Today’s technology has made the world much smaller and many people have become interested in learning foreign languages. Some want to learn for fun, many for business reasons, but it is your desire and passion to learn that will make you successful. Nobody can give you that.
I have found that many popular language learning methods are not what they say they are and you can quickly spend a lot of money on them. Here is my homework on some of them.
Rossetta Stone – Online – $299 for 12 months
I tried the free online demo on the Rossetta Stone site. The demo seems to brag that there are no written translations, you just learn by looking at pictures. The first Spanish lesson shows images of a woman (a woman) and a man (a man). By clicking on the pictures, you learn the words woman and man. The next lesson shows a boy (un nino) or a girl (una nina). So now you have learned words for boy, girl, man and woman. The following images are of people drinking and eating. You learn all this with pictures alone. There are no written translations. This is where I had some questions. What if I wanted to know who this woman is? (in the photo) What is her name? Where is she from? What kind of pictures can you make to teach me the words who, what, where, she, and name? Also, what do the words is, this, and from look like? I had to use google translate to find that (una) and (un) are the word “a” in Spanish. I urge you to take the free demo of Rossetta Stone online before you buy it.
Pimsleur – software – $119.95
The site started by teaching me sentences. I think it makes more sense to build a vocabulary first than to start with phrases because then you will know what each word means. From his free half-hour phrase repetition lesson, I learned the Spanish words for forgive, understand, English, miss, speak, sir, no, yes, a little, North American, you and you are. Twelve words. I was a little taken aback because I was taught “understand” and “understand” for the word “understand” and then told that I was saying “understand” and “you understand.” “Yo” is me in Spanish and “usted” is you. “I” was never said with understand and “you” was used only at the end of the lesson and was not said with the words to understand.
The lesson is audio only. There is nothing written. I like to see the words because it is easier for me to remember them. I completely agree with his statement: “Probably no aspect of learning a foreign language is more important than memory.” Word memory is the key. Repetition is good for this reason. I think you could learn from your approach, but it will be slow and impossible to learn phrases of your own choosing.
Transparent language – software – $179.95
I like the philosophy of the site. I couldn’t try it because they don’t offer a free trial or a way to see how they teach, so I googled the site for reviews. I’ve found that if the reviews talk only about how good the method is, but not how it’s taught or why you’ll learn fast, they are most likely written by the people selling the product. No trial lesson and no review with content? It’s up to you.
World Word Exchange – online – 2 lessons $12 – 4 lessons $20 – 8 lessons $32
This is a new site. His philosophy seemed to ring a bell, so I signed up and got a free lesson. The site has seventy-six lessons of twenty words each. The first lesson had the words: who, what, where, when, why and how, among others. These are useful one-word question words. I clicked on the words to hear a native speaker say them. What surprised me was that they first spelled the word in English, next to it the word was spelled phonetically in English, and then they have the native text. I listened and studied for a while and then I went to his memory test. It is a multiple choice word game that challenges you to match the question word with eight other options. This is a great way to remember words in my opinion. Repetition is how we remember.
The site also has a grammar section that explains how to use the words and there is a page for spelling practice. For people who already know some words, there is a user lessons page where you can choose the words you want to learn. The site has some great tools. The most impressive feature is the organization of the words you learn. Learning the most common words first is a feature that no other language method I could find has. The only downside to the site is that they only teach Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Thai. Hopefully more languages will be added soon.
You decide what works for you.
Comments are welcome.