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Do you have a need, for school or business, to learn Spanish? Many people every day find themselves wanting to learn Spanish quickly, easily, and inexpensively.
The need to read, speak, and understand Spanish is becoming more widespread every year. Spanish-speaking individuals are the number one source of immigrants into the United States. They have needs ranging from government interaction to business dealings; the ability to converse and understand in Spanish makes you a more valuable individual.
Tuesday, January 19th
Rocket Spanish is just one of the many foreign language courses offered by Rocket Languages. This Spanish course is both easy to use and simple to understand. The people behind Rocket Languages have invested years of study into how people learn a new language quickly and effectively, and have built their entire Rocket Spanish course with this in mind.
Rocket Spanish actually consists of 3 different course levels, depending on your current level of Spanish language knowledge. These courses consist of:
You can purchase each level individually, at the prices listed above. However, if you purchase all 3 levels together, the cost is only $259, which saves you more than $130. This is a fantastic value, especially considering all 3 levels combined comprise over 180 lessons, 370 hours of lesson time, and over 10,000 voice recognition phrases.
All levels include Rocket Language's innovative learning techniques, progress tracking, vocabulary builder, and 24/7 forum & email support. They also provide a 60-day money-back guarantee, where if you're not completely satisfied with your purchase, you can receive a full refund.
If you'd like to try before you buy, Rocket Spanish also gives you a chance to preview their course for free. By signing up for their free trial, you receive instant access to 4 hours of lessons, a weekly Vocabulary Builder series via email, and more.
We liked the comprehensive nature of the Rocket Spanish program. No matter your current level of Spanish, one of their courses can help your fluency. And if you're brand new to learning Spanish, you can get all 3 course levels at a significant discount. For all these reasons, plus the effectiveness of their program and their money-back guarantee, Rock Spanish has earned our highest rating.
Rosetta Stone offers a complete foreign language curriculum in Spanish ranging in price from $209 for Introductory Level 1, to $499 for a full 3-Level set.
The idea behind Rosetta Stone is that you will learn Spanish just as you learned your own native language - without translation or memorization. Rosetta Stone uses Native speakers along with real-life images, speech recognition and fully interactive software to help you learn. There are no complicated lists you have to memorize to learn through Rosetta Stone.
Rosetta Stone offers their lessons in three "Levels". These are comprised of the following:
Optionally, you can purchase all three levels for $499. Rosetta Stone also offers their courses via online subscription for a reduced price; however, you must be connected to the Internet in order to utilize this service.
Rosetta Stone offers a 6-month money back guarantee on their CD-ROM purchases. They also offer a free online demo so you can see how the product works. You have the option of speaking (which helps you to improve your pronunciation), listening (with real native speakers), reading (helps you to develop your reading skills by linking real-life objects and actions), and writing (you write what you hear and the computer checks your spelling, syntax, and pronunciation so you can learn from your errors).
Although Rosetta Stone is the most expensive product in our review, it is exhaustive in scope and effective in results. For its professionalism and high rate of success, Rosetta Stone earns very high marks.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy is a very effective learning Spanish course that was developed by native Latin Americans to help new learners speak Spanish. The idea behind it is that if you learn Spanish the way it's really used, from real Latin Americans, then you won't sound like you're speaking out of a textbook.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy actually offers two products; a shortened course designed to quickly teach everyday Spanish, and a more in-depth course that covers Spanish in much greater detail. Both options are competitively priced, and very successful at fulfilling their teaching goals.
The shortened course, offered for $99, is available via download from their website. This course contains 30 lessons, comprised of over 16 hours of audio recordings in mp3 format. After download, you can copy these lessons to CD or an mp3 player and take them with you to practice wherever you travel. The course is put together by professional, native Latin Americans, and the material presented is easy to learn and understand.
The full course, offered for $299, contains a wealth of instructional material. It draws on the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute's (FSI) Spanish coursework, which is offered elsewhere at far higher prices. This course contains the following:
This material is presented in a clear, understandable format. Another positive note we liked is that Learning Spanish Like Crazy comes with an unconditional 8-week money back guarantee. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the produce, you can receive a full refund of the purchase price - no questions asked.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy provides two options to learn Spanish the way it's really used - an inexpensive course you can download immediately, or a fully in-depth course you can order. Combining an easy to use system with effective results and a satisfaction guarantee, Learning Spanish Like Crazy earns high marks.
Living Language's four-step approach to studying Spanish includes Build a Foundation, Progress with Confidence, Retain What You've Learned, and Achieve Your Goals. For over 65 years. The techniques they originally developed for the US State Department have been available for students to master a strong foundation of essential words and phrases, moving smoothly to full sentences and conversations, and eventually being able to use Spanish conversationally in a variety of real-world situations.
