I'm learning French with the Fluenz program and I really love it. It's effective and it's fun. I really like the way the material is presented, and the way the lessons build on each other.
I don't have the problem with the section "Write the phrase you hear" that krakatoa seems to. It doesn't give you a long sentence to begin with. It gives you five phrases/sentences, one at a time. They build on each other. So the first one might say, in French, 'you know". You type that. The screen clears and the next phrase you hear, in French, is "Do you know", and you type that. The screen clears and the third phrase is "Do you know what you want to eat?". All of these are phrases come directly from the lesson you're working on. The 4th sentence will be a variation substituting other words from vocabulary you've had. The fifth sentence will be another variation on it. Because the phrases/sentences build it's not as if you were being presented with a long sentence immediately.
I think it works best not to start typing until you've heard the whole phrase/sentence. You can play the audio over and over until you understand it. Then when you're ready, start typing. If, at any point, you forget part of the phrase/sentence, just mouse click the "play' button and the phrase/sentence will repeat without interfering with what you've already typed. You can click "play" as many times as you need to. Type two words, click 'play", type two more words, click "play", etc. If I've typed the whole sentence and the program doesn't accept it as correct, I'll click "play" and read what I've typed, as the phrase/sentence repeats, to find my mistake. And if you still can't figure out where you're wrong, you can click "answer" and, below your typing box, you'll see the phrase/sentence correctly typed. At that point, while looking at the answer, you can retype the sentence correctly.
I think this section works very well, and I enjoy it very much. It really helps with listening comprehension.
I know at times I get frustrated and say to the program "don't speak so quickly" because it can be hard to pick out individual words. But that's French - they run it all together. You need to train your ear. As you progress with the program and learn more it gets easier to "pick out the words".
I have found it very helpful to repeat lessons. Do a few and then repeat those. Or do all the lessons up to a review session and then start over. Or if a particular lesson was hard, repeat the whole lesson before moving on. There's a lot to absorb in these lessons and repeating them can really help. And it will be encouraging when a lesson that gave you problems the first time you did it is now much easier. You'll see your progress.
I definitely recommend the Fluenz French program. I give it 5 stars.