Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Auralog-Tell Me More Italian

I have a passion for foreign language education. I think it all began as a child when I first discovered that people spoke more than English. I was three years old, traveling with my family to the Worlds’ Fair in Quebec,Canada. According to the story relayed by my Mom, we stayed at the home of a local family; an alternative offered by the local community to accommodate the many tourists the Fair brought with it. I clearly remember, however, eating dinner at the family's home and listening to children speaking in French with their parents. The parents would speak, children would answer and it fascinated me. If that wasn’t enough the family dog barked and the family spoke a command to the dog who immediately obeyed. In wonder I said to my Mom, “Wow! Even the dog speaks French!” I was amazed by the vast language education of this Canadian family.

To this day I desire to be bi-lingual and try to encourage my children to be the same. There is no greater feeling than when you are able to communicate with someone from another culture in their native language building a bridge of friendship which earlier couldn’t exist because of language differences.

Over the years we have purchased a number of foreign language study curricula in search of the perfect one. I have watched the sophistication of these programs improve with the integration of artificial intelligence and voice recognition software, CD Roms and CD quality sound recordings. I have never before seen anything quite as comprehensive as Auralog Tell Me More Foreign Language Software for the Homeschool. It is definitely one of the best.

Tell Me More Italian contains 5 levels of immersion based education. An average student will complete 850 hours of instruction before they complete the program. Since a high school Carnegie unit equals anywhere from 150-180 instructional hours that equates to nearly 5 years of high school foreign language study for $249.99. Personally, I think this is a tremendous value especially since Auralog allows families to create accounts within the software for more than one student.

The five levels contain over 4,000 exercises and 37 different types of activities which develop oral and written language skills, grammar, vocabulary, and culture studies. A Day planner type option is available to the homeschool teacher providing tracking information regarding student progress, comprehension and mastery of various skills plus a time table allowing the teacher and student to understand the time commitment the program anticipates necessary for completion of the program. I thought this feature an excellent asset for high school level students who like to work independently, but still need monitoring and occasional prodding.

Tell Me More Italian comes as a DVD accompanied with a headset for use with the computer. There is no lengthy manual to read or heavy instructions for installation. I was able to load and register my program with very little effort. Unfortunately, frustration set in for me when I first began using the program as I couldn’t determine what to do first for instruction in the language. I determined I was able to choose a method for my instruction, “Free to Roam”, “Guided” or “Dynamic Mode”. I chose Dynamic Mode which I learned is designed with artificial intelligence for someone with a bit of experience with the language. All beginning students should choose “Guided Mode” which is much more of a hand holding experience.

My first day with Auralog, Tell Me More Italian left me feeling like I needed them to "tell me more", but in English! I was frustrated by the scrambled words activity, verb conjugation exercise and fill in the blank vocabulary exercise and began to doubt the quality of this amazing computer program. I contacted the company with my concerns and had the privilege of speaking to Sean Lynch, Language Solutions Consultant, Homeschool Division of Auralog for nearly an hour and a half the next day. His representation of Auralog’s customer service was unparallel.

Mr. Lynch explained to me that part of my frustration was a natural result of the immersion method of education. He told me instruction actually comes at the end of the learning experience with immersion learning rather than the forefront present with most conventional didactic approaches to language education.

Immersion language education is comparable to the experience a baby has with people speaking all around him and not understanding the language. Slowly the child begins to recognize, for example, the word dog refers to the furry animal that walks, barks and chases his tail. It will not be until later in the child’s education that he actually learns that dog is a noun, how to spell it, etc. We learn our first language through immersion and Auralog believes it is also the most effective way to learn our second and third languages.

Armed with a greater understanding of the program I worked for nearly ½ hour the next day in the program. I was able to activate my Day Planner, find the translation tool “red spot” on the screen, and locate a unique correction tool which highlighted mistakes and encouraged study and mastery. I found the glossary portion of the program by clicking on a small icon which enabled me to look up words while working on a crossword puzzle. My favorite activity of the day included a hangman type game where the student guesses letters to spell a word in Italian. If I missed the letter instead of a graphic of a man slowly hanging from a thread appearing I was entertained by a knight becoming more and more threatened by a dragon. The cartoon was humorous in nature and unfortunately I caused the knight to receive a fire-laden experience from the dragon.

As I have worked through Tell Me More Italian I have noticed slight progress with my Italian. I am finding myself pointing out different words to my kids throughout the day as they come to mind. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the program since learning about its aspects and am pleased to know if I do forget a complete users manual exists in a PDF file as a part of the program.

Auralog Tell Me More currently offers Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and English for kids programs in their homeschool edition software. Auralog Tell Me More programs have won the 2009 Homeschool.com Seal of Approval, the Mom’s Choice Award honoring excellence, the Homeschool Parent 2009 Stamp of Approval and numerous other awards listed on their website. For those still skeptical, Auralog offers a 90 day money back guarantee on all of their language programs.

I am thrilled that I am able to continue to use this fantastic resource in my quest to become bi-lingual.



Brian Barker said...

Apparently President Obama wants everyone to learn a foreign language, but which one should it be?

The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese, and the Americans prefer Spanish. Yet this leaves Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Arabic, out of the equation.

It's time to move forward adopt a neutral non-national language, taught universally in schools worldwide,in all nations.

An interesting video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LV9XU

Detail can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

Biren Kumar said...

best site nice info keep it up Foreign Language Software

Three Little Bows Boutique said...

I am thrilled to read your review after searching specifically for reviews for Tell Me More Homeschool in Italian; I took 3 levels of italian in college and studied in Rome for a semester and I've chosen it as the language our girls will learn ... and what a price!
You forgot to add that the level 1-10 is only $400 as compared w/ Rosetta Stone's level 1-5 for $700!!

Please continue to post more on how your children do . . . we are starting w/ Professor Toto (for preschool-K) and then it's Tell Me More! What a blessing to us homeschool families!

thank you, again!

Mike said...

I would like to help others how to learn foreign language. I build vocabulary flashcards. A major benefit of the flashcards is that they are extremely portable, comfortably fit into my pocket. If I am standing in the queue at the movie theatre or the mall I pluck them out kill some time by revising them. To make cards I use Accelebrain tool.