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BYKI Deluxe provides a great range of reading, writing, speaking and listening tools to help you learn Spanish. It uses a simple 3 step system to teach you, with a range of progress-tracking tools. There are also online community features so you can share words and phrases, which also allow you to check their real-life use online.
Byki (which stands for Before You Know It) offer three key language packages. Their Express software is free, allowing you to hear languages spoken by native speakers, read and write, and to track your progress. This is a pretty limited system but it’s free and is potentially a good way to get a feel for the software and pick up some new vocabulary.
The site also provides an app version of its Deluxe software. You can buy the app separately or it comes free when you pay for the BykiDeluxe software. The app is a simplified version of Deluxe, but it allows you to access your records and keep practicing when you’re out of the house. Since Byki Deluxe is very interactive and requires a range of skills (written as well as spoken) it’s not all ideal for use when driving, although you can do recaps on vocabulary with listening practices.
The best software available is the Mac or Windows version of Byki Deluxe. This opens up far more features when compared with the Express or App options, plus you can still take advantage of the app’s mobile features because it is included for free when you pay for Deluxe.
Spanish Before You Know It have performed research into language acquisition and they believe that their 3 step system will help you to memorize vocabulary and key phrases, which can then be adapted. Step 1 is to preview the target language, which means viewing and hearing the word with an accompanying picture and description. Afterwards, you are put through a series of recognition tests. These tests include writing out your answer or saying it aloud, before you receive the results. The final step is to produce the word when it’s relevant, so it has become fully set in the mind.
Aside from teaching you words and phrases using the 3 step system, Byki Deluxe also lets you practice at your own pace. It offers instant feedback and keeps records on how effectively you’ve remembered particular information. There are multiple choice tests, fill in the blanks exercises, a word whirl hands-free activity, pronunciation practice and a tool to help you improve your concentration.
We appreciated some of the additional features which move the language into the real world. For example, as you build your list of known Spanish words, you can access Twitter to find messages which use those words, therefore seeing how they have been adapted for real use. We also liked the searchable phrase book, which provides quick access to some useful phrases when you need them most.
Since Byki Spanish tends to focus on the acquisition of new vocabulary, rather than understanding the grammar and theory behind the phrases it teaches, it may be better suited to beginners rather than more advanced Spanish speakers. Its system is somewhat simplified for the quick memorization of new terms to get by, but we’re not entirely convinced that this will be suitable for everyone. That said, you can produce your own vocabulary lists and there’s an online community of users who share words and phrases. There are also over 70 languages to learn, some of which aren’t common through other systems.
All things considered, Spanish Before You Know It offers a very good service with some really helpful features, including a well designed mobile app. It will probably be of more use to beginners, but there are definitely uses for more advanced linguists. If you’re not sure whether to pay for the Deluxe program, we recommend trying out their free Express software to get a feel for their products.
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