|Editor's Review Costs & Features User Reviews|
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To most of us ‘thinking in German’ seems like a final frontier, a far a way dream in which German just rolls off your tongue as though you have been speaking it all your life. Recently, however, advances in multimedia and interactive software have enabled the development of products that simulate ‘total immersion’ in a language. This is the approach offered by Instant Immersion who, furthermore, additionally promise to cover grammar and vocab, all in one reasonably priced box set. Instant Immersion is based on natural image association techniques that are supposed to replicate the way in which you learned your native language as a child. Not only does this comport a more profound understanding of the German language but also, by focusing on speaking and listening, users develop more confidence and fluency in a far more effortless and natural manner. Instant Immersion comes in three levels from beginners to upper-intermediate, each of which consists of a variety of interactive activities. This not only makes the course interesting and engaging but also stimulates different areas of the brain, further optimizing the learning process. Instant Immersion uses the tried and tested flashcard technique in order to build your vocabulary base. Users can then apply this to grammatical structures learnt from the interactive activities to begin forming their own sentences. Finally, Speech recognition technology is available for users to practice their accents and prepare themselves to use their German in the real world.
Despite a rather clunky user interface which we found rather difficult to navigate, once we got round to trying Instant Immersion’s activities we did find some of them to be quite enjoyable. One such example is the bonus game, 'who is Oscar Lake', an interactive game which you can actually play with friends in order to learn German socially. We also appreciated the audio disk which can be played in the car, while cooking or easily loaded onto Mp3 for jogging or walking the dog. This is not only great for those of us with a busy schedule, but also essential for the full immersion experience which requires being surrounded by the German language for as much time in your day to day life as possible.
On the downside, apart from a few interesting activities, generally, we were rather disappointed with the quality of Instant Immersion’s features. The grammatical explanations did not enlighten us, in fact, they left us slightly confused and with several doubts which had to be cleared up using online resources available for free. What is more, none of the other immersion approach products in this category offer grammatical explanations (or do so, but separately), as our brains are meant to pick out the rules and patterns naturally. In this way, we couldn’t help feeling as though Instant Immersion has just jumped on the 'immersion approach' band wagon just to be fashionable. Neither were we impressed with the speech recognition technology that was, although not flawed in any particular way, not as advanced as the market standard as you are not able to visualize your pronunciation of a word in an audio graphic. Finally, despite being a legal requirement, the customer support offered by Instant Immersion seems to be non existent. Although we didn’t personally encounter any problems with the product, in case you do, don’t expect any support past the bare minimum. We couldn’t find any help line or Email address with which to contact Instant Immersion and there is not even an online support section or FAQ. All you get is an option to apply for some guidance forms which may or may not resolve your problem. Finally, it is not made clear that the user interface only comes in English which can be very frustrating to speakers of other languages. Due to these significant drawbacks, Instant Immersion has a long way to go before we would consider it for one of our Top Ten spots.
On the positive side, Instant Immersion is one of the cheapest products in this category. All aspects of the language are covered and users get a variety of features for the same price as for a product that, for example, focuses simply on vocabulary. Despite the substandard quality of this product you will learn the basics of German although to progress to an advanced level you will have to look elsewhere. Although a lack of personalization, evaluation or tracking tools may leave you slightly feeling slightly lost and unsure of your progress, the activities themselves are simple and reasonably effective. Overall, without the advanced features and slick user interface offered by many other products in this category, those of us serious about learning German should look elsewhere. However, at a low price and with a good set of features, in terms of quantity rather than quality, those looking to dabble in a wide range of teach yourself German activities could be pleasantly surprised by Instant Immersion. Don’t get your expectations up and, for the price, you won’t be disappointed!
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