New Year Review! BBC Active Quickstart French

bbc-active-quickstart-frenchGoing to France this year? Or, another French-speaking country? We asked one of our volunteer reviewers, Becky Delalandre, to review the BBC Active Quickstart French language course. Becky had some knowledge of the French language from her school days but wanted to brush up on her skills to help her feel more confident speaking French during trips to France. So, we introduced her to the BBC Active Quickstart French language course and, this is what she had to say>>

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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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The holiday season is here! Get more from your time away when you learn a bit of the local language.

We’ve selected the best and most innovative quick holiday courses for beginners, so that you can pick up the essentials before you head away – even if you’ve never studied a language before. Or just download a language course onto your ipod or mp3 player … and learn on the plane … on the beach … or at the bar! Don’t just speak English, get the holiday language advantage!

While you’re there:

There are lots of different language courses you can download onto your ipod or mp3 player and take away on holiday with you.

01 Michel Thomas

audible-michel-thomas-method-portugueseOne of our favourite download courses is the Michel Thomas Method, which is available in all your favourite holiday languages from Spanish to Portuguese.

languages: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>

02 Teach Yourself One-Day

audible-teach-yourself-one-day-spanishTeach Yourself cover lots of levels and lots of languages – but these short courses are a perfect way to get learning for your holiday.

languages: French, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>

03 BBC Quickstart

audible-bbc-quickstart-frenchBBC Quickstart is for you if you are going away on a weekend or short European break and want to grasp the basics of the language, without having to master any complicated grammar or phrases.

languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>

Before you go:

01 Teach Yourself One-Day

teach-yourself-polish-one-dayIf you’re a complete (and we mean complete) beginner, then these may be the courses that get you started with French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish in just one-day. Perfect for that holiday or weekend break. Much better than just speaking English.

languages: French, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish

method: audio cd, booklet, dvd (French, Spanish only)

read our Teach Yourself one-day Greek review!

more information and to buy  Teach Yourself one-day from our Teach Yourself shop [UK and Europe]>>

more information and to buy  Teach Yourself one-day from our Teach Yourself store [USA and Americas]>>

02 Pimsleur Quick & Simple

pimsleur-italian-quick-simpleEight quick and simple audio lessons from Pimsleur to give you a start in conversation in your new language.   It’s like learning a language when you were a kid – slowing building up key words and phrases.   Just do 30 minutes a day and you’ll see progress in no time at all.

languages: Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Greek (Modern), Hebrew, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish

method: audio cd

read our Pimsleur quick & simple Mandarin Chinese review!

more information and to buy  Pimsleur Quick & Simple [USA and Amercias]>>

03 Talk Now!

eurotalk-talk-now-dutchTalk Now! is the world’s bestselling language learning CD-ROM series for beginners, used by more than eight million people to date. It’s an ideal introduction to a new language for an absolute beginner and leaves you with the basic vocabulary to get by and the first building blocks of your new language. You can have fun learning through playing games and even record your voice to compare yourself to native speakers.   There is an amazing range of languages – perhaps the widest ever available – over 100!

languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Alsatian, American English, Amharic, Arabic, Arabic (Classical), Arabic (Modern Standard), Armenian, Assamese, Azeri, Basque, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, Breton, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese Chinese, Catalan, Chichewa, Chuvash, Cornish, Corsican, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Frisian, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujurati, Hausa, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jèrriais, Kannada, Khmer, Kirghiz, Korean, Kurdish, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luganda, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Malagasy, Malay, Malayalam, Maltese, Mandarin Chinese, Manx, Maori, Marathi, Mexican Spanish, Mongolian, Navajo, Nepali, Norwegian, Papiamentu, Pashto, Pidgin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Romansh, Russian, Rwandan, Saami, Sardinian, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Sesotho, Setswana, Shona, Sindhi, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tagalog, Tamazight, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Welsh, Xhosa, Yiddish, Yoruba, Zulu

media: cd-rom

platform: pc, mac

more information and to  buy  Talk Now! CD-ROM language software [UK and Europe]>>
more information and to  buy  Talk Now! CD-ROM language software [USA and Americas]>>

Not sure which language course to go for?   Contact us now for more advice!


bbc-quickstart-spanishAn independent language review by Sarah Maddocks

BBC Quickstart Spanish is a 140-minute audio language course on 2 CDs, designed to be an all listening, little reading, no writing kind of course. It’s aimed at people who want to learn the basic ‘holiday’ vocabulary and who don’t want to know the ins and outs of the grammar. The Spanish CD follows three friends, Susana, Miguel & Alex for 24 hours around Madrid. The 24-hour ‘language adventure’ is split into sections, each one dealing with a different situation that you are likely to come across when travelling.

