Muzzy Is The Bestselling Language Course For Kids

Learn French using BBC Muzzy

BBC Muzzy is one of the best and most innovative language courses for kids on the market.   Just put on the DVD and see your young kids captivated by their new language … soon they’ll be repeating songs and phrases – and you may be too!   This could be the most important gift you ever give your child. They’ll get their language advantage! [Read more…]


Die Letzten Tage (2005)
Sophie Scholl

An independent language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Based on actual events, Sophie Scholl is about a tiny group of German students known as The White Rose, who joined together in their mutual hatred of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. They aired their views by printing leaflets and passing them to German citizens. The film focuses on Sophie (Julia Jentsch), a 21-year-old member of The White Rose.

Set in Munich in 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs), co-founder of The White Rose,  distribute leaflets on their campus. They have until the bell rings but Sophie decides to distribute a leftover stack of leaflets and consequently gets caught, arrested and accused of high treason. Sister and brother are separated and the film primarily concentrates on the interrogation of Sophie by Mohr (Gerald Alexander Held), a Gestapo interrogator who is convinced that Germany needs Nazi policies. Sophie denies everything and is offered a deal by the Gestapo, she must name the other members of the White Rose and incriminate them. She refuses which leads to an appointment with a Gestapo judge (André Hennicke) who sentences Sophie, Hans and another member of   The White Rose, Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter) to death.

Sophie Scholl is tragic yet an insight into what was a tragic and almost unbelievable time for all those involved. Never has a film made me think more. With fantastic direction and superb actors, this film is a definite  must for both history lovers and language film fans alike.

In German with English subtitles.

To buy Sophie Scholl and other German language films>>

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Der Untergang (2005)

An independent language advantage film review by Emmanuel Lainé

Berlin, April 1945. The Third Reich is holding its last breath. Berlin is under fire from the Russian Army and Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) is hiding in the depth of his bunker. Those left by his side are his wife to-be, Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), his secretary Traudl Junge, as well as the surviving part of the Third Reich Army. Together they will live the last few days with Hitler and the downfall of the Nazi regime.

Based on the true story novel by Joachim Fest ‘The last days of Hitler’, this representation of Hitler on the cinema screen has been described as the most unique and truthful experience of the real man. Bruno Ganz (as Hitler) worked for months on mimicking Hitler’s voice and is magnificent in his role, giving the character real substance and authenticity. The last days are a condensed and concentrated description of the falling apart of the Third Reich but where their atrocious beliefs still persist. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (‘Das Experiment’ – 2002), ‘Downfall’ is the fruit of authentic German cinema making no judgement and without cynicism or arrogance. As Oliver Hirschbiegel said himself: ‘Nobody can forbid German people to talk about their own history, apart from ourselves’. This movie is a definite must-see.

BAFTA winner 2005 Best Foreign Movie. In German with English subtitles.

To buy Downfall and other German language films>>

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Goodbye Lenin! (2002)

An independent language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Goodbye Lenin! is a film depicting the relationship between love and politics.

The film begins in 1989, a young man, Alex (Daniel Bruhl) protests against the capitalist regime and consequently gets arrested. His mother (Katrin SaÃ?) seeing this suffers from a heart attack and falls into a coma. Eight months later she wakes from the coma completely unaware of the changes that East Germany has experienced. As  any form of shock is likely to make her relapse into her coma,  Alex creates a false Germany where socialism has won and the Berlin wall is still standing. As the film develops so does the lie and consequently turns into a major scam to keep his mother from finding out the truth about the things she believes in so much.

Goodbye Lenin! is a fantastic portrayal of a political love story, showing the protective relationship between mother and son, and how far people are willing to go to protect the ones they love. Goodbye Lenin! was the winner of the Best European Film award at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival.

A must see for everyone, German-speaking or not! In German with subtitles.

