Berlitz Spanish Premium: Review

Sunday, August 23, 2009 Posted by Dina N

A couple of years ago, I signed up for a beginners' Spanish class. The course materials included a book, a dictionary, and audio CDs that I listened to regularly. I loved being able to practice while driving, exercising, or running errands.

Recently, I received Berlitz Premier Spanish software for review. This package includes a program to install on your PC and four audio CDs. There is also an option to build your skills on an iPod or other MP3 player but since I do not own one, I could not test this feature. A detailed user manual is included as well.

Installation was simple and straightforward. My PC has Windows Vista, and the software should work also with Windows XP or Macintosh. By default, the software installs a screen saver that I found helpful.

This is the first language learning system I have tried that does not include a textbook. I am a visual learner, so to me, that was a bit unusual. The software program provides flash cards to practice new words and a Learning Center application. The Learning Center replaces a traditional textbook and includes two parts: reading and conversation. In the reading part, there are 15 lessons, each covering a specific situation: from introducing and describing yourself to ordering and preparing food, school activities, shopping, work and school, going on vacation, and so on. Each lesson has three sections: reading, vocabulary, and speaking. Vocabulary building is accomplished by flash cards, activities, testing, and review. You can also practice reading and speaking by doing various exercises.

In the conversation part, there are four lessons that again cover various situations. Each includes three activities: vocabulary, video, and speaking.

The pronunciation section allows you to practice words and sentences by listening how they are pronounced correctly and then repeating. I particularly enjoyed the activities section where learning is accomplished by fun activities, such as crosswords, unscramble games, word dictation, plug-n-play, Vocabulous!, graffiti and sentence dictation.

I enjoyed learning on the computer. One feature I liked was that several users can log in and complete lessons independently of one another. The software backs up each user's progress when you close down the program. The software is more interactive compared to traditional textbook / workbook combination. If you use a computer regularly and want to learn at your own pace, this software may be a good place to start.

I found that the audio CDs started with building conversation skills right away. Unlike other audio programs I have tried, where you start by learning separate words, the alphabet and the numbers, before combining them into simple sentences, Berlitz Premier starts you off with a real life situation. Whether you like one or the other is a matter of personal preference and learning style. If you are a true beginner, you should proceed slowly and stay on one section long enough to learn the material well and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

So far, I have used Berlitz Premium Spanish for about 10 days. I have not had a chance to cover all the material but I like what I've seen and plan to continue using it. For me, this software cannot replace a traditional classroom experience but is a good supplement to one.

Bottom line: if you are self-motivated and thrive as an independent learner, you will find this software package useful as a stand-alone learning tool. In case your learning style is more traditional and you prefer a classroom-type interaction, Berlitz Premium may be used as a supplement to class activities. Whether you are a beginner or advanced learner of Spanish, Berlitz Premium can help hone your language skills.

Right now, Berlitz Premium Spanish is on available on The list price is $39.99 and today's sale price is $36.99. There is a $10 mail-in rebate that runs until 12/31/2009 and will bring your cost down to $26.99.


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