Technology should make our lives easier
• Advanced speech recognition tool
• Choice of beginner to advanced programs
• Thousands of Spanish exercises
• Great flexibility
• Not the best for complete beginners
• Sometimes confusing
Offering the whole package of listening, speaking, writing, reading and grammar, Tell Me More is a comprehensive Spanish-learning software package suitable for both beginners and the more advanced.
Tell Me More was founded in 1987 and with a significant history behind it, this language-learning publisher has scored a few firsts in the market. Most interestingly, Tell Me More was the first software publisher to use speech recognition technology as one of its learning tools. Its overall approach is based on the Communicative Approach methodology, a practice which focuses on interaction and repetition as the means of learning a language.
Tell Me More language solutions are used by over seven million students around the world, but what does this package have to offer that others don’t? We looked at Tell Me More to give a comprehensive run-down of its features.
When you purchase Tell Me More you set up a user name and a password and are then directed to a Guided Tour screen which sets out the systems and the process of learning you’re going to take.
Start by setting your level of language learning. There’s a short test but you don’t have to take it if you already know where you are. You are designated two consecutive levels out of 10 different levels in total, from absolute beginner to advanced learner. You can also choose some areas of focus and goals. Then, depending on where you are in the course, you have training options which range from choosing lessons to completing tasks to meet your learning goals. The Resources tab has the extra information and tools you need to complete interactive tasks and sharpen your skills.
All the learning you do with the software is organized into lessons. Lessons are split into activities, which are listed as a dropdown menu within the main lesson page. The lesson activities follow a set order, which is designed to have you progress through the course.
The course covers the basics – grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and language structures. There are dictation exercises, where you type what you hear into the box onscreen, grammar exercises and vocabulary recognition tests. The individual activities cover specific fundamentals of language learning.
One handy feature, if you are unsure when you are completing any of the exercises, is the ability to hover over a word, which will bring up a dropdown box telling you the meaning, pronunciation, and conjugation. There is also a section dedicated to grammar and sentence structure which tells you all you need to know about specific topics.
Tell Me More provides a weekly Euro News lesson which includes video, vocabulary, and other exercises to help you learn, based on a current news topic. The speech recognition tool helps you with correct pronunciation and there are also conversational exercises that go beyond grammar.
Tell Me More has some great additional features related to culture and everyday life. There are mini lessons on the history, culture and geography of Spanish-speaking countries which help to broaden your language-learning experience.
One interesting activity for would-be actors is a role play where you take the part of a character in a TV series.
The speech recognition tool is very useful , especially for beginners and people who get no chance to try out their Spanish with other Spanish speakers. The recording comes up on screen as a sound wave pattern, and you are assigned a score based on how well you pronounce the word or phrase. As you continue to repeat, your score improves and you will pass the activity. There is no microphone included, so if you don’t have one or yours doesn’t work properly, you are a bit stuck.
You can learn on the go with activities on your MP3 player or on the audio CDs you create yourself. There are also many word recognition activities like crossword puzzles and word find games, although many are a little confusing and fiddly to complete.
There are many tests to take to track your progress and measure your success against your goals. The My Statistics tab gives you the full low-down on your progress. All of which is good for the learner who wants to see results and needs to be in control of the language learning process.
You can also utilize a progress chart and a language diary which will help you keep tabs on how well you are working and what you are learning. The progress tests and checks apply if you are a beginner or more advanced.
Tell Me More is expensive – there are cheaper ways to learn Spanish on your computer. But in its favor are its completeness, and its comprehensive coverage of all language-learning tools.
Many people rate the software for its professional and serious approach though some reviews have suggested it may not be the best choice for a complete beginner with not a word of Spanish.
The interface is basic but clear and the homepage contains a snapshot of where you are, your progress, and links to your next tasks. The News Update box lets you know if there’s something new that requires your attention.
Generally, the Tell Me More system is easy to navigate and presents uncluttered interfaces, good use of color and overall high usability. Once you’re into the swing of things, the process is logical and ordered. However, it can be a little difficult to understand the system when you first start – there are an incredible amount of options to explore. Your best bet, if you are confused, is to click on the Home link to be taken back to your main page and you can rediscover where you are.
Once you’re into the main lesson itself, there are always instructions that tell you how to complete the activities.
Tell Me More isn’t the most dynamic or fun way of learning with software – the whole experience is rather like a constant test. The software is more serious and focused and therefore helps you progress fast rather than enjoy all the activities you have to do.
You can get support from Tell Me More by clicking on the Help button at various points in the course, or you can access help from an online adviser. Advisers are available 24/7 although the response time is a little slow.
Tell Me More is the package for people who want to make sure all the bases are covered. You won’t miss out on any aspect of Spanish learning if you purchase this software. Once you’ve got the hang of the program it’s easy to operate and if you stick to it, you will see results.
Tell Me More currently offers a seven-day free demo where you can use the website to access the training program.
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