Tell Me More (by Auralog), like the other programs we’re looling at, uses the immersion method with a listen, look and speak approach to learning. They consider their speech recognition technology to be a key feature. Auralog was the first company to integrate speech recognition technology into language learning software back in 1990. Auralog claims to have 5 million users worldwide, including governments and universities. They also claim to be ‘the only language learning software that covers all the skills to learn Spanish…’ The program is available in 9 languages.
Getting Set Up
My program came with a CD and a printed Quick Start Guide. I loaded a file unto my computer which needs the CD in order to operate. After completing an online sign-on accessible through the desktop program I was ready to go (although this is not necessary to start the program). Tell Me More provided a headset as part of the package I received (nice).
The program I used was the ‘Performance’ version with 10 levels – from beginner to expert. Starting the program brings up a home page. At the bottom of the home page PDF files of the Activity Guide and User’s Manual are available to view or print. From the home page you can take several learning paths. Tell Me More has three different lesson modes to choose from.
Free-To-Roam mode allows you the freedom to navigate the program according to your perceived skill level. It also allows you options for different activities such as the level for speech recognition. In this mode, the content is organized in different workshops: the Lesson Workshop, Vocabulary Workshop, Grammar Workshop, Oral Workshop, Writing Workshop and Culture Workshop.
Guided mode offers different paths that are pre-organized for your learning pleasure. Most options cannot be adjusted in this mode as they are set out in a manner Tell Me More considers best for the typical learning path.
Dynamic mode allows you to choose to work according to various objectives offered. Tell Me More adapts the learning content to help you work on the skills that you need to improve the most as calculated by how well you do in each activity.
The program keeps track of you progress so you can start up where you left off. You can also create as many accounts as you wish so your entire family can use the program.
Guided mode opens on a Learning Path page which gives you a complete overview of your lessons. Lessons follow one after another with increasing difficulty and variation. I started at the top with a pronunciation lesson. In this lesson, various greetings in Spanish are given. You can listen and pronounce them yourself.
In the top left of the screen, several buttons allow you further help with pronunciation, translation or grammar. Pronunciation gives you the option to interact with the Tell Me More speech recognition feature. You choose your word and listen to it spoken. A ‘beep’ alerts you to your turn to speak. Instead of a ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ response notification like Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More uses a series of bars to show you how well you did – the more bars the better. Because of this it’s difficult to compare the two programs but I would have to say that Tell Me More has the smarter approach here. You also see your voice wave form displayed and can compare it to the speaker’s voice pattern. Again, like Rosetta Stone, I’m not convinced of the benefit of this feature, but you might find it useful. Another (unique) feature is their SETS (Spoken Error Tracking System) technology. It pinpoints within a sentence specific words that you did not pronounce correctly.
Lessons include grammar, word association, and games like crossword puzzles to help familiarize you with Spanish in different contexts. Written Spanish is also included.
A cool feature of the program is in the Dialogue activity. It’s similar to Rosetta Stone’s Milestone section. Once there, one of the choices allows you to watch a video with characters interacting, and then place yourself in the part of one of the speakers. The program queues you when to speak and indicates if it doesn’t understand you. This section took some getting used to and I’m afraid I didn’t fare very well, but then again I was running a little ahead of myself in the program.
The accuracy of the speech recognition software is dubious here, but it was an entertaining section and a great idea to vary the lesson content to keep things interesting. The language is also spoken more rapidly (as it would be in a real situation) and provides a good test of how well you can keep up with comprehension.
At any point in the program, you can take a test to evaluate your progress.
Tell Me More offers the ability to export the audio content to MP3 or to burn the audio or video to CD. It also includes a 10,000 word audio-glossary which you can also print.
The program offers a current affairs lesson every week online in partnership with EuroNews. This is a 30 minute broadcast incorporating current news in video format, vocabulary and grammar exercises.
In addition to email, 24/7 contact with a live online adviser is available.
Tell Me More is a feature-rich program that uses technology to the fullest. Like Rosetta Stone learning can be done through their ‘all-in-one’ program. The Spanish course was well laid out and covered all the bases necessary to get a good grasp of speaking and writing Spanish.
Tell Me More offers a 90-day money back guarantee. A Certificate of Achievement is produced at the end of your learning reflecting the level achieved. This could be a benefit in certain business situations.