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Learning Spanish Software Products
Learning Spanish Website Reviews
Learning Spanish Like Crazy
Learning Spanish Like Crazy
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Software Review
The Learning Spanish Like Crazy software seems to have some fans out there who swear by it; however it is not based on enough sound educational practice to get my vote. People who want some basic conversation skills and phrases up their sleeve will be satisfied with this product.

People who want to develop real Spanish skills are likely to be bitterly disappointed. The idea is to deliver Latin American Spanish that focuses on real life Spanish more than the formal language used by many other programs.

The idea is great, but the overall package is a little disappointing. It is a promising product that with some fine-tuning could be a lot more effective.

WHATS INCLUDED

(features / teaching tools / support etc)

This program has improved on some other software in one particular way. The immersion technique of learning Spanish has been proven successful, but it can intimidate absolute beginners. For this reason the first two lessons in the series include English translations and then they slide into total Spanish immersion from there. This may be enough to give new Spanish learners a little confidence boost.

The price of the software includes 30 lessons and 15 hours of audio files; 15 CDs of the Foreign Service Institute's (FSI) Programmatic Spanish Level One through to Level Four course; downloadable books with non vulgar and vulgar sayings and insults and access to the Learning Spanish Like Crazy website and forums.

Support for the material is available through email, but you are unlikely to need it as it is a very straightforward system and easy to install.

LEARNING POTENTIAL

There is a lot of content that is provided with the Learning Spanish Like Crazy program and it covers beginners through to intermediate level. If you want to move beyond that there is a separate advanced program called Nivel Dos that you can purchase. For students who learn best through listening, this is a sound program. For people that are visual learners, you may not get the most out of Learning Spanish Like Crazy or get the feeling that you are missing something. You can download the transcripts if you wish, but this is not the ideal learning tool for visual learners.

There is some criticism of the way that the content is organized in the program with material at times not building upon previous learning in the most effective way. Up to lesson 13 of the program new Spanish learners seem to cope ok and after that the pace seems to pick up and leave some learners for dead with little support.

The major criticism of this software that I have is that it relies solely on listen and repeat as a teaching tool and this does not really develop an understanding of the language effectively. While this is a natural way for people using immersion to learn a language, adult learners also need some grammar foundation to understand the nuts and bolts of the language. Another factor is that more people tend to be visual learners than audio learners.

The limited teaching tools, lack of scaffolded language and the infomercial style website make me wonder about the pedagogical effectiveness of the course design. It is doubtful that anyone will experience the level of fluency that is promised by the course designers after completing the program. However, all negatives aside you will develop some everyday language skills from using the program and certain types of learners will find it effective.

VALUE FOR MONEY

There are two options when purchasing this software. You can download the program or you can have the CDs shipped to you. The download option saves you a lot of money, so this is obviously the more popular method and it really boosts the value for money the program represents.

This software is a good choice for learners that want to develop their conversational skills before they travel to Latin America, but is probably not the best choice for people who want to develop all areas of their Spanish reading, writing, speaking and listening. I feel the presentation of the product and the voice actors in recordings lack a bit of polish and this is at odds with the price, which is mid range. Value for money comes about with this product through the added extras.
      AT A GLANCE
Learning Spanish Like Crazy will appeal to people that want to learn Latin American Spanish for traveling or those that are audio learners. It is based purely on audio files that you can also download to MP3 or I-pod.

While it does offer an immersion approach to Spanish, you are unlikely to be fluent after completing this program as the spiel would have you believe. In fact, the program only offers conversation skills using a listen and repeat format, which is not substantial enough to provide you with a solid Spanish base.

   
  PROS
   
MP3 Compatibility
Further resources on the website
Cultural lessons integrated into learning
Communicative approach
Eases into immersion approach
Step by step lesson progression
Uses everyday Spanish
Money back guarantee
   
   
  CONS
   
Quality of voice actors inferior
Does not move step by step
Focuses only on conversation
Lack of reading / writing practice
Heavy on audio files and light on visuals (not so good for visual learners)
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