Oxford Take Off in Italian Hardcover – Jan 2004
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`Review from previous edition Review from previous edition an excellent way to learn' Customer review
`concise, simple, and allows you to work at your own pace' Customer review
`an enjoyable way to learn' Customer review
`The audios drill you in language exercises, widen your vocabulary, and draw you into the dialogue. Whether you are a complete beginner, or want to brush up a forgotten skill, this is for you.' Writers' Bookshelf
`this attractive boxed set is the best all-rounder: it is well-organised, easy to use, and quite demanding as the Italian is spoken at a fairly realistic speed.' Five Star Review in The Daily Telegraph
`The best all-rounder: it is well organised and easy to use.' Daily Telegraph
`Review from previous edition an excellent way to learn' Customer review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There is only one disadvantage: sometimes answering to the questions requires just a little vocabulary not known to you yet - though, it`s always a good idea to keep your dictionary close to you when learning a foreign language, isn`t it?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1: If you purchase this item, you'll receive a set of CD's that have activities and dialogues that are shown in the book. Some activities on the CD's are not in the book and require you to work on your listening skills. This is a HUGE plus -- not many books do this. There is a "review CD" that is billed to be used in your car since it doesn't require the book. The extra material in the final CD will help you practice your listening skills without relying too much on the book.
2: You will also receive a book which has all the lessons. Each lesson is divided into parts with sections on Italian grammar. The explanations are clear and concise and exercises follow to help your learning. I find some of the explanation to be a bit short, but for beginners the amount of learning is concentrated into small lessons might work well. I would follow up a second grammar book to help improve on certain concepts that are presented. Also accompanying this is a travel dictionary and phrase book. I wouldn't say that this is the greatest travel dictionary, but it is adequate. The last dozen pages is the most useful section and includes important phrases you are likely to encounter.
3: There is an access code to access the materials that are online. The online materials contain mp3's as well as extra exercises and activities to further improve your understanding of the language.
The main function of this book is not to become a grammar genius but to get your ear used to hearing the language and getting your mouth moving to speak Italian. In this regard, this book is A+ -- not enough Italian sources engage your listening and speaking skills. For the price of this kit, you certainly can't go wrong. If you follow the program faithfully, practice speaking and listening to the dialogues, you can't go wrong. The CD's feature instructions on how they can be used as well as pointers for improving and using what you have learned. I wish something this comprehensive existed when I began learning Italian. Absolute beginners will benefit the most from this book. If you've had any classes in Italian and are looking to improve and practice what you learned, you could also benefit from this kit.
Great product from Oxford!
How well someone is able to learn with this kit will, of course, depend on the individual. People who learn languages easily will find it the most useful. People who struggle with languages will probably need something a little more sophisticated, with supporting software.
The biggest advantage to this kit, as opposed to software like Rosetta or something like Pimsleur, is the price. This is a very affordable language lesson. I think it is ideal for someone who isn't sure if they want to commit to learning a language. It will allow you to experiment before investing 100's of dollars into a bigger system.
At first, jumping back and forth between the CD and the book seems like it's going to drive you crazy, but it really doesn't--both the book and the CD prompt you when to switch and what to do. And the CD track format makes it easy to relisten to a dialogue.
However, the CD format also makes it a pain in the booty to *FIND* a certain track. There is no 'key' to the track listings, so if you want to start lesson three, you have to poke and poke till you find the right track. Ruinous? No. Annoying because it's so easily avoidable? Yes.
This is a British product, so SOME of the translations (calcio = football 'soccer' to us US types) may need a little tweaking, and the narrator (a native Italian speaker)'s British accent is a bit wonky--sometimes it sounds posh-London, sometimes almost Cockney.
The online support includes all new dialogues and activities for the units, neatly broken down; but does slow a computer down if you're on dialup.
There is no visual support to this item, which seems a lackluster use of online supplements, so if you're a visual learner, this might not be the ticket for you. Auditory learners will be in heaven, and the activities switch up enough--you repeat phrases, then you ask questions, then you write a few answers, etc--keep even the shortest attention span engaged.
