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Wednesday, May 18th
Ouino Spanish lessons offer a unique approach to language learning. Most language programs go in a linear fashion: from most basic to most complicated. Ouino doesn't believe in that. They realize that one doesn't have to be in an intermediate or advanced Spanish lesson just to talk about what they did yesterday. Or what they will do tomorrow. Why do most classes spend so much time on only the present tense when actual conversations don't? If you've ever asked yourself that question, we say welcome to Ouino.
Like many online or other Spanish lessons, you'll hear dialogs with native speakers. With the approach of not presenting only one tense or grammar concept at a time, the dialogs don't feel as limited or artificial as others might. On the free trial, you'll hear a dialog about having a friend over. You'll hear present, past, irregular verbs in the past, commands, and conditional (what you "would" do). This conversation doesn't feel forced. It's natural since Ouino doesn't limit the dialog to only one tense and only certain vocabulary words.
More fun than a textbook
In the traditional language classroom, the textbook goes in order, and that's the order you would learn. If you skipped a chapter to learn more fun things, you lost out because the chapter you chose included information from the chapter you missed! You feel punished for moving ahead. Not with Ouino. They set up their Spanish lessons so that you can choose the vocabulary lessons you want in any order. You can even do the same with the grammar lessons: choose any order. Ouino doesn't call it grammar, though, as that word can be daunting. They call it Building Blocks. But what if you don't like choosing your own path, and you want the experts to do it for you? Then you follow the "recommended path." You can stay on the recommended path, or veer on and off of it at will.
Gender, for example
Spanish words have gender. El burrito is a masculine word, and la casa is feminine. English doesn't have gender, so when we learn languages that have gender, it can be confusing. Ouino uses great mnemonic devices! A male reads masculine words, and a female reads feminine words. And the masculine words are written in blue, while the feminine words are written in red.
You can subscribe to Ouino's Spanish lessons for 3 months ($38.97), 6 months ($59.94) or 12 months ($83.88), or sign up for lifetime lessons ($95.76). Rather than feel the pressure to learn as much as you can in a limited amount of time, the lifetime subscription takes the pressure away and is a good deal for the price.
First, they want you to learn the core. The core material is the nuts and bolts of the language, such as grammar and vocabulary. But that's where a lot of us dropped off and got bored in the old-school classes. Ouino's Spanish lessons add what they call external sources. They are readings, videos, and with the lifetime subscription, you can talk with native speakers. Practice Spanish using all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking! Put it all together, and use it. That's what it's all about, and Ouino puts it into practice.
Ouino tracks your progress. They help you remember which Spanish lessons you did well, and which lessons were more challenging or took you longer to complete, advising that you may want to take that lesson again to feel more confident. After each exercise, you receive a score. And did someone say prizes? With a high enough score, over 70%, you'll receive a shiny bronze, silver, gold, or fluency medal. You'll also receive a medal after completing 55+ exercises. These medals are displayed on the Spanish lesson, but also on a calendar. You can see your progress as well as your awards on their monthly calendar. Did you skip more days than you had thought? Oops, you can see it on the calendar and now get motivated. You can also see if you have completed 13 reading exercises but only 2 speaking exercises.
Speaking of speaking
You can record your voice, but Ouino doesn't have speech-recognition software which would give you feedback on your speaking and pronunciation. They say that there isn't anything out there that recognizes the voice as well as they would like, so they don't include it. You can record your voice and compare it to that of a native speaker, and you can be the judge of your own speaking. Ouino professes that with practice, your accent will improve because your mouth movements will be more accustomed to a different language's way of pronouncing. However, experienced language teachers would say that is a casual approach to pronunciation development. Language teachers witness that there is a window where pronunciation is improved in beginning lessons, and after much practice, people get accustomed to how they talk. Their accent doesn't greatly improve with time - unless, of course, they are immersed in the language, like living in another country.
