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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love these Berlitz language courses! The flash cards are excellent for building vocabulary and the programme keeps a track of your progress as you learn.

It's a clever little piece of software that is great to dip into or spend an hour so in front of a computer with. You can even put it on your iPod apparently - although I haven't actually tried this yet, but if you want a course that is a comprehensive French language course, then this may fall a little short.

If you're wanting something to dip into before a week away, or want fun trying out French in your spare time, then this is great fun! But if you're serious about learning the language from the bottom up then this may not be everything that you want.

Great fun!
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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Berlitz French programme appears to be exactly the same as the one produced under "Transparent Language".

The keyboard has improved, and on my Mac, automatically switches between the French and English keyboards. However, finding key necessary letters such as those with a circumflex, wasn't easy. The other irritating feature is the raft of Americanisms. Whilst the programme does allow you to permanently amend the spelling, it still grated to be told that a cinéma is actually a movie theater, and a jardin is a yard. It would not take much effort to produce a version more suited to the UK market.

The flashcard system is, though, excellent. This version doesn't allow you to build your own flashcards, but with the ability to refresh stale items, it would be enormously useful to those revising for exams.

The premise behind this programme is that the user is "immersed" in the language. That would work better if there were direct hyperlinks to other French resources. Instead, it feels more as if you are trying to learn a language with very little explanation as to how it works. There are explanations available, but presented in a very dry manner. Overall, I would be concerned that this would be a difficult approach for someone not already familiar with the process of learning a different language.

The programme contains 15 lessons, from initial introductions, to business vocabulary, and 6 conversation lessons to complement topics. It's clearly aimed at the adult user, and teenagers may find the topics less interesting. The lessons take the user into the past and future tense, but this is only to a lower intermediate level in terms of being able to use the language.

Some of the activities are good. I did enjoy the pronounciation activies, Some of the others rely heavily on being able to use the French keyboard effectively, and I had some residual problems with the keyboard, in finding how to add some accents.

I'm not convinced that this programme would be a good introduction to the language for a beginner. As a refresher following learning French at school, it does have some good points, notably the Byki flashcard system, and pronounciation practice. But overall, I'd like to see a bit more work on this before I'd feel comfortable in recommending it to friends.
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on 14 March 2011
Having read the reviews and product description before I bought this pack, I could not quite make out what level it was aiming at, particularly as it claims to be suitable for all levels from beginner to advanced. Once I started using it I could see why this was the case. Quite simply, it is not a coordinated learning package but a collection of different bits and pieces of French language learning materials all bundled under the Berlitz brand name.

There is an attempt to pull some of it together under an interface called "Learning Centre" but this doesn't really work. For example the flash cards will not accept keyboard input when you access them via the Learning Centre (as you're supposed to do) but will accept keyboard input if you close the Learning Centre and open the cards program separately. At least this is the case on my PC, and it is no use clicking on the link for technical help as it does not work. There is no technical help.

The six short videos are useful for listening to and analysing French conversation, though I still had to rely on Google language tools for much of the latter. However, some of the vocabulary learning aids such as crosswords and word games were of doubtful value, and again there are technical problems with some of the interactive video exercises. This part of the learning materials also includes a gimmicky word pronunciation meter where you say a word or phrase into a microphone and the program is supposed to analyse what you've said in terms of vowels, fricatives etc and give you a score showing how close your pronunciation is to good French. This is something that only a computer geek would think of as useful, or even possible. I got my best scores when, just for fun, I pronounced the French in broad Scots, Scouse or Cockney accents. This may not say much about my usual French accent but I suspect it says more about the software.

I wish I could give this pack a higher score, but in many ways it is an opportunity missed. Instead of producing a comprehensive learning programme, the publishers have cobbled together some old bits of learning materials(they still use francs in the shopping sequences)and packaged them under the Berlitz brand. However, there is still a lot of useful stuff in there, and over all it is still good value for money - and the pronunciation meter is always worth a laugh.
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VINE VOICEon 11 September 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I very much like this language package. The packaging, incidentally, is well-designed and well-made, exactly what you need in a product that is going to be used daily (if you are serious about learning French, that is).

The course was easy to load up, although it has to be said that this software triggered my Windows' Compatibility System for 'old programs'. My ageing laptop is running Windows Vista, so goodness knows when the programming was last updated.

The CDs are clearly labelled, a refreshing change for the partially sighted or anyone with sight difficulties. The user manual, which is presented in both paper and electronic form, is clear and easy to understand. It gives detailed, sequential advice on how to use the software and also hints on the way to use it to best effect to improve your French - so many manuals seem to be written by a technician who understands the item but not its intended purpose.

The course follows a very right-brained, creative approach, with many different ways to learn. The whole family love the screen-saver, which allows you to learn the written French and improve each day by guessing the missing word before it appears in the gap.

