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Speed Learning Languages Review

Course Overview

  • 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

Ratings1st Place

5 stars

VA:RO [1.7.0_948]
Average User Rating
Rating: 4.2/5 (26 votes cast)

Review

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.

Content

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. French Dialogue 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.
French Grammar & Learning Drills
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.

Usability

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.
Learning Drills & Practice Drills
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 Mandarin Tones 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.

Cost

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. Mandarin Response Drills 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.

Summary

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 computerless illustrations or cultural information
goes from beginner to advancedaudio quality not as high as Pimsleur
most thorough course

Screenshots




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23 User Reviews

  • #1 by Tanja on May 2 - 6:32 pm

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    Due to several recommendations and reading some reviews on the internet I finally decided to buy the Speed Learning course instead of Rosetta Stone – and I am glad I did so.
    Not only did I save a lot of money, I also think I got the better course after reading several reviews about Rosetta Stone.

    I had no previous knowledge of French and directly used this course from the beginning to level 2. I have to admit it was not always easy and takes some sweat but at the end of a Unit you are happy about every sweat bead you have sacrificed because the results are worth it.

    The only bad thing about this course for me is that it can get a bit monotonous because of missing variety. You will do the same drills over and over again which can really hurt your motivation. But nonetheless if you are serious about learning a language and aren’t the type of person that gets easily demotivated because of lacking variety you should get it, because you won’t find any course that offers as much value as this one.

  • #2 by Bredino Basal on June 6 - 4:34 pm

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    My computer had troubles reading a CD of Level 2, so I have sent an email to the support and got a reply after only 2 hours telling me they will send me a new CD without any further questions. 2 days later the CD was in my mailbox and is working flawlessly. I wish more companies would offer such a fast and friendly reply as this company. Two thumbs up for the product and the support!

  • #3 by Thomas on July 8 - 12:14 pm

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    I don’t think that this course is suitable for beginners. I’ve already had quite some difficulties with finishing Unit 1. I am now looking for another course for the beginning and will then continue with this course and see if it gets any easier.

  • #4 by Mathilde B. Cole on July 26 - 3:11 pm

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    I’ve purchased the digital version of speed learning mandarin because its cheaper than the boxed version and I can use it straight after the payment. (so don’t waste any bucks on the boxed version) The Mandarin course has 4 levels and a foundations part that needs to be done in combination with Level 1 and 2.
    The course is really huge and at the beginning I was kind of lost because I did not know where to begin. After some hours I found out that I have just forgotten to view the manual that cleared everything up for me. (and NO I am not blonde :D )
    I am already making good progress with my Mandarin and would buy it any time again.

  • #5 by Daniel Skundric on September 11 - 4:48 pm

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    Really good course, can definitely recommend it!

  • #6 by Paula M. on October 16 - 11:33 am

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    Speed learning languages French is the course I finally sticked to after using several other courses that just did not do it for me. It was recommended by a French teacher to me. Compared to Pimsleur it is also highly audio-focused but also makes use of text.
    So if you just need a course to use in your car this one is not the right for you – but on the other hand knowing to read French is not bad at all.
    If you are a total beginner in French you begin with the provided French Phonology course that just teaches you the right pronunciation of French characters/words. I myself was not a beginner to French but did the Phonology anyway and even though I thought I had already a good pronunciation I realized that I made many critical mistakes. But thanks to the Phonology part of this course my pronuncation improved a big time.
    The rest of the course consists of 4 Levels and at the end you should have a really good competency in French. I have just finished Level 2 but I can already understand essentials of French TV shows and I can maintain conversations with some friends of mine who are French.
    I can recommend it if you are serious about learning French instead of just some phrases.

  • #7 by d101 on October 20 - 12:02 pm

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    I have the German course and I really love it – especially because it is very comprehensive and straight to the point without any redundant methods – but after completing Level 2 I don’t think this course alone helps me to fluency. Actually I don’t think any course out there can achieve this – even if falsely advertised.
    To achieve fluency you HAVE TO live with native speakers, there is NO WAY around this.

