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on May 26, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In a nutshell, Instant Immersion French is not bad for the price if you are not serious about learning French. If you want to dabble, learn some words, see if a child will hold an interest in a language, or very cheaply get your feet wet before a trip to France, the lower price tag for this compared to Rosetta Stone may well make this a good purchase for you if you are on a budget. If you are truly hoping to learn French or need high school credit (i.e. homeschoolers), this is not a good choice.

The good.

The game format is appealing, especially to younger learners. Learners need to accumulate points earned by performance at various learning games, and seeing the number go up with play is motivational.

The accent used by the speakers is authentic and standard Parisian French.

The program allows for multiple user accounts. This is important because each user's progress can be tracked independently.

The software uses multiple modes to teach the material---flashcards, search-and-find games, image-selection games. Honestly, although the look and feel is different that Rosetta Stone, the gist is the same. They say a word, and you select the appropriate picture, unless you are in tutorial mode in which case they just tell you. It's not an awful way to learn some vocabulary and phrases (but don't expect to achieve any amount of fluency). This is like an interactive Berlitz guide--it is not like taking a real French class.

By the third level, some of the phrases/situations are reasonably challenging. There is a direction finding game where a car and a maze is on screen, and a speaker gives directions to find something. You have to click on the square where you would end up if you followed the directions. That would be great practice for someone planning to travel to France, since the examples given are complex and involve several different cues (i.e., go straight to the end of the road, then left, then it's the third street on the right next to the clock.) Still, someone who has completed the entire program (all three levels) would not as a result have acquired any measure of fluency. But they would know a lot of words and be able to understand some simple French, possibly even enough to get along for a week or two in France.

The Interactive DVD is ok. It's less game-oriented than the software, and was straightforward teaching and quizzing. I liked that it has multiple choice answers that include testing on spelling, although I'm not sure how important it is for a visitor to France to be able to spell "allergie alimentaire" [food allergy] correctly. In a quick survey of the DVD, I encountered one spelling error "qu'y a t-il [sic]..." which is hardly earth-shattering but shows a lack of editing.

The bad.

The choice of words taught is bizarre. For example, in the first level the words for "stockpot," "octopus," "pin," and "hippopotomus" are among the first 50 words taught. Seriously? And the fact that "cassette" is in the list also shows that the fundamentals of the program haven't been updated since the cassette tape went the way of the 8-track. I was also surprised to see a fairly non-authentic vocabulary choice: as every beginning French student knows, the word for "pen" is simply "un stylo," but this program gives the more complex phrase "un stylo à encre" (essentially, "an ink-pen"). It's not wrong per se, but it's definitely not the way pens are usually referred to.

The program is not specific to French needs. They wrote the program and then dubbed it into French (and a bunch of other languages). Sometimes that causes oddities. For example, corn is not generally eaten in France. It's mostly considered a food for animals. So the fact that "an ear of corn" is one of the first vocabulary words taught is rather misguided, as it is a rarely used word in France. Similarly, I'm not sure that "chopsticks" needs to be on someone's must-know list for travel to Paris. Also, there is a video image of a man and woman on some screens, and it's really annoying to see their mouths widely and smilingly exclaiming, "Yes!" when the word I hear is "Oui!" It's like a spoof of one of those badly dubbed Japanese movies.

For a program that works by showing pictures matched with a spoken word, many of the pictures are unclear. Watching my son try out the program, he was confused by many of the pictures and couldn't figure out what he was supposed to be learning. "Is that ice or sugar?" he asked of a picture full of little white cubes. Similarly, we were both baffled by a picture that looked like an onion but turned out to be a melon, and the picture of the airplane looked for all the world like a space shuttle. As far as the pictures that are supposed to represent "Where is the suitcase?"....well, forget it. I have no idea how someone who doesn't already know French would figure out what they are supposed to represent.

The CD-ROM game "Who is Oscar Lake?" did not work for me either on my Windows or Mac system. It appeared to load but then I couldn't get anything to happen no matter what I clicked. The instructions supplied with the game are virtually useless; they just say "use your television and phone a lot" and "explore everything." The loading screen shows a copyright of 1996; I think this is a really old game that they tried to update to work on modern systems. Apparently they failed.

The audio CD only works on an MP3 player, so if you want to listen in your car you need to make sure your car can play off your ipod. You can't just pop the CD into your car CD player and expect it to work. Also, it's super boring. It is a list of words and phrases to imitate at the easier levels, and long conversations to try to understand at the upper levels. It's not well done, as in, say, the Pimsleur CDs which are outstanding and well worth the money. I would not recommend the CD.

The absurd.