All in all, a useful addition to my quest to learn French. Suitable for beginners or intermediate students who are already studying with a class, or as a holiday/business trip refresher for those who have learned French before (maybe at school).
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VINE VOICEon 2 March 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I installed this on a Windows 7 PC with no issues.

This product comes in two parts, an application that installs on your PC called `Berlitz Byki Flash Cards' and some audio CD have to listen to learn phrases the language and the basics of French.

I am not big fan of the way the `Berlitz Byki Flash Cards' make you learn 7 word via Preview, Recognise and Produce method. It is a bit too repetitive to be enjoyable. The Audio Cd's are more enjoyable to listen to learn. Luckily there are other options on other tabs such as the Activities, and Test to learn as well.

Overall it is a good way of learning the basics, although the long term commitment will have to come from self-motivation to learn a language, as the learning application can be tedious and repetitive.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 October 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
So what do you get with this package? A colourful VHS Video sized box, a 206 page "Berlitz Learning System Guide" and then 5 discs: the installation DVD and 4 Audio CDs.

The User Guide is a generic book - so covers all languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Chinese) with a (sometimes very) short blurb on the specific language you have chosen (the French section is 1/2 a page).

The video is pretty good - though it does go at quite break-neck speed so you'll need to concentrate to keep up! I was certainly a little confused by it all.

Not much luck with the keyboard input. My "ergonomic keyboard" works ok on every other application but wouldn't on this one (grrrr!) so that's left out all of the keyboard input questions - a whole section I would like to have played with.

The card system works reasonably well and other parts of the package allow you to "guess the answer" or input a specific answer which also work ok (though the same questions keep coming up so wonder about the size of their database of words and sentences at times).

The audio cds are fine and cover a decent range from beginner to perhaps intermediate I would say. Not sure they are hugely advanced - but who am I to judge with my 3 ½ years of French at evening class? I suppose it is somewhat relative whether you find this whole course too simple or too difficult. I found it just about right for my level.

The screensaver is quite fun - just because it's normally playing itself away in the background when I am away watching tv - and I see it wants me to guess the "missing word" from the French sentence every now and again. But it's really quite basic stuff and certainly not for an advanced user.

It even has some interactive games - which I've only played around with for a few minutes but are good fun (though a little frustrating at times when you just can't remember the spelling!)

All in all a decent attempt but, as others have said, it doesn't really cover advanced stages and is not really a very structured course for a beginner either. I expect future courses may be a little more "slick" and integrated better.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
With many years experience, you would expect a package from Berlitz to be top notch and so it is. One or two small hiccoughs, though: some of the young people in the videos tend to garble or mumble as teenagers do, and sometimes they are unintelligible, as teenagers are; but this is rare. Some of the translations and layout in the verb conjugations are either confusing or wrong.

For the beginner and improver, the package is excellent; for the scholar or someone using french in business or other more formal mode, there are probably better programmes.
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've never been great at learning languages and I've never tried this kind of method before either, therefore I can't compare this package to any other of its kind. However, I've found it to be a very user friendly training package so far. I still have a long way to go with it but as someone who only had a very limited knowledge of French, I'm picking up the basics very quickly. It has also served as a very useful refresher course for the bits of French I vaguely recall from school.
In short, it's ideal for beginners or anyone in need of a refresher.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This has something for all levels of ability. From those who have just started to those that are more familiar and want to brush up and it guides you through various stages. The best point for me is that it covers all types of learning - PC for visual activities and the option to listen to it on your ipod helps you continue your learning whilst you're out and about or on holiday.

The PC package covers everything for me - The flashcards are great for fast bursts of information and great to test yourself and the games are great when you've grasped the language basically - it helps develop your vocabularly and has the option to re-listen to any words you're unclear of and you can move at your own pace unlike some audio language courses that race ahead without you. You can even slow down pronounciations. After using this for a month i felt confident enough to particpate in conversations abroad - I did French at school a while ago and this is great for continuing where you left off for any ability.

I highly recommend this - as language courses go and I have tried many - this makes it fun and not a chore - for young and old there is something for everyone.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The aim of a good French course is that you will comprehend the basics and have a foundation on which to build.
It says this is the number one software and I guess that's because the price isn't extortionate.
However despite it not being expensive, it's not really value for money.
The problem with the software is that it doesn't have any consistency.

It has an ability to speak into a microphone and it will "analyse" whether you have said the French word correctly. Rosetta stone software also has this and that is considerably more expensive (although not recommended)
I found myself shouting at the computer as I was pronouncing it correctly! The Software thought otherwise.
I think I was right.

This is just one of the several shortcomings.
It obviously cannot hear my version of French!

Another problem is it has Americanisms.
I want to learn French from a French person. The American voice still sounds American when pronouncing French words.
Overall, not expensive but not recommended.
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