Linguaphone PDQ Incarnations
As there has been very little discussion, either here on the LLORG or on the HTLAL, of the “Linguaphone PDQ Courses”, I thought that a few comments might be order, particularly in light of this product’s numerous incarnations including the recent repackaging of these materials as the “Linguaphone eLearning Online Course”, circa 2017. A number of years ago, I purchased the Linguaphone Complete courses from Linguaphone U.S.A. for the FIGS languages and received, as a bonsus, the corresponding Linguaphone PDQ courses; hence my familiarity with the series.
I am not quite sure in which year the series first appeared. Nevertheless, as Linguaphone continued to reprint the original course manuals throughout the years, based on the hair styles and clothing of the actors who modelled for the full colour photographs which appear in the course manuals, coupled with the fact that the original series included audio cassettes rather than CDs, I would guess that the series first appeared in the late 1980’s or in the early 1990’s. My searches suggest that variants were published under the titles listed below (which might be slightly out of sequence):
Linguaphone Fast Lane
Linguaphone Travel Pack
Linguaphone In Action*
Linguaphone eLearning Online* (refer to final section)
Materials have included: (a) for the physical versions, one course manual (guide book) and either four audio cassettes or four CDs, and (b) for the electronic/computerized* versions, either one CD-ROM or online access to the course via Linguaphone’s website.
As far as I can tell, the original series covered the conventional FIGS languages; that is, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and that other languages were subsequently included in the PDQ series as Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, and Turkish. At present, the "online eLearning" series includes the FIGS languages only.
The series is, for all practical purposes, a somewhat-expanded phrase book designed to meet the minimal communication needs of a short-term traveller to a region where the target language predominates. The usual themes are covered: Greetings, Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping, Minor Emergencies, and the like. As might be expended, a minimal “transactional” vocabulary of barely 200 words is introduced along with some stock phrases for use in predictable situations without any attempt at explaining the grammatical issues involved.
In my view, the “expansion” of the phrase book style was conceived so as to provide a form of interaction or practice with the materials which are themselves rather limited. That is, the fact that the materials include four audio CDs should not be taken as an indication that the course approaches the depth of coverage of the Assimil courses or even that of the Routledge Colloquial courses, for that matter.
The course manual, which is printed on high-quality, heavy, glossy paper, is approximately 65 pages in length, inclusive of a brief glossary in the appendix. The texts, which include situational dialogues, are accompanied by information in block/tabular form and by numerous coloured photographs meant to engage the student and to help him visualize himself in situ. Regrettably, the actual placement of the information (the words, phrases, and dialogues) on the pages is somewhat confusing and difficult to follow both as reading material and in conjunction with the audio recordings. By way of comparison, I have a copy of what-I-believe-to-be Linguaphone’s “ill-fated redesign” of their French and Spanish courses from the early 2000’s (which member Elexi has likened to the Berlitz method) and, quite frankly, I think that they really dropped the ball with this approach.
The audio recordings contain a mixture of (a) English instructions and explanations, (b) words, phrases, and dialogues in the target language, and (c) music which announces the beginning and ending of lessons and parts of lessons. As expected, the target language recordings were prepared by voice-trained professionals. Their speech is clear, highly-articulated, at a speed somewhat slower than that of normal conversation amongst native-speakers, but easily understood by a beginning students. The English instructions and explanations are, to my way of thinking, utterly superfluous as they do nothing more than repeat the written instructions and, worse still, inject unnecessary sound tracks amongst those of the target language which the user must either listen to or find a means of avoiding by using the FastForward features of his playback device. In addition, and I fully admit that this is purely a matter of personal taste, the English speaker’s voice is so irritatingly “cheery” that it truly grates on my nerves. Added to the mixture is the totally unnecessary triumphal, stately, martial music (played on a cheap, late 1980’s-era synthesizer) reminiscent of the musical scores of the late-1940’s black-and-white “costume dramas” the plots of which turned on the clever roturier’s efforts to thwart the evil duke in this attempts at seducing the beautiful princess and thereby illegitimately assume sovereignty over the latter’s beloved and adoring folk.
Following a “description” like that, I do not feel the need to provide an "evaluation."
Linguaphone eLearning Online
Last fall, while surfing the Linguaphone U.K. website, and having some money to burn, I purchased a subscription to the “Linguaphone German eLearning Online Course”, a decision which I subsequently regretted. I had hoped that this course might represent an entirely new approach to teaching German or that it might at the very least provide dialogues and audio recordings with which I was not already familiar. Well, no, the course files are drawn directly from those of the "Linguaphone German PDQ Course" and, worse still, the onscreen presentation is PDA … Pretty Darned Amateurish. Added to the insult is that the subscription, for which the regular price is 39£, is valid for 6 months only, whereas the publisher offers a PDF/MP3 download of the original course for a regular price of 25£. Grrr!!! Just thought that ya’ll might wanna’ know about this.
Typos, of course!
Last edited by Speakeasy
on Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.