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Italian Complete Course

Book Review

 

Title:

Italian Complete Course

Publisher:

Living Language -  A Random House Company, New York, NY

ISBN:

0-609-60272-1

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

May, 2001

Rating:

Italian Complete Course is one in a series of language courses by Living Language designed for  beginning language students. The course consists of three compact discs, a learning  guide, and an English-Italian dictionary. It comes packaged in a compact bookshelf style case.

The course is divided into forty units with each unit having several sections. All of the audio material is listed in the learning guide  and bold-faced along with translations, while the audio material itself only includes the Italian phrases with no translations. Explanations of the material  are given after each conversational drill. Additional vocabulary is included near the end of most of the units and the listener also has the opportunity  to take short quizzes along the way to check their progress.

Italian Complete CourseThe  study guide has several other useful features integrated. There is a substantial  section devoted to Italian grammar and verb tenses. Another useful section demonstrates  the proper format of letters and envelopes for correspondence. The dictionary included with this study course contains over 15,000 words and has a section for Italian to English and another for English to Italian.

The course covers a wide variety of topics. It starts with basic concepts such as colors, numbers, days of the week and basic greetings.  More difficult material is introduced as the student progresses such as finding your way around the city, ordering food, renting a room, and using public transportation.

There are a few shortcomings with this course. The printed materials are on par with regular paperback-style books, are very plain, and have no illustrations. At times, the material in the audio portion of the course  is not listed, listed wrong, or is out of sequence with the text in the learning  guide. The sequence of audio and non-audio portions in the learning guide is distracting unless one is willing to constantly pause the player to read the  explanation for each section. The lack of translations on the audio disks makes  learning while in the car rather difficult.

This program also has some strengths. The audio quality  is good and the speakers are easy to understand. The phrases are spoken a little  slower than normal conversational speed, making comprehension easier for a beginner. The course also does not focus on learning standard tourist phrases but tries  to give the student a well-rounded command of the Italian language.

Although this program has some shortcomings, its low cost  and wealth of material make it a good value for those wanting to learn Italian in their idle hours. The student gets a bi-lingual dictionary, a workbook / phrasebook, and audio practice for a little more than the cost of any one of these items separately.

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