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German Before You Know It, or Byki for short, claim that, on the back of research based evidence, they will provide you with the most effective means in which to teach yourself German, for a very reasonable price. Their system focuses solely on building up a huge bank of words and phrases in your declarative memory; each unit of information is memorized in a specific manner that significantly increases the ease at which it can be recalled at a later date. In this way, Byki’s approach to language learning is distinctly different from that of traditional textbook methods. As opposed to the tried and tested linear approach to learning in which you progress from A to B via grammatical explanations and vocab lists, Byki simply focus on building up a strong base of vocab which users can begin using immediately.
Byki’s approach is based on the distinction made by neurologists between our procedural and declarative memories; the human brain’s primary foreign language acquisition and processing systems. Using procedural memory, we understand the logic of a language; vocabulary is recited from memory in phrases and sentences are constructed according to internalized language rules. Meanwhile, facts, events, set phrases and vocabulary are stored as complete units in our declarative memory. For example, the spelling of a word will be recorded in our procedural memory while the word itself as it is used in every day language is recalled from our declarative memory. Unlike other language learning software, Byki focus on the foundations of German; words! Attempts to teach you grammar from the beginning are done away with as, although grammar is clearly essential to a language, Byki believe building up a strong base of vocab and key phrases should be the priority. With the most commonly used German words and phrases you have memorized with Byki you will be able to interact in real life situations at a very early stage in the language learning process. Using the language in such a manner is an invaluable way in which to optimize the language acquisition process, building your confidence and gaining a deeper understanding of grammatical rules.
The core of Byki’s approach consists of a 3 step process; preview, recognize and produce. Although this does sound like rather dull repetition, we actually found it to be quite stimulating and surprisingly addictive. The most commonly used German words and phrases actually stick in your head and after just one session you should be able to easily recall an impressive amount of vocabulary. There are also activities, games and additional online materials to give you some variation in your learning experience, stimulating different areas of your brain and further optimizing the learning process.
We were especially impressed with the additional features that Byki offer. Advanced speech recognition technology that comes with Byki enables you to record yourself, create an audio graphic and then compare both this and the playback to that of a native speaker. This way, not only will you have committed an impressive array of words to long term memory, but you will be able to pronounce them correctly and begin working on your accent from the start. However, it is Byki’s progress tracking tools that really earn them their Top Ten spot. While you are learning, the software remembers words you have trouble with and then tests you on them more often. This ensures you do not waste time by repeating words you already know whilst constantly challenging you to revise and remember the vocabulary you find more difficult.
Despite being a stand alone language learning tool in itself, intermediate and advanced users may find Byki Express a bit limited simply due to the amount of vocabulary on offer. Although beginners looking to gain a grounding in German will find easily enough to work with, you may need to upgrade to Byki Deluxe in order to gain access to more advanced vocabulary lists. Along with significantly more vocabulary, Byki Deluxe allows you to create your own lists making the potential vocab you can learn with Byki virtually limitless. For example, the more you are surrounded by the German language, the more words and phrases you will encounter that will just slip out of your head unless they are recorded and revised. Magazines, films, the workplace and German speaking friends can all be used as sources of vocabulary specific to you and inputted into Byki lists to ensure they are committed to long term memory. It is in this way that Byki Deluxe can be tailored to your individual needs. No time to create your own lists, or want to revise specific vocabulary before the situation arises? Byki.com List Central Online Community is a space in which all Byki users can share the lists they have created as well as access language, games and additional online learning materials. It must be kept in mind that neither Byki Express nor Byki Deluxe represent a complete German course. Although making excellent additional resources, they will need to be supplemented with other programs that include grammar exercises. Those looking for a more comprehensive approach to teaching yourself German may want to consider Transparent Languages Complete Edition (German) which actually includes Byki Deluxe as part of its complete teach yourself German course.
We were really impressed that Byki Express is available free to anyone to download and is, along with a range of other free resource from Byki, certainly one of the best free teach yourself German resources available. Upgrading to Byki Deluxe is the perfect way in which to build upon a beginner’s understanding of German. As opposed to a plethora of average quality features, with Byki Deluxe you will be simply getting one proven learning method at a reasonable price. Byki represents excellent value for money and is used by individuals, companies and institutions in 74 different languages worldwide. If its popularity does not assure you of its quality then Byki Express will give you a great taster of their methods as well as teaching you some useful vocab along the way!
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