|Our Review Costs & Features User Reviews|
We have awarded Berlitz German Premier our prestigious Bronze Award in this category, having reviewed 23 Teach Yourself German Guides. Read our review below to find out why...
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At only $40, Berlitz German Premier competes with even the budget language learning solutions in the category while at the same time guaranteeing fast, easy and effective German learning on the back of 125 years experience. Unlike other low cost teach yourself German products, users enjoy many high quality features, some of which are unique to Berlitz German Premier. For your $40 one off payment you’ll get cutting edge language learning software, an audio companion, iPod exercises and a vocab building screen saver; basically, a complete learning package that other products in this category offer for ten times the price.
The software takes a traditional approach, using proven language teaching techniques to help you improve your grammar, vocab, writing, reading, listening and speaking. Clear grammatical explanations give you an understanding of the language’s rules and syntax upon which you begin forming increasingly complex sentences and phrases using your newly acquired vocab. Despite using ‘classroom’ techniques, Berlitz do take advantage of today’s technology in order to give many of their tools a modern twist. For example, most of us remember the flash card technique from our school days which, although simple and repetitive, is proven to help you memorize thousands of words. Berlitz bring this into the 21st century by offering interactive flashcards with which users can listen to the pronunciation of the word simply by clicking on it. You can even slow it down to make out each individual syllable, intonation and stress. Berlitz also contextualize your grammar and vocab learning by adding interactive audio and multimedia activities with native speakers which really takes their software beyond the traditional textbook technique. Finally, throughout your Berlitz course users are subconsciously exposed to a specific algorithm which is proven to optimize the memorization process that determines the rate at which you revise and encounter new material.
Along with high quality interactive software, Berlitz German Premier offer some fantastic features to both support and complement your learning; these features are only available in this category with products of a much higher price. Personally, we really enjoyed being able to personalize our Berlitz experience by adding words and phrases to our own vocab lists during the lessons. Grammatical phrases and specific words which always seem to elude you can be noted and revised later in order to ensure they are committed to long term memory. Furthermore, as with the flashcards, simply clicking on the word will play its pronunciation with the option to slow down the playback for enhanced comprehension. Speaking being arguably the most important part of any language, it is all very well understanding how a word is pronounced correctly and quite another thing actually saying the word. Luckily with Berlitz you can practice your pronunciation and compare it to that of a native speaker using their advanced speech analysis software (a microphone is required). For dedicated German learners, the lessons don’t have to stop at home. Berlitz's audio companion and iPod activities are a great way to revise and consolidate what you have learned from the interactive software. Finally, once you are exhausted from all this learning, a selection of language games will give you a well deserved break while still exposing you to the language, keeping the learning process ticking over.
On the downside (unfortunately there always is one), we were a bit disappointed at the lack of a progress tracking system that allows users to monitor their learning. Without this it is sometimes difficult to keep motivated as you may be left unsure of whether you are progressing at all! We could easily imagine those with little or no language learning experience feeling completely lost. Also, we found the speech analysis to be mediocre, some of the language games rather dull, and the flashcards bring up some rather obscure words. We must keep in mind however that this is in comparison with other products which can cost up to 10 times the price of Berlitz. Rather than flashy websites and expensive marketing campaigns, Berlitz is a 125 year old language learning institution with 460 locations in 63 countries (60 in the US alone!) making it the world’s number one provider of language learning resources. Finally, before we wrap up, please keep in mind when purchasing Berlitz German Premier that the language of the user interface is not very well expressed; many users have reported frustration at not being able to understand the instructions.
Despite a lack of some of the flashier features and some minor flaws, we can safely say that Berlitz German Premier represents the best value for money in this category. It may not be quite as much fun, fast or easy as other top of the range products, but many of the features are better than those offered by most other teach yourself German products on the market. Although those of us with a big budget will invariably get more out of the expensive products in this category, with Berlitz German Premier you will certainly get your money’s worth. If at any point you are feeling low on motivation, giving a thought to how much you have saved will certainly provide a boost!
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