To buy  Goodbye Lenin!  and other German language films>>

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Lola Rennt (1998)
Run Lola Run

An independent language advantage film review by Sophie Paterson

The pounding techno soundtrack adds a good dose of hardly-needed adrenaline to this fast-paced and clever thriller about a girl who has 20 minutes to run – literally – against the clock to get her petty-criminal boyfriend out of some serious trouble. It’s punky, funky, shot like a music video for MTV, and edgy. It’s also told three times; each version hinging on something so very slightly different, thus igniting a new chain of events involving the same characters, incidents, objects and places – and a different set of outcomes. If any film demonstrates how our lives are all woven inextricably together or how our fates are governed by half chance and random moments, this is definitely it. The tagline for the film summarises this: ‘Every second of every day you’re faced with a decision that can change your life’.

The German is not too difficult, particularly as this is not a particularly  talky film. Having said that, some viewers might have trouble with the rapid-fire German young people-speak at the beginning.

In German with English subtitles.

To buy  Run Lola Run  and other German language films>>

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The Oscars 2009

The 81st Annual Academy Awards ® were held on Sunday 22nd February 2009 in Hollywood.   The Oscars ® reached film fans in over 100 countries. The lower-budget, but highly-acclaimed film Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, won many Oscars ®, including for the Best Picture.   It is in the English, Urdu and Hindi languages. [Read more…]

We Must Lift Our Children Out Of Linguistic Poverty

In an article in the Independent newspaper in the UK, Caroline Sarll believes that her attempts to raise her daughters bilingually will not go to waste.   Even with a hybrid language of Denglisch, when her girls mix their English and German, doesn’t put her off.   In other European countries, primary-aged children have four 50-minute lessons of English a week.  If only the rest of the country and the education decision-makers believed the same thing. [Read more…]


teach-yourself-italian-instantAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

The Teach Yourself ‘INSTANT’ language series from Hodder Arnold is a must if you’re off to another country for your holidays or work and have little time to study. The INSTANTS are a way to learn the ‘get-by’ essentials without being bogged down with heavy grammar and confusion.

I have studied Greek, Italian and German using this series and have found the results amazing.

I have studied Greek, Italian and German using this series and have found the results amazing.

The Teach Yourself Instants are available in eight popular languages (and four for learners of English from French, German, Italian and Spanish), but each one is made up of the same structure and designed to be completed in only 6 weeks with 35 minutes of study per day. The book is divided into six sections with an accompanying cassette. This way you can mimic the speakers to get the perfect pronunciation!

At the beginning of each chapter the week is divided into individual days with instructions telling you which exercises to do each day. You have a set day-by-day study programme to follow of just 35 minutes each day which really gets you into the discipline of learning your new language every day. You can cross out the exercises you have done and test your progress at the end of each week, so you really feel that you’re getting somewhere. The great thing about these is that they are flexible and you manage your own time – if you miss a day, do an hour the next day!

You have a set day-by-day study programme to follow of just 35 minutes each day which really gets you into the discipline of learning every day.

On the first day of each section there is a short dialogue between Tom and Kate who are travelling in the destination country. You can listen to it and read along with the English equivalent on the opposite page which is translated ‘literally’ into French-speak or German-speak, so it is easy to become familiar with the different word order. Then you have a list of all the new words of the week for you to read through and then test yourself on what you’ve learnt. There is one page per section called ‘GOOD NEWS GRAMMAR’ to cover the basic points of the week and a passage to learn by heart. Even though this is tricky it is really worth doing because it is great for your fluency.

Each week you are given questions to answer in your chosen language to give you added practice of writing. These packs contain only the most useful words and phrases and are an incredibly useful tool for any lover of travel. They have the added bonus of FLASH CARDS with the English on one side and your chosen language on the other so you can really see how much you know. I found these really helpful, especially if you are learning with a friend and you can test each other.

The first pack I tried was INSTANT GREEK before going on a beach holiday to Zante with a friend. When I managed to tell the taxi driver where I wanted to go, where to stop and ask how much it cost, I felt a real sense of achievement because it is nothing like the languages I am used to leaning. It is worth noting though that if you are learning a language like Greek or Japanese which has a totally different alphabet the real written form is not used. Instead the foreign words are written with English script so that you can just focus on the pronunciation. I didn’t find this a problem with Greek because all I wanted to do was get by in the country but a little knowledge of the script would have been useful to recognise the written form. However, just a basic knowledge of the language is a great way to start conversation with the locals!

