosetta Stone for another language, but not for Spanish. I do believe, however, that all the Rosetta Stone courses follow the same basic progression.
THE LONG REVIEW
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
The box includes a number of CDs that are part of the language acquisition program. Rather than being a coherent program, these are a hodgepodge of CDs from various (and some, perhaps, retired?) programs from EuroTalk and Transparent Language. In spite of the slick packaging, this is not a single language program. Rather it is a bundled product. By looking at visual cues and how these are put together, they seem to run the gamut from more effective to less effective and the late 80s to late 90s.
Please note: none of the computer CDs will work unless the CD is in the computer itself. So far, I could not figure a way around this. This is okay for most desktops and laptops. The advantage to keeping all information on a CD is a small installation footprint. But if you want to learn Spanish in flight to Mexico using your netbook, you're out of luck without an external CD drive (unless you find a solution to this problem).
[Note: originally, I commented that you might want to learn 'Spanish in flight to Brazil.' S. Frisco, quite correctly,pointed out in the comment section that the official language of Brazil is Portuguese. One still could learn Spanish en route to Brazil, but it wouldn't help you nearly as much as learning Portuguese whilst going there. In spite of some Spanish learned, I am in desperate need of a program to help me with Geography 101. I should also point out that the CD that contained only MP3 'language lab' type files can be transferred to a netbook or MP3 player for CDless playback.]
Incidentally, these CDs work equally as well on my PC and on my iMac (Intel processor, with Snow Leopard). There is a short installation process on the PC. No installation is necessary on the Mac, although the program puts some library files on your computer to follow your progress.
Level 1 Disc 1: EuroTalk Talk Now! This is one of the slicker and more modern CDs, still being sold separately by EuroTalk. It basically is a visually appealing audio and visual flashcard program. Objects and simple phrases are learned in this phase. Little or no grammar. You can learn the cards, be tested, and record your voice. Simplistic, but reasonably effective for vocabulary learning. As with all the modules, there is a portion where you can record the phrases while you try to match the accent of the native speakers. The only assessment, however, is the one you make by playing back your recording. Moreover, on both PC and the Mac there seemed to be a delay in the recording of my voice. Once I realized this, I was able to successfully record and listen.
Level 1 Disc 2: multimedia flash cards: a program that looks as though it is from the early 90s, but still effective. Vocab building flash cards, simple games, and recording again, but with a decidedly lower tech graphical environment. Other than different vocabulary, there wasn't really a logical progression between disc 1 and disc 2.
Level 2 Disc 1: EuroTalk "Talk More" Basically a phrase book and dialogues for various situations: the alphabet, at the restaurant, shopping etc. Some of this is rehashed in the interactive DVD. Very early 2000s type programming. Once again, there are phrases but no emphasis on grammar and no testing on grammatical constructs.
Level 2 Disc 2: EuroTalk "Talk the Talk" Vocabulary, Family, At School, Hobbies and Friends etc. A little more up to date than the last disk, but really more of the same for different environments.
Level 3 Disc 1 Most modern disk. More advanced games. These are much better. Lots of choices. The games, once again, are mostly vocabulary building. There are some that emphasize time and numbers which are very helpful. This is the most unique and best of the disks that I saw.
Level 3 Disc Two: EuroTalk "Talk Business" Phrases and dialogues for: on the phone, business, careers etc. Similar to the other EuroTalk disks in the program
The interactive DVD looks like a late 80s early 90s production. It is basically a rehash of the same video segments from Level 2 Disc one, using a less sophisticated technology and doesn't add much.
Who is Oscar Lake: A mystery game in basic Spanish, somewhat like early Myst or Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiago. Late 90's programming style. Seems like a cool way to use the Spanish you have learned, although I am certainly not at a high enough level to use this game at this point.
Audio Disk: This is a standard vocabulary and dialogue based language learning CD. Think 'language lab' from high school or college. The voices are clear and there is an excellent PDF file that serves as a guide. This can be downloaded to an iPOD for better use.
