The following Tell Me More review is based on my experience with Tell Me More French V10. I have been working with it for some time now, so I have a good handle on it. I make some comparisons to my version of Tell Me More Performance German, which I believe is version 9 (read my review of this older version called Tell Me More Performance here.) You can also read Tell Me More reviews from other language learners below, and I highly recommend you go their website and try their demo to experience it for yourself.
Tell Me More 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.
Overall Impressions of Version 10
They have updated the look and feel and the overall navigation of the program. Honestly, I don't think it needed it because I liked Version 9 just fine. But, the new version looks great. The tab layout at the top with Training, Resources etc. is nice, and the little pie charts and bar graphs showing how much you have been studying and what you have been learning are also nice touches.
My 4 year old laptop actually doesn't meet their required specs, but it runs the program just fine, it's just a little bit slower. On my other computer (which does meet the specs) it runs great. I've had no installation issues or other issues of any kind in the 5 months that I have been running the program - it's been remarkably stable. My overall impression is that it's a great program that didn't need to be improved but they improved it anyway.
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 two 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 mode can be quite different, something that I think is a great feature of Tell Me More.
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 multiple native speakers, both male and female. With the text, you can click the Translation button and get the translation of any word and hear it pronounced just by clicking on it, without going out of the activity. Later, video dialogues, role-playing, and more expository material are included in the activities.
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, grammar and word order exercises and more. Some are passive while others are active. They can focus on any combination of listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary or culture.
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 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, there is the Free-to-Roam Mode, where you can study any lesson or engage in any activity at any time. It is the same material as the Guided mode, but it is presented in a very different way. It is entirely up to you.
This level of flexibility is great. If you need the program to tell you what to learn, it can. If you want to determine that for yourself, you can. There was a Dynamic Mode in the previous version. Honestly, I never really tried it because I was so satisfied with the Guided and Free-to-Roam modes. Maybe that's why it wasn't included in this new version.
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.
Tell Me More allows you to convert lessons into audio format and export them in order for you to use on your mp3 player or cd player. 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 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.
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 is a viable option for those who already have some knowledge of the language, unlike most other language methods.
I am astounded as I look around in the software sometimes just to review some vocabulary or look up a grammar point. There is so much content here. For each level, for every section of every lesson, there is vocabulary, grammar, audio and video. There is a resource for an online Euronews lesson that features weekly news topics. I could use this program every day for years before it is finished!
Comparison to College Classes
Even after (at the time of this writing) 2 semesters of French in college, I am finishing Level 3 and preparing to move on to Level 4 of the 10 Level program. Much of the same material and topics covered in class and the textbook was also covered in Tell Me More, but very often the vocabulary used was a little different. I expected this, simply because the vocabulary used in almost any two courses is different. I found it very helpful.
My French teacher was excellent and the textbook is very good, but most of my classmates were not very good which slowed down the class. Tell Me More gave me a different learning perspective that helped me considerably and made those classes easy A's. The cost of those two classes was more than the price of the 10 Level Tell Me More French. Considering I'm on Level 4 of a 10 Level program, the cost of Tell Me More is looking quite good compared to the cost and effectiveness of the classes.
Looking to get better grades in French Class? Tell Me More would help enormously. It's entirely possible that I may not be able to continue in French next semester if it doesn't fit into my schedule. That would disappoint me, but I will continue studying on my own with this program. In fact, when I transfer to a better school, I will need to take a French placement exam. With Tell Me More in my toolkit, I'm not worried about that test at all!
When you first start the program, you are prompted to choose the level you are starting at or take an online placement test which will suggest a proper level for you. I took the test (which takes about 30 minutes) and found it to be a little difficult. I had taken French in high school (many years ago) and was currently taking French in college. My score on the placement test was 5.3, which would put me in level 5 of the program. I am a good test-taker and made some good educated guesses, so the score was a little generous. I looked around in Level 5 but found it too difficult for me. My vocabulary is a little (probably a lot) weak and I just couldn't keep up. I placed myself in Level 3 and have found it enjoyable and challenging at the same time.
This placement test is most important if you purchase a 2 Level or 5 Level product. The DVD includes all of the levels, but what you are buying is the key to 'unlock' levels. The placement test allows you to set your level so that you are not wasting levels that you purchase. For example, let's say that you have had some high school or college French and want to bring it back to a decent level, but you don't want to start from the very beginning. If you bought a 5 Level product, you could take the placement test and let's say start at Level 3. You would then 'unlock' levels 3,4,5,6 and 7. It's a smart feature that allows for some flexibility. Considering the 2, 5 and 10 Level purchase options, and the fact that you can purchase additional level packages, there is a solution for everybody.