There are two primary approaches to learning Spanish with Living Language, and students can take advantage of both of them if they desire: Spanish Essential and Complete, which consist of lessons given through books and audio CDs, and the Spanish Online Course.
Living Language has a free Language Lab available to all visitors to their website, with no credit card or email needed to access it. This Language Lab allows you to get a good overview of the topics in the Spanish lessons, and some simple games for practicing vocabulary. Although we enjoyed learning some basic Spanish phrases using the flashcards included in the Essential Expressions section (Lesson 1 in the Language Lab), it didn't give us a feel for how the lessons themselves are taught. We felt it would have been more useful to have access to a complete lesson, to see how Living Language approaches Spanish instruction as a whole. Because Living Languages currently offers no satisfaction guarantee or return policy, students may want to consider one of the lower-priced packages or subscriptions first, to see if the teaching structure is a good fit.
On the other hand, Living Language's e-Tutoring is a fantastic value-add to their Spanish lessons. Many reviews of Living Language's programs include praise for the flexibility and effectiveness of working one-on-one with a native speaker.
Whether or not Living Language is a good fit for your learning style may depend on your goals and motivation. While most of the programs in our review require mastery of one topic before moving on to a new one, Living Language lets you move around freely between subjects. If you're easily distracted - or discouraged - you may find that freedom less than helpful as you try to learn Spanish. But, if you prefer to have the freedom of learning any topic you need at the time - Asking Directions or At a Restaurant, for example - Learning Languages' Spanish lessons may be a good match for you.
Pimsleur is a respected name when it comes to learning a new language. Because its primary emphasis is on learning Latin American Spanish through simple, 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur is an ideal choice for those who prefer to learn by listening rather than reading. Pimsleur offers a free 30-minute Spanish lesson that can be downloaded from the website, so that prospective customers can get a feel for this auditory approach to learning the language. When we practiced using the sample audio, we felt that we came away with a decent understanding of a basic conversation in Spanish.
On the other hand, there was no way to try out the non-audio components of Pimsleur's Spanish program, which includes flashcards, matching games, and other visual components when purchased as a DVD set. Given that 40% of students learn best with visual input, compared with 10% of students who learn best by hearing, we would have liked to see more of what Pimsleur offers in that regard so as to make a more accurate comparison with the other programs in our review..
Pimsleur does offer a return policy that they call a "Proficiency Guarantee": if a customer purchases the Pimsleur Level 1 Spanish program, completes the course, and fails the provided novice-level test (hosted independently of Pimsleur itself), Pimsleur will issue a full refund. The site is unclear as to whether or not this would apply if the customer purchased levels 1-4 (software) or 1-5 (MP3/CD) as a package.
Among all of the Spanish language programs we reviewed, Pimsleur is the most spendy investment: four levels of Spanish provided via DVD (including both visual and audio lessons) sells for $450 and includes 120 lessons, while single levels can be purchased for $150. Although you might think it would save money to buy only the MP3 or CD edition, you're in for a surprise: 81 hours of MP3s costs $550, while those same lessons cost $1,190 on CD! The only advantage to choosing CDs or MP3s over the DVD software is that it includes a fifth level of instruction.
Given its strong emphasis on learning by listening, Pimsleur is a proven choice for students who want to learn Spanish while on the go: in the car, on an MP3 player (though you may want to download the audio tracks from the DVDs rather than buying the MP3s, given the price difference), or while exercising. Because we're less confident in the quality of the non-audio components of their program, and because of the steep price tag, we give Pimsleur's Latin American Spanish lessons average marks.
Transparent Spanish claims to be the fastest, most effective way to learn Spanish words and phrases. The product is designed for beginners to advance learners and guarantees perfect recall for the learner. While you may retain much of what you learn, we found the product to be less comprehensive than the others in our review, and in fact you can run the risk of not learning basic lessons that you'll need to know.
The program teaches you to speak and understand up to 1,000 common Spanish words and 250 essential phrases. The product is available either by download or by ordering CD software. You get to decide what you want to learn and then Transparent Spanish will create computer flash cards for you to learn from.
With this product, you have the ability to tell the program what words or phrases you want to learn. The software automatically creates appropriate flash cards, and you can both hear the word and see it displayed on your computer. You can use free lists of words, and can share your flash card list with your friends. Transparent Spanish also teaches through activities that are like games, but that actually target language skills such as pronunciation and listening comprehension. Transparent Spanish also includes audio flash cards that work on your iPod or MP3 player.
