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Berlitz Think and Talk French

Book Review

 

Title:

Berlitz Think and Talk French

Publisher:

Berlitz Publishing Company, Inc.

ISBN:

2-8315-6181-7

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

April, 2000

Rating:

Finally, a course with everything included.  That's the best description of Berlitz Think and Talk French. This package attempts  to have everything you need to fully master the language in one box. It is one  in a series of Think and Talk foreign language courses offered by Berlitz.

The entire course fits into a rather large bookshelf case. It includes 6 audiocassettes and also 6 audio CD-ROMs. There are also four books with the course and software. The material is designed so that it can be used almost anywhere by anybody bgcolor="#000000" text="#FFFF00" link="#00FFFF" vlink="#FFCCFF" alink="#00FF00".

ama-2831561817.jpg (3535 bytes)The audio material is the heart of the course. The audiotapes and discs contain the same foreign language material. This feature is nice since the audio lessons can be used both at home and on the go. The material is fully presented to the listener in detail at the beginning of each lesson. Then the student gets a chance to converse with the speakers on the tape in common daily situations that one is likely to encounter such as ordering food or getting a room at the hotel. The audio quality on both the discs and tapes is excellent and the lessons are lively and entertaining.

The four books included with this course are the Learner's Guide, Think and Talk French Course Book, French Verb Handbook, and the Berlitz French-English Dictionary. The Learner's Guide outlines the mechanics of the French language, the hows, whats, and whys. It is only 30 pages but it is short and sweet and to the point.

The Course Book is about 250 pages and includes a complete index at the beginning and additional material in several appendices. It is well designed and extremely colorful. The Course Book layout follows the lessons in the audio material and provides additional pointers along the way for improving mastery of the language. Tests are included in the appendix along with the answers. One interesting feature of the book is that a list of checkpoints is presented at the end of each unit. The list challenges the listener to answer questions or say phrases to make sure that each lesson has been fully absorbed and understood.

The Verb Handbook fully covers about 60 of the most commonly used French verbs. A short introduction explains how French verb structures differ from English. Each verb is fully conjugated with an example sentence demonstrating how the verb is used in that particular tense.

The French English Dictionary covers approximately 5000 to 7500 words and provides several translations when the word has more than one meaning. A section in the dictionary provides the most common items found on a menu, abbreviations, times of day, and some basic phrases.

The software included with this course is designed to quiz the student on the conjugations of common verbs. The answers are always only a button-click away. Versions for Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and for Macintosh are included.

As if all of the material listed above wasn't enough, there are also two coupons included with this course. One is for a free private lesson at a local Berlitz school, and the other is for a discount if the student desires more private lessons.

There is quite a lot of material to digest in this course. The course uses the Berlitz method that immerses the student into the language by forcing them to respond to questions by the speaker. This method improves the listener's retention since it is well known that speaking (and not just listening) to a foreign language greatly increases understanding and fluency.

I really enjoyed most of this course. The only criticism I have is that the software included is, at best, minimal. I feel that much more could have been accomplished by including more verbs (only about 60 are covered) and also by including a wider variety of drills. Compared to other Berlitz software like the Vocabulary Builder series, the small scope of the verb software makes it seem incomplete and boring.

The rest of this course is just absolutely fantastic. It is an extremely excellent value and I would heartily recommend  it to anybody .

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