BBC Active Quickstart French Language Course Review

bbc-active-quickstart-frenchAn independent language advantage course review by Becky Delalandre – Worcester, UK

I have some knowledge of the French language from school and I also did a recreational GCSE French course around 8 years ago.  I wanted to brush up on my skills and to gain confidence to speak more French while in France. I tried the BBC Active Quickstart French language course and think that it is good value for money at £13.99. As a beginner, I found the course easy to follow. Each section used reflective learning methods where a conversation took place in French, after an introduction in English. This conversation was then broken down into multiple sections and there was time for you to repeat each sentence and to answer the questions relating to the phrases.

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Eurotalk Language Courses In Over 100 Languages!

premier set greek language coursesWe’ve just finished updating our Eurotalk language course page as we announce our new partnership with Eurotalk – one of the world’s leaders in language learning software. We’re thrilled to be working with Eurotalk and can now offer you access to their full range of courses which cover well over 100 languages! [Read more…]

Teach Yourself Business Mandarin Chinese

teach-yourself-business-mandarin-chineseDo you want to win more business in China?
Do you want to serve your Mandarin Chinese-speaking customers better?
Do you want to work more effectively with your international business partners?

Teach Yourself Business Mandarin Chinese is a three-hour, all-audio, straightforward course that will help you to acquire essential up-to-date business language to use in China. [Read more…]

Give A Budget Language Gift

Living Language French CalendarWant some new gift ideas?  We all know how money-conscious we have to be nowadays. With this in mind, we have hand-picked our top language gifts on a budget.  Give your friends, families and colleagues a very different gift this year – give them a language gift and let them get their language advantage! Happy holidays! [Read more…]

MANDARIN CHINESE LANGUAGE COURSES FOR KIDS

language advantage brings you the best and most innovative language courses for children to learn Mandarin Chinese. Get the Chinese language advantage for kids!


01 Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii My Chinese coach

kids-chinese-coach-nintendo-dsCan’t get your kids off their DS? Well let them learn while they play! This Chinese language game, available on both the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, teaches you Chinese in small chunks and then introduces tonnes of games to help you practice.
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids shop on amazon.co.uk>>
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids store on amazon.com>>

02 carry an electronic Mandarin Chinese dictionary translator

Fun and colourful, this handheld dictionary will give your kids the Chinese word they are looking for immediately. It will help build their vocabulary, especially when used on location in Chinese-speaking countries!
for more information and to buy a dictionary translator from Ectaco>>

03 get a Chinese-speaking Language Littles toy doll

kids-chinese-language-littles-dollThese lovely little toy dolls will enchant your child, and will also help them learn a language while playing – these dolls speak Chinese as well as English!  Each Language Little will recite between 25 and 30 phrases with the help of a sound chip in the dollâ??s tummy – including greetings, numbers, colours and days of the week. Language Littles toy dolls are not currently available on amazon.co.uk
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids store on amazon.com>> 

04 Vocabulary Builder Learn Mandarin Chinese

kids-chinese-vocabulary-builderA CD-ROM for children who are beginning in Chinese, with speech recognition, so that your kids can record their voices and then play them back in a cinema show! Great fun and packed full of games. Over 100 words including colours, numbers, actions and simple sentences.   For ages from 4 to 12 – but popular with adults too!
for more information and to buy from our Language Advantage Kids shop on amazon.co.uk>>
for more information and to buy from our Language Advantage Kids store on amazon.com>>


Other ways to learn Chinese for kids:
more Mandarin Chinese language courses and dictionaries for children on amazon.co.uk>>
more Mandarin Chinese language courses and dictionaires for children on amazon.com>>
more Mandarin Chinese language cd-rom software for children on amazon.co.uk>>
more Mandarin Chinese language cd-rom software for children on amazon.com>>


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JAPANESE LANGUAGE COURSES FOR KIDS

language advantage brings you the best and most innovative language courses for children to learn Japanese. Get the Japanese language advantage for kids!


01 Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii My Japanese coach

kids-japanese-japanese-coach-nintendo-dsCan’t get your kids off their DS? Well let them learn while they play! This Japanese language game, available on both the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, teaches you Japanese in small chunks and then introduces tonnes of games to help you practice.
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids shop
 on amazon.co.uk>>
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids store on amazon.com>>

02 carry an electronic Japanese dictionary translator

Fun and colourful, this handheld dictionary will give your kids the Japanese word they are looking for immediately. It will help build their vocabulary, especially when used on location in Japan!
more information and to buy a dictionary translator from Ectaco>>

03 get a Japanese-speaking Language Littles toy doll

kids-japanese-language-littles-dollThese lovely little toy dolls will enchant your child, and will also help them learn the Japanese language while playing – these dolls speak Japanese as well as English! Each Language Little will recite between 25 and 30 phrases with the help of a sound chip in the doll’s tummy – including greetings, numbers, colours and days of the week. Language Littles toy dolls are not currently available on amazon.co.uk.
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids store
 on amazon.com>>