When I first plugged my headphones in I couldn’t wait to get started as I hadn’t studied Spanish for a very long time and wanted a refresher course before booking a holiday. As soon as I pressed play I decided that maybe I should have waited! The CD greeted me with the typical language learning music, supposedly from the country whose language you are learning (cue the flamenco guitar playing!!), and the corny joke of “Susana & Miguel, two friends, purely platonic” (cue fake laughter). It really made me think that this was going to be a tacky learning course which I wouldn’t be able to listen to for one minute – let alone 140 of them! But I’m pleased that I didn’t press stop and give up. I managed to learn to block the music and the bad jokes out of my head long enough to learn some new Spanish and refresh the old Spanish that I already had.

The CDs each have seven episodes with two conversations on each. The episodes are split into four separate sections, “time to listen” (listening to the conversations), “time to reflect” (explaining the conversation) “time to kickstart” (practicing pronunciation & language) and “time to recap” (seeing what you have learnt). These sections are overall well-structured and useful when learning the language. The only thing that does get irritating is the repetition of “right, now it’s time to kickstart your Spanish” (by the way it’s a play on ‘quickstart’. Pure genius!).

The subjects of the sections are typical day-to-day topics which will be needed when in the country, i.e. CD1 covers everything from “hola (hello)” to buying postcards & stamps, while CD2 covers going out and dealing with any problems you might come across.

… they don’t overload you with the grammar, but they give you enough to get by if people ask you something that isn’t included on the course.

In the “time to reflect” section, there are often very basic grammar tips. This is ace as they don’t overload you with the grammar, but they give you just enough to get by and adapt what is on the CD if people ask you something that isn’t included on the course. By the end of episode two, you already know two of the pronouns and verb endings for one of the most commonly used verbs. But don’t get too excited, as you still have the corniness of language learning CDs shining thorough in this section (“now do you think you’ve got a few greetings under your belt” is just a little taster of what you have to come)! Obviously the grammar isn’t a huge part of the course, as this is primarily an audio course. It would defeat the object if you had to write down all the grammar. I think this is a fab way of doing grammar, as I always used to get unbelievably bored doing verb drills. This way you learn the most common verbs without having to do the boring bit.

The course is accompanied by a small phrasebook and a transcript of all the conversations. This is very helpful when doing the course as you can also learn to recognise the Spanish words written down, rather than just recognising them from speaking. Some phrases are a little obscure if you’re only spending 24 hours in Spain. For example the BBC have included “te quiero” meaning I love you – I’m not 100% sure if this is the BBC implying that you will find love if you know Spanish and are on holiday!

As far as the speaking on the CD is concerned, the Spanish is not too fast and not too slow. There is a slight change in the speed of the Spanish after Episode 1, but the narrators do not jump straight into reeling off Spanish so fast that the only words that you get are the first and last ones. On the contrary, the speed is slow enough to hear the intonation and the way the individual letters are spoken by native speakers. Each episode also gives you the chance to repeat what has been said straight after the native speaker. This is good, but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe I was pronouncing it wrong (but to me it sounds exactly like the CD!). I suppose the only way I could try this out was to go to Spain. So I’ll let you know how it goes and if people understand my Bristolian turned Spanish accent!

Overall I think this course is an effective and fast way of learning basic touristy Spanish. It also gives a starter block to go on into more in depth Spanish (bear in mind this may be more grammar!!). The course is available in other languages such as French, German and Italian and I will definitely consider the Italian CDs. I’m not sure how well a Bristolian accent would sound trying to be Italian, but I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

to buy BBC Quickstart Spanish [UK]>>
to buy BBC Quickstart Spanish [USA]>>
to find out more about BBC language courses>>

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BBC Quickstart

Quickstart language cure for time-stretched Brits
Research by BBC Languages has revealed that 50% of people cite lack of time as the reason for giving up learning a foreign language, which is why we have devised a new series of audio CDs – Quickstart – designed specifically for those of you who don’t have much time on your hands! [Read more…]