Berlitz Spanish Premier is an inexpensive way to start learning to speak Spanish for both Mac and Windows.

There's a wide variety of languages available in Berlitz's Premier series, and we looked at the Spanish version.

The ranks of language-learning software top out with ultra-expensive, full featured courses from the likes of Rosetta Stone and Auralog. If those products are the cruise liners of this market, Berlitz Spanish Premier is the EasyJet: it's cheap and cheerful, but no worse for it.

You get a lot for your £29. As well as the main software package, the six-disc Berlitz Spanish Premier set contains audio CDs and flash cards that you can print out and use as prompts. You'll have to shell out for headphones to use the aural and oral features, and the immersive software environment lacks the polish of its more expensive rivals.

Tasks in Berlitz Spanish Premier get you to watch and listen in to conversations, read your chosen foreign language, play games and speak the words out loud. The level starts at very basic, but there is a lot here to learn.

Unlike both Rosetta Stone and Auralog's Tell Me More series, Berlitz Spanish Premier is unable to hear your attempts at pronunciation, so you have to critique your own vocal efforts. This is not the blow that it might be, so long as you have sufficient confidence to speak out loud, and discipline to complete the tasks.

The activities are generally colourful and fun, and there are plenty of them. You take on a gender-specific character and play them in what are meant to reflect real-life situations, such as being at the airport or in bar. Unlike more high-end products, however, Berlitz Spanish Premier has no obvious way of keeping track of what tasks you've completed. And it's fair to say that some 'immersive' environments are more immersive than others. Where products such as Rosetta Stone contain beautiful images and videos at high resolutions, Berlitz is an inexpensive program with an inexpensive look.

Completing the lineup there are useful sections for survival phrases and an alphabet reference.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Berlitz Spanish Premier: Specs

  • Windows 2000/Me/XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later
  • 128MB RAM
  • 800x600 display
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • sound card and speakers
  • Windows 2000/Me/XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later
  • 128MB RAM
  • 800x600 display
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • sound card and speakers

OUR VERDICT

Berlitz Spanish Premier is described in its marketing materials as "Fast, Effective, Easy" - and those things it certainly is. It lacks polish, personalisation and real depth but, at £29, who cares? Avoid Berlitz Spanish Premier if you're a serious language scholar looking for a long-term education in a lingo, but if you need to pick up some conversational Spanish before a holiday or business trip, this product is a bargain.

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