It’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to brush up on my French skills, or lack thereof. So when offered a chance to review some software by TELL ME MORE®, I jumped on the idea.
TELL ME MORE® is a global leader in language learning software, and their products are often used in academic institutions, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. The program is divided into lessons, and the lessons into activities. TELL ME MORE® recommends doing the activities in order (and so do I).
Before You Start
Before beginning, you can opt to take an online test to determine your skill level, or select the level manually. I highly recommend taking the online test: it’s a tedious process that takes about 45 minutes, but it accurately assessed my level to be Beginner Intermediate. Not bad, for ten years of trying to learn the language.
You can also choose to do the lessons in order, or you can be “Free-to-Roam” about all the different topics and activities. In my opinion, it’s best to go with the former. The learning process feels much more structured when it’s mapped out in front of you.
However, there are benefits to doing each, which I will explain in the next section.
The Learning Process
The lessons cover four learning areas: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. The activities in these lessons vary, including Discovery Dialogue, Picture-Word Association, Crossword Puzzles, Sentence Transformation and Words and Functions. If you falter during an activity, you can listen to translations or use Additional Tools to help with Grammar and Conjunction, and other problem areas. The tools also allow you to listen to the dialogue or practice speech recognition.
You also have access to a variety of other resources, like language explanations, a glossary, an atlas with physical, historical, political maps and more. Another section offers tons of information about French culture to better understand the language you’re learning.
If you recognize your weaknesses when learning a specific language, the “Free-to-Roam” option is a fun part of the software. Here, you can choose how you want to learn from listening, speaking, or writing activities.
I spent some time going through the speaking activities, which were more fast-paced and interesting than the structured lessons. This option also allows you to move more freely between themes, ranging from “faire les boutiques” (shopping) to “choisir des habits” (choosing clothes).
The range of activities and in-depth material of TELL ME MORE®’s software is impressive. Initially I was annoyed with the repetitiveness of some of the activities. However, when I revisited the software a day or two later after taking a break from a lesson, I was surprised to find myself breezing through a few activities because the material really stuck with me.
It works, and it’s addictive!
I also genuinely found myself having fun with many of the activities. After spending a great deal of time on one or two activities that had me stumped, the crosswords and picture-word associations were a pleasure. There’s something incredibly satisfying about completing an activity correctly (mostly).
My biggest issue with the software was that I should have started from the beginner’s level to really refresh my memory. A lot of minor language rules have escaped me over the years, and I had a difficult time with some grammar like “present subjunctives” and “present indicatives.” The lessons launch right into the activities without giving much instruction beforehand.
That being said, there’s enough resources to keep you occupied for a very long time, and no topic goes uncovered.
Another unique aspect about the software: you can “learn on the go” by printing out vocabulary and grammar lists or by listening to the material on an MP3 player or audio CD.
If you have a lot of time to devote to learning a language, TELL ME MORE® comes recommended. The material is so persistent, it will get hammered into your mind quickly. On the other hand, if you’re a novice or have not studied the language in awhile, start from the beginning and work upwards.
For more language program reviews, check out our ultimate guide to Language Learning.