In its competition with Rosetta Stone (RS), this product makes some exaggerated claims. In a comparison chart on the back of the packaging, Instant Immersion claims to have sold more units, have more levels, and have more audio content than RS. But a look at the fine print shows that they are excluding the upper 3 levels of the RS French program from the comparison as well as all RS units sold directly by rosettastone.com. So really all Instant Immersion has over RS is a much lower price tag, a printable picture dictionary, an interactive DVD, and a game. The price tag alone may sell you on Instant Immersion (and I think that's not a bad choice) but it's a ridiculous claim for them to say that they offer significantly more language learning than RS. No way.

Basically, this is a moderately fun program for learning some elementary French, and the price is right. I give it 3 stars because I think it pretty much does well what it sets out to do, except for some oddities mentioned above. Just don't expect too much out of it.
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on January 3, 2012
My wife has only used the program a couple times so far, but is picking up on the basics pretty quickly. The interface is simple, but borders a little on primitive. More pop-up guidance might help. As a native speaker, I noticed a couple peculiar phrases that weren't exactly right nor in common usage. I'd call it a very minor defect.
Compared to some of the pricier language software (I'm talking to you R'etta Stone), it packs in a very similar feature set. I think the pricier ones may have a slightly more polished interface, more video or give you a little more in terms of culture. We'll see as she dives deeper into the lessons.
Other than some minor niggling, this software is in the same league as the big-buck ones. It's certainly worth the money and gives you more bang for the buck, in my opinion.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was very excited to get this Instant Immersion French Levels 1, 2 & 3 as a Vine choice. I studied French in high school and college and thought this would be a way to freshen up my skills and prepare for a visit to France. Boy, was I ever wrong. The program is not organized and there is no cohesiveness to the studies. I've used Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur for studying Swahili and they both are far more superb than this program in organization, graphics, and material. Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone teach language in context and proceed from what was just learned. Instant Immersion French Levels 1, 2 & 3 is divided into vocabulary, games and sentences on a variety of topics. The problem is that each part of the program is separate and does not build upon what was just taught previously. Thus, in the vocabulary section, the words are isolated. You might have the word 'ant' followed by the word 'toilet'. I found that I got frustrated quite quickly. Also, on one of the dvd's, there are no graphics. For the money, Pimsleur is the best bet. For the comprehensiveness, I'd go with Rosetta Stone though it is quite pricey. I don't think any user of this program will get more than some vocabulary words which will be of little use overall. This is certainly not a program to learn the language.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I started out with Instant Immersion French knowing only the most rudimentary of French greetings such as "bonjour," "merci," and "au revoir." After devoting 8 weeks (10-12 hours per week) to the package and completing all the lessons, I am able to converse in the language no more than when I started out with learning it -- not quite what I had expected considering the package is supposed to be "immersive" and touted as a much cheaper alternative to Rosetta Stone.

The two main issues I have with Instant Immersion French involve the format of instruction and phonetics.

First, let's talk about the format of instruction. Instant Immersion French will teach you basic words, phrases, and sentences. However, it makes no attempt to explain grammar, parts of speech, and sentence structure. The package is set up for learning French through rote memorization only.

Take for an example, the question and answer sentences: "Where is nearest gas station? Take a left on the next street; it's on the right hand side." The sentences are first spoken in English, and then in French: "Ou est la pompe a essence la plus proche? "Tournez a la premiere a gauche, c'est juste sur votre droite."

With repeated exposure to other question-answer examples, I can make an inference that "où est la" means "where is the" and "tournez" means "turn," but I have no idea what "votre" or "pompe" mean. (Turns out "votre" means "your" and "pompe" means "pump." Thanks Google.)

Still, this package is useful for picking up some elementary French you will most likely need to learn if you're planning a trip to France.

Another beef -- phonetics. The native French speakers in the video do not enunciate. I had real trouble picking out the pronunciation of most of the words. Instant Immersion French should at least have provided a phonetics module that teaches the pronunciation of consonants and vowels, especially those that are peculiar to French. It does teach the pronunciation of the French alphabet, but that's about it.

Many consonants in French (e.g. t, c, v, l, p, r) are pronounced differently from their English counterparts. P, for example, is pronounced like how "p" is pronounced in Spanish. R, l, and v all have pronunciations unique to French. Ditto for vowels (e.g. o and u). The hardest one for me is that confounded gutteral r!

If you do plan on getting Instant Immersion French, you will need supplemental resources that will help you work on pronunciation. There is actually a wealth of online resources that can help you with that. My favorites are Forvo, Google Translate, and you tube (plug in t59arCR20Ms on you tube to see an example). I make an extra effort to pronounce each word correctly because there is nothing quite as jarring to my linguistic sensibilities as an Anglicized pronunciation of French (ugh!).

