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Talk Now review

Speak in tongues and escape the British climate

Our Verdict

Good value and good fun. The perfect way to start learning a language


  • Colourful

    Well structured

    Good audio

    Huge range of languages

    Speech recording


  • Sluggish interface

These days, almost everyone seems to be clamouring to get away from the UK. More than one million Britons have overseas properties and some 190,000 left the country in 2003 for foreign climes.

So, what's wrong with the rest of us? Well, we don't all speak a foreign language - but fear not! Your Mac is the perfect partner for helping you to master a new language.

EuroTalk specialises in producing teaching programs for almost any language you care to name. We decided to test Talk Now for Beginners in Portuguese. The program runs from a CD and works like a Director presentation, taking over the whole of your Mac's screen in order to present words, picture and movies.

Talk Now makes you type your name into the program and then keeps a running total of your score as you work through the exercises. You can choose from the following categories: shopping, countries, first words, food, time, numbers, body, phrases and colours.

Each section is subdivided into word practice, speaking practice, easy game and hard game. You can also print out a picture dictionary of the vocabulary.

The pace is gentle and there are plenty of examples for you to copy and record for comparison. The program keeps track of the words you have trouble with and adjusts your practice accordingly.

There's no grammar involved and no teacher will throw a blackboard duster at you. It's most enjoyable and you'd hardly know you were learning; it's more fun and games than hard slog.

Of course, no one pretends that this beginners' course will have you chatting away like a native, but you will get a grasp of the basics and an ear for the accent. And at £25 it's a cheap way of starting out on what could be a really big adventure. Mark Sparrow