I took a year of Italian in college, (egad, almost twenty years ago!!) so I'm not a 'new' learner. I figured this product would refresh what I had forgotten to allow me to pick up where I left off, as if I'd just left off, and move on. I've found it, with that purpose in mind, to be fun and engaging; challenging, but also allowing me to build confidence in the language. Is it going to replace Rosetta Stone? No, especially not for visual style learners. Is it a DARN good budget friendly and fun option? Definitely.
The verdict is that her experience with the Oxford Take Off in Italian mirrors how I felt about the Latin American Spanish version: It's a decent way to get the basics covered, along with laying the groundwork for learning more Italian. The materials themselves consists of a phrasebook and 5 CDs, which is pretty standard across most of the language learning kits that I've seen, but they all vary on how well they pronounce the words and how much time to give you to repeat the phrase. I tried another competitor's Italian product a few years ago, and I got more frustrated because it wasn't clearly enunciated and I had what seemed like half a second to repeat it.
So, my friend gives this an excellent review and I trust her judgement and will start working on this after I master Spanish, or at least master the art of making a fool out of myself in Spanish.
Consisting of 5 audio CDs, a 248 page exercise booklet, and an easy-to-tote travel dictionary and phrasebook, the course follows a four stage intuitive initiative consisting of fourteen key units. By implementing the book, the user:
* reads the sub-unit lesson dialogue,
* sees the associated vocabulary highlights and
* becomes familiar with grammar fundamentals in print.
Upon completion of this, the student switches to the audio portion of the kit where he/she:
* listens to a dialogue where key phrases and sentences are given ample repeat time,
* pauses the CD to complete simple activities in the book
* performs additional listening/repeating activities with the recording.
When all sub-units in a unit are mastered, the student attempts a final written test that summarizes the main points covered in the unit. He/she is then asked to test his/her recall in Italian, by translating such things as "Ask a friend what he does for a living" and other basic learned phrases gleaned from the work accomplished in the unit, the answers to which are supplied in the `Summary' portion at the end of each unit on the audio CD. "Take Off in Italian" provides ample suggestions when the student's recall requires a little more study before moving to the next unit.
The units cover typical travel-related conversational subjects like:
* Meeting People
* What Job Do You Do?
* Do you have any children?
* I'd like a Coffee
* The Car Park is 100 meters
* Every Thursday I go to the Gym
* I Haven't Been to the Lakes Yet
* Let's Make it Tonight at 8
* I'd Like a Less Expensive One
* Have a Nice Meal
* When I was Little
* What a Beautiful House
* How are you feeling?
* I'd like to be a Painter
And usually contain 5 sub-units, four of which interact with the audio CD and one that consists of a written exercise in the book. At the end of each audio CD, a three to four track review tests the student.
As a former student of Italian, I found this course to be a good introduction and review of vocabulary, grammar and common phrases that would prove useful when traveling and attempting conversation in Italy. However, this is no walk in the park. If you are planning on simply using the audio CDs to facilitate your learning, you will be disappointed. The integrated nature of this program simply makes a listening only strategy inadequate; so if you were planning on having the audio portion of this course play during a long drive, you will not be able to get that much out of it even though the course boasts an MP3 download. Instead prepare to don your headphones while keeping one eye on the course book. Following an interactive plan of listening when required and then reading vocabulary and grammar rules and performing exercises in the step-by-step fashion outlined by the program will insure greater success. However, I think further reading material will be required to supplement learning especially in the area of the tenses.
If the student is 100% committed to learning the Italian language, I would recommend some supplementary books that will help facilitate ultimate success, although my first and foremost suggestion would be to actually take an adult education course with the ability to sit in on actual conversation sessions. Of course, the epitome of the best learning environment would be to actually take a course in one of the many capable learning academies in Italy itself. Choose the city of your choice and while you revel in the Renaissance environment, learn the language of Dante and DaVinci--these schools are more than willing to tailor a course specifically for your learning requirements. Email me and I will be glad to make recommendations with regard to books and courses based on my own experience.
Bottom Line? `Take Off in Italian' is recommended with the following caveat: Don't expect to be an expert speaker without fully engaging in the program as it is intended to be used.
Do supplement your learning with other books and Italian films with English sub-titles to coax the development of an "Italian ear."
Diana Faillace Von Behren