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Learn to Speak Review

Course Overview

  • comes on 1 DVD and 3 additional audio CDs
  • Available languages: Spanish, French, German
  • Homepage: Learn to Speak

Ratings7th Place

3 1/2 stars

VA:RO [1.7.0_948]
Average User Rating
Rating: 3.0/5 (8 votes cast)

Review

The Learn to Speak foreign language courses are some of the most comprehensive around, if all you’re looking to do is go travelling with them. If you’re looking for a basic language package that follows a simple formula of listen, repeat, test, then this is certainly for you. The structure to this program is, admittedly, relatively basic, but still incredibly useful if that’s what you need it for. If, on the other hand, you are looking to learn a language a little more in depth, then perhaps this is not the best way to go.

Contents

This course is on one DVD and three CDs, as well as providing you with physical course material. One of the negative aspects of this course is that, to get the most out of it, you absolutely will need to purchase a microphone for your computer. As discussed further on, a chunk of the software requires this, and considering that the sound recognition technology is one of the positives about this particular package, not providing a microphone seems a little cheap.
Learning vocabulary
In contrast, the written resources provided with this course are absolutely excellent. There is a reference book, which is more like a glossary, and a 170 page workbook. There are various options with this course as to whether you receive these materials physically or digitally (though I believe they are phasing out the use of physical textbooks) but obviously you can print out the pages as and when you need them, if you want to study away from the computer. The audio files are also easily transferrable to an mp3 player or equivalent, which is still just so handy.

The CDs can unfortunately be a little temperamental. I tried to play them in the car and had very little luck with them. I know of several other people who have had this problem. However, they seem to work absolutely perfectly on a computer, and if you transfer the files to an mp3 player instead of using the actual CDs, then this problem is solved. Altogether, there is a neat little package here, with a good mix of learning apparatus. A very solid course.

Usability

One of the clear advantages to this particular foreign language course is the choice that you are given as to where you begin your language-learning journey. The course is broken up into different sections that are based on everyday categories – dining out, travelling around, going to the doctors, etc – which is the designed way to progress through the program. However, there is also a plethora of different ways that this course lets you approach the topics, sectioning topics into verbs or genders or tenses, for example, or by engaging in naturalized conversation. This is absolutely invaluable in providing much more of a personalized experience, something that is highly important in the successful learning of language, and lets you focus on whatever you feel the need to.
A business meeting
For that reason, this program is clearly for those who are more aware of their abilities and can focus on their own shortcomings in order to progress. If you lack the ability to be honest with yourself about how well you are progressing, then this course is not really for you, and you could find yourself at a little bit of a loss as to what to study next. Planning out the learning route that you want to take is an excellent idea before you start, so it could be good practice to just explore the topics first and find out what interests you before you begin. It is easy to navigate and doesn’t give you too many confusing avenues as some products of this kind do; instead, options are simply given and making your way around the program is relatively simple.

While this program is certainly suitable for beginners, while so many aren’t, it can be a little difficult as you are really thrown into the Spanish language. Still, the difficulty of the course soon smoothes out, and if you can keep up with the first few lessons, then you will certainly be able to get quite a lot out of this course. The lessons, though intense, are brief, in manageable blocks of understanding. The only negative aspect to the lessons themselves is in relation to certain missing content. For example, each lesson only has one or two examples of each tense for each form of the subject pronoun, which isn’t exactly useful when trying to get a fuller understanding of the language. However, with the ability to split the lessons into areas such as the aforementioned pronouns, you can study a little easier, though it would be nice to have a little more depth to the individual lessons for some of the topics. You can tell which topics you need to work more on by completing a little mini-test, if you’re not particularly sure, but you still need a relatively high level of independence to get the most out of this course.
Reading the menu
The topics themselves are very geared up towards a tourist standpoint. This is, like so many of this sort of product on the market, not the kind of language course that you buy if you want to become relatively fluent in the language. And that is not to say that it isn’t incredibly useful in terms of travelling, and compared to certain other programs, it really does give you much more of an in-depth look at language. Still, unfortunately, it is not quite in-depth enough to feel as though you are really connecting with the language on any kind of personal level. The same sort of learning through repetition is present here as in most programs, and doesn’t exactly teach you to be intuitive with your understanding of the language.

