According to Transparent, to successfully learn a foreign language, you need to do two things. Master its critical vocabulary, and use the language in its natural context.

This latest release in the company's language-tutoring series combines the Byki threestep system for the rapid learning of vocabulary with the Transparent Language System, a series of lessons that involve you in video conversations with native speakers.

The package makes good use of the Mac's multimedia capabilities; interactive flash cards get you through the basics, voice recording hones your pronunciation and videos let you see the characters with whom you're interacting. You can even transfer MP3s to your iPod or iPhone for learning on the move.

The package is presented in an accessible on-screen book format, with your progress through the lessons noted as you go. Regular tests keep you on your toes.

It's surprising just how quickly you pick up the basics of a language. Even with no prior knowledge, the flashcard system makes it simple to learn its key words and phrases, and its video conversations are as close as you can get to experiencing the language in its natural environment without flying to Germany.

Don't expect it to do your learning for you. You still need to set aside regular time for lessons. As it says on the box, 'language fluency is the result of frequent practice and use'.

But if you make the effort, Transparent Language Premium (German) is a well executed aid to learning.

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