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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auralog Tell Me More Spanish

Review of Auralog's Tell Me More Spanish Homeschool Beginner-level 5. http://www.tellmemore.com/

This product came packaged very well and included two CD-Roms and a computer headphone/microphone combo. I was able to quickly and easily set up the beginner cd on both my laptop and desktop, each computer using different operating systems.

Right from the start I had trouble, though. I popped in the CD-ROM that a beginner was to use (the other CD was not labeled with anything that stood out or indicated that it would be a big help to install it first instead. *sigh*). If only I had known then...you MUST pop in the correct CD to figure this program out without A LOT of trial and error and guess-clicking on icons just to see where they lead you. The CD I put in last was actually the start-up manual/help CD and it really should've gone first as it gave Internet access to weekly online continuing lessons, a progress test, language learning guarantee, activity guides, and so much more.

Since beginning with the CD I was instructed to, I made it easily enough to the home page (I chose guided learning when prompted). This led me to a screen with a progress chart called a learning path (you can choose path 1 or 2 in guided mode, each teaching different skills). I like this screen as it shows the lessons you've done, the percentage of work done and the percentage of work correct. I know I can check my progress as well as my son's. Off I went to lesson 1. It began well with photos of people and audio recordings of their speech. I can handle this, just looking at pictures while hearing corresponding words and phrases, I thought. But because I had not taken the training CD yet, just moving around the screen's interface immediately caused trouble. Some of the icons are ghost-like, meaning they don't appear to you clearly until you accidentally scroll across them. With some of the icons I had NO idea of their purpose. You also have to know where to click to go on in the lesson or else you find yourself lost. There are various places to click to advance and one must be careful to decide if she is trying to move to the next lesson entirely or only to the next activity in that particular lesson. If you mess up, as I often did, you can always go back to the previous screen, but it was still frustrating having to search for the correct destination. Not to mention time-consuming.

(Of course, had that training CD been installed first, I would have found the program much more user-friendly).

Once I learned my way around the icons and screens, there are many different activities to choose from, such as fill-in-the-blanks, crosswords, comprehension questions, scrambled words, speaking aloud to test your pronounciation, and vocabulary files. When you give your answers they will either turn green or you'll hear a chime when correct. Red means keep trying!
At times the directions themselves were clear but carrying them out wasn't. For example, the game scrambled words...it's hard to get the words to go where you need them to. I am so used to clicking and dragging things in my everyday computer use. You don't drag the words in this activity, but no where does it tell you that. So I sat and tried multiple times to get those crazy words where I wanted them (and finally did). But even when I completed an activity successfully, I often felt so flustered from the general use of the program that I didn't care to go on.

My son, an eighth grader, tried the program multiple times before I did, and he also had trouble with it all because he, too, didn't realize he needed the training on that random extra CD to manipulate the screens. If you are buying this please don't go into the program for use until you have located and looked over the extras on that other CD! You'll save yourself time and frustration and probably end up liking the program a lot, if you do so, as it does have much to offer. There is much variety in the activities presented in this program so it should appeal to a range of learning styles.
I would suggest to Auralog that they clearly label the software training CD to be installed first.

Whether it be due to my lack of experience with Spanish, my lack of training in the program, my own personal learning style, or just that this old dog has trouble learning new tricks, I have to say that from what I've seen and used of both Tell Me More and Rosetta Stone, I personally prefer Rosetta Stone. I felt a bit rushed with Tell Me More, as if I was moving quickly without having grasped all the concepts completely. As I said before though, you can move back to repeat a lesson, and score higher.

My 8th grader also prefers Rosetta, although he is currently using this program simply due to the high price tag behind the Rosetta program. Good news is the more he uses it and understands the interface, the better satisfied with it he becomes. On the other hand, my 3rd grader caught right on during my first lesson and was soon telling me the answers! Go figure. Could be due to his age or his learning style. The bottom line is you just never really know how a program will work until you test it with each child. This might end up being the perfect program for him, and for all of us, now that I am getting familiar with it. If I had it to do over again, I'd take the assessment test first, sign up for the weekly online lessons, learn to use the software correctly, and THEN really dive into it whole-heartedly.

This program should be complete for high school credit, and the cost is not quite as high as other programs considering how many levels you get. Ten levels of learning are about $374.99. Even our version with only five levels should cover at least 2 years of high school language, but if you are pursuing credits and have questions, don't hesistate to email the people at Auralog. I had a question and got a thorough reply within a few hours.
Visit their site and try a demo. I found their customer service top notch and lots of reviewers love this product. It has been used with many large corporations with great success.


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