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Living Language vs Pimsleur

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LIVING LANGUAGE

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.

  • Spanish Essential Components - 10 Spanish language lessons in one book, with additional review exercises and dialogues; an extensive Spanish glossary; a guide to reading and writing Spanish; and, 3 audio CDs with example phrases, vocabulary, dialogues, and more. This sells for $22.99.
  • Spanish Complete Components - 46 Spanish language lessons in three books, 9 audio CDs, and the guide to reading and writing Spanish. This is priced at $49.99.
  • Spanish Online Course - based on the content included in the course books described above, the online course adds interactive activities such as games and quizzes to help strengthen your skills. It also includes access to an online community of language experts and other students, and e-Tutoring with native speakers of Spanish is also available. The program includes all three available levels of instruction, from beginner to advanced. Prices start at $39 for one month of access and go up to $150 for a full year; the 12-month package also includes two e-Tutoring credits, and additional credits can be purchased by students at any subscription level.
  • Spanish Platinum Edition - includes the features of the print/CD program in Spanish Complete along with full access to the online course, along with a total of 12 e-Tutoring credits. This package is the best value at $179.

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.

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PIMSLEUR

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.

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Learn Spanish

To help you find the Best Spanish Lessons, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Living Language and Pimsleur.

Would you like to learn another language? 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 U.S. They have needs ranging from government interaction to business dealings; the ability to converse and understand in Spanish makes you a more valuable individual.

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:

  • Cost.  How expensive is the program, compared to others that offer similar content?
  • Effectiveness.  Does the program deliver on its promise? Will it teach you Spanish that you can actually use?
  • Materials.  Can you take the coursework with you if you want to learn while traveling?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Spanish Lessons available today. We hope these reviews help you learn Spanish right away!



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