One of my favorite aspects of this particular course was how geared up towards adults it felt. Too many of the language programs I have used, while clearly meant for adults and discuss adult situations such as going to the bank or booking a flight, are presented in a very childish way, simply because the adult is a beginner. Here, even though there are certain fun educational tools such as the pronunciation games, at no point do you feel like you’re being talked down to by the program.
Learning vocabulary
Similarly, one of the most positive aspects to this program is the voice recognition software. Each word you say can be recorded onto the computer, analyzed by the software to give you instant feedback as to how well you’re doing. While this might seem a tad prescriptive, this particular program seems to work fine with a lot of accents, and is some sophisticated software for a package of this price. You will need a microphone for this, obviously, but it’s certainly worth getting one if you want to buy this product, as without a microphone you’re not really getting your money’s worth. It will show you vowel sounds, slight corrections to your speech, and presents you with a moving animation of how the word should look and sound, as well as an accuracy gauge that you can push up to Native from Tourist if you try very hard. All very interesting, very motivational stuff, and really helps you to get to grips with the language in a lot more of a personal interactive way than simply listening and repeating.

Cost

This program is really surprising in terms of cost. There are several, more expensive, courses on the market at present that are ten times the amount that this course will cost you, and they won’t be half as effective. It seems as though the price for the Learn to Speak language courses are certainly very honest. There isn’t a wide range of activities and games as there are in some other products, but likewise, for what you’re paying for, it’s an incredibly reasonable purchase. I believe it is much wiser to spend your money on a product that, while simple, gets the job done, instead of a program that promises everything and delivers nothing. While not particularly complex, the Learn to Speak range of foreign language courses are certainly good value for what you get.

Summary

Certainly useful for those looking to go on holiday to use day-to-day phrases with ease. The range of subjects is very useful for travelling, and the methods used to communicate teaching are simplistic enough to be easily digested, while interesting enough to keep your focus. If all you want to know are some handy phrases for your next vacation, then you really can’t go wrong with this program. It’s excellent value for money, and is as effective as it could be considering the limitations of content. There are some fantastic ideas here, such as the visual images to assist with pronunciation, and the gauge to see how accurate your pronunciation is. However, if you’re looking to genuinely learn another language fluently, complete with the knowledge of how to build sentences on your own, etc, then I highly advise looking for a different course.

Pro & Contra

offers much material …although the material is not very effective
very cheaplessons are very brief
you mainly learn tourist-phrases
only 3 languages available

Screenshots




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5 User Reviews

  • #1 by Jo-Ann on June 16 - 10:47 pm

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    User Rating

    I have not tried using this program yet but I already jumped to downloading it and reviewing the lectures, I’m thinking now that I should have searched for reviews about it because most users find this to be more on the conversational or traveler Spanish. It is not completely structured for a deeper Spanish learning and you will only be able to memorize sentences with a particular topic like when you are in a post office instead of concentrating more on verb conjugation as well as the method to constructing sentences by yourself.
    For one who desires to learn the basics for the language when you are out for a vacation then this is very helpful. You will discover this program to possess some recordings of every word or sentences in Spanish, so you will be able to heed how these are being uttered.

  • #2 by Magreth B. on July 15 - 7:44 pm

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    User Rating

    This is a nice product which makes learning fun and simple. The program lets you heed the proper pronunciation and then you will repeat it. After that you will receive a grade for the correct pronunciation of the words. This is a fantastic program for one who is simply studying Spanish or for a person who desires to brush up their skills.

  • #3 by Mehdehnazr on August 11 - 12:49 pm

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    I have this product for only 2 days and I am already able to say the alphabet and introduce myself in Spanish. I have not tried the Rosetta Stone yet but I’m pretty sure that this is as good as that Spanish language program.

  • #4 by Naty Cole on August 12 - 9:43 am

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    I am quite disappointed with this product because initially, I did not recognize that I require having a microphone, so I ended up to buy one.
    Next, it skips instantly to the basic words and pronunciations with no true language lectures. My daughters have taken Spanish during their highschool and wonders why I am practicing words without even understanding what they mean. It appears to be a nice method to learn extremely basic Spanish for unimportant conversation, but nothing more than that. I find that the price is right for the content since it has short video clips and other features which I find nice.

  • #5 by Hans on October 21 - 12:46 pm

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    User Rating

    I read other reviews about this product and I really expected much more but it seems that this software is extremely tedious. Even the price is not that expensive, I believe that is not worthy of its price. It contains the same exhausted topics, which are nice only if you want to learn Spanish when you are out for a travel. The structure is really basic: study vocabulary, answer some multiple choice exercises and then you are off to the succeeding lesson. My mic that works with my pc did not function with the software and even if you contact their tech support you will get no response. But it is alright with me since I find the program to be so uninspiring. I see other programs to be more expensive but I think they are way better that this one.

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