An independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

The BBC ‘Steps’ language course is a free beginner language course available on the BBC website in the language section, where you can choose from four languages; French, German, Spanish or Italian.

The website is easy to navigate around (even for someone like me who is not exactly up on all the new whiz technology) and has a simple layout. The content of the course is 24 parts, divided into six small sections. I know this sounds like a lot of time sat at a computer, but it’s really not as the sections are short and easy to do. The syllabus of the course follows the Common European Framework Level One which seems more or less like the equivalent of the UK GCSE examination content.

The site offers many extras on top of the course, such as learning logs where you can record your marks from the various end of session tests, grammar tips (very basic grammar tips) and a pronunciation section. The pronunciation practice was better than I thought it would be, as I wasn’t really looking forward to hearing a robotic voice attempt to speak the language. However, on this site they actually use native speakers, so it sounds exactly like what you would hear people using if you were in the country.

The site also offers the chance for people who have already studied the language to do a fast track session, which is essentially a test where you complete the questions on-line. If you get everything right, you get a pat on the back and if you are wrong, you get offered a revision session.

This BBC Steps courses also has a fact file section. In order to check that this was useful and accurate, I went into French Steps and checked it out as I’d spent quite a bit of time in Paris and know what there is, how to get around and so on. Most of the information here was correct, although some of it was slightly off i.e. it said that you could easily walk around Paris. This comment made me question whether the writer had even been to Paris and if so, had actually tried to walk around! But then it made me question whether it was just me and I was lazy when i went there!?

I found everything on this site so straightforward and self-explanatory that I think even my mum could do it (she nearly sheds a tear when she has to use a computer!).

I could pick and choose what I wanted to learn. This was fab as it was as though I was choosing what I wanted to learn and not what someone wanted to teach me.

The layout of the course was great, as I could pick and choose what I wanted to learn. This was fab as it was as though I was choosing what I wanted to learn and not what someone wanted to teach me.

I would recommend these BBC Steps on-line language courses for people who want to literally ‘step’ into a language (hence the name of the course!). It is a fab beginner guide and the sections take hardly anytime at all to do. Depending on whether you want to do a quick refresher course or to really learn simple vocabulary, you can do the sections as and when you please and from anywhere that you can get onto the internet. I found this worked really well for me, as I could come home from work and do one section a night and woohoo in 24 ‘steps’ I can speak (well beginner-speak) a new language.

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