Tell Me More Performance Review!
Review of the award winning language software by Auralog!
**Note** This is an older review of Tell Me More Performance that I am keeping live just in case anyone is interested, along with visitor reviews from before the most recent version. There are still some Performance products being sold, and there is always the possibility of buying one used. Read my most recent review of review of Tell Me More.
The following Tell Me More review is based on my experience with Tell Me More Performance German. I have not had nearly as much experience with this software as I would like, but I have very high expectations of it and I'd like to share what I have learned.
My Review of Tell Me More Performance
is a world renowned language learning method by Auralog. It can boast many of the same awards, credentials and sales figures of some other language methods like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur, but does not quite have the name recognition that they have. I'm not sure why, because it is a world-class program that is actually far more comprehensive than any other products.How Tell Me More Works
Tell Me More is largely based on dialogues. Right from the beginning I was presented with the kind of everyday conversation you are likely to have. There are a few different paths these dialogues can take for some variation, but not too much to be overwhelmed.
Then there are the activities. The conversations you were just exposed to are hashed and re-hashed every which way you can imagine. You are tested and re-tested on the grammar, word-order and vocabulary in activities and exercises that engage you in a variety of ways to ensure that you are learning and using the material.
In word-finds and crosswords, for example, new vocabulary and context-specific vocabulary is mixed in, so you don't get bored with the same material over and over again. Listening comprehension is a particular focus that I like. For instance, you will hear the word pronounced and you must locate it in the word-find. You won't see the spelling until you get it right. This is a great way to tune your ear to the new language.
After completing one activity (hopefully getting it all right), you move on to the next activity. It could be focused on listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary or even culture. Every aspect of the language is included in the lesson plan.
There are actually three different learning modes in Tell Me More (more on this below) that you can choose. My experience with Tell Me More so far has been in the Guided Mode. As you read this review, keep that in mind as the learning experience in the other modes may be quite different, something that I think is a great feature of Tell Me More.
Tell Me More Performance Features
The dialogues which form the basis of your first experiences in the program are based on day-to-day topics. It's the kind of everyday conversation anyone is likely to have. This, of course, features the most common verbs, vocabulary, function words and grammar. It presents to the learner what is most useful to the most people, and doesn't try to dumb it down.
The earliest dialogues begin with text, a few images and natural sounding audio spoken by native speakers. With the text, you can click the Translation button to turn on or off the English translation, or whatever your native language is. Later, video dialogues, role-playing, and more expository material are included.
Other published language methods try to slow down the dialogue, making it too clinical. Not so with Tell Me More. It may seem more difficult at first, but it is ultimately better for you.
Activities and Games
The activities form the bulk of your learning regimen. There are an abundance of different games and activities - word finds, crosswords, phrase matching, fill-in-the-blanks, listening and reading comprehension, dictation, pronunciation practice, role playing and more. Some are passive while others are active. They can focus on any combination of listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary or culture. Many of these are generated anew every time you use them, so if you want, you can go back and do more.
These activities and games break up what can be the monotony of study, without being the sole focus of the method like some inexpensive language programs. Some activities, like the grammar exercises, are like those you will find in a text book. Others are much more interactive, using the full potential of the computer.
In the Guided Mode that I am using, my whole lesson plan is mapped out. I have a starting date, an ending date, a planned study time for each day of the week (with some days off), and a series of lessons and activities laid out in front of me. I've chosen not to focus on any specific aspect of the language (like reading or speaking), but I was given the option to do that if I wanted.
If you prefer, you can try the Dynamic Mode. In this mode, the program determines in what areas you are weakest, and adjusts your learning plan to focus more heavily on those areas, allowing you to catch-up where you need it.
And of course, there is the Free to Roam Mode, where you can study any lesson or engage in any activity at any time. It is entirely up to you.
This level of flexibility is unique to Tell Me More. If you need the program to tell you what to learn, it can. If you want to determine that for yourself, you can. These learning modes provide a very sophisticated feature, unseen in any other language program, where lessons can move too fast, too slow or just feel disconnected from any real lesson plan. This is a home run for Tell Me More.