  • #8 by michael14 on November 2 - 2:23 am

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    this course is booooring

  • #9 by E. K. on December 3 - 1:39 pm

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    My memory is very poor and always made me troubles throughout school and life in general. I never had any confidence that I could learn a new language so I actually didn’t even bother.
    After doing a lot of research I decided against the all so popular Rosetta Stone (what they do best is their marketing) and decided to give this course a go.
    I have just finished Level 1 of the French course some days ago and I am now confident that I can really learn a language – no matter how bad my memory seemed to be.
    Never believe your limiting believes and have trust in yourself!

  • #10 by Daniel Field on December 20 - 11:42 am

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    This course offer A LOT value for the price!

  • #11 by Laurette Siman on January 14 - 1:02 pm

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    The Italian course is good but what I like even more are the audio books + transcript (Italian, English) that comes as a bonus with it. It’s altogether 35 hours audio books with some easy fairy tales, The Adventures of Pinocchio (must be years since I have read this but this is now in the original Italian language), Dantes Comedy, etc.
    For me listening to audio books and reading the transcript is the best way of learning a language – don’t need anything else.

  • #12 by languagegirl83 on January 23 - 5:45 pm

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    After testing many different language courses out there (from Rosetta Stone, to Fluenz, Pimsleur, …..) I have to conclude that this is by far the best language course out there – but it could be even better.
    What I am missing in this course are some cultural information, pictures and some interactive games – stuff that would give you a nice break from the learning stuff.
    I give the course 4 1/2 stars but the rating system won’t allow this so it gets 4 stars from me.

  • #13 by Henry on February 1 - 10:03 pm

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    I’ve extensively worked with the Speed Learning German course over 5 months and have now started with the Speed Learning French course. The more time I spend with the course and the more work I put into it, the more I get out of it.
    Even if the course seems boring and repetitive on some level, the reward at the end is really amazing.
    I don’t think that I am really fluent after finishing the German course (all 4 levels) as I think for this to happend I have to live for a while in Germany – but what I have achieved after finishing the course is:
    - 90% comprehension when watching German TV
    - I understand almost everything in a conversation with a native speaker (really depends on the topic and dialect)
    - Can express myself freely in almost any situation

    And now everything in German: :)
    I habe sehr intensiv mit dem Speed Learning German Kurs für 5 Monate gearbeitet und habe jetzt mit dem Speed Learning French Kurs begonnen. Umso mehr Zeit ich in den Kurs gesteckt habe und umso mehr arbeit ich in den Kurs gesteckt habe, desto mehr habe ich auch vom Kurs raus bekommen.
    Auch wenn der Kurs langweilig erscheint und sich wiederholt, ist die Belohnung am Schluss wirklich toll.
    Ich glaube nicht dass ich am Ende des Kurses (alle 4 Levels) flüssig bin da ich glaube dass man dafür für einige Zeit in Deutschland leben muss – aber was ich erreicht habe ist:
    - 90% Verständnis bei Deutschem Fernsehen
    - Ich verstehe so gut wie fast alles in einer Konversation mit einem Deutschen (hängt aber sehr vom Thema und Dialekt ab)
    - Kann mich frei in so ziemlich jeder Situation ausdrücken

  • #14 by Keefer on February 3 - 1:50 am

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    The customer service is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. In the Spanish course I had some troubles with a grammatical explanation so I emailed the support with some questions to clear it up for me.
    I did no really expect an answer so I’ve looked around to find my answer somewhere else on the Internet but just 2 (!) hours later I have received a very competent and detailed answer that cleared everything up for me. This is like having your own private teacher!! I wish every support could be like this!

  • #15 by Susanne Cole on June 10 - 8:03 am

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    This language learning program is amazing, I only wish I could have had something like this years ago when I think of all the missed opportunities I had while visiting France.

