- Platform: Windows Vista / XP
- Media: DVD-ROM
- Item Quantity: 1
Instant Immersion French Deluxe V3.0
|Price:||CDN$ 29.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 35. Details|
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This review might sound ridiculous given what the company claims about their product, but I am not exaggerating. Let me take you through the first steps of using this software if you don't believe me.
The nice flash animation at start up makes you think that this product has potential, and there is a nice little sign in box. Then the home page loads up, this is where it all goes down hill. You are greeted by a "tips" box that you can choose to have come up on start up with a new tip every time. The thing is, there are only 9 tips, and they tell you what the options button does, what the next activity button does, what the help button does, what the next exercise button does, and how to click and drag words, etc. No substance or guidance at all. Every item on the list is self explanatory.
After exiting the box (and checking the option not to have it pop up at start up), you are on the "Vocabulary Workshop" page. Maybe you click glossary under the resources heading at the top of the page, and you see its exactly what it was described as, a glossary. At this point you think, cool, here's the vocabulary for the first lesson, but where is the actual lesson. The whole joke of the software is that this IS your lesson. A list of words in alphabetical order, not even by topic. OK, so you notice you can break them down into different groups. You click the drop down menu of "lexical group" and down drop 4 French phrases to choose from. "Well heck, I don't know French, this isn't helping. Now you see a flag-like button that will translate any French on the page into English. If you found the list of tips laughable, you now wonder why they couldn't at least tell you about this button under the tips. Now you see "Daily Life", "Intellect and Reason", "Society and Institutions", and "Prfoessional life". When you highlight any of these, another drop down box of 6 to 15 subgroups drop down. Each of these also produce a few subtopics, or you can choose to view all of these subtopics at the same time, in alphabetical order, one letter at a time (you have to click each letter to pull up words that begin with the letter, rather than just putting them all on one page and letting you scroll down the list or click a letter to "jump down" to it. A minor annoyance, but its stupid when there's sometimes only one word per letter.
Now you know how to navigate a really interactive glossary. If you have been waiting to start learning French, you are still frustrated to find that this doesn't really provide any kind of starting point. So now you actually go to find the PDF User Manual. They dedicate 2 out of the 10 pages to how they suggest using the software. They tell you to start with the lesson workshop, and start with the reference works and then progress to the pronunciation guides, then show huge tables of all the activities you can do.
FINALLY, you think, I can start learning with the lessons workshop! Why didn't I notice that. They probably should have started you at that window, but at least I'm out of the woods. You go to lesson workshop and select lesson 1:A B C.
The page finishes loading an a man's voice says (with the French text on the screen):
"Bonjour, nous parlons de lettres aujourd'hui ! Est-ce que vou connaissez la lettre 'a' ?"
Now you are instructed to speak via a text cue. I felt like a deer in the headlights. Thinking that they were teaching the alphabet (since the lesson was titled "A B C"), I say "a", trying to mimic the pronunciation of the speaker as clearly as possible. The only words I got out of his statement were "bonjour" and "la lettre 'a'". It tells me it can't understand me. I think maybe I just have terrible pronunciation of the "a" sound, but then again why wouldn't it rate my pronunciation and give me some feedback, rather than just saying it doesn't understand.
I should mention that there are two French sentences written below, but you cannot click on them. They have speaker icons next to them and if you click them, you hear a French speaker speak them. They are:
"Dans 'avril', il y a lettre 'a'" and "Comme dans le mois de mars ?"
I can hardly pronounce foyer correctly when I see it written down, and now they want me to accurately reproduce a whole French sentence. I keep listening to them trying to be able to repeat one word more each time until it accepts the answer and goes to the next page. I also remembered the flag button that gives translations. If this seems vague and confusing, its the software, not me. The translation of that dialogue is:
"Good morning, today we are going to talk about letters! Do you know the letter 'a'?"
"In 'avril' (April), there is the letter 'a'." and "Like in the month of 'mars' (March)?"
