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Strokes International shun slick websites and flashy graphics and instead cut straight to a no thrills, comprehensive teach yourself German course. Advanced technology is combined with extensive content in a simple user interface which makes progressing from beginner to advanced a straight forward process. We especially liked the fact that the levels of Strokes International match official EU official standards for language. This is very practical in the academic and professional world as users will be able to demonstrate their language ability according to a set framework. Each level consists of 100 lessons which you can print and / or export to CD or Mp3 in order to keep learning 'on the go'. You can buy these levels individually or make some great savings through purchasing the box set. Throughout each level you will be taken through reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocab and grammar activities, all aimed at getting you conversing confidently in a short amount of time. This way you will be able to apply your German as soon as possible, further consolidating the learning process. Furthermore, your attention will be held throughout the course by a variety of innovative activities and multimedia which also activate different areas of the brain and further optimize memorization.
Our first impression of Strokes International was that is was quite basic and rather dull; disappointing considering the cost of this product. However, Strokes International’s 'easy learning' approach, be it rather dry, allows you to quickly and easily access the comprehensive array of learning material they have on offer. Strokes International’s user interface is also available in a wide range of languages which is a refreshing change from the Anglo-centric trend of products in this category. What makes the Strokes International system so easy is that it works in the same way as your computer; a series of windows each containing different but related exercises, information and activities. Those of us who are computer literate will find this a breeze. Flashcards and memory games allow users to rapidly build up a strong base of vocab while the key grammatical rules are imparted through activities and exercises. The interactive speech recognition activities allow you to perfect your pronunciation as well as put together your newly acquired vocab and grammar into sentences and interact with your computer in a simulated dialog. Finally, the Trainer Exercises are a fantastic way for you to consolidate all the vocab, grammar, conversation and pronunciation you have learned and get it to stick in your head.
This great variety of activities is complemented perfectly by Strokes International’s extensive reference section. This consists of: complete grammar explanations of 260 topics; a dictionary with 6400 spoken words and 3200 example sentences; and a conjugations table with 1300 verbs. Despite all this being available for free online, it is nice to have it all in one place and not have to connect to the internet every time you want to look something up. Furthermore, each lesson links directly to the relevant part of the reference section making it even quicker and easier to access the information you need without losing your place. We were especially impressed with Strokes International's personalized study plan tool which puts together a personalized study program for each user depending on your individual priorities. Considering the extensive amount of material on offer, this really aids your navigation.
Overall, we were impressed with Strokes International; if we could describe it in one word this would be practical. Although its no thrills approach may fail to hold the attention of some, if you are serious about language learning, Strokes International will provide you with advanced technology and extensive content in a flexible, easy to use format. Various levels and the personalized study plan make it suitable to a range of learners, however those not sure about how much they want to commit to German learning may be wasting their money on some of the more high end features. Lessons 1, 2 and 3 can be downloaded for FREE to give you a taster of their approach and if you are sufficiently impressed, their straight forward website makes it easy to download or order a full copy and get on with some serious German learning.
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