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The long and the short of it is Instant Immersion French may help you learn a few of words, phrases, and sentences, but it lacks a pedagogical structure for helping you achieve any level of conversational proficiency. I would recommend it only as a supplemental resource for learning French, but not as a standalone product. Avez-apprentissage amusant français. Bonne chance!
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VINE VOICEon April 11, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm one of those people who has a really hard time mastering a foreign language. I purchased Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish, and although I increased my vocabulary, I still didn't walk away fluent in the language or able to listen to normal, fast-paced exchanges of dialogue. There were other quirks about Rosetta Stone that made me shy away from that product when considering French. The price point is one of the main things that attracted me to Instant Immersion French. Simply stated, this product costs considerably less than Rosetta Stone.

If you're truly serious about learning French, or any language for that matter, this might be a good tool to build your vocabulary and achieve basic pronunciation. I doubt you could use this product to achieve fluency, which would require a much deeper study, perhaps an in-country exposure to the language for an extended period of time. For me, I got this because I want to learn a sufficient amount of French to visit France on vacation.

This product comes with 4 DVDs. The documentation recommends progressing through them in a certain order. I started with the DVD labeled "Software" first. For the software DVD, there is nothing to install. You just pop in the DVD and off you go. The menu system asks for your name and then presents you with a circle of activities. Without any guidance, I chose and started with "First Words." This lesson takes you through a short list of basic words, numbers and phrases. Both a male and a female pronounce the words as you click through the list, or you can play it (at a rather fast pace) automatically. I was irritated by the characters who aren't really pronouncing the words, they are just stock images that move slightly and smile when you click on words.

Let me stop here for a moment. When you use a Rosetta Stone application, there is no mystery about which module to start first. But with this learning package, you are forced to choose what you want to learn and your own pace. I guess that's good and bad. Good that you can set your own learning pace but bad because you don't get a good foundation for learning.

I would say that after going through these CDs for a little while, I have grown bored with them and they are on the shelf, collecting dust. Maybe it is the frustration of not being able to learn what I thought I would be able to learn or maybe it is the delivery mechanism. But I can say that I have expanded my vocabulary and I can go around the house speaking simple phrases. Is it as good as RS? I guess it depends on your individual learning style. At the price, it is worth trying to find out.
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on November 22, 2011
I have found it very frustrating, from trying to match sentences to the corresponding pictures possibly drawn by children... seriously its like playing pictionary. The first task is to figure out what the picture is trying to represent. The first disk was OK but one of the demonstators spoke so quickly that I could not understand him, the second was like it was from a different system, and even needed different software to run it. The second was not user friendly, you had to click back and forth to advance to the next word, then to get it to speak the word. I did very well in high school French and am usually good with languages, this was no help... actually very irritating to use. I was so irritated that I had to keep clicking away, that I was not concentrating on learning the language. The content could not possibly take you to a conversational level. For $50 I can ask where to get a taxi, or call for an ambulance, and of course where is the bathroom.... wait let me see if I can draw a picture of that . I should have saved the $50 to put toward Rosetta Stone.
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on November 23, 2013
Get what you pay for, I guess! I was looking for something my daughter could work with on her own, and this didn't require the huge financial commitment others did and it sounded like a fun program. She got through it very quickly and didn't have that much vocabulary under her belt when done. I wasn't willing to keep buying the additional programs when I saw how little she netted from the first one.
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on February 14, 2014
THIS WAS A WASTE OF MY MONEY IN MY OPINION... IF I WAS A NATIVE SPEAKER OF FRENCH THEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD... I FELT LIKE I GAVE A BOGUS CHRISTMAS GIFT.... NEVER USED ONCE IT WAS FOUND TO BE TOO DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW.
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on April 19, 2014
Not a substitute for more expensive language courses. I never really figured out the organization of this extensive package, and although I tried to muddle through it, I found myself frustrated and didn't learn much. I've done far far better with audio only products which offer adequate printed support. On the other hand I purchased this on Amazon from an individual falsely claiming "unopened - missing it's wrapper". The set had been used and disorganized. Still, I think not a good choice for language education.
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VINE VOICEon October 20, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is not Rosetta Stone in quality, but you also do not pay the Rosetta Stone price. Did I learn French? Absolutely. But unfortunately, I was not motivated to learn French using this program. The educational plan took a different approach, which sometimes works, and sometimes a bit off the mark. It is a decent way to learn french if you want to visit a french-speaking place. But, I will not recommend it to someone studying French.

Overall, just meh.
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