Despite the fact that they are spoken by millions of people, languages such as Korean or Turkish are not usually offered in schools or colleges. The Critical Languages Program (CLP) at the University
of Arizona was created to meet the need for interactive instruction in these less-commonly-taught languages. In order to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners who wish to gain proficiency in
some of these languages, CLP has developed a series of CD-ROM courseware beginning with Brazilian Portuguese, Cantonese, Kazakh, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Turkish. CD-ROMs for other
less-commonly-taught languages are planned for the future. Each package contains two CD-ROMs with a total of twenty lessons for the beginning learner, consisting of video dialogues and readings by
native speakers, thousands of audio recordings, graphics, and extensive notes. Handy browser features enable users to go back and review words and pronunciations and to access five types of exercises:
multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, audio flashcard, pronunciation, and listening dictation. These exercises enable users to test and improve their knowledge of each lesson. Learners with
microphone-equipped computers can record and play back their own voices and then compare their pronunciation with that of the native speaker. With the click of a button, learners can hear native
speakers pronounce words or phrases, facilitating quick comprehension of these challenging languages. Each package of two CD-ROMs contains the equivalent of a textbook and workbook with audio and
video components, making it practical for either self-instruction or directed educational, governmental, and business purposes.
Beginning Chinese is a well-designed and useful program compared to other Chinese self-learning software, and is perhaps one of the best software programs that has come to the attention of this reviewer. Its strength lies in the interactive features between the learner, and the program's audio and video recordings, and text. It provides a flexible and effective way of learning Chinese.
— CALICO Review, Tongtao Zheng, University of Tasmania, Australia
Works on Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7. For more information, visit
the Critical Languages Series website.