When I managed to tell the taxi driver where I wanted to go, where to stop and to ask how much it cost, I felt a real sense of achievement.

Secondly, after finding the Greek so helpful I learnt INSTANT ITALIAN for a tourist holiday in Rome. I found my new found Italian extremely useful when I was lost with a friend late on the evening of our arrival, trying to find our hotel! It was also great for ordering meals and getting information about trains etc. The INSTANTS just make it simple.

I completed INSTANT GERMAN at the end of 2001 for a New Year’s party in Germany. I was with some friends who spoke a little English but a basic knowledge of German was essential to introduce myself, communicate with them and wish everyone a ‘Frohes Neues Jahr’ (Happy New Year).

One minor disadvantage that I found was the fact that each pack contains the same set of six chapters so, if you have completed one INSTANT course and then go on to try another, you are faced with the exact same scenarios. This has the problem of being a bit repetitive but at the same time I can easily see how the stories are carefully structured to contain all the useful vocabulary which is great to know in any language.

So go on, before you go on your next travels get the INSTANT language advantage and give it a go!

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

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michel-thomas-german-foundationAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

The Michel Thomas 8-hour German course really gave me a head start when I tried it a year ago, before spending a week in West Germany on holiday. Michel’s technique of ‘audio only’- i.e. no books, pens or paper – is a far more flexible approach to language learning than most people are used to, simply because you don’t need to have any materials to do your study. I listened to these CDs on the train on my way to work, sitting in the bath and lying in bed! Michel gives the advice right from the beginning that you should be in a completely relaxed situation and have no tension in order to absorb the language taught so this is an ideal way to learn, especially for those like myself who find there are not enough hours in the day – no excuses now!

To someone who is thinking of buying this course, I think it is important to know that it is not like a phrase book and leaves out a lot of the ‘get-by’ vocabulary that you may need in Germany. What it does do though is give you a strong knowledge of the language grammatically so you have a good understanding of the ‘backbone’ of the language on which to build more and more vocabulary. Once you have the basic mechanics, you are over half way to communicating!

Michel Thomas gives you a strong knowledge of the language grammatically so you have a good understanding of the ‘backbone’ of the language on which to build more and more vocabulary.

So, how does it work? Michel Thomas’ technique is to record himself teaching two complete beginner students and for you to imagine you are the third student in his class. On these CDs he has one male and one female student in a classroom situation and I personally found it a very interesting and successful method. He starts off by introducing the language and usefully focuses on the similarities between English and German right from the beginning, talking about how many of the words we have already in our vocabulary are linked to German so in fact there is a lot we already know – definitely good news to a beginner! I found it a little confusing during the introduction when he started to talk about different sets of ‘pronunciation strings’ because it was hard to retain until put into context. His main point however, was that there are so many ways to ‘work out’ German words from English rather than have to remember them, eg, ‘to give’ is ‘geben’ because a ‘v’ in English often becomes a ‘b’ in German and verbs end in ‘-en’. He mentioned many other similar rules which certainly started to make sense and helped as time went on.

I found I could pick things up quite quickly by listening to him but it was useful to listen to each CD at least a couple of times before moving onto the next one. That way you really feel confident with what you know so far. Sometimes you can have the answer to something before the students and be ready to move on before they are but other times they can rush ahead and leave you feeling a little confused. This isn’t a problem – when you listen again it all becomes clear!

I’m sure your German accent will be much more convincing than that of the two students but Michel does a lot to correct pronunciation and is not happy until he hears each sound of each word! It’s just a case of practice, practice – no cheating allowed!

Michel insists that it is very important that you take time to think of your sentence grammatically and ‘work it out’ without rushing it. So the use of the pause button is essential for thinking it through. After listening to just the first few CDs you realise that you really can start to make your own phrases. His teaching allows grammar to be learned in a flexible way and completely avoids learning phrases by heart.

