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on October 17, 2016
Excellent Program. Have always been interested in learning German. Tried Pimsleur several years back and found that with the audio only approach it was harder to retain correctly as you are not seeing the words. Took a college course in German a couple years ago and because of the fast speed you are required to learn very little was retained. Have been using Duolingo off and on, and while its a good free program for picking up new words, its not really good for becoming fluent. Was going to try Rosetta stone but it just looks like an expensive version of Duolingo. Came across and tried Fluenz, which I have never heard of before, and ended up purchasing the full German 1-5 set when the trial expired. This is so far the best program I have come across. Rather than the flashcard approach other programs use, Fluenz includes videos walking you through and explaining each section. It has the feel of a classroom setting like college, just without the rushing and gives you the one on one with the teacher (video). I am retaining more and understanding word usage and placement more with this program than any of the others I have tried.
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on April 27, 2013
Prior to coming across Fluenz, I have been using, at one time or another, the following language-learning software programs to learn how to speak, read, and write German: Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Rocket German.

This program wins hands-down over its competition. Why do I believe this? Read on!

Learning Method:

Unlike Rosetta Stone, whereby you are essentially using glorified flash cards to assemble sentences that will do little for you in your day to day dealings [I.e. "The cats are large", "The sky is blue"], with Fluenz, you are actually learning usable phrases and terms. In time, you see patterns amongst the sentences and can form you own. Yes, you will learn a LOT of vocabulary words from Rosetta Stone, but no sense of sentence structure, usage of the German noun articles and how they are applied and when.

Pimsleur, to some extent, helps you detect patterns in sentences as well, but good luck on those articles I mention [i.e. den, das, die, der, etc..] In Pimsleur's case, you are left to your own devices, for the most part, on why certain words are placed where in the sentence. This is a BIG deal when using the German language, and cannot be overstated. They will give you a crumb every now and then, but Pimsleur is counting on you to discover the patterns on your own, without understanding the WHY.

Rocket Languages gives you a dialogue scenario, and dissects it for you, line by line. You are to repeat the phrases [provided you pause the program - as the instructors speak very very fast] and for the most part, again left to your own devices to figure out the nuances.

Fluenz, on the other hand, uses a more personable approach. The lessons are provided in a video format, followed by intense exercises called workouts. Do these two or three times, and you are likely to have all the material down pat. Another nice thing is that Fluenz [like Rosetta Stone] reinforces the material in different formats [i.e. written, spoken, visual and audio], but in a manner that reinforces the key points of the lesson that was in the video. Key points are not necessarily focused on new terms [although you DO get to learn new words with each lesson], but most important, the nuances that are so important to understand in order to effectively speak, read, and write German.

Ease of Learning:

Rosetta Stone, with their flash card approach, in my opinion, is pretty easy, but gets pretty boring pretty quickly. Not being able to apply your new found words in a practical situation makes it pretty tedious and works against you.

Pimsleur arguably gives you a lot of bang for the buck, but the hardest to learn from, especially if you do not thrive on audio-based instruction. You will learn many words and phrases in a relatively short amount of time. The program is ingenious, to an extent, but given that it is strictly an audio program, with no visual cues, nothing anecdotal to enhance your enjoyment, it can be downright tedious at times. I really had to drag myself up so get myself through Pimsleur I, II, and III. I'm glad that I did it, but it was really a test of wills at times.

Rocket German is probably the most humorous of all four, peppered with tongue-in-cheek humor. And having a written transcript of the lesson was very helpful. Arguably, it may be the simplest to learn from amongst the others, but then again, if you cannot establish patterns in the dialogue in which to build upon, what's the use? Again, you are merely memorizing and translating dialogue, without necessarily understanding the sentence structure. There is supplemental material on their webpage to accompany said lessons [and somewhat helpful at that]. But this is the core of their program - memorization.

The Fluenz program was relatively easy to adapt to, as they use a linear format and each lesson builds upon what you have learned previously [like Pimsleur]. But the personable approach, via video, as well as the workouts makes it easier for you to learn the German language.

Final Thoughts:

Fluenz is not without its issues. It has been said that one's strength can also be its weakness, and in the case of Fluenz, one may say that this applies as well. Should a video have had errors in it [i.e. mispronunciation], you will know right off the bat, because there are little gaps here and there. In the case of the German instructor, she butchers some English words as well as she clearly reads off cue-cards.

