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VINE VOICEon May 26, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Instant Immersion series of foreign language products aims to offer as much or more value than Rosetta Stone, for a much lower price point. It succeeds.

Pros:

-- The content and format is similar to Rosetta Stone products, featuring interactive menus, and vocabulary and pronunciation drills.
-- The set includes not just the software on CD, but also an interactive DVD-ROM, a complete audio course on mp3 CD (so you can practice in your car or whenever you just have an mp3 player with you), and a wonderful mystery game on CD called "Who is Oscar Lake?" (comparable to the award-winning video game "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?").
-- Contains 3 different learning levels of content, and you can progress at your own pace.
-- Includes a business section on level 3 so you can learn crucial business vocabulary and phrases without purchasing an additional, business Italian program.
-- Extremely affordable compared to Rosetta Stone levels 1 and 2 (this product is only $49.99 retail, compared to Rosetta Stone's hefty $449.00 pricetag)
-- As a former foreign language teacher with an MA in Spanish, and a semester of university-level Italian under my belt, I can confidently say you will learn at least 1 semester's worth of college level Italian language content through this course.
-- Great product for home school enrichment in a foreign language.

Cons:

-- While the product is keyed to the same levels as Rosetta Stone, they aren't linked to ACTFL proficiency guidelines for speaking and writing, so there's no way to know if this product will make you "fluent" or just offer you a basic smattering of Italian at a very beginner level. (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages revised the guidelines in 1999 and they are available for free on the ACTFL website, if you want to understand the different fluency levels to guide your own progress in Italian).

-- The Instant Immersion series doesn't offer a more advanced product in the Italian program if you master the content on this one and want to move up to level 4 or higher.

Summary/Tips:

Overall, I can find no real fault with this program. If you are an absolute beginner in Italian and need someplace to start, this is a very deep program with lots of content delivered in several formats, so you can go at your own speed and practice your Italian at home, in front of the TV, on your computer, on your stereo or mp3 player, etc. If you are interested in becoming fluent in Italian, I would suggest following up on this program by using the Pimsleur Italian 1, Italian 2, and Italian 3 audio programs --

Italian I
Italian II, Second Edition: Compehensive Compact Discs
Italian III, Comprehensive: Learn to Speak and Understand Italian with Pimsleur Language Programs

Pimsleur's foreign language audio programs are very thorough. They don't have all the interactive software features, like Rosetta Stone or Instant Immersion, but they can help you become a more fluent speaker after you have mastered the basics. The only better price point than this one is "free" - and there are many free Italian learning resources available on the web, through the BBC's Languages portal, and through the ItalianLessons101 channel on You+tube that can help you progress after you have mastered the content in the Instant Immersion program. For language study software, however, this program is the best I've seen so far for students of Italian.
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VINE VOICEon May 28, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I received a review copy of this product, which I was interested in for a future trip to Italy. I've learned several languages over the years and have a background in linguistics, and so had some expectations for what a decent language course should include.

This product includes four disks: (1) a DVD for use with your TV (or computer), (2) a CD with MP3 (digital sound) files that can be played on some car CD players, or copied onto any MP3 player, (3) a computer application DVD and (4) a computer "Where is Oscar Lake?" game CD.

The interactive DVD has cheesy graphics and marginal sound. My main complaint about it is that it says each phrase or conversation in English first, and then Italian. My experience has been that it is easier to learn a language when the other language is presented first or even solely (with English subtitles at most). Most annoying is that if you press the replay button, you have to listen to the English again, when what most people would want to repeat is the Italian as they fine tune their pronunciation and memory.

The DVD has menu buttons to go to the next/previous phrase, but does not have a home button to go to the main DVD menu - you must use your remote control for that, or if watching on a computer, your computer menus (right-click, or player menu).

The MP3 CD includes PDF files with the text of the audio content, making it easy to follow along and learn how things are spelled / written. Annoying stereotypical Italian accordion music precedes audio from a variety of individuals, some of whom have very poor diction, whether speaking English or Italian.

The computer application does not install on your computer, but runs from the DVD. This saves space on your computer, but means that there are long delays and you have to listen to your DVD drive spinning. The graphics, colors and sound effects are absolutely horrendous and amateurish; small children might appreciate them. Such a turn-off, that I simply couldn't go through the entire course. Bad as they are, the time delays to progress through the quizzes and lessons are just intolerable if you want to move along and learn.

The Oscar Lake game disk was equally pitiful. It displayed a 2 inch by 4 inch game screen on a black background on my 27" monitor. The Readme notes that it was originally written during Windows 98 days, which explains a lot. The game is kind of cute, but I had to read the PDF Help file to understand how to proceed. Sort of slow and awkward by today's standards. Can't say that I got very far though.