Portable Audio and Printables
Usually, one of the disadvantages of using software to learn a language is that you can only be studying with your computer. Books and audio methods have the advantage of being able to go with you, allowing for greater flexibility and convenience. Tell Me More partially nullifies that disadvantage by providing ways to export the learning material to go with you.
You can print just about anything, including sheets with grammar points or verb conjugations. This makes it easy to take Tell Me More with you a little bit for review.
There is also a feature to let you convert lessons into audio format and export them. This is a smart feature. It doesn't just blindly convert a lesson into audio, but rather it creates a whole mini audio method all by itself. It uses the background music of the program as an intro, includes an explanatory introduction, then replays dialogues and vocabulary for review. Another section includes a little role-playing, replaying the dialogues but prompting you to play one of the parts and respond aloud.
This additional audio and printable export feature is a great extra that reinforces exactly what you have been learning in a different format. It improves upon the limitations of software and adds convenience to an already flexible language method. Great value!
Intermediate and Advanced Study Material
This is where Tell Me More most shines. There are plenty of language learning programs and methods to learn the basics, but it is so difficult to find learning materials for the intermediate and advanced levels. Tell Me More finally provides some real study material at these levels, leading the learner forward right into intermediate and more advanced topics.
Because of the quantity and quality of the content, Tell Me More Performance is a viable option for those who already have some knowledge of the language, unlike most other language methods.
Disadvantages of Tell Me More
Here's the good news - there aren't many. Tell Me More Performance tries to do a lot and mostly succeeds.
One Minor Problem
I had a problem with the Crosswords activity and the Glossary. In the Crosswords, you are given the English word and you need to fill in that entry in the crossword puzzle in German. The English word shown was, let's say, 'lung.' Now, this early in the program I hadn't seen the word 'lung' yet, so I don't know it. No problem, I'll look it up in the Glossary. But when I input the English word in the 12,000 word Glossary and search, it produces no result. I tried every which way to change parameters to get it to squeeze out the word 'lung' in German to no avail.
I contacted the online support (which responded quickly) and I was referred to an online dictionary. I didn't ask for more information on why it was that the program has a 12,000 word glossary that can't be searched in English. I don't know if it was a glitch in my version of the program or a design flaw. My $5 solution was to use the German dictionary on my desk. Ok, Tell Me More isn't perfect. I moved on and have seen no other glitches since then.
Most publishers of more expensive products limit their product selection, and Tell Me More is no exception. Tell Me More is available in the most popular languages. Performance is only available in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German, as well as other (less comprehensive) versions for those languages. There are also products for learning Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Arabic and Dutch. These languages account for more than 95% of all language learners out there, so most people won't be disappointed. But if you are looking for software for something less commonly learned like Swedish, Catalan, Korean, or even Russian, you'll have to look somewhere else.
Let's get one thing perfectly clear - Tell Me More Performance is not cheap. It is a big financial commitment that requires an equally serious commitment on the part of the learner. But, having said that, it is comparable in price to big-name language learning products like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone. I'll make specific product comparisons later, but with Tell Me More Performance you get a whole lot more functionality and content than any other course I have seen, and that translates into value for your investment.
Steep Learning Curve
Tell Me More has a steep learning curve. Not just to learn and use the software and get the most out of it, but with the learning material itself. It does not spoon-feed bits of information to make the beginning learner feel like he is actually learning something. Tell Me More doesn't ease you into it or try to slow down or dumb down the material unnecessarily. It demands hard work on the part of the student in order to advance. It shows some respect for the learning process and the student. Some would be put off by this but I prefer it this way.
Pimsleur is one of the most popular and well-known language learning methods, and that is why I am including it here. However, it's really comparing apples to oranges because Pimsleur is a purely audio language method. There should be two different sets of expectations for an all-audio method and a software method. But see the next two comparisons for some apples to apples.
First, let me say that I love Pimsleur. Its pronunciation and conversation work are just unequalled. I would use it for any language but never completely by itself if I wanted to really learn the language. It has its limitations. It has limited vocabulary and if you already have some experience with the language it may move too slow for you, or be of limited value.