This disk is actually key and oddly may be the most useful and best thought out part of the whole program. It provides the most bang for the buck in terms of actual language acquisition and familiarity with Spanish. It should probably be the primary focus of the user and the computer programs could be used to increase vocabulary and learn how to use Spanish in more specific situations. On the other hand, the process used here is very much like high school 'language lab'--a bit of frightening memory, but once you get over that it's not so bad.
I am not a native Spanish speaker nor am I an expert thereof, but the accents used throughout the program seem to be European (e.g. mainland Spain) and not the dialects used in Puerto Rico or South America. This makes sense, as the bulk of the program is from EuroTalk. However, my guess is that an American audience would be more interested in the Spanish spoken in Latin America: this is a more likely vacation destination for us and Spanish speakers within this country are predominantly from Latin America. Even so, the audio is always well recorded. The actors modeling the language all have clear voices and articulate carefully. You never get the sense that you have to strain to hear a word or can't make out part of a phrase.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
One of the major downsides of this program is that it is a phrase and vocabulary based program. It seems to be an excellent adjunct to a course or book, but does not seem to be a stand alone language program. Using the program, you could definitely learn how to ask for directions or order in a restaurant, but there are few tools here to help you construct full sentences and really learn the Spanish language. You can think of it as a fun way to learn a Spanish phrasebook.
This contrasts with a program like Rosetta Stone or audio programs like Pimsleur that work on both vocabulary and grammar at the same time. Rosetta Stone is also infinitely smoother in its interface and moving from units 1 to 3 in Rosetta is a more logical progression. However, no computer program alone will teach you a living language. Eventually, you will have to actually speak to an actual person to develop fluency. However, Rosetta will give you a better base for this than Instant Immersion.
On the other hand, Rosetta Stone is more slow-going than this program. It takes more time to teach language when you introduce both content and grammar. I personally prefer the Rosetta way because it is more natural for me, but others may prefer the flash card and phrase methods. If you are taking a trip abroad and need to get around, learning a basic vocabulary and specific phrases is the fastest way to go. The problem is, it doesn't give you a working knowledge of the language.
The discs are arranged in 'levels,' but these are levels in name alone. There are differences between disks, but mostly, they expand your knowledge of phrases and words for different contexts, rather than progress you to a truly different level in the language. And this is another place where I believe Rosetta Stone is better. In Rosetta Stone, you learn both vocabulary and grammar simultaneously. The program is 'smarter' and your skills build with each step.
It would have been helpful if there was an overall guide included with the software, to give you examples on how to most effectively use the components of the program. I found myself most attracted to using the computer CDs and playing the games, only to find out that using the audio program in conjunction with the computer program seems to increase the efficacy.
The most intriguing portion of the program is the Who Is Oscar Lake CD. Had the company worked more on a more novel way of language learning, this might be a more compelling package.
This program offers quite a bit at an attractive price point. You could buy this with an accompanying Spanish text book (and even supplement with some paid 'live' lessons for conversation) and learn a great deal of Spanish--and still pay less than you would for Rosetta. One of the advantages of a mostly vocabulary and situational based course is that you can more rapidly gain a usable vocabulary for travel. However, if you want a computer program that comes close to actually teaching a language, you'll have to pay a premium because Rosetta Stone is probably a better bet.
The first two disks are focused on words. You get a variety of categories of words to learn. First words, foods, nations, etc. An onscreen man and a woman take turns pronouncing the words, and you can click to repeat as much as you wish. You practice speaking after them. Then there is a practice session for speech; you can record your speech so you can compare your pronunciation to the one given.
A couple of issues: The buttons are not labeled in the first part of the series, so you have to guess your way around but it isn't hard. Also, the help function offers only the most vague instructions; I cared less about how many points I could get in a game and cared more about knowing in advance how to play so I didn't lose points trying to figure it out. It's easy enough to catch on, but if you don't know you have to identify an object out of a group of objects *after* the flash cards are turned face down and you no longer know where the object is, you'll of course lose points. But it is a lot of fun, especially since the fun is rewarded with the knowledge that you're learning to speak a language not your own. Plus the games help with repetition of vocabulary and pronunciation.
