Want to not only understand, speak, read, and write Italian, but also learn about local culture, communities, food, and traditions? Want to benefit from all the interactive technology available and applied to language learning? Do you also wish to learn Italian grammar and structure in an effective, non-threatening manner? If you answered these questions in the affirmative, then Tell Me More Premium Italian is the product for you. Tell Me More Premium Italian addresses all the skills critical to learning a language; reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary, and grammar. Unlike other similar packages, language exercises revolve around real, authentic Italian culture. The Auralog website claims that “whatever your objectives or level, Tell Me More adapts to your needs and guides you through the language learning process, just as a teacher would." Being a professor of modern languages, with many years of language teaching experience, I can confirm that this is true of Tell Me More Premium Italian.
[See Culture 1 and Culture 2 screen shots]
This is the most complete and extensive language software on the market, with up to 950 hours of learning. I am familiar with previous versions of Tell Me More Italian since it was adopted many years ago by my department as one of our student language lab resources. This new version is substantially improved, more interactive, and yet still rigorous and well-organized. The new build of the program addresses one of my main concerns with older versions, where there was a lack of a genuine “total beginner" level. In the past I felt that Tell Me More Italian would work well for students who had already had at least one college semester of Italian. That is not the case anymore, since a new Complete Beginner level is now available, along with other substantial innovations.
[See Dialogue, Picture & Word Association and Video & Questions screen shots]
Tell Me More Premium Italian is based on a fusion of full-immersion, interactive games, dialogues and traditional grammar (if you are so inclined, otherwise you can skip those sections). I wish this type of tool was available when I learned other languages. I gladly recommend it to students who want to learn on their own or keep up the language skills they already have. Remember, there is no need to panic. You will not have to make sense of complex grammar rules. They are offered in a non-threatening, concise, accessible manner. You will learn vocabulary through interaction and context. Something that surprised me a bit, however, is that the program occasionally presents exercises based on translating from Italian to English, which is a bit dated as an approach. On the other hand, you will be learning in the same way everyone learns their native language as children, by connecting words and phrases with images, or words with sounds, or words to other words in context. The adult learner, however, may also appreciate the opportunity to learn why things work in a specific way rather than another, thanks to the concise and accessible grammar sections.
Learning a language independently requires discipline, mostly by setting aside about half an hour a day, every day, for a few months. The task is made more accessible by the interactive nature of the software, which both engages and challenges you. You will move rapidly from basic to advanced conversational skills. Each lesson focuses on the main areas of effective language learning: pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
Although apparently expensive, this software really is a steal since it is a complete method, from beginner to advanced speaker. The four steps, each on an individual cd-rom (true beginner, basic, intermediate, advanced) are well-constructed and do correspond to authentic levels of linguistic competence and proficiency. Besides, it will allow you to work at your own pace and at your own time. What this type of language learning software requires, though, is perseverance. You will not need to spend hours a day on it. However, you should be ready to commit to a half an hour a day, everyday, for a few weeks. The built-in Day Planner feature will help you keep up with your Italian. The attractive interface, graphics and audio capabilities will make such a commitment easier. In fact, it will feel more like playing an interactive textual adventure game than “studying."
[See Day Planner screen shot]
The speech recognition feature is quite effective, although at times it requires you to speak at a pace that will seem too fast. Don’t feel as if you’re not doing well enough, though, and disregard the speech recognition graphs. While the intention of the graphs is good, I was faring just ok, and yet I am a native speaker.
Tell Me More Premium Italian is never tedious or boring. Some of the exercises may leave you a bit puzzled as to their real purpose (such as the “find the hidden words" exercise that seems taken from a children’s game magazine) but they do serve to familiarize you in a “playful" way with relevant material that is normally cultural in nature. As a native Italian and a language professor, this is the feature that I appreciate the most about this e-course. Tell me More Premium Italian provides real Italian cultural material in context along with sound language instruction. You will learn about Italy while learning how to understand, speak, read and write Italian. My inner videogame-player self appreciated the the challenge (you will feel more like you are playing an interactive game but you don’t have to be a videogame player to understand how it all works). My professional adult self , however, appreciated the sound linguistic and cultural approach (you will never feel “patronized" by the software).