"...good value for money and has everything a beginner needs."
Berlitz is arguably the best known brand in the field of language learning. Offering language tuition since 1878, they are highly regarded for the effectiveness of their teaching methods. In this review I will examine whether or not their language learning software lives up to that reputation.
Below you will find out what you need to know before purchasing a Berlitz premier language learning package. You will find what types of learning tools you will be provided with and how these can assist with your studies.
Next you will discover what features I like about the Berlitz language software. Following that I will describe the aspects of the software that I do not like, to help you make an informed purchasing decision. Finally I will give you my overall recommendation for the software, compared to competing packages that are currently on the market.
Three different ways of learning are provided with each of the courses. These are PC software, Audio CDs for your car and iPod lessons.
Each course is composed of four separate parts. First is total immersion learning, where you listen to conversations from native language speakers. Next is multimedia learning where you watch videos to enhance your learning experience. Next is Berlitz own flash card system to teach vocabulary. Lastly there is speech analysis which is used to improve your pronunciation and practice conversation.
- Variety of Teaching Tools - Berlitz is one of the most comprehensive language learning suites available. The language packages offer three different ways of learning the language. This is great for a number of reasons. Firstly some people do not have time to spend hours in front of a PC each day learning. For them the iPod and car lessons are perfect. Also we all have different learning modalities, and so no matter how you like to learn, you can still use Berlitz.
- Value for Money - The Berlitz language learning programs are available for under $40, which makes them great value for money when you consider the range of tools that are provided. In comparison the Rosetta Stone language software typically retails for over $300. While I prefer many aspect of the Rosetta Stone software, on a dollar for dollar basis, Berlitz is difficult to beat.
- Progression Tracking - One of the best features of the Berlitz language courses is that your progression is tracked. This means that it records what you have already mastered and what you still need to study. If you have not practised certain words for some time then you will receive a warning in the form of a "stale" status for those words.
- Conversation Practice - Another nice feature of the Berlitz language courses is the conversation practice. This uses speech recognition software to simulate real life conversation with a native speaker. The software can recognize problems with your pronunciation and offers advice about how to fix them. This type of immersion training is invaluable because you are getting to hear how an actual native speaks the language. This is many ways better than practicing with another student in a classroom setting. By repetition your own pronunciation and fluency will begin to improve.
- Word Tools - The Berlitz language software offers a good range of word tools. There is a dictionary that you can use to look up any word that you will encounter using the software. But this is largely unnecessary as you can use the instant translate function inside of each of the lessons. This allows you to quickly find the meaning of unknown words. Another nice feature is the word log. You can use this to record words that you are having difficulty with, and the software will provide you with definitions that you can use in your study after the specific lesson.
- Technical Support - When it comes to technical support and help, Berlitz is a step above its competition. The course comes with a very thick user manual. This contains the answer to pretty much any question that you might want to know. There are also tutorials which explain the different functions and activities. You can also get further support by contacting Nova Development either by post, email or telephone.
- Speech Recognition Quality - Berlitz language courses include speech recognition software with the PC software. This is very useful, but the quality of the recognition is not as high as with some of its competitors.
- Unclear Interface - The interface on the Berlitz software could do to be improved. Many of the buttons on the interface are not clearly marked, which can make it difficult to operate. There are tutorials which explain the different activities and buttons, but sometimes even after you have watched these explanations, they can still be unclear. Once these are mastered, they no longer pose a problem, but finding out what they all do can be frustrating.
- Unclear Progress - Another aspect of the course that could be improved is providing greater feedback of how you are progressing through the program. Without this it is difficult to determine whether you are performing well or badly with your language learning overall.
- Good variety of teaching tools
- Good value for money
- Simulations for conversation practice
- Solid word tools
- Good technical support
- Low speech recognition quality
- Confusing interface
- Unclear progress tracking
If you are looking for a comprehensive language learning course then Berlitz is a fine choice. Where the Berlitz language course is a let down is with usability. Learning to use the software is harder than one would prefer. However once you master the interface, the software becomes much more useful.
The Berlitz software is not necessarily the best language learning software available. But at 1/7th the price of Rosetta stone, the Berlitz software is definitely the better value for money and has everything a beginner needs in order to achieve a working ability with the language.
Overall this course is highly recommended for beginners through to intermediate language learner, especially those on a fixed budget. For the price, it is difficult to beat the quality of the Berlitz language suite and its extensive range of features. However, Rocket Languages is more extensive, easier to use and the voice recognition is better.