Software Review: Fleeting on-line lessons

The Israel-based Q Group offers digitized English courses for various age groups.

computer biz 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
computer biz 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Q Master Online; Q Kids Online and Q Business Traveller Online, three online English courses for the college level, children's level and businessmen for three months only; $115, $55 and $69 respectively, accessible via Q Group store at category/Qshop. Rating: Four Stars A growing number of software companies are finding it more convenient - and profitable - to bypass production of DVD-ROMs, transportation costs, retail stores and the illegal copying of disks by offering their wares on-line. Just go into a Web site, view samples and - if you wish - buy the program with a credit card. Some companies offer only short-term subscriptions, which are frustrating if you are too busy to enjoy them and they are expensive. The Israel-based Q Group has adopted this practice to promote worldwide its digitized English courses for various age groups from young children through high school and college to corporate businessmen/women of any age. There is no Hebrew or any other native tongue, just English at various levels of difficulty (with more graphics for youngsters). While it used to sell disks, today it has shifted completely to on-line subscriptions. And there's the rub! A three-month subscription of an updated version of the kids' English course (based on a Q Group game I reviewed years ago) costs $55 - far too much for Israelis to pay. The same goes for the college-level material. Only a corporate businessperson is likely to have a spare $69 to view videos of situations on themes of travel, hotels, greetings, eating out, socializing, work, directions and appointments; then practice and be tested with questions. The kids' program presents hero Freddy, who with your help jumps from one island to another for English games, songs and stories that teach more than 500 words without the child being aware of it. The college-level program lacks videoclips but does offer interesting tests on a dozen themes from astronomy and psychology to nanotechnology and robotics and medicine. A pre-reading section presents the basic outline, while the reading section introduces the full text. As you move your cursor over certain words, a purple symbol marked "LEX" appears and can be clicked for immediate translation in simpler English words. Then go on to practice what you learned. The best on-disk English teaching programs I have encountered were Edusoft's English+, but I haven't seen them on the market for years. The Q Group's are very good, but they are priced out of the range of most Israelis; for us, dear company, bring back the DVD-ROMs.