    Frenchmen absolutely hate speaking any other language beside French. Most of them don’t even understand a single word of English. Not being able to communicate with Frenchmen was a feeling of isolation – an horrible experience.

    This program, however, changed all to positive for me. I can’t even say enough good things about this program – if I were a movie critic I would give it a hearty thumps up!!

  • #16 by Evelyn on August 2 - 12:39 pm

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    I would have liked to be able to give a review as this sounds like the course that fits how I like to learn, BUT…it doesn’t offer the language I want to learn, Swahili. That’s the flaw I see with this course, it only offers a few language choices. It they ever expand their choices, please let me know.

  • #17 by D'Andre on December 6 - 3:20 am

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    just bought all levels of French and already blow away after doing a few sections of the phonology.

  • #18 by John on September 21 - 3:53 pm

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    I just purchased the German version of this course, so far pretty good, and I’m amazed at what I’ve learned in Unit 1. Stay tuned for a more thorough review when I’m finished with the course.

  • #19 by Dan on March 30 - 11:05 am

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    The German course seems very intense. The level of content far exceeds the Pimsleur course and Rosetta Stone. However, the material is very dry in comparison and comes without any pictures, the speakers speak fast right from the beginning (normal conversation speed without being slowed down). Keeping this in mind, the progress I’m doing in German is very good even if there are things I don’t quite like about this course but in the end I guess results are what matters most.

  • #20 by Kimberly on February 4 - 3:30 pm

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    Not a review, just a question for users…

    Since there’s only 1 review for the Spanish version, can anyone else tell me if it’s effective at maintaining/increasing fluency? I’m a Spanish teacher, and I’m interested in using this program to help maintain and/or increase my fluency (being that at home I don’t have many native speakers to talk to & my students don’t have the kind of vocabulary to be able to speak to me fluently in levels 1 & 2). I don’t want to lose it and I thought this would be a great way to keep it fresh. Please let me know!

  • #21 by Kirsty on September 30 - 2:56 pm

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    I have just downloaded the Italian version, and am excited about the thought of getting stuck in – learning to speak, understand and write Italian. I will report back once I am able to give a proper review.
    I can however confirm that the first stages, buying and downloading, and accessing the course materials in the members area, have all gone without a hitch. As long as you ONLY download level 1 (however tempting it is to download the rest of the levels !), you have a 30 day money back trial – so whats not to try ? See you on the other side. Ciao ! :-)

  • #22 by Andi on November 30 - 3:48 pm

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    d101 :User RatingI have the German course and I really love it – especially because it is very comprehensive and straight to the point without any redundant methods – but after completing Level 2 I don’t think this course alone helps me to fluency. Actually I don’t think any course out there can achieve this – even if falsely advertised. To achieve fluency you HAVE TO live with native speakers, there is NO WAY around this.

    There are people who live in another country for years and never become fluent in that areas’ native toungue. Look at America. There are people who have been here for years and still don’t speak English except for a few words. I have this course and love it. It does take time to study and pratice so don’t expect to get it and try it for a week and think that you will understand everything. I feel that if you want to become fluent in speaking a language. Speak with someone whos native tongue is the language you want to learn. Either skype or find an online pin pal to chat with. There is even a webiste online to help with this called iTalki.com. The course may feel like it moves fast or slow depending on the person. Everyone is different. But the beauty is that if you feel it is too fast you can review the audios as many times as you need or fast foward if you feel the course moves to slow.
    With anything, you learn with time, practice, and an interest to actually learn what you are studying.

  • #23 by Scott on June 10 - 5:50 pm

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    I would have liked to be able to give a review as this sounds like the course that fits how I like to learn, BUT…it doesn’t offer the language I want to learn, Swahili. That’s the flaw I see with this course, it only offers a few language choices. It they ever expand their choices, please let me know.

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