Generally speaking, we Brits are pretty poor when it comes to learning a second language. A variety of reasons are always given when we hear people from other European countries speaking two or more languages as a matter of course but ultimately, it comes down to one thing; The lack of desire to learn another language.
Personally, I’ve made a couple of attempts to improve (I won’t go as far to say learn) my Russian. I can read Cyrillic and understand a little but holding anything more than a very basic conversation is probably beyond my skills at present. At home, I have a number of books and even a couple of DVDs sitting on a shelf gathering dust so I felt it needed something a bit more comprehensive.
I came across the Transparent Language System which is much cheaper than the highly publicised Rosetta Stone. They kindly offered me a free copy to evaluate and promote as an affiliate. In my learning attempts in the past, I’ve found that I do better when I have the opportunity to read, write, speak and listen to native speakers. One consideration when listening to native speakers is what type of accent they have. Listening to someone with a strong regional accent will affect the way you speak a language. Fortunately, my wife is Russian and she assures me that the audio parts of the Transparent Language System is spoken by people with a ‘normal’ (ie – not a strong regional) accent.
So on to the system. I downloaded the files from the website and it took a while as there is obviously a lot of information included in the course. Once installed on my laptop, I started up the main program and set myself up as a user. Although I didn’t try it, the program does cater for multiple users who can learn at their own speed.
The main program introduces 4 different books; Beginner Lessons, Fundamentals, St. Petersburg and Getting Around Russia. Each book contains between 5 and 15 different lessons covering a wide range of topics. Each lesson has a number of words or phrases to learn. These are presented on a series of flash cards in either English or Russian along with audio so you can hear the pronunciation. You are prompted to given the answer in English or Russia, written or spoken. With the spoken answers, honesty on your part is required and I try to be strict as the only person I’d be cheating is me.
There are 3 steps to each lesson; Preview It, Recognize It and Produce It. Once you’ve completed all 3 steps, you can take a test. If you pass, you can move on. The good thing is you learn at your own pace and you can switch between any of the lessons. All scores are recorded so you can see your progress.
One feature I do like is the opportunity to refresh stale words or phrases and Transparent Language System keeps track of these for you too. Going back over phrases you looked at a week earlier gives you a good indication if you really did learn it properly or not.
There is a section on the Cyrillic alphabet which gives an excellent guide to the individual letters in the language. The Activities section presents the phrases in the selected list in a number of different ways such as multiple choice answers or filling in the missing word.
In the My Learned Items section, you can follow your progress through the course. In addition, there are a series of MP3 files with various audio learning aids you can upload to your smartphone or MP3 player and listen while you are on the move.
In summary, Transparent Language System certainly has given me a wide range of comprehensive learning tools to help improve my Russian language. I can’t really think of anything specific that is missing so the onus really is on me to get results.
Please note, the links in this review are affiliate links and if you decide to purchase the Transparent Language System, I will earn a small commission. In addition to Russian, a wide range of other languages are also available.