Learn A Language Using Online And Multimedia Tools
Berlitz, Rosetta Stone, Auralog, Fluenz, and iTunes are offering a new wave of online courses and PC-based apps to help you parlez Francais, and more.
During your travels in the not-too-distant future, you may need a translator just to find the Web site for the local cab service, restaurant, or tourist attraction -- even if you're standing right in front of the billboard. If you're a job seeker trying to increase your marketability, you may consider differentiating yourself by learning a "less-commonly-taught language" used by a small-but-vibrant economy, or a difficult language to show off how smart you are.
Auralog's Tell Me More solution teaches how to work the equipment.
Goodbye, small world. With the English language vulnerable to a long-term decline along with the U.S. dollar, the value of your home and your 401(k), there has never been a better time to think about learning a foreign language. And with broadband Internet, rich-media technology, and Web 2.0 design, the language-learning process itself has never been easier -- or more fun!
OK, I'll Do It. Where Do I Start?
If you were to join a gym for the first time in years after a long period of sedentary behavior, would you invent a random circuit from one machine to another, or would you hire a personal trainer? Unless you know what you're doing, get help.
The same holds true for learning a language. You can find all manner of free Web sites devoted to teaching you one aspect of language learning or another. But if you're new or just rusty, you'd be best-served with professional guidance to start you off with a solid routine, lest you end up with the linguistic equivalent of huge biceps and a flabby gut.
If you're a motivated learner with commitments that prevent you from attending live classes, try an online course. The venerable Berlitz offers its Virtual Classroom that mirrors its classroom approach with scheduled one-on-one lessons in French, German, Italian, Spanish, or other languages by arrangement ($2,800 tuition, $425 materials plus S&H); or in groups of 2-4 to choose from any of the preceding languages, Russian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, or Japanese ($1,199 tuition, $250 materials plus S&H). Classes meet twice weekly for 10 weeks. Or, a five-session "Berlitz Ticket To…" starter course in French and Italian can give you the basics ($175, downloadable materials). All classes are held real-time.
Rosetta Stone teaches vocabulary using photos and voice-overs.
The other big name in language learning, particularly if you visit malls and airports, is Rosetta Stone. The winning appeal of Rosetta Stone's CD-ROM software stems from its smooth interface and integration of images with words. The approach, labeled "dynamic immersion," conveys the meaning of new vocabulary using photography with native language voice-over, without translations. Watch the demo to get a sense of how it works -- and to learn a few words in Turkish. The software also includes audio recording and speech recognition capabilities. You can buy the CD-ROMs (from $209 for Level 1 to $499 for the Levels 1-3 bundle) or purchase a subscription to Rosetta Stone Online ($109.95 for 3 months, $159.95 for 6 months, $259.95 for 1 year) for the same experience through your browser.
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