To assist you with retaining vocabulary, Michel often translates expressions literally into English or makes links through word association to help you remember some things. One example is the German word ‘bald’ meaning ‘soon’ (to be ‘bald soon’) and ‘heute abend’ meaning ‘tonight’ (literally ‘today evening’) – so no surprises there! Breaking expressions and sentences into their components avoids any mystery in the language such as when he introduced the phrase ‘es tut mir leid’ which is the equivalent to ‘I’m sorry’, but literally – ‘it does to me sorrow’.

The word order in German is something that can seem a little confusing at first but with practice becomes second nature and just starts to ‘sound right’. Michel constantly revises grammatical points so if it’s not quite clear immediately there’s no need to keep rewinding – he will come back to it!

The word order in German is something that can seem a little confusing at first but with practice becomes second nature and just starts to ‘sound right’.

By the end of CD 1 (only the first hour) your longest sentence will be “I don’t know where it is, I can’t find it”. Not bad going for the first lesson!

By CD 3 things get a little more tricky grammatically, but it is certainly worth persevering. Michel jokes with the students and talks them through their mistakes. By the end of CD 3 you will move onto expressing the future and make phrases such as “Will you please bring it to me” and (on CD 4) “I am going to stay at home today because I am very tired” covering some crucial German grammar points without you even realising it. By the end of CD 8, however, you will be combining all kinds of points of grammar covered throughout the whole course and you will certainly have achieved a lot, including a variety of different tenses. You can even move on to do a further two hours as a follow up if you are really keen – the Michel Thomas German Language Builder.

As I mentioned at the beginning there is a lot of vocabulary that you may need when visiting Gemany that is not covered in this course. From experience I would recommend combining this course with the Teach Yourself Instant German. They complement each other very well because Michel Thomas is more structure based, while ‘Instant German’ covers a lot of essential vocabulary to give you the confidence you need for your visit. With these two courses fully completed and a small phrasebook and dictionary to take with you for those tricky situations it is the recipe for success in Germany!

to buy Michel Thomas German 8-hour complete course [UK]>>
to buy Michel Thomsa German 8-hour complete course [USA]>>
to find out more about Michel Thomas language courses>>

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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.

to find out more about BBC language courses>>

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Take a look at our selection of German language films, read our film reviews and let the movies motivate you to get the German language advantage.

We’ve picked out a selection of our top German foreign language movies. It’ll help you to get more familiar with the German language and is a great way to appreciate the culture from various German-speaking countries.

German Language Films   and Movies

++check format, age classification and language combination is appropriate before you buy!++

film title year buy from buy from
Waltz with Bashir (Hebrew/German) (2008) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray
The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray
Revanche         (German/Russian) (2008) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD
The Lives of Others (2007) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray
Four Minutes (2006) DVD DVD
Tough Enough (2006) not available DVD
Der Unetrgang
(2005) DVD
DVD                    Blu-ray
Sophie Scholl (2005) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray  
Nowhere in Africa (2003) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD  
Goodbye Lenin! (2002) DVD DVD  
Aimee & Jaguar (1999) DVD DVD  
Run Lola Run
Lola Rennt
(1998) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray
Faraway, So Close! (1993) DVD VHS only  
Europa, Europa (1992) DVD DVD  
Wings of Desire (1987) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD                    Blu-ray  
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) DVD DVD  
The Tin Drum (1979) DVD                     Blu-ray DVD  
    more German films on DVD from
more German films on DVD from  

Read our German language film and movie reviews>>

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World Cinema

Watching a foreign language movie is a great way to learn a new language, improve existing language skills and to find out about a foreign country and its culture. Buy a DVD in a foreign language and you can choose both the language you watch in and the language of the subtitles. You’ll be amazed at how much you can already understand. Film is a great language learning resource and makes a great gift too. Motivate yourself with a movie!

Our top 10 foreign language films

01 Downfall German
02 House of the Flying Dagger Chinese
03 Motorcycle Diaries Spanish
04 Amelie French
05 Il Postino Italian
06 Life is Beautiful Italian
07 Y Tu Mama Tambien Spanish
08 Delicatessen French
09 Spirited Away Japanese
10 Manon des Sources French

Foreign language movies by language

We have selected the most popular foreign language movies for you:

Chinese language movies
English language movies
French language movies
German language movies
Hindi language movies
Italian language movies
Japanese language movies
Spanish language movies
Other foreign language movies

Foreign language film reviews

This is where we tell you what we really think about foreign language films on language advantage! We’ve picked out a selection of our favourite foreign language movies and written a short review of each. They are all very different, but excellent viewing – and of course will motivate you to get the language advantage.