For me, like another reviewer echoed, this is not a deal-breaker. I can still tell what the instructor is trying to convey, and the lessons are excellent in themselves. You can tell a lot of time and effort was put into the instructional portion of the lessons. Besides, she speaks far better English than I do German, no doubt about it. I would rather have the video lessons forsake clean production in the interest of accuracy, and these guys strive for it.

Second, it really would be nice for Fluenz to develop a smaller, downsized version of their program for a portable device, such as the iPad. True, they do provide you with podcasts and flashcards, but they are not as effective or convenient as the Rosetta Stone offerings.

But one has to remember that this is a relatively small company, with limited resources, and the main product is what you are going for.

Finally, some will be off put by the cost of the program, on par with Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur. But in hindsight, had I known this was around at the time I purchased Rosetta Stone, I would have saved my money and bought Fluenz instead. Pimsleur is effective in its own right [again, if you thrive in an audio-only based environment], but pretty costly for just audio files. Rocket Languages is the cheapest of the lot, far cheaper, in fact, but again, basically memorizing dialogue and getting a chuckle or two in between.

For myself, Fluenz's program makes learning German [as much as it can be!] actually fun to learn, while providing you with a solid foundation on how the language is used properly. I found myself plowing through the lessons, as I couldn't wait to go onto the next one after completing the previous one. A program that can generate that level of enthusiasm only makes it easier to learn from.

I hope you found the above helpful. If you have any questions, I will check the comments section from time to time.

Viel Glück!
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on February 4, 2014
I took three years of German in high school--over 40 years ago. My wife and I are planning to go to Germany and Austria next fall, so I thought I'd brush up on (more like relearn) my German. I was just planning to get some sort of app for my iPhone, but my wife got me the five-disk Fluenz program for Christmas instead. And I'm very glad she did.

I'm close to finishing the second level, and will probably be starting on the third disk in a little over a week. So far, I've found the program to be very professionally done, and most importantly, it works. I'm learning German again. One of my biggest concerns was whether I'd be able retain the material. At 60 years of age, my brain isn't the sponge it used to be. But I'm happy to report that all the vocabulary, noun genders, grammatical intricacies and other myriad details are actually sticking. Fluenz presents the material in a way that's easy to understand, and then reinforces what you've just learned through a series of drills and workouts. And material learned in one session gets repeated and reinforced in later sessions.

One of the things that really sets this program apart from other language programs I've looked at is its emphasis on learning German grammar. Rather than simply having you repeat and memorize stock phrases, Fluenz teaches you the rules of German grammar so that you can construct phrases of your own. I really like this approach, although it may not be for everyone. German grammar is very complex, and some may find it daunting. But for those who are analytically minded--folks who like to understand why you use den rather than der in a particular context--Fluenz is definitely the way to go.

Why only four stars? Because it's not perfect. There are errors here and there. Not a lot, but a few. If I could give it 4.5 stars, I would.

Update: My original review was written in early February, 2014. It's now mid-August and I'm halfway through the fifth and final disk. My opinion of Fluenz German hasn't changed. I give it 4.5 stars. If you want to learn German, and you want to understand German grammar, Fluenz is the way to go.

Final Update: It's now mid-October and I finished level 5 last week. Now I'm just doing some reviewing in preparation for our trip to Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria next month.

I stand by my earlier comments, but wanted to add some final thoughts. First, it felt like level 5 just sort of stopped without coming to any sort of natural ending. It felt less like I'd come to a conclusion than it did like I'd canceled my subscription. Lots left uncovered. For example, nothing really about the imperative or subjunctive voices. But, in fairness, I'm sure there's only so much that can be covered in a 5-disk program. And I think Fluenz's choices of what to cover and what to leave out were good ones for the most part. (Although I really think a lesson on the imperative voice would have been helpful.)

One other final comment: Fluenz's name notwithstanding, this program will not come close to making you fluent. I very much doubt that any computer program can do that. For that, I really think you need to find a way to immerse yourself in the language for a substantial period of time. What Fluenz does do, though, is give you a very solid foundation to build upon. And I also suspect that it gives you a sufficient working knowledge of German to get by very well as a tourist in German-speaking countries. I guess I'll find out next month!

