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English Before You Know It, or Byki for short, takes a markedly different approach to language learning. Instead of a linear approach - from A to B via vocab lists and grammatical explanations in a neat line - Byki focuses solely on building a huge bank of words and phrases in users' declarative memory. This information is collected in a such a way that learners find it much easier to recall as complete units of information. The researchers who developed Byki found this to be the most effective way for adult learners to teach themselves English.
This works due to a distinction that neurologists make between our declarative and procedural memories; the two main systems we use in foreign language acquisition and processing. Our procedural memory is what we use to understand the logic of the language, we construct sentences according to the rules of a language we have learned and recite vocabulary from memory in phrases as a process. Declarative memory stores facts, events, set phrases and vocabulary as complete units (as you would memorize a phone number). This is where Byki focus their efforts. As opposed to other programs which attempt to teach you grammar from the beginning, Byki does away with this, allowing users to focus on the foundations of English - words. Obviously it is important to learn your grammar, but Byki believe there is little point in doing so without a strong foundation in vocab and key phrases. In this way, users are able to actually use the English they have learned far quicker, further speeding up the learning process.
Byki's method ensures that the most commonly used words and phrases that form the building blocks of English are committed to long term memory. They do this by using a 3 step process; preview, recognize and produce. This method really gets the words stuck in your head. In fact, the speed of the process can actually make Byki quite addictive, while games, activities and additional online materials keep the learning experience fresh. After just a short time, newly learned vocabulary can recalled easily and naturally.
We especially liked the personal progress tracking software that remembers which words you have trouble with and tests you on these more often. Not only does this ensure that you are constantly challenged but also maximizes your learning time, ensuring that you only practice what you need to. Also, Byki Deluxe's advanced speech recognition technology allows you to record yourself, create a neat audio graphic and then compare both this and the playback to that of a native speaker. This is the next best thing to real conversations with native speakers and is one of reasons we have placed English Before You Know It in the top 10 of this category.
While Byki Express is excellent for beginners, advanced users may want to consider upgrading to Byki Deluxe. As well as the key phrases and words that can be very useful for gaining a grounding in English or preparing for a trip, Byki Deluxe allows you to create your own vocabulary lists. Gather words from all the sources you have available to you; from magazines and films to the workplace and spanish speaking friends. You can also share these lists on the excellent Byki.com ListCentral Online Community as well access the additional online learning materials and language games. It must be noted that neither Byki Express or Byki Deluxe represent a complete English course. Rather, they make excellent additional resources to other programs that include grammar exercises. Byki Deluxe is actually included in Transparent Languages Complete Edition (English) which you may want to consider as a more comprehensive approach to teaching yourself English.
Overall, Byki Express is one of the best free teach yourself English resources out there and upgrading to Byki Deluxe represents excellent values for money as you get quality technology based on a proven learning method for a reasonable price. The popularity of Byki stands testament to this, it is used by individuals, companies and institutions in 74 different languages worldwide.
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