March 10, 2013
Publisher Penton Overseas
Price $35.99 per level on iTunes
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
VocabuLearn’s publisher, Penton Overseas, was a victim of the global economic crash. The company no longer exists under that name, but the CDs it used to make are gradually finding new life on the web in the form of MP3 downloads.
VocabuLearn Italian has three levels that you can buy separately. In each, you practice translating a series of words or phrases from English to Italian, then a series of words or phrases from Italian to English. Vocabulary is divided up into four main sections, based on parts of speech: nouns, adjectives and adverbs, expressions, and verbs. My favorite was probably the nouns, but the verbs were cool, too.
I found VocabuLearn Italian extremely helpful in learning where the stress falls in particular words in Italian. My instinct had frequently been leading me astray, and this vocabulary practice helped fix me before my wrong habits became entrenched.
I used all three levels of VocabuLearn Italian. In general, the “Expressions” content gets a little unwieldy by the third level, because when you get to the point of translating sentences and near-sentences, there are often multiple ways to express the same idea. That makes it a little difficult to guess at translations, but you can still gain exposure to new idioms.
I liked VocabuLearn Italian for runs and in the shower, when I couldn’t concentrate super-hard but I wanted to get in some learning benefit.
A problem with a linear product like this is that you tend to learn the words at the beginning very well, and the ones at the end not so well. Some people also find it boring. I don’t; I find it good pronunciation practice, mildly amusing, and highly multi-taskable. Be aware that Mozart music sometimes swells in the background; I don’t mind that, but others do.
For some reason VocabuLearn Italian is not currently available on Audible with other VocabuLearn language downloads, but I see it on iTunes for $35.99 per level. You can sometimes also find stray copies of the VocabuLearn Italian CDs on Amazon.com and other sites, though prices tend to soar to ridiculous heights now that the CDs are no longer being published.
I would love to see a product like this combined with flashcards. Then the learning experience would be very powerful. It is difficult to learn so many words just by hearing them, and it is also difficult to learn them just by reading them on flashcards. Both formats would be helpful, and they would also be complementary.
Anyone want to do that for the Italian language learners out there?