About the Program
Topics Entertainment's Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 (a two-disc program released in 2001) is an easy and fun program that will teach diligent beginners a good deal of survival Spanish over the course of about one month. It was designed by Eurotalk in the UK and uses Castilian, or European Spanish. That is no obstacle for those wanting or needing to travel in Latin America, since the program deals with vocabulary that is both rather uniform and highly useful for such situations. The first disc deals with individual words on a range of topics such as clothing, food, hotels, and so forth. The second disc expands into phrases and sentences. Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 offers images combined with listening and a number of formats for reinforcing and testing both recognition of vocabulary and sentences (as well as the learners' speech production). Multiple learners can use the same program as it keeps track of performance. Vocabulary lists can be printed for portability. The task throughout is obvious; learn vocabulary and learn phrases. Two one-hour sessions with it every day for a month or so will give students a vey rudimentary knowledge of Spanish.
Installation & Setup (5 out of 5)
There is no complicated installation process for Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0. The two discs are simply used right in the CD-ROM drive.
User Interface (5 out of 5)
Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 is designed to teach vocabulary, phrases, and sentences that are frequently and inevitably encountered in travel. There is little to do other than view, listen, and demonstrate that one can recall an item. Therefore, there are few buttons to push.
Help & Support (5 out of 5)
The box lists no help support for Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0. However, since no installation is necessary and the learning tasks are so simple, the only conceivable problem a learner could encounter is a bad disk. In that case, the product should simply be returned to the seller and replaced.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
For $9.99, Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 gives you two discs with instruction in Spanish that, except for adult-like restaurant vocabulary, corresponds to a first- or second-grade vocabulary. Of course, a seven-year-old native speaker would actually know much more, but this program is survivor-oriented for tourists or business travellers in Spain (since Eurotalk UK is the producer they have designed it around Castilian Spanish, Spain's dialect). Incidentally, I will say that the sound is great.
This program is also for people who have never attempted to study any language and are now thinking of learning Spanish. This could provide the encouragement and confidence they need to go on to more sophisticated products designed to teach the language in earnest. It's a good stocking stuffer for beginners of any age. The second disc goes beyond words to phrases and sentences on nine topics essential to travellers. These topics include shopping, restaurants, transportation, and so forth.
An attentive adult will quickly learn all the vocabulary and be wanting more if they are interested in doing more than learning survival-level phrases. Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 provides enough material to challenge a self-motivated adult for a few weeks, but not much longer.
Aesthetic Considerations (4 out of 5)
The images are bright, clear and plenty large enough in Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0. The sound is perfectly clear and the Castilian speakers converse at just the right speed for total beginners. The amount of icons isn't overwhelming. This package is attractive, unpretentious, and straightforward.
The male and female actors who cue and respond to learners' choices are pleasant-looking, but it is obvious that the soundtrack was not made by them because their lips don't move in sync with the sound. This is distracting and gives the impression of a detail missed in the production phase. This could turn off some who would otherwise buy Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0.
Product Features (4 out of 5)
Between the two discs of Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0, there is over an hour of high-quality video segments for learning phrases. In both discs there are printable dictionaries (lexicons for the most part) and phrase lists containing color images. The quizzes are progressively difficult and come in a creative variety of formats. Last but not least, the voice recognition is crystal clear. The high quality of this feature alone makes the program worth every penny because it allows learners to compare their pronunciation with the Castilian natives. At $9.99, it is impressive. A great deal of hard work by a lot of dedicated and talented people obviously went into creating Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0.
While I truly like and admire Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0, its usefulness will easily be exhausted by dedicated users. At that point, they might wish they had purchased a more sophisticated program that aims to teach the language, not just words and phrases. At first glance, Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 seems shallow to one who already knows the language. Stepping back, it looks exciting and it is easy to see its utility. With its limited capacity it just seems that its shelf life will be short. Yet, if the purpose is to know only survival Spanish and one has only a month to get ready, then this is the right choice.
If Eurotalk is considering doing further work with this or some derivative product, they should be sure that the actors who cue and respond to the learner's responses are not dubbed. It was obvious that they were saying "yes" in English to correct answers, but the sound track said "sí!" Such details may seem small, because they don't substantively impact on the pedagogical quality of the product, but this defect gives the program the appearance of one of those old dubbed Japanese monster movies and it is a little bit distracting once you notice it.
Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 is a good little program for people who don't know Spanish and may soon be travelling to a Spanish-speaking country. It is particular to Spain since this is a UK product and uses Castilian as its standard. It is also a good product for people who don't want to spend much money in order to try their hand at learning the bare bones of the Spanish language. Instant Immersion Spanish Express 2.0 is even perfect for English speakers in the US who increasingly find themselves needing to know Spanish as they interact with Spanish speakers. Finally, it is good for people who need to gain confidence in learning a foreign language. I strongly believe that if an average person uses it diligently, every day for an hour or so, it will be hard for them not to learn exactly what the program is designed to teach.
Complete Spanish Learning Suite