Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Very good at the price
on 11 June 2012
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.