Chinese language film reviews
French language film reviews
German language film reviews
Hindi language film reviews
Italian language film reviews
Japanese language film reviews
Spanish language film reviews
Film reviews in other languages

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This is where we tell you what we really think about the language and culture courses on language advantage!

We have reviewed the best and most innovative language courses on language advantage. And we invite you to do the same. So now you’ll know what you’re really buying – from independent people that have actually done the language courses … and love learning languages! If you would like to send in a review, or find out more about any of the courses we feature on language advantage, contact us now!

think french july 2012 issueThink French online audio language magazine>>

An independent language advantage course review by Ali Gibbs – Brighton, UK

The Think French online audio language magazine is more than a simple French language course – it is designed to help you to learn French while teaching you about life and culture in French-speaking countries.  It is a much more current and engaging approach to learning French for intermediate and advanced learners, and even beginners. …>>

Read Ali’s review of the Think French online audio language magazine now>>

Michel Thomas Start Greek and Michel Thomas Start Spanish>>

michel thomas method start spanishAn independent language advantage course review by Sue Gooch and Andy Dunhill – UK

Andy Dunhill from Huddersfield, UK and Sue Gooch from London, UK both took on our request to review a Michel Thomas Start language course. Andy tried the Michel Thomas Start Spanish course and Sue tried her hand at the Michel Thomas Start Greek course. Both are interested in learning languages for different reasons. We introduced them to the Michel Thomas Start language course and both had very different things to say about their particular course.

Read Sue’s review of the Michel Thomas Start Greek language course now>>

Read Andy’s review of the Michel Thomas Start Spanish language course now>>

Think Spanish online audio language magazine>>

think spanish november 2011An independent language advantage course review by Rosemarie Goonewardene – Indiana, USA

I became interested in learning Spanish when I wanted to visit friends in Mexico.  My first attempt was a Spanish beginner’s class covering a few topics related to travel. Some time later, I took a couple of traditional Spanish classes, but the main emphasis was on grammar and there wasn’t much conversation practice. I looked at various Spanish language text books and found many of them confusing, although I did find listening to the accompanying tapes helpful.

Read Rosemarie’s review of Think Spanish online audio language magazine now>>

Other independent language course reviews:

BBC Buongiorno Italia>>
BBC Get Into Spanish>>
BBC Hindi Urdu Bol Chaal>>
BBC Quickstart Spanish>>
BBC Steps Online>>
BBC Suenos World Spanish 1>>
BBC Suenos World Spanish 2>>
BBC Talk Portuguese Online>>

Don Quijote Spanish Course in Córdoba, Argentina >>

Don Quijote Spanish Course in Salamanca, Spain >>

Earworms iPod & MP3 Rapid French Volume 1>>
Earworms iPod & MP3 Rapid French Volume 2>>

Michel Thomas French 2-hour Course>>
Michel Thomas German 8-hour Course>>
Michel Thomas Italian Language Builder>>
Michel Thomas Spanish Language Builder>>

Michel Thomas Start Greek>>

Michel Thomas Start Spanish>>
Michel Thomas Advanced Spanish>>

Pimsleur Quick & Simple Mandarin Chinese>>

Teach Yourself Instant German>>
Teach Yourself Instant Greek>>
Teach Yourself Instant Italian>>
Teach Yourself Italian Grammar and Italian Verbs>>
Teach Yourself Japanese Conversation>>
Teach Yourself One-day Greek>>

Think French online audio language magazine by Andrea Lainé>>

Think French online audio language magazine by Ali Gibbs>>

Think Italian online audio language magazine  by Andrea Lainé>>

Think Spanish online audio language magazine  by Andrea Lainé>>

Think Spanish online audio language magazine by Rosemarie Goonewardene>>

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