Any reputable company nowadays has a guarantee. Tell Me More has a 90 day, money back guarantee. Just be sure to keep all the original packaging and the receipt, although you should do that for anything you buy. If you must return the product, call the company first. Most companies require you to get a return authorization before sending something back.
Here's the good news - there aren't many. Tell Me More tries to do a lot and mostly succeeds.
I had a minor problem with the Glossary in the previous version. While I don't have the same problem in this version, I still don't like the layout of the Glossary. I would rather it was just a dictionary that could be searched either English to French or French to English like many online translators and dictionaries. I still have trouble just looking up a word sometimes.
No Mac Version
Sorry Mac users - they don't have a version for you, PC only. I'm not a Mac user myself, but I believe there is a way to run Windows and Windows-based software on a Mac. You'll have to look for Mac support elsewhere to get help for that. Update*** There is an online version for Mac users now available.
Most publishers of more expensive products limit their product selection, and Tell Me More is no exception. Tell Me More Version 10 is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. There are also products for learning Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Arabic and Dutch, but they don't go as far as those 10 Levels. 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 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 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 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, a la Rosetta Stone. 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.
Tell Me More vs Pimsleur
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 has many times more vocabulary and flexibility. You can work at your own pace, unlike Pimsleur. The pronunciation and conversation practice isn't the laser-like focus that you get with Pimsleur, but it is admirable. 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.
Tell Me More vs Rosetta Stone
Note** I am comparing Tell Me More V10 (the latest version) with Rosetta Stone V3 which I am now familiar with.
This is much more of an apples to apples comparison, as both Rosetta Stone and Tell Me More are software packages of roughly equal price.
Rosetta Stone has some flexibility, and has varied its content, but still feels tedious. It has a tendency to let you cheat just to get through an exercise when you get bored (which happens quickly), 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 is still quirky and unpredictable. I never liked that feature in Rosetta Stone, but find myself enjoying it with Tell Me More.
I suppose I have to talk about what a 'level' is. A 'level' in Rosetta Stone can't be compared to a 'level' in Tell Me More because they are both using completely different standards and goals. So, I won't make some silly statement that Tell Me More has 10 Levels but Rosetta Stone only has 5. It's not the same thing. But, with a comparable price, a Tell Me More 10 Level product compared to a Rosetta Stone 5 Level product ought to be a fair comparison, right? It's not even close. The level 3 or 4 that I'm in now in Tell Me More ought to compare with Level 2 in Rosetta Stone, but Rosetta Stone just isn't close.
Tell Me More has so much more intermediate and advanced material than Rosetta Stone. For roughly the same price, the extra content, better features, flexibility and usability just make Tell Me More far better than Rosetta Stone.
Tell Me More vs Transparent Language
Transparent Language makes software for all the languages that Tell Me More is available in, plus a few others.
Transparent Language Premium 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 Transparent Language wins is on price, as it is significantly cheaper than Tell Me More. If budget is your biggest concern, and the price of Tell Me More is just too much, Transparent Language Premium is a good software alternative. Overall though, Tell Me More is far superior - much more complete, comprehensive and interactive.
Tell Me More 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. To summarize this Tell Me More review - It is the best language learning software on the market today!
Have you used a Tell Me More language product? 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.
Click below to see Tell Me More reviews from other visitors to this page...
Tell Me More 2 Levels
I have taken no French in school and know very few French words. I bought the Tell Me More "2 Levels" thinking that this would help me prepare for a 3 …
I'm using the free 7 day trial of Tell Me More right now. I have the Spanish 10v. online version, I think. I tested at level B1, but that's a joke. I guess …
I Couldn't Live Without It!
I use my Tell Me More French every day. I love it. I have the newer version and I was just about to come back to this site to leave a comment that you …
I'm Learning French For the Hot Girls
Tell Me More is a good program, man. My roommate gave it to me after he was done with it last semester. His parents got it for him to help him with French. …
Tell Me More is Great
This is a great program. I studied French in high school and I want to use it again before I completely lose it. I thought I had a good handle on it but …
They need to improve the keyboard interface
I'm using Tell-Me-More after three semesters of college Spanish for review and hopefully to improve my speaking and understanding skills. Since most of …
A Great Program
I think this program is excellent. I've tried a few others, but I think this review is right on the money. And those negative reviews? What are they talking …
'We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'
- Toni Morrison