We found the concept of creating your own flash cards innovative and intriguing. However, with its reliance on teaching you the words you choose, Transparent Spanish runs the risk of not teaching you words or phrases that you should know. The top-rated products in our review focus on teaching you basic and conversational Spanish; with this background, you can lookup individual words or phrases to get their translation. Transparent Spanish seems to rely too much on this self-direction, too early in the process. Transparent Spanish offers a 30 day money-back guarantee.
LingQ (pronounced like the word "link") takes texts from authentic Spanish materials like books and newspaper articles, provides audio lessons to review, and helps students make connections with native speaker helpers and tutors in order to master the Spanish language.
When creating an account, it can be confusing to determine where to begin. You start with a free account that gives you access to 20 "LingQs". These are saved target words that you've learned along the way. Given that you'll probably want to learn more than 20 words in Spanish, you'll want to take a look at their paid plans, which start at $10/month for an unlimited number of LingQs. Once you've created the free account, you'll be taken to your dashboard, where you'll see a "+ New Course" button that shows you the available lessons.
After you choose your level, you'll see a long list of courses to choose from - and this is where most new language learners would get lost. Do you start with "ABSOLUTE Beginner" with 693 new words, LingQ 101, or "Spanish LingQ Beginner - Who is She"? It may be helpful for you to click on the upper right corner on your new username and select "Academy" in the drop-down box. There you'll find a series of How-To videos that might be useful in navigating your first experiences with LingQ.
And, while LingQ also provides easy access to native speakers, it's also not cheap. A one-on-one conversation with a native speaker costs $5 for 15 minutes, and a 100-word writing correction costs $5. It might be more cost-effective to make a real-world connection with someone who speaks Spanish outside of what LingQ offers.
While we found several reviews praising the LingQ method, we found it to be somewhat confusing and think that students who are brand-new to learning a language would also feel a bit lost.
LingvoSoft is flashcard software for Windows. It is designed as a study aid and would probably work best used alongside another Spanish teaching system. The program has five games that make the learning fun and they are an effective way to memorize thousands of new words. Once you install LingvoSoft on your computer you can choose from numerous options to customize the software to your needs.
You have a choice of five different display languages and full statistical information so you can always track your progress. There are three levels of general vocabulary to choose from - Business, Computer, and Medical / Legal Terminology. The program also has updated Dictionary and Phrase Book software, so you can easily incorporate tens of thousands of additional words and phrases.
LingvoSoft offers a downloadable trial of the software if you want to test it before you buy it. We could not find any refund policy or money-back guarantee for their product.
The strength of LingvoSoft is in its flashcard format. While it offers thousands of words to memorize, the product pales in comparison when moving beyond mere word translations and into phrasing and conversational Spanish. Furthermore, the website is really just a dressed-up ordering page and it is not very professionally done. Without a money-back guarantee the product does not compare with the other products in our review.
Strokes International Spanish claims that it meets European Union learning standards for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Spanish, including programs specifically for use in business settings. However, even at first glance, there are basic errors on the website itself - "dictionnary", "conjugation with 1350 verb" - and with zero details given on the page labeled "Program information", it is nearly impossible to determine if Strokes International actually meets those standards. Many of the images for the Spanish program's package are also in German ("Spanisch"), so it's difficult to tell if the instruction would be given in German as well.
Strokes does offer a three-lesson trial via download, but given our concerns regarding the program we opted not to install the file. Also, Strokes' free mobile app for Spanish has only one review, possibly because none of Strokes' apps have been updated since 2014. And, even the images for the apps show text in German. This adds to the overall impression that Strokes International is not likely to provide high-quality, comprehensive Spanish instruction.
Strokes International Spanish also falls short with respect to customer satisfaction and returns policies: looking at the "Shipping & Returns" section of the website, it only references the costs for shipping within and outside of Europe and makes no mention whatsoever of any kind of return policy or satisfaction guarantee, unlike most of the other Spanish language programs we reviewed.
If you're looking for an up-to-date, reliable way to learn Spanish, we recommend that you choose one of the more highly-ranked programs in our review. Strokes International provides too little information to determine whether or not their Spanish language program delivers results.
Of course, it's also beneficial for children to learn Spanish as well. Kids can learn much faster than adults, and their ability to speak and understand multiple languages expands their minds and helps prepare them for the future. However, many schools don't offer Spanish until the later years; and even with those schools that offer Spanish early, the programs often lack in substance.
There are many programs available to help you learn Spanish. When looking at different programs, you need to consider a variety of factors. Some of these include:
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