Then you have part two, which likewise consists of two disks, and these focus on phrases and sentences. There are flash cards involved, with a quiz after. And you get to cover important topics, including medical emergencies. The second disk in part two has dialogues and of course the quiz after, but I felt the speaking was very fast for people who are just learning. And you have to click for each phrase, but it gives you more control over your pace.
Level 3 disk 1 has games entirely in Spanish based on previous lessons. Fun. Know your vocab-those questions test for you knowledge of both numbers and descriptions. So if you recognize the number three, and you see three red balloons, don't assume anything. Level 3 disk 2 has phrases and dialogues, mostly related to business. (This license is for home use only, however, so it's not to take to work to train your employees, but you can bolster your own business savvy with this second language at home. Other license types available, though.)
Disk 7 has mp3/iPod audio, and disk 8 has a mystery game called "Who is Oscar Lake?" Disk 9 is a language learning interactive game DVD.
There is plenty of variety here to keep you from getting bored, and the immersion style is how you would naturally learn language anyhow.
Help languages supported: German, Mexican Spanish, Italian and French.
I'm having lots of fun. If dry textbooks aren't your thing, this will get you up and running quickly.
Now how about some disks in Hungarian and Russian?
As a former college-level Spanish instructor, I cannot agree with any of these statements.
1. Good accents on voice-overs. Speech is slow and easy for beginners to understand.
2. Fun & varied games which are good for helping to memorize words.
1. This system contains words & phrases only. There is no guidance on how to put your own sentence together. If you
need to go "outside of the box", you won't be able to do so.
2. The presentation can get hokey. Some of the games use people who mouth "si" and "no" when you answer a question.
The male will vigorously nod his head, you'll hear a voice-over of "si", but you'll see him mouth "yes" then smile widely.
Another game has skeletons doing the "si" and "no" then smiling.
3. Some phrases are not translated completely, which makes no sense at all, and, to me, a fatal flaw because if used as taught, it would lead to confusion & make the speaker sound stupid. This is ultimately the reason why I gave this system a 1 star rating. A few examples:
a. Translation: Do you have a map? (in Spanish: do you have a map of Barcelona);
b. Translation: Let me introduce you to my colleague. (in Spanish ....my colleague, Mrs. Perez);
c. Translation: I have a dog (in Spanish: ....a dog named Chispa);
d. Translation: She is sick (in Spanish: Pilar is sick).
This system is not good for school children who are in beginning Spanish and looking for something to supplement their course, and, while travelers will hear some of the vocabulary on their vacations, I think there are better inexpensive language CDs on the market. We previously purchased the inexpensive Learn to Speak Spanish Deluxe, and this is what my kids are currently using to supplement their studies (mainly to hear spoken vocabulary and use some of the quizzes).
If you are serious about learning Spanish, this is not the system to purchase. If you want your young kids (under 13) to learn Spanish words for fun, then this may be one of many systems to consider if you can find it secondhand or on sale.
However, it's only thirty bucks and for your money you get a boatload of material. There's a nice mix of lessons, quizzes, and even a not-completely-rotten game. On top of that you get audio files which can be played on your mp3 player, phone, and possibly your wrist watch and refrigerator.
I think they would have done better leaving off the absurd claim about Rosetta Stone and relied on the depth and breadth of material accumulated over the years. (funny story... A friend bought some language tapes (it was a while ago) to learn Japanese. The company that made them had the same instructional dialogue for every language they produced. She had the rare opportunity during the section that covered "dialogue for restaurants" to learn how to order pork chops. OK, I guess you would have had to have been there.)
Bottom line is this is for your $30 you get a ton of mediocre material. Three stars for the material plus one for the amount. You could do worse and if you *really* want to learn Spanish at some point then you'll still benefit by having this on hand as supplemental material.
BTW, I feel that honest, effective reviews can take the place of first-hand experiences that are lacking in online shopping. I've always appreciated the help I've received from other reviewers and work hard to return the favor as best as I can. I hope you found this review helpful and if there was anything you thought was lacking or unclear leave a comment and I'll do what I can to fix it.