There are 11 questions in this first "lesson", which cover the letters a, b, p, and r, some days of the week, and some seasons. Interesting choice of first phrases, I think to myself. OHHH!!!, I was supposed to go to the reference works first, but the software loaded the pronunciation activities first. Who programmed this? They never take you to the page that they recommend going to. Couldn't they have designed it to START you at the Lessons Workshop, and from there, start you at the reference works? Regardless, I keep my hopes up that this software can teach me French in a state of the art, innovative, way using the latest pedagogical methods. I look under the Reference Tools drop down, and lo and behold, the lesson GLOSSARY! THATS IT!?? Thats the latest pedagogical method!? A glossary again! But wait!!! Under that is the "grammar explanations for this lesson". Here they show you the words for the and introduce you the concept of gender of nouns (which I was used to from my knowledge of Spanish). They also provide a list of the French alphabet, WITH NO AUDIO EXAMPLES. I really am at a loss to figure out who developed this. It seems like a great start to an excellent French reference program (note the word reference program, not language learning program). But somewhere along the line they said, hey, you know there's such a huge demand for language learning that we could just sell this fancy glossary with exercises for those who already know French, and it will be gobbled up by the thousands for $50. Then of course Amazon, who knows how to find the right price point on things, put this on sale for under $10. And that is this things value. No, the $8 tag is not a steal, its a legitimate starting point for this product. Unfortunately I bought it last week when it was still prices at $12.
I'll finish describing lesson one to get the point across, we're almost done. After showing you the letters of the alphabet, they show you the list of sounds in the French language, again with no audio, only IPA notation. Then there is a sentence construction section that tells you that French sentences start with subjects and verbs, and that there are adjectives too, but that this isn't always the case. End of lesson. Go back to those exercises.
I'm not leaving anything out. I checked out the other lessons and they are taught the same way. The only instructional material is less than a page of text with no audio.
This program seems it would be valuable if you already knew a good amount of French and wanted to review, as it is minimal on instruction and loaded with 300 hours of drills (which they advertise as 300 hours of learning, then have the audacity to say there's a world of difference between their software and Rosetta Stone's, which only has 200 hours of learning.)
Then they use a table to indicate all the things that they have that rosetta stone doesn't, and they also throw berlitz on the table for good measure. Basically Rosetta Stone scores a "no" on every item while instant immersion gets a "yes" on everything and berlitz gets a yes in 2. What a joke. I have used Rosetta Stone software before at a friend's house. It teaches. It guides you. It doesn't use rote memorization of translations from a glossary. It uses state-of-the-art, innovative, pedagogical methods that work. Instant Immersion uses memorization and drills, the least innovative and probably most obsolete method of foreign language learning. Unfortunately, I don't want to spend a few hundred dollars on Rosetta Stone, so I will continue my quest for a way to learn French.
Instant Immersion is a great glossary and reference work, but does not teach. For under $10, you might consider purchasing this to supplement a language learning program or refresh your French if you know it and want practice. Other than that, I question the integrity of the developers of this software and their advertising campaign and will for now on avoid Instant Immersion products.
So, if you want a software to help you improve your writing, listening and speaking, it has some good exercises and you can choose your level. if you want to start learning a language with this product, maybe you should reconsider since it's not well structured to begginers.
This program isn't cohesive at all; it seems to be a bunch of programs packaged together without an overall plan. I really don't think anyone could actually learn a language from this.
It starts with vocabulary words -- fair enough, you have to start somewhere. But some of them are really dumb for introductory language learning: How often does hippopotamus come up in conversations? Then phrases are thrown at you with no explanation at all and no build, ie, learning each word so the sentence makes sense. And without learning the pieces, all you're doing is memorizing sounds. And what good is it to learn "Where is the bank?" if you have no chance of understanding the answer?
We're going to Paris next year & I'm sure these language tapes will be more than enough to pass muster.