Speed Learning Languages Review
- 90+ hours of audio with accompanying text
- 4 levels reaching from beginner to advanced
- Digital download that is compatible with Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android
- can be used without computer
- Available languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin)
- Homepage: Speed Learning Languages
The Speed Learning Languages course was developed by the U.S. government to find the optimum method of teaching diplomats, government officials, etc, a foreign language. From the way this course is structured, I would say that more money and time has been spent on these courses than on any other foreign language course you will look at. It is, quite simply, the best of the best in terms of this kind of program. And I don’t know about you, but I find it a little exciting that this program was never meant to be brought out for the general public, but now we can learn languages the same way that the top guys in the U.S. government do.
Well, that’s the impressive thing about this course. The content is just fantastically in depth. This program contains a vast amount of language information, which the user can eventually learn to apply to pretty much any situation, giving them confidence when they come to use their new skills in a more real world setting. While this might be considered a negative aspect to the program (and if it were handled by an inferior company then it might be), having so much available information really helps you to feel as though you are in good hands.
There are over 90 (90!) hours of tuition in the form of audio lessons, with accompanying text for each section. There are four levels from beginner to advanced levels, with a very noticeable progression through them all. When they use the term “beginner”, however, this does not mean that they will go easy on you. As I will discuss a little further on, this is a very intense course. It can be a little daunting as a complete novice to a language, but however swamped you might feel with it, the thing to keep in mind is that you are working towards a goal that most language courses are not equipped to give you: fluency.
You can use this product on the go, and the audio files are transferrable to an mp3 player or electronic equivalent, but there is considerable use made of the text, so it’s perhaps not the best idea if you were thinking of learning while you travel. Being able to use these sorts of programs without a computer is more useful than it sounds, as I can’t recall how many times I have sat at my computer desk only to be distracted by something else I need to do. You need to give these lessons, and therefore the language you are learning, the time and respect that they deserve, or you will soon find yourself out of your depth.
In a slightly unrelated note, but one that could affect you purchasing this course, is that the technical support is flawless. I’ve rarely heard of people having problems with the software but on the few occasions that I have, they have had discs replaced easily. I think this is an excellent sign of it being a high quality product.
To start with, I love the discipline, but you may not. You absolutely cannot slack off on this course. But you need to be able to keep up with them. If you have the drive to keep yourself focused, then it isn’t as difficult as I’m making it seem. Learning another language using the Speed Learning Languages method is perfectly possible for the majority of people; it’s not about your basic intelligence, but about how well you can discipline yourself to learn.
The lessons use a variety of audio drills – repetition, working through dialogue, etc – that are a little difficult to describe as they are like no other lesson plan I’ve ever come across. There doesn’t seem to be a method to the organization of the lessons, moving from one exercise that repeats words, to another that substitutes words, to another that corrects pronunciation. The pace is quick, though comprehensive, and while it may seem confusing or even pointless at some points, in actual fact, of course there is a great deal of organization here, and everything has been deliberately constructed to provide you with as efficient learning as possible. The key to working your way through the exercises is gaining the confidence and ability to answer quickly, without using the pause button. This way you can begin to construct your own sentences and start to fully understand the language.
When engaging with this course, it is vitally important to keep in mind that however boring and repetitive it may seem, it isn’t some cheap course that has been shoddily put together. The more you stick rigidly to the program, the more effective it will be for you. The more time you spend working on it, the better you will get, and that’s honestly not something that can be said for all the courses out there. You find yourself picking up the language and phrases a lot quicker than with most other courses, so for me, that’s enough. I don’t need to know exactly how it works, it just works.
The great thing about this sort of course, and it does apply to this sort of course in general, is that you can progress at your own time and pace. Speed Learning Languages also lets you do that, but you should know that progress will happen exponentially slower, the longer you take to do the course. The various pieces of this intensive program are designed to fit together incredibly well, and taking your time with it, or choosing which bits to learn and which bits to leave, just doesn’t work quite as well as if you follow the set design for the course.
Marketing campaigns try to convince us that what we want are flashy multimedia games, that we couldn’t have the discipline to sit still for this amount of time and not only absorb knowledge in this way, but actively participate in the speaking and connection with it. It seems as though every language package these days comes with a long list of games and interactive activities for you to spend your time on. While these can be fun, and certainly educational in a very limited sense of the word, this gives the false impression that learning an entirely new language is going to be easy. And not only that, but that it SHOULD be easy. It isn’t. As an adult, it is incredibly difficult to come to an entirely new language and learn it through to fluency. Learning a few phrases here and there is what you can use most other language packs for, but if you are looking for a program that will set you well on the path to becoming genuinely fluent in a language, then this is it.
What is truly amazing here, and what I might love most about this course, is the fact that it is still so reasonably priced. Yes, it will still cost you a few hundred dollars, but it is nowhere near as ridiculously expensive as Rosetta Stone or Fluenz. For this market, this price tag still settles somewhere slightly above average, and when you consider all the benefits to this package, it is worth it ten times over. The money you are paying gets you government standard technology, not to mention the in-depth language science behind the methods.
If I could recommend one foreign language course that would be suitable for the majority of people, it would be this one. You do need to make sure that you have the time and the inclination to actually learn a language, because there is just too much pressure here if you’re not going to take it seriously. It is the language program that I think offers not only the best value for money, but has a fantastic success rate if you can really keep your nose to the grindstone.
This is a fast-paced and highly effective learning tool for language. You will get frustrated, you will get a little confused, but every single person that I know that has finished one of these courses has come away with an excellent knowledge of the language that they have chosen to study. If this method really isn’t for you, if you know yourself to be more of a person who digests information slowly, then there are other excellent courses available, like the Pimsleur or Michel Thomas programs.
It might sound a little silly, but for some people the goal of language learning is not to learn the actual language. You might be more interested in immersing yourself into a culture, or want to enjoy slowly becoming familiar with the construct and origin of a language. If that is what you are looking for, then this course is not for you. If, on the other hand, your goal is primarily or solely language learning, then this is definitely the program that I would recommend.
Pro & Contra
|very effective learning approach||can be too fast-paced for slow learners|
|can be used without computer||less illustrations or cultural information|
|goes from beginner to advanced||audio quality not as high as Pimsleur|
|most thorough course|
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