04 Vocabulary Builder Learn Japanese

kids-japanese-vocabulary-builderA CD-ROM for children who are beginning in Japanese.   The speech recognition gives your kids the chance to record their voices and then play them back in a cinema show! Great fun and packed full of games. Over 100 words including colours, numbers, actions and simple sentences.   For ages from 4 to 12 – but popular with adults too!
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids shop
 on amazon.co.uk>>
for more information and to buy, browse our Language Advantage Kids store on amazon.com>>


Other ways to learn Japanese for kids

more Japanese language courses and dictionaries for children on amazon.co.uk>>
more Japanese language courses and dictionaires for children on amazon.com>>
more Japanese language cd-rom software for children on amazon.co.uk>>
more Japanese language cd-rom software for children on amazon.com>>


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TEACH YOURSELF ONE-DAY GREEK REVIEW

teach-yourself-greek-one-dayAn independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

The Teach Yourself One-day language series is great if you are off on holiday and don’t want to learn the full ins and outs of a language. It’s a 75-minute CD with a small vocabulary booklet for back up containing the 50 most needed words for your trip. With One-day Greek, the help of characters Liz and Andy and the vocab booklet, you can learn the basics of holiday lingo in just over an hour.

There are 10 sections on the CD and each of them has vital vocabulary lists which are also available in the booklet. I found that the CD would be especially useful for holiday-makers, as the series took me back to the days when learning how to ask for something in a shop was a chore and directions seemed so confusing.

When I first started the CD, as a complete beginner to Greek, I found it daunting. In the first section, Liz asked Andy about Greek words he already knew. This made me feel slightly apprehensive, as I had assumed the course would be for pure beginners and not beginners with a prior knowledge of the language. It turned out that the words he knew were only words he would have picked up from holidaying in Greece once – such as hello! Apart from this he was actually a pure beginner.

Towards the middle of the CD, Liz begins to introduce the sections with everyday role play situations. These are very fast and difficult to understand at first, but the good thing with this is that you can hear Greek at a proper speed and adjust to a real Greek accent. Liz then goes on to explain exactly what was said and how you would pronounce it. I found that I had to repeat the CD a number of times in order to hear the pronunciation and really take it in.

The format of the CD is effective, but some of the scripts seem to be forced and it was often hard to answer the questions as Andy’s answer was often said straight away. It is therefore a good idea to pause the CD once Liz has asked the question, think of the answer yourself, say it out loud and then check it against the answer that Andy gives on the CD.

At the end of the CD, there is a recap section going back over the whole course or the “one-day Greek challenge” (which sounds a lot more fun than recapping!). I found this a great way of actually discovering what I had learnt in Greek and what I had managed to remember. The challenge works in a way that makes it easy for you to skip back to the relevant section if you have forgetten any of the words. So you can keep revising and repeating the course until you can do the challenge standing on your head.

I found the vocabulary easier to remember by doing the series over a few hours rather than cramming it in to just one 75 minute session. For me to listen to Liz and Andy continuously for 75 minutes would have been a slight drag, but with breaks it is bearable and you can actually get the corny ‘gag’ that Andy has said out of your head!

This CD is a fab way of learning the local language and maybe even managing to socialise, having a conversation with the locals and jumping onto a bus and knowing what you have to say.

Bearing all this in mind, this CD is a fab way of learning the local language and maybe even managing to socialise by having a conversation with the locals and jumping onto a bus and knowing what you have to say. It is also excellent value for money as it only costs £6.99 in the UK.

The only thing left for me to do now is go holidaying in Greece and really put this learning CD to the test.

Adio!

to buy Teach Yourself One-Day Greek [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself One-Day Greek [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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TEACH YOURSELF JAPANESE CONVERSATION REVIEW

teach-yourself-japanese-conversationAn independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

Teach yourself Japanese Conversation is a 3-hour, 3 CD, all-audio language course which is aimed at complete beginners or people who want to refresh their Japanese. Don’t even think about trying to do the course all in one go – it would be near impossible not to mention brain frazzling!

The CDs follow a couple called Chris and Sarah (I know, original names!) whilst visiting an ex-colleague in Japan. The idea of the CD is to learn the language through 20 conversations that Chris & Sarah have with native speakers. The course is accompanied by a booklet containing transcripts of the conversations; the key vocabulary is in bold.

The content of the CDs differ. CD1 & CD2 have 10 real-life conversations about things that you’d be doing on a weekend break or a short holiday or business visit to the country. For each conversation, there are two dialogues in three sections: the first section is listen and repeat, the second section is using the language in context and the final section is practising the conversation again. The CD3 is a recap session and gives you lots more real-life conversations.

