With its Vista-like sheen and soothing muzak, Auralog Tell me More feels a long way from learning in a draughty classroom. But learn you will.

Each Auralog Tell me More package comprises more than 250 hours of 40 different types of activities. If you put in the hours you can go from beginner, through intermediate to advanced speaker and writer in your chosen foreign language (hence the '1 2 3'). Best of all, far from the festival of head-scratching we anticipated, it's fun.

Starting out with a (very) low base of knowledge, we learnt French. Auralog Tell me More 1 2 3 is also available in German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and something called English.

Software installation is a cinch, after which you hook up the provided ear- and microphone headset. You then create an account to keep track of your linguistic development. Rather than leaving you to flounder amid the vast amount of teaching on offer, Tell me More asks you to select one of three learning paths: 'Free to roam', 'Guided' or 'Dynamic'.

As their names suggest, Free lets you pick and choose lessons at random, whereas Guided plots a path through the course. Dynamic is similar to Guided, but keeps a record of your weaker and stronger areas, moving lessons around so you improve where it's most required. It also allows you to set a timetable - which may be useful if you have a deadline such as a business trip (but feels all too reminiscent of school).

Your progress is represented in a visual chart. Indeed, intuitive navigation is one of the strengths of Auralog Tell me More 1 2 3. Considering the vast array of material, it's really very simple to use.

Auralog Tell me More 1 2 3

Auralog: simple to follow, but no cheating. Your very own learning path

Through a combination of language games, straightforward Q&As and role-plays, even the most hapless novice (your author included) will find impenetrable words and phrases starting to make sense. There's oodles of help offered on each page, but we did find it helpful to have a French/English dictionary to hand. And there's no point in cheating. Until you complete each section, it will remain uncompleted on your account.

NEXT PAGE: the headset, role-playing and expert verdict > >

As you learn, the headset becomes increasingly useful. Your vocal efforts to commune en Francais are recorded and marked by the software. You can even take part in scenes from films and TV programmes, and then listen back while the program criticises you. Despite the enormous fun of watching an actor's lips synch to your hideous accent, this particular feature feels like something of a gimmick.

Auralog Tell me More 1 2 3: Specs

  • 700MHz processor (1.5GHz recommended)
  • Windows 98/Me/XP/Vista
  • 128MB RAM
  • 80MB hard disk space
  • 800x600 16-bit graphics card
  • 16-bit Windows-compatible sound card
  • audio headset (provided)
  • 700MHz processor (1.5GHz recommended)
  • Windows 98/Me/XP/Vista
  • 128MB RAM
  • 80MB hard disk space
  • 800x600 16-bit graphics card
  • 16-bit Windows-compatible sound card
  • audio headset (provided)

OUR VERDICT

Put simply, we've never come across a better language-learning tool. Auralog Tell me More is a vast resource that will help linguists of all levels. And despite containing more than 250 hours of lessons over three tiers of ability, it manages to be both easy to use and fun. It's a neat trick that may persuade you to part with £49 inc VAT.

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