Postscript: Thought I'd add a few lines about how the trip went. The good news is that I had no problem making myself understood. Indeed, my speaking skills seemed to be good enough that I managed to convince most of the German speakers I talked to that I could actually speak German. Problem was, they'd then respond with a string of full-speed, take-no-prisoners German, to which my typical response was a dazed look, followed by some sort of apology about not understanding. Most conversations then pretty quickly switched to English.

In short, although I was very well prepared to speak German, I was far less well prepared to understand it. But I don't fault Fluenz for this. I fault myself for paying too little attention to the receiving side of the equation. So, for those of you thinking about using the Fluenz system, make sure you spend plenty of time with the provided audio CDs, and use whatever other means you have available to improve your listening comprehension skills. I know I will before I go back. And I will go back.
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on January 25, 2017
I received Fluenz German for Christmas - my heritage is German, but sadly I was not taught German as a child. I love visiting Germany and have found most Germans speak English ... but I wanted to be able to read, understand and even speak German myself.

I have used Fluenz almost every day since Christmas morning, and am amazed at how much I have already learned. The introduction to each new session is welcoming and encouraging; the conversation we hear introduces new words, phrases and concepts, and the in-depth explanation of the conversation and precise diction is a wonderful learning opportunity.

I am now on Level 1, Session 20 and learning to count almost to a million, in less than a month!

Understanding my learning style, I need to take daily notes, have them in a notebook, and refer back to them frequently - this works for me and helps me retain what I've learned.

The other thing that helps me is to have a set time every day for my German lessons. For me, this works best early in the morning when I'm rested, the house is quiet and I can give 100% of my attention to learning.

I highly recommend Fluez!! Give it a try - you will be happy you did!
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on November 1, 2017
This review is based on Fluenz German version 3.

Fluenz simply has the best language instruction available for the target audience- adult English speakers. And here's why:

1. They provide extra instruction on sounds and language features that are different from English, and are likely to give an English speaker difficulty.
2. They clearly explain everything that's going on and what new language elements they're introducing. In English.
3. The program has an attractive interface and is easy to use, with extremely high quality sound. I have a SILLY good sound system for my computer and it sounds like actual people right in front of me. This is very important when you are learning sounds that are new or not quite the same as in English.
4. I love the fact you can turn on subtitles- in your choice of language- to go along with the dialog. The German subtitles are a great help in knowing exactly what was said, and the exercises cover the written language extensively. And having both the audio and written versions provided seemed to make it *stick* better when you needed to recall it later. Much better than audio only programs in so many ways!
5. Most importantly, they teach you to USE the language in the exercises, not just parrot back phrases.

Fluenz is worth every single penny.
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on September 16, 2014
I have been using Fluenz German on and off for about 18 months. I had a live teacher for about a year in the middle of that period and so took a break from Fluenz, but when they introduced an IPad app a few months ago, it made it possible for me to study during my daily commutes, which is really my only free time throughout the day. For me, the repetitive format that grounds instruction in English grammar comparisons really helps me to understand and retain what I am learning. Although the app has a few bugs (for example, it does not record a spelling error when you choose an "o", "a" or "u" without an umlaut), overall I find it to be extremely sleek and convenient. I just started level 3 (levels one and two each contain 30 lessons which took me from 35-55 minutes each to complete), and I like the fact that the lessons are for business people and include scenarios highly relevant to my daily life -- going to restaurants, working on office projects, social events where gifts are expected, shopping, etc.....not school supplies and camping and things more geared toward young learners -- I feel that I'm getting a very strong base from which to build, and I had NO German instruction before starting with this software. I highly recommend it.
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on May 23, 2015
Fluenz German is the best computer software for learning German. Is it the only product you need to learn to speak, read, and write German? No. However, it is essential in a language learning package. Think of it like this. A student earning a degree in German will not learn everything from one textbook. He or she will take several classes using several different textbooks. A different approach will be utilized to speak, read, and write.