When I first started listening to CD1, the first thought that sprang into my mind was ‘why on earth had I decided to even attempt to learn Japanese’. I stupidly (stupidly as in for future reference don’t do this) made the mistake of opening the booklet before I pressed play and thought I was way out of my depth. Still, I carried on and am glad I did. From the start I knew I had made the right decision with this course. The narrator is not irritatingly bland like on some courses – in fact quite the opposite as she is reassuring and easy to listen to.

The fab thing about the CDs is they are repetitive (in a good way) and the narrator often advises you to pause the CD which is easy to do. Throughout the sections some basic grammar rules are explained, as well as when to use and when not to use certain constructions.

CD2 continues on from CD1 and the level remains the same throughout, which is great as it doesn’t progress too fast or too slow (in other words just right).

CD3 is what would be called the revision CD. All the conversations in the booklet are replayed at normal speed and then a different version is played, with a kind of question time at the start. I found this a great way of recapping and actually testing what I had learnt (seeing as in the past I think I have mastered a self-study tape but in actual fact I really have no idea about the language!).

The booklet offers explanations of what to do in certain cultural situations. This is particularly handy if you go to Japan. The last thing you’d want to do is blow your nose, offend the whole room and have no idea why!

This 3-hour course is absolutely fabulous (excuse the quote from the television programme!). To me it seemed like a great 3-hour exam preparation course. Instead of boring me slightly (GCSE German memories flooding back!), it was very entertaining and made me feel that I would be able to handle myself in any one of the situations played out in the conversations and more importantly understand what was being said back to me.

I especially recommend this to people who have done language courses before and found them dull and uninteresting, as this is completely different. You actually come out of this course with a real sense of achievement.

I would recommend this to everyone who wants to learn a more adventurous language and who isn’t scared of challenges along the way. I especially recommend this to people who have done language courses before and found them dull and uninteresting, as this is completely different. You actually come out of this course with a real sense of achievement and a feeling that you could now go to Japan and find the train station, and more importantly order a beer and a sake!!!

to buy Teach Yourself Japanese Conversation [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself Japanese Conversation [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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MICHEL THOMAS SPANISH LANGUAGE BUILDER REVIEW

michel-thomas-spanish-language-builderAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

I tried this product with rusty GCSE Spanish and found it a great revision session. This Michel Thomas pack, the ‘Language Builder’, contains 2 CDs and a pocket-sized vocabulary book containing everything that is covered during the course. This is useful because it allows you to see how the words are spelt so you will be able to recognise them in written form when you are in the country. It is designed to follow on from the 8-hour Michel Thomas Spanish pack or can simply be used as a revision tool for someone who already has a little knowledge of Spanish.

The great thing about Michel Thomas is that he breaks down the language step-by-step to make things simple. He explains how sentences are constructed by translating them literally into English or relating the new word in Spanish to an English one. This way it makes the new vocabulary and structure easier to remember, particularly for those who are learning a language for the first time. I use the term ‘remember’ loosely because part of Michel’s technique is to make you ‘recall’ through logic rather than to ‘remember’. He tries to emphasise that there is no mystery and that anything new can be explained and broken down simply.

The great thing about Michel Thomas is that he breaks down the language step-by-step to make things simple.

As a female learner one of the main problems I found was the constant use of the masculine form when giving examples. Women trying to learn will not be so comfortable with feminine forms and would need extra practise after this course. He mentions the feminine form and reminds you that it exists but definitely not enough to realise where you are going wrong. He tends to focus on sentence structure rather than essential vocabulary and although structure is very important, you would also need to put in some of your own work on vocabulary if you were to go to Spain on holiday or to work, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy train tickets, meals etc. with confidence.

A difference between this and the 8-hour pack is that there are no students to listen to. While the first 8 hours is a ‘virtual classroom’ setting where you are the third student can be really helpful at first, the Language Builder CDs just contain Michel Thomas speaking which personally I think helps you to learn at a quicker rate. Hearing where the students go wrong the first time is interesting, but to hear their mistakes a second time round is quite boring and it is quicker just to let Michel do the talking.

A problem for me was that only the formal ‘you’ is used so people like myself who are trying Michel Thomas for reasons other than formal speech will not be familiar with the use of the informal address and will end up using the formal ‘you’ with close friends. I think it would be better to have both forms in order to demonstrate a concept that we don’t have in English and to cater for students who are learning for familiar speech.

Michel has a great technique and the fact that it is completely audio is great for someone who has little time to sit down and study. After a few listens it will definitely make a difference to your confidence in the language.

All is all, it is definitely a good next step if you have got basic grounding in the language and the booklet with this pack is a handy reference guide. It’s a shame there is no continuation after this because it all stops when you feel like you’re getting somewhere. Michel has a great technique and the fact that it is completely audio is great for someone who has little time to sit down and study. After a few listens it will definitely make a difference to your confidence in the language.

to buy Michel Thomas Spanish Language Builder [UK]>>
to buy Michel Thomas Spanish Language Builder [USA]>>
to find out more about Michel Thomas language courses>>

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MICHEL THOMAS ITALIAN LANGUAGE BUILDER REVIEW

michel-thomas-italian-language-builderAn independent language course review by Andrea Martins

BUONGIORNO!!

Having learnt Italian to GCSE level a few years ago, I felt that although I wasn’t exactly a beginner anymore I needed to revise what I had learnt and practice speaking it again. Using the Michel Thomas Italian Language Builder pack would ‘refresh rusty Italian’ and ‘quickly boost your confidence to speak everyday Italian’. This sounded just what I needed!

The pack comprises of two CDs and is a two-hour Language Builder course that caters for those who have either done the Michel Thomas 8-hour course or for those who have never done one of his courses but want to revise what they have learnt. I had already been exposed to Michel Thomas’ method of teaching via the Introductory French course and so felt comfortable using his same method to build on my Italian.

I had already been exposed to Michel Thomas’ method of teaching via the Introductory French course and so felt comfortable using his same method to build on my Italian.

The pack also comes with an accompanying booklet and nothing else. That’s to say that you are not meant to study anything or write anything down or memorise anything. Michel teaches the Language Builder course just by helping you to create your own sentences and phrases and build up vocabulary like building blocks. As opposed to the Michel Thomas French beginners course, Michel is the only person to be heard on the recording. There are no students learning with him this time, so you don’t feel that you are part of a study course.

Instead, we can listen to him creating sentences and phrases and building on them to create new sentences. We can also follow the booklet at the same time, but you don’t need to do this if you are on the go. We are encouraged to pause the CD after each new phrase so that we either repeat what Michel has said or anticipate what he is going to say. This is how you learn.

I found this way of learning much more intensive than when I studied the Michel Thomas French Beginners course. It is not as entertaining as the beginners’ pack and far more challenging. As I was using the pack on the train, in the car or lying on the sofa at home, I had to go back to certain places on the recording and without specific points on the CD to go back to, it was difficult to find my place again. We are supposed to make a note of the time on the CD player but this is difficult if you are not able to do this! I found that I had to repeat several areas … which is no bad thing I suppose!

The Michel Thomas Italian Language Builder begins with some easy words and phrases and then jumps suddenly using idioms that I don’t remember having learnt at GCSE level. Verb endings and gender terms are quickly introduced and then revised over and over but in different ways throughout the course. The past, present, and future tenses are all reviewed as well as the conditional (I would like to), gerund (-ing) and adjectives. These grammatical terms are not explained in great detail but are highlighted in shaded boxes in the booklet to signify that you need to learn these well before moving onto the next item.

What I found useful is the way that Michel associates many Italian words with English words. You feel that you know a lot more Italian than you thought you did. It’s very self-motivating and boosts your confidence!

Again, what I found useful (and I found this also in the beginners French course) is the way that Michel associates many Italian words with English words. Throughout the whole course, he uses sound or cultural recognitions to help us remember certain endings or words and some of these are highlighted in the booklet. For example, ‘comic’ in English is ‘comico’ in Italian; ‘capable of’ is ‘capace’ and so on. By highlighting these comparisons between the languages you feel that you know a lot more Italian than you thought you did. It’s very self-motivating and boosts your confidence!

There is the usual GSCE and introductory level content here: learning how to ask for things, how to talk about yourself, how to complain about things, how to ask for directions etc. But there is a lot more everyday conversational content on this course too. I found myself saying things like, ‘I had much to do’ (…avevo molto da fare), ‘I don’t have the time to do it’ (non ho il tempo di farlo), ‘I can’t bear the heat’ (non posso sopportare il caldo), and my favourite ‘Although, I’m sure that I will have many difficulties’ (comunque sono sicuro che avrò molti problemi)!

I feel a lot more confident in what I know of the Italian language and felt that I could really get stuck into a conversation with a fiery Italian!! Si diverta!

There is a lot more grammar and more difficult phrases, but not enough to be confusing. Certain phrases are repeated in different ways helping us to build on what we have already learnt. That is the point to Michel’s method of teaching; that the learner works out and creates their own sentences to build a whole conversation by themselves. This is a practical and functional way of learning spoken Italian. By using the booklet as well you can improve your spelling, reading and writing too. I feel a lot more confident in what I know of the Italian language and felt that I could really get stuck into a conversation with a fiery Italian!! Si diverta!

to buy Michel Thomas Italian Language Builder [UK]>>
to buy Michel Thomas Italian Language Builder [USA]>>
to find out more about Michel Thomas language courses>>

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