Berlitz Virtual Classroom
[Berlitz Online (310) 285-5454, post-secondary]
Berlitz has been a household name for many years, and the company continues its long tradition of teaching foreign languages through online course offerings entitled, Berlitz Virtual Classroom (BVC). One needs a Windows-based computer, web access (56 kbps minimum), soundcard, headset and microphone to proceed.
As in the past, the comprehensive curriculum includes lessons on key vocabulary, grammar, and dialog in languages such as Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Afrikaans, Armenian, Bengali, Cantonese, Danish…to name a few. A major component of BVC is training adults and employees to compete in the global marketplace. There are many fee structures, and instruction packages include Face-to-Face, Live Online, Group, E-combo, and Instruction for Children and Teens. Employees begin with a live lesson demo, after which they may log on for scheduled 1.5 hr sessions within the framework of a 10-level proficiency scale.
Berlitz courses are carefully sequenced, and the Total Immersion package guarantees learning within a set time-frame.
Piano Suite Premier
[Adventus, Inc. (902) 453-4464, ages 8/up]
In an age when fine arts programs are being cut nationwide, Piano Suite Premier is a stand-out. This elegantly produced bilingual DVD (English/French), targeted to students eight and up, teaches skills from beginner to advanced pianist, is self-paced, and provides teachers and parents with easy-to-use progress reports.
The Piano Player and Theory Thinker modules are the meat of the program. Using the Composer Corner, students can compose and record their own work. History Happens includes over 150 biographies of influential musicians and composers, a name pronunciation guide, and a timeline of classical composers. Piano Suite Premier doesn't shun popular music--there are over seven genres, including Country-Western, Pop, Blues and Jazz. Three game modules reinforce lessons, from Piano Player to Theory Thinker. The program has many fully customizable options, with over 500 pieces to listen to, play, practice and enjoy.
A midi-keyboard is required, but one can start with a very modest unit and work up to the more professional model. Piano Suite Premier is a worthy winner of ComputED's 2008 Multi-Level Music Award.