Our review of Berlitz French Premier was written in 2018, and is for the CD software version of the program, which is no longer available. The more up-to-date version of Berlitz is at www.berlitz.com/languages/french, so head there for the most up to date version of this course. The original review for Berlitz continues below, but is not reflective of the most recent, online version. For more, check out our best learn French software guide.
If you are going on a short trip to visit France, Quebec or some other place where French is the official language, you probably don't need to learn to speak French. However, if you were going for an extended period, say, or even permanently, it would behoove you to become at least functional in the native language. Berlitz French Premier, by Nova Development, is a worthwhile language learning program that makes good use of video to help you learn conversational French, not just textbook French.
One of the first things you'll notice about Berlitz French is that the interface looks quite dated. While the application is still functional, the antique look somewhat rattles our confidence in the program as a whole. However, when you get into it, those concerns are lessened a bit, though they never quite evaporate completely.
Berlitz offers a lot of versatility because there is a version of the program for mobile devices. This is extremely useful if you don't have the time to study at your computer. One of the glaring problems with Berlitz is that there is no progress tracking feature. There is no way to really tell how well you are doing in the overall program or even in a module.
Berlitz does a good job with the fundamentals, mostly through the use of video with a text transcript. You are able to see and recognize words the people in the video are using. This also helps listening comprehension and conversation skills. Pronunciation is practiced separately with a speech recognition module.
Berlitz has a simple tab system for navigating between activities, but that is the easiest part of the program. Everything else is a little more difficult, including navigating between modules. The videos don't have clear play or pause buttons. The video interface is difficult to use, and it hard to stop in a specific place. Furthermore, many of the buttons in the program are not clearly labeled, so you have to learn them through trial and error.
The Berlitz program relies heavily on videos of native speakers with text transcripts in French that you can search, translate and practice. There are reviews that can help you with retention as well. Berlitz has a wide variety of word-recognition activities to help you practice your vocabulary too.
The speech recognition system in Berlitz is useful for practicing pronunciation, and it gives more information about your voice than many other programs. But the Berlitz system also seems to be a little less accurate than other programs.
Berlitz comes with the thickest user manual of any program we reviewed, so you are likely to find many answers there. Tutorials and FAQs can also help you learn how to navigate the program and fix minor problems. For technical problems, you can also contact Nova Development by phone or email.
Berlitz is a great learning course, especially if you like learning through videos, but it only does a mediocre job of making the learning process simple and intuitive. It definitely needs a coding update so that it looks like it belongs in the 2010s and not the 1990s. Beyond that, there is not much to criticize.