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Saturday, June 25th
Wouldn't you like to have your choice of topics for vocabulary learned in your Spanish class? Would you like instruction with a little humor sprinkled in here and there? Spanish Pod 101 can do that for you! Once you determine your learning level (basic, intermediate, etc.), you get to choose your units. Economics? Romance? You've got it! You even can listen to your recorded audio next to their recorded audio so you can hear what you should work on. You can subscribe or have lifetime, limited, free access.
Old-school learner? No problem!
If you're accustomed to traditional Spanish classes and you like the flashcard method, learning vocabulary with Spanish Pod 101 will be like a comfy, old chair, but with more bells and whistles. Spanish Pod has a list of the top 800 core Spanish words, and breaks it down into manageable lists. For each word that you already know, skip it. If there's a new word, play the short video. A native speaker says the word for you, repeats it, and says it slowly so you can see mouth movements and hear nuances. They then use the word in a sentence. This is a visual and interactive way of learning a list of vocab if you're not in the classroom. There are situational vocab lists with more fun and applicable topics, like astrophysics, marine animals and fish, muscles of the body, economics, and who doesn't want to learn Spanish about...romance and love?
Don't guess your level, Spanish Pod can do it for you!
There's a relatively brief quiz that you take, and Spanish Pod will determine the correct level where you should start. It will then replay all the questions of the quiz, and you can see which you got correct and or incorrect with all of your answers.
What's a lesson like?
There's a brief written dialog. Each line has a "speaker" icon so you can listen to the sentence. You can also record yourself saying the same line. Although it won't analyze your Spanish like the speech-recognition technology of other language programs will, you can hear yourself right after the example, and re-record to improve pronunciation and fluidity. Having both audios side by side is helpful. After the dialog, there's a short list of vocabulary. You can see the word in Spanish and English, hear the word in Spanish, and what's nice is that you can also hear it at half speed.
A slide show plus a quiz
There's also a slide show. Don't get excited, it's just black and white words, sentences, and the audio. Nothing colorful here, just added support. At the end, there's a quiz to see if you have mastered the material. It can be as simple as marking true or false for the meanings of the English and Spanish pair of words. Under the lesson, there's a grammar point and perhaps a brief cultural or idiomatic lesson. SpanishPod also has an optional app for iPhone and Android.
Pricing and membership options vary
With Spanish Pod 101, you have several options:
Confusing membership structure
One of the criticisms we have about Spanish Pod 101 is their pricing. They mix words like basic, premium, and premium-plus with monthly and lifetime. It was challenging to figure out which terminology goes with which payment plan, and we've done our best to clarify it. Other reviewers have had the same critique of the confusion of pricing and labeling of the levels of the programs. The above description is the best we could do at deciphering.
60-day satisfaction guarantee
If you choose the free program, there are many lessons for you to enjoy. If you choose to purchase a subscription, more is offered, of course. If you decide after a fashion that the SpanishPod subscription wasn't right for you, you have 60-days to cancel. That's plenty of time to explore all that SpanishPod has to offer and decide if it fits what you're looking for long term.
Lessons can jump around
The lessons aren't necessarily linear. Within each pathway, or learning track, you can choose your topic of study. It can be fun to jump around and select the lessons that fit your interests, and know they are at your level of study. If, however, you want your lessons to gradually get more challenging from one to the next, this program could be frustrating.
Lots of content in the beginning
For beginners, there is a ton of information, vocabulary, and English resources. As you become more advanced, there is less English to rely on, which is a good thing, but there isn't as much content, which is a downfall.
Sometimes the dialogs include bantering between the hosts. If you've lost your sense of humor or want "just the facts, ma'am" , then, well, not all the lessons have humor, so there's that. But some do have humor, and it's novel to see the hosts having fun, like you would want when you travel and converse with people. The humor can be within the conversation or about culture. One of the presenters, Alex, adds quips with her vocab presentation, lightening up the lesson and making you want to see what else she comes up with. She makes learning online fun - what a concept!
Gradually less English
As the lessons become more advanced, you'll see fewer English helps. This is what many learners want. In the beginning, some of us want some English, as complete immersion can be daunting. As the lessons get more advanced, the English helps are fewer, but the learner doesn't feel lost without them.
Conversation, anyone? Not here
The lessons have great vocabulary and grammar, but if you're wanting to improve your conversational Spanish, you'll have to go elsewhere. This course is a glorified traditional course, and it's fun. Conversational, it's not.
Spanish Pod 101 is just that: A "101" level course. It's great for the beginner or as a supplement to another course of study, but not for the advanced learner. If you're looking to develop your conversational skills, the grammar/vocabulary method isn't conducive to speaking Spanish. That said, the beginner will have fun and stay motivated with the banter during the dialogs and will enjoy recording their voice to compare their pronunciation to that of the native speaker. Although the lifetime lessons are competitively priced, other Spanish lessons we've reviewed contain more content and technology.
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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