Linguaphone is one of the oldest and best language instruction courses you can buy. They work by teaching you the language via audio and books but keep the learning process interesting. The courses come with 2, 3 or 4 books depending on the language. One is entirely in the target language, another explains the dialogue, the other is a book of exercises. You usually follow a family returning to their native country and as each chapter progresses your comprehension increases dramatically. The books and audio are done to a very high standard and I would recommend their courses to every language learner.
In their heyday, Linguaphone offered courses in well over 30 languages, the older courses from the 1950s and 60s are considered their best material because the instruction is more thorough. (You can buy some of the old courses by clickinghere). Unfortunately, Linguaphone today have limited their language catalogue to just 15 languages. But they continue to produce material in not only book and CD format but CD Rom too.
Linguaphone has kept up with modern technologuy. Back in the day they used records and audio reels, then moved on to casette tape and even VHS. Today the audio is recorded onto CD's or mp3. There are courses available, not only in book form, but in CD Rom and all audio courses. Linguaphone's best is the AllTalk series. They offer this all audio based course in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese, and they're very good. Again you follow a story of an english businessman/woman who is visiting one of the counties above but doesnt speak the language. You meet your rep at the airport and things go from there, you deal with problems along the way and the story is very interesting so you come back to your lessons with enthusiasm. The great thing about the AllTalk courese are you can go from zero knowledge in the language to Intermediate level quite quickly. There is a 16 disc version and a 4 disc version. The 16 disc version will obviously take you further.
Pros: The content is thorough. In lesson one you’re learning to say things like “he is”, “I am” “what is that?” etc and by the end of the course you’re holding proper conversations about life, history, travel etc. You’re exposed to the written language too. From lesson one you’re exposed to the written language too. So if you’re learning a language that uses a non Latin alphabet like Greek or Hebrew or Chinese the course book will use that alphabet. Meaning you have to get used to the words being written in their language. This can be difficult at first but it’s the best way to learn.
Time tested. Linguaphone has been producing language instruction material since the early 20th century. They’ve constantly improved their teaching method and moved with technology to make their courses more readily available.
Choice. For French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese there is also the All Talk Method. This is highly effective and fun to use. Linguaphone has a choice of 16 languages to choose from in their home study course that takes you to intermediate level. Then there are advanced courses taking you to expert level and some to take you to fluency.
Price.Linguaphone course aren’t that expensive compared to other really good language courses like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone. You get excellent value for money considering the content of the course and the proficiency you achieve if you complete the course. It’s a good idea to check places eBay or Gumtree for second hand course if you can too. I got a Linguaphone Polish course for £10 on Gumtree, the same one was selling on eBay for £150! Cons: They’re bulky. Each course comes with a handbook, an exercise book and a vocabulary guide. The more difficult languages also come with a “text of sounds” book and another book explaining the language. This is fine if youre studying at home but makes things difficult if you want to learn on the commute to work.
Amount of courses.Linguaphone currently has 16 language to choose from. They used to have a lot more. I don’t know why they’ve downsized but the more obscure courses like Hebrew, Polish, Hindi etc. pop up on eBay from time to time. There are less available in the Advanced level and only 4 available in the fluency level.
In the 1950's courses the artwork was almost exactly the same (or at least in the same style) and only the written text differed for each language. Here is a comparison of the 1950's French and the 1950's German:
Then, in the 1970's linguaphone re-vamped the entire collection. New artwork, new dialogue and an entirely new story line. Here is an example of the 1970's German:
Then, in the 1990's Linguaphone updated the artwork. The dialogue stayed the same. Here's the same lesson in the 1990's German. This artwork is still used today.
Im not a fan of the new artwork. The 1970's versions looked more pleasing to the eye I think. Anyway, in the 2000's Linguaphone, for reasons unknown to me, cut down the numbers of languages they were producing to just 16. The content of the books stayed the same as above but they are now published in softback books with orange covers.
Buy Linguaphone courses in PDF and mp3 format here!!
Not available ANYWHERE ELSE online.
What I think is nice, is that when you bought one of the courses in the 50s and 60s you recieved a welcome letter from the "director of studies" himself. This is was a nice personal touch and makes you see that Linguaphone really did have the students best interests at heart. Below is a letter someone recieved when they bought an Italian course in 1963, the director mentions the student learning Italian with his wife - the customer must have mentioned this on the telephone or in his letter when he ordered the course. You just dont get that nowadays. The letter is typed on a typewriter and hand signed. Click the picture to see it: