Books+CDs, No pronunciation scores, Cheap, Most in French, ★★★
This French company teaches a large number of languages with bilingual books ($15-30). Most have accompanying CDs ($35-$100).
The courses are quite thorough, with vocabulary, grammar, culture, and requiring you to create your own sentences. They suggest half an hour per day for 6 months (180 days and 90 hours of study). The CDs go fast, with no slowing, pauses, or repeats.
Pronunciation is a weak area. They provide a poor "phonetic" spelling as well as the fast CDs, so their focus does not seem to be accurate pronunciation. For example the first sentence in the French course for English-speakers is:
- "Saint-Jean-aux-Bois est un ravissant petit village,"
- "sahn zhon-ow-bwa etuhn raveessohn pëtee veelazh."
You read the books to understand the CDs, so you are distracted by how your language would pronounce the letters.
You have 2 choices in using the CDs, since they lack pauses:
- You can press Stop on your MP3 player to give yourself time to say the words. Also you want an MP3 player which can rewind a few seconds, since there are no repeats. Do not try all this button-pushing while driving.
- Arguelles recommends listening to a recording without pauses, and speaking along with the native speaker, at about the same volume, so you can compare your voice to the native speaker (shadowing). People learn songs this way, so try it for languages. He says to walk with good posture while speaking, so your voice is clear. At first you can only speak sporadically, until you hear phrases enough to say them with the native speaker.
They use French to teach all target languages, except 3 regional Italian languages which are only taught in Italian. Target languages are from all over the world, with a rich range of French regional languages. Ancient languages include Greek, Latin, and hieroglyphics.
They use Arabic, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish to teach French and a few other languages, shown in the List of Languages.
Main target languages have a range of books and CDs, short to long, and sometimes covering business vocabulary. Other target languages just have short phrasebooks and CDs.
Amazon-US and Amazon-France reviewers find the courses very good, but do note how hard it is to learn good pronunciation with these courses. (Click for Arguelles' review.)