I am in the wine business and in order to advance my career, I know I need to learn a few foreign languages to speak with German, French, and Italian winemakers. Between high school and college, I have four years of Spanish in a traditional classroom setting. My Spanish skills are still very limited even though I earned nothing less than an A- in all classes. But with career advancement as a motivator, I knew that I needed to become at least conversational in a few languages. I chose German as the first language to tackle because it is considered the most difficult of the languages I wish to learn. If I can become at least get to a conversational level, then I would feel like I have the ability to learn the other two language.

Fluez German offers the best software for learning German grammar. It's no secret that German grammar is more complex than English. Articles take different forms based on the tense of the verb and gender of the noun. Fluenz offers a step-by-step explanation of the grammar with plenty of writing practice to follow the lesson. With a strong understanding of grammar, forming sentences is becoming much easier for myself. Unlike Rosetta Stone, explanations are given in English. Rosetta Stone's philosophy of complete immersion is not practical for someone living in an English-speaking country and only learning a foreign language for about an hour per day. With explanations given in English, I actually understand the grammar and how to form my own sentences.

What Fluenz does lack is a strong speaking component. I do wish that a software program at this price had a speech recognition component similar to Babbel or Rosetta Stone. Fluenz offers the ability to record yourself as one person in a conversation and listen to the entire conversation afterward. Then you can make a comparison with your speech and the speech of a native speaker. I wish that software would have the ability to just listen to my speech and inform me if I am close enough to a correct pronunciation. This is a component available with Rosetta Stone and Babbel, and I wish it were available with Fluenz. Additionally, I feel there isn't enough of the speaking practice. This is where Pimsleur as an all-audio program is the best. However, this shortcoming in Fluenz is minor and the software is still worthy of a 5-star rating.

This program is an investment and I am so thankful I made the investment. Combined with Pimsleur and Babbel, I feel like I have a complete package for learning German. I was able to obtain Pimsleur German I, II, and III from my local library so that component was free and definitely the best product for learning how to speak and understand speech. However, Pimsleur is very limited in explaining grammar. Fluenz provides these explanations and I can formulate sentences with ease now. I also signed up for a Babbel free trial. Within a few days I received an email offering a 6-month subscription for the price of 3 months (approximately $26). I also occasionally use Duolingo, but find it best for strictly learning vocabulary and not much else. Duolingo is a free app so why not, right?

Fluenz German makes learning this tough language less intimidating. Even in the early lessons, Fluenz admits that German is hard. But with a little hard work comes great rewards. This product is definitely essential for a self-learner of German. I thought I was a lost cause when it came to learning a foreign language. If I can get to the level of fluency that I am at now, I know that anyone can with a little hard work.
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on December 27, 2012
This is the most effective self-learning tool that I have used -- and, over the years, I have tried different forms of Rosetta Stone, Berlitz, Tansparent Language, Living Language etc. that were good, but not this effective.

If you know a little German, you have to "endure" the slow pace of the early level sessions because each session builds on the earlier session, but you can click through the material you already know relatively quickly. For new material, the repetition and the drills really work. There are also good on-line drills that cover the course material.

The reason for my rating being 4, not 5 stars, is that there were a few errors scattered throughout the version which I purchased, even after I downloaded the updates that are availble on-line.
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on January 10, 2015
I first used the Fluenz German 1 program to learn enough German to navigate on a vacation trip to Bavaria. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much practical German I had learned from only this one course. When I returned, I wanted to continue learning more about the language, so I bought the remainder of the courses. I studied linguistics in college, and their approach to language learning is consistent with studies in language acquisition with which I am familiar. I highly recommend this program as one that you will actually enjoy using while you learn how to use the language in situations you are likely to encounter on a trip to the country.
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on January 20, 2014
I've tried Rosetta Stone, Berlitz and many others through the years, but Fluenz is by far the best.

I got bored with Rosetta Stone after about 40 hours worth of learning.
Berlitz I liked for the flashcards
The thing that sets Fluenz apart from all the others is the way they explain sentence structure and help you to understand why words are placed differently than in English.
you watch video instruction as if you have your own private tutor.
The only drawback so far is the supplmental audio CDs. They are sparse and only briefly go over the material covered in the video training. The best audio training I've found is with the Pimsleur approach audio only CDs.

I plan on using both Video training with Fluenz and audio training with Pimsleur to help me understand the German language.
Fluenz is expensive, but well worth the money if you are serious about learning a new language.
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