Computer driven language learning software has made it much easier to learn a new language. It allows you to go at your own speed. It allows you to repeat any section as much as you need to and it gives you the freedom to set learning times in the comfort of your home. If you are motivated, you can progress rapidly. Here are a few points to consider when choosing software.
What’s Your Method?
Language-learning software usually stresses one of two methods. The first is immersion. This focuses on helping you learn the new language with little reference to your current language. Rather, it immerses you in the new. Most programs today use the immersion method. The other is the translation method. This uses words and phrases with a side-by-side translation in the new language. You may prefer one over the other.
Communication or Grammar?
Decide if you prefer a program that stresses communication over grammar. If you are more interested in conversation for travel, for example, you will want to stress verbal communication. A simpler, more focused study program that stresses common vocabulary and pronunciation may fill the bill. If you need to write the language also, or are looking for fluency a more detailed and complete program will be best.
Beginner or Novice?
Are you a beginner? How far do you want to take your language learning? If you want to progress to the advanced level you will want a program that will help you to get there. If you already have some knowledge of the new language, the option to skip the beginner module and choose an intermediate level to start may be helpful and save you money.
Is the program organized in a logical manner? Does it offer a variety of learning methods such as a ‘listen and repeat’ function, and quizzes to keep your interest? Does it use native speakers to act as your language models?
Does your software offer you the flexibility you want for learning? If it’s important to you, can you take lessons with you on your MP3 player to learn outside of the home?
See or Hear?
If you are a visual learner, a program with videos, would be a good choice. If you learn better by hearing, a program with plenty of pronunciation practice and sound files would be helpful. If you learn best by doing, a program with games, and interaction would be a good choice. The good news is that the programs we will be reviewing have some combination of most of the above.