October 21st, 2010

Calvin: Faces

Software Review

I got my copy of EuroTalk's "Talk Now - Hebrew" last night. I opted for the free shipping option, since I fail at noticing COUNTRY codes on URL's. :sigh: It took the slow boat from England...anyway.

The disk is universal - it'll run on Mac OR PC. The instructions are.....scant, shall we say? Seriously, the brochure lacks a lot in the "how to" department. Still, we are intelligent people, and installing programs is *easy*, right? Right.

Only, you don't install it. This is one of those programs that have to run off of the disk. I think it makes a folder on your drive to keep your info; not really sure. This means *I* have to keep track of the CD...not so easy in my household. (This is just a pet peeve of mine....)

The format is the same as iTunes U-Talk App....only, instead of photos you have cheesy cartoons. I.....I prefer the photos, actually, but hey - I can deal. On the word list pages, they have a male and female in either corner.....I think it's to make you feel comfortable? I dunno....they have goofy grins after they pronounce each word, which bothers me, but......I guess if I had started with this instead of the App, it wouldn't bother me. I do like that I can *see* who's pronouncing the words.....

Here's the deal - IF you have a smartphone/iPod Touch/iPod Video/iPad, go with the App. It's cheaper, and it's almost the same thing. BUT.....if you want the whole family to learn at their own pace, go for the program. You can set up a folder for each student, and it'll track the scores individually. The App doesn't - and the App writes over the scores each time you test. The program (supposedly - I haven't tried this yet) keeps track of your weaknesses and works on them.

That being said.....when you pick a category, let's say "Parts of the Body", you get a picture of a person, with circles around various body parts. You can either click on the circle, or just hit the > key; you'll hear the Hebrew word, see the circle light up, and see the English word underneath (or is it next to? Can't remember) the Hebrew word. That's cool...but I have a hard time looking at the part AND the word....but I want to learn to speak it right now; I can work on reading it later.

The "Easy" test is the same on the App and the Program; you get "cards" with the spoken word, then you pick the correct card. I'm sure the "Easy +" and the "Hard" tests are the same as on the App; Easy + gets you multiple cards with multiple words; Hard is a game of "Memory".

The CD has an option the App doesn't - it's sorta like a Vegas card game. There's a dealer; he deals out cards - the first round, 2, the next 3, and so on. You have to ID each word. There's a hard version of this one, too, but I didn't try it last night. Oh! On the body parts one, you get to build a skeleton. :grin:

You can print out a color dictionary, and you can (supposedly) copy the word lists to your MP3 player - but I hit a snag there. It keeps telling me I don't have the current version of iTunes....well, I downloaded the upgrade 3x last night, and it STILL tells me that. I even went to EuroTalk's support desk and downloaded their patch....and STILL don't have the "correct" version. :sigh: (I'm on a Mac, though....a PC might not have this problem)

You can record your voice and the program "grades" you on your pronunciation. I haven't done this yet - I need to dig out my earbuds - but I think that's a neat thing. You can record on the App, too - but I don't think it corrects pronunciation. We'll be testing the CD soon....

What I really like about it is that it'll track more than 1 student. This is good for us - each kid can learn at their own pace without "dragging down" the others (or outpacing them - I have some smart kids!)

Overall, it's a good product. Again, if you have something that'll run Apps, do that - it's cheaper and basically the same thing. ($9.99 vs. $29.99...for just a few bells'n'whistles). It's a LOT cheaper than Rosetta Stone....and seems to be the same basic idea. (Again, $29.99 vs. $250 for the Basic....the full set will run about $80 vs. $527. Yikes!)

They have a LOT of languages...some I'd never heard of. EuroTalk also has some Rosetta Stone doesn't - Scottish Gaelic, for 1. The prices seem to be the same across the board, no matter the language.....and it's not priced out of sight. I can't comment on the next levels, as we don't have them...yet....but I'm pretty sure we're going to "level up" soon.

So. If you want to learn a language but can't afford a tutor or Rosetta Stone, then this is a good fit. The games are fun, and you're learning without really realizing it. The price is not bad, for a computer program, and it allows multiple users (on 1 computer, of course.) A printable dictionary, to learn off-line, and an iPod playlist.....you get your money's worth.
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