Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Transparent Language Essentials is learn French software with challenging exercises and lots of extra material. The program has a slick interface and guides you through the course smoothly. Transparent presents travel situations like booking a hotel and tests your French with writing, vocab, grammar and pronunciation activities. This builds French speaking skills you can use in common situations and everyday conversation, making this program useful for real interactions with French speakers.
This French course content is sorted into four units, each containing three lessons. The lessons take about an hour to complete and cover useful French words and phrases for traveling, teaching you how to reserve a hotel or get around a French-speaking city. The Additional Content section contains extra material like video grammar lessons and a list of key vocabulary words to study. If you're looking for business-specific vocabulary, we recommend a different program, Instant Immersion French, because it has lessons on business vocabulary.
Transparent’s lessons combine audio, visuals and activities, making the program suitable for all learning types. During the lessons, you encounter flashcards, memory games, unscrambling exercises and dictation exercises. Some games are harder than others, and a whole unit takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete.
Four Square is an incarnation of the classic memory card game. It shows cards with French words or phrases and then turns them over. Once all the phrases are hidden, Transparent prompts you to select the proper French phrase to match a given English translation. The challenge is remembering the placement of the correct card as well as the translation, and this game will prove stimulating to visual and kinesthetic learners. For more modern games and the best overall learning activities, we recommend purchasing Rosetta Stone, our top pick.
The pronunciation exercise begins by prompting you with a French word paired with audio demonstrating the proper pronunciation as spoken by a native speaker. Once you’re ready, you record yourself repeating the phrase. This activity is particularly engaging because the accuracy gauge in this program is strict. We found ourselves recording multiple attempts to perfect the accuracy score. Transparent saves all of your attempts and plays them next to the recorded native speaker after you finish the section.
The dictation exercises scattered throughout the course are especially challenging but are good exercise for all types of learners. Like most dictation games, you write the French word or phrase based on the audio provided. Transparent makes the exercise more challenging by requiring you to use proper punctuation, spelling and accent marks – things that are usually lax in other programs.
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If you get stuck during the session, you can slow down the playback of the word if you need help. However, the audio sounds hollow rather than actually slowed down. As you type, you see specialized keyboard shortcuts to add accent marks to your answers. You also encounter exercises that ask you to write the English equivalent to the given French word, but these are not as strict as the French dictation section.
Transparent Language Essentials has common games and activities scattered throughout its lessons but features stricter rules than other programs to challenge you. The accuracy gauge grades on a higher difficulty level than most software, and dictation exercises require correct punctuation and accent marks while other programs don’t. It can take up to 90 minutes to finish a unit, but this program can teach you to speak essential French phrases quickly.