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Review CornerSoftware
Instant Immersion Spanish Pro/Instant Immersion French Pro (7 CD Platinum Editions)
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Although this set of programs could have been better organized, some of the individual CDs in this set make the package a good choice for children from as early as Kindergarten and first grade.
Ages: 5-Adult   Subject: Foreign Language   Brand: Topics Entertainment
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
At first, this package of 7 CDs is confusing and rather disappointing. There are no clear instructions that give users a sense of where to begin, and if they follow the numerical order of the CDs, they'll be frustrated.

On closer inspection, however, some of the individual programs in the set are very worthwhile, especially for children. First and foremost, forget playing the program in numerical sequence. Children should begin with disk #7, which is called Spanish Plus (or French Plus, depending on the package), and is actually Rosetta Stone Explorer. We have a full review of this excellent program. This title is unique in its approach to foreign language learning. Although it is rather repetitive, the learning process is intuitive and natural for young children. The program teaches through immersion, and avoids explicit instruction or translations. The beauty of this title is that the learning is broken down into digestible phrases, and the challenge builds gradually. This is a well-balanced title, both in presentation and approach.

Next, kids should try disk #6, Vocabulary Builder. This program is also featured in Instant Immersion Language Starter for Kids (see our review). This program is simple in presentation and approach, but it does provide children with focused vocabulary-building activities. Kids scroll through multimedia flashcards in the program's "learn" mode, and then play simple games (such as matching and "find-it" games) with the new vocabulary words. Vocabulary words consist of basic objects, actions, places, colors, and more. Learn mode requires children to click to hear words spoken aloud, which encourages kids to predict the answers. Using a computer microphone, kids can record themselves as they name objects, and then watch the simple movies they have created.

The above two programs make the whole set a good buy, even if children never advance to the Tell Me More CD-ROMs (disk #1-4). The Tell Me More programs are marked Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. However, even the Beginner program assumes a rather strong familiarity with the featured foreign language. These programs truly immerse children in the language as players actually participate in scenes from a film. These programs are appropriate for children approximately ages 9 and up who have had some previous instruction in the foreign language.

Disk #5 is an audio CD that is helpful for extra practice and exposure to foreign language phrases away from the computer.

Confused? Actually, confusion tends to be the only real problem with this program. Basically, the package features a mix of individual programs that don't all "fit" with each other, and it lacks a good manual that would help minimize the confusion. Look past this disorganization, however, and you'll find some foreign language learning "gems" tucked away in this package. It is certainly not intuitive to have your young child begin with the seventh CD of a package marked "Pro", but you will appreciate the program if you do.

Although none of the programs absolutely demand the use of a computer microphone, users who take advantage of the set's speaking practice opportunities will get the most value from the program. It is important to note that both Instant Immersion Spanish Pro and Instant Immersion French Pro are truly immersion programs. They do not contain explicit grammar exercises or instruction.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/Me/XP/NT/2000, Pentium 233 MHz or equivalent, 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended), and 4X CD-ROM. The program requires 200 MB of hard drive space. The speech recognition feature requires a microphone.

Skills Covered
Children are exposed to numerous vocabulary words, phrases, and sentences in the featured foreign language.

Educational Value
With this set of programs, children learn the featured foreign language through immersion, not through direct translations or grammar lessons. Although the individual programs in the set vary in their approaches and presentation, all combine listening, visual, and oral components; and most also include writing practice. The pace in most programs is quite comfortable, although there are learning gaps between the individual programs in the set.

Entertainment Value
The Tell Me More programs, appropriate for children ages 9 and up, do a decent job of making language-learning fun. The other programs in the set are fairly repetitive, but each has has some appeal.

As noted above, this package bundles some unrelated programs together in a rather disorganized manner. However, the individual programs contain nice design features, such as progress reports and sign-in options.

As this program is a bundle of previously-released titles, users will find plenty of content, most of which is valuable and strong.

Dollar Value
The program carries a suggested retail price of approximately $39.99 US.

Released: 2002
Reviewed: April 2003