Repetitive activities...but with a twist
The grammar exercises can be repetitive: conjugation match, match pronouns to different tenses and moods, and fill-in-the-blank activities. Repetition shows predictability in activities, which is good for consistency, but such activities can also get boring. What makes Ouino Spanish lessons different, though, is a timer. If you aren't comfortable with the material, it can take longer to answer questions. Therefore, you can set the timer to a longer or shorter time period to answer questions. Want to challenge yourself? Allow yourself less time to answer a question! This is a creative idea, since in real life, native speakers can get bored talking to people who aren't comfortable in the target language, and take a long time to do so. Set the timer for less time, answer more quickly, and be more comfortable in authentic situations.
Not enough time
At the end of a Spanish lesson, there's often an exercise where you listen to a phrase in Spanish and then choose the correct English translation of that phrase. First, if you're trying to be fluent in Spanish, you'll want to think in Spanish. Forcing your brain to hear Spanish and then reading four possible English translations, doesn't help you think in Spanish. Second, processing what you hear in the Spanish sentence, reading four full sentences in English, then deciphering in both languages which is correct, takes longer than the 5 seconds given, even if the person doing the activity is a fluent Spanish speaker! It's too much to process in a short period of time. We'd suggest first, not making sentence-to-sentence translation, and second, allowing more time for even a fluent speaker to process. And that's on the "easy" level of the exercise!
Ouino wins a gold medal
Ouino teaches Spanish with a unique method. Practice activities mix the tenses, focusing on the context and not isolating the concept, which is great for fluency. You can go in the suggested order of the lessons, or you can pick and choose your topic interests; having the choice of how to study is unique and works for all types of learners. Although the type of practice activity can be repetitive, we still like the quantity and believe they are useful. We give Ouino a gold medal for ease of learning and the goal of fluency.
Have you always wanted to learn Spanish? Or have you learned some, but really want to improve your skills in order to be able to read Spanish newspapers or talk with native speakers? Do you have business associates or neighbors who speak Spanish, or have you wanted to talk in Spanish with the locals on your next trip? There are 460,000 people who are native Spanish speakers right here in the US, and 20 countries that have Spanish as their official language. No matter why you want to learn it, the question is which Spanish lessons are right for you.
With so much of our life going digital, from many of us doing our job remotely, to video chatting with our family or internet shopping, it's natural to want to explore online options for learning Spanish. There are many programs available online and through apps, and we can help you sift through them.
The first thing to consider is how much Spanish you already know. If you're just getting started, there are many programs whose focus is on the beginner, with lessons chock full of grammar, vocabulary, and practice. At the same time, the concentration is so heavy on brand-new students that many programs offer little to nothing for the intermediate or advanced learner.
Another important factor is your learning style and preference. Some learners like to go in the order that the experts have the lessons set up so that they can meet their language acquisition goals. Other students know that they want to pick and choose their lesson order based on their needs. For example, if the learner is going to travel in the near future, they want their first lessons focused on related vocabulary, like asking for directions and checking in at a hotel. Others are in the medical or business field, so they want to follow the language learning path best suited to their careers.
A major consideration is if repetition is okay with you, or if you will lose focus if the lessons aren't entertaining. Some learners are motivated to continue the day's lesson or look forward to the next lesson because of the fun and exciting apps that include gaming-like activities, points, badges, competitive leaderboards, and animation. Let's face it, if you're not motivated to learn, will you really stick with the program? Other students want to push forward with the traditional, square-shooting approach that feels comfortable as tried and true. Start with vocabulary and practice, add on grammar, preferably with detailed explanations in English, more practice, along with repetition and recycling of older material to solidify the knowledge base.
Once you know what level of Spanish learner you are, from beginner to advanced, your purpose of learning it, from travel to profession or just because, and if you like to be entertained or want "just the facts, Ma'am" , there are a few more aspects of Spanish lessons you may want to consider:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated, rated, and ranked the best choices for online Spanish lessons. We're sure that with this information, you'll have what you need to make the right choice for your goals in learning, acquiring, and becoming fluent in Spanish. ¡Ya vamos!
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