For the same price, Tell Me More Performance has many times more vocabulary and flexibility. You can work at your own pace, unlike Pimsleur. The pronunciation and conversation practice is admirable, but you won't get the laser-like focus on it that you get with Pimsleur. Overall, the flexibility and variation possible can provide a great work-out for any learner of nearly any level. A motivated student could get so much more out of Tell Me More than Pimsleur.
If you absolutely have to choose between these two, you must choose Tell Me More.
Note** I am comparing Tell Me More Performance with Version 2 of Rosetta Stone which I am very familiar with. But Rosetta Stone has recently released a Version 3 which I haven't yet worked with. While V3 must be an improvement over V2, for the reasons I state below I think this comparison will largely remain true. When I get a chance to work with a V3 product I will evaluate it, update my Review of Rosetta Stone, re-evaluate this comparison and update this Tell Me More review.
This is much more of an apples to apples comparison, as both Rosetta Stone and Tell Me More Performance are software packages of roughly equal price. Rosetta Stone has some flexibility, but still feels tedious at times. It has a tendency to let you cheat just to get through an exercise when you get a little bored, but Tell Me More doesn't ever get to that point.
Tell Me More offers even greater flexibility, and the variation ensures that learning needn't ever be tiresome. The Learning Modes provide an overarching control that lets students tailor their learning experience to specific learning styles, something that Rosetta Stone lacks to the same degree.
Tell Me More simply has better extras. The activities and games provide variation that never bores the learner. The pronunciation practice and evaluation is effective, while in Rosetta Stone it was quirky and unpredictable. I never used that feature in Rosetta Stone, but find myself enjoying it with Tell Me More.
But a more fair comparison to a Rosetta Stone 3 Level set would be the 3 Level Tell Me More Intelligent Solution or perhaps the 4 Level Tell Me More Premium, with their approximately equal levels of content, vocabulary and learning goals. The better features, flexibility and usability still make Tell Me More a better program.
The 10 level Tell Me More Performance isn't even a fair comparison to Rosetta Stone 3 level set. There is so much more intermediate and advanced material than Rosetta Stone. For roughly the same price, the extra content alone in Performance is a great value.
Transparent Language - Language Now Series
Transparent Language makes software for all the languages that Tell Me More is available in, plus a few others, under their Language Now title series. Language Now does quite well on the volume of its content and some of its activities and extra features, but Tell Me More is just too much to compare directly. Where Language Now really wins is on price, as it is significantly cheaper than Tell Me More. If budget is your biggest concern, and the high price of Tell Me More is just too much, Language Now is a good software alternative. Overall though, Tell Me More is far superior - much more complete, comprehensive and interactive.
Tell Me More Performance is for the serious student, particularly at the intermediate and advanced levels. I'd like to tell you that I am an expert with this language program and intimately aware of all the possibilities and limitations of it, but I can't. It will be years before I exhaust all the possibilities and content. And that's why I am so excited about Tell Me More, particularly the Performance products. To summarize this Tell Me More review - It is the best language learning software on the market today!
Write Your Tell Me More Performance Review!
Have you used a Tell Me More Performance? Tell us what you thought of the course, whether it was hard or easy and how effective it was. What other methods have you used that you can compare it with? Share your experience with a Tell Me More course to help other language learners decide what will work best for them.
Tell Me More Reviews From Other Visitors
Click below to see Tell Me More reviews from other visitors to this page...
Tell Me More: Among the Best Language Learning softwares
Not for Mac or Linux; Imbarrassingly plain looking.
Confusing, unsystematic; uses a system that is obsolete and unprogressive
Pulling The Trigger
Watch out: No Mac version!
Tell Me More Taught Me Dutch!
Really Good trainer
The Spanish version of Tell Me More Language Learning Software
Not for Mac Users, from what I can tell
A Highly Recommended Software!
Better Than The Rest (including Pimsleur)
Learning German A Breeze!
I liked Tell Me More Japanese