Because this is quite cheap, runs on Windows or Mac, has a DVD (TV) disk and an on-the-go audio disc, this course still offers a lot for the price. If I were rating purely as an instructional tool, regardless of price, I'd give this one or two stars. For the price, I give it three stars, meaning "it's OK".
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on July 20, 2012
For the price and getting the basics in a foreign language these are ok. Rosetta Stone is much better if you want to speak a foreign language, but the price of $400-$500 is expensive. I use these to get a introduction and idea if I want to continue on with Rosetta Stone.
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on January 21, 2013
I purchased this product for myself after I returned from Italy because I wanted to improve my bare-bones speaking ability. I thought this would be adequate because it has a dvd, audio cd, and a game to go along with the software. When I put the CD in my computer, it took a good 5 minutes for the screen to come up. The interface reminded me of the windows 98 games I had as a child. The software has basic vocabulary exercises for the level 1 section. when you click on an object, it says it in Italian (colors, telling time, phrases, countries, etc.) but the sound does not match up to the animated people speaking-it seems to be very low budget. They have games for each section, but it is all vocabulary-based. You have to fumble through interfaces and connect to the internet to use the level 2 and 3 activities-it takes another 5 minutes to do that and all you learn is how to memorize phrases, not how to form questions and sentences like I wanted. The Oscar Lake game was displayed on a tiny square on my screen, not full screen, which is annoying. The audio cd is the only part with mild usefulness; however, it copied into my itunes with each vocabulary word being a track. The phrases and conversations copied into my windows media player, and it is very awkward. I returned the product.
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VINE VOICEon May 10, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This immersion Italian program is similar to ones I used to learn Spanish 10-15 years ago. What you get are exercises where you are shown pictures of items, followed by speakers saying the name, and eventually you get multiple choice or opportunities to click on the items when the person says them. At the same time you learn common phrases, and simple sentences that let you substitute the words you've learned into them.

What I've learned using this program is that you really need workbook exercises and interaction with another person for language instruction to really click. It's not so much a criticism of this product itself, as it is with the whole concept of a computer program to teach you another language. It's a good introduction to the language, and would also make a good supplement to a live course. You're not really going to learn Italian per se using this, but you will gain a good familiarity with the language, be able to recognize simple phrases and much used words, and the like.
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on February 11, 2014
We are traveling to Italy this Spring. Purchased for listening on Ipod during work out and driving in car. I really like it. I'm steadily learning the basics through these lessons for help in minor conversation, ordering, shopping, and directions during visit. Definitely not to be used for proper grammar and extensive learning-but good for my needs. However, I have noticed the more I learn the more I can pick out a few mistakes the translators made during taping. So, I guess I am learning more than I thought :)
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on December 29, 2012
I was hoping to save money so I bought this product instead of Rosetta Stone and I am sorry I did. While it is much cheaper, the technology is ancient - reminds me of Windows 2000 era software (and I am running it on a MAC!). For example, when I launch the application it has poor resolution and shows up in a window that takes up maybe the middle half of my screen. I am going to have to buy Rosetta Stone now so I can really learn the language.
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on July 14, 2015
I bought this Immersion Italian program because of my upcoming three week vacation in Italy. It was very helpful and especially helped me familiarize with the sounds and inflections. I anticipated that my learning process would be slow and laborious. Not so. After about a week I had become very comfortable with the program. I was surprised how much easier my trip evolved because of this immersion program.
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VINE VOICEon June 5, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The major benefit of this package is the price - it comprises a large number of lessons and video for a fraction of the cost of other immersion systems like Rosetta Stone Italian Level 1-3 Set. If you're on a tight budget, this package might help you become familiar enough with the language for vacation-level brief conversations.

It's biggest problem is that I've never seen a cheesier language education tool. All of the textbooks we had at school for French were unbelievably awful in terms of characters, photos and role plays - they were as if the Head First guides decided to spoof themselves. These had nothing on the graphics, video and sound of this course - from the incredibly loud narrator who enunciates English like he's talking to non-English speakers, to the ridiculously bad animations of people that are like real-life versions of Monty Python animation. It even features cheesy accordion-style music before anyone speaks Italian, which is priceless. The Oscar Lake game disk and DVDs were pretty awful too.

I stuck this out for an hour a day for two weeks and wouldn't say I have picked up any Italian. While I'm pitifully bad at languages, I didn't have the same problem with Rosetta Stone's French which is an infinitely higher quality product. It's a shame since they compare themselves to Rosetta Stone and I initially thought this could be a cheap alternative but I guess you get what you pay for.
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on June 7, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought this was a good little program for basics. I went through the program and it did help me learn some basic Italian. However, I am far from being fluent, nor could I be by just using this program. I have a pretty good understanding of the Spanish language, and much of the verbs appear to be the same or similar. So, that has helped me. If you are on the fence about whether you want to tackle Italian as a second language, this is probably a good little program to get your feet wet. However, if you are looking to be fluent and are willing to spend a little bit more money, I would personally recommend Fluenz first, then Rosetta Stone second. Fluenz is what I used to learn Spanish and thought it was an excellent program. As I said, Instant Immersion Italian is great for getting your feet wet, by it was far from producing the fluency results I would have wanted as an end result.
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