Learning Like Crazy: Spoken Spanish, Lessons 1-16, Lessons 17-30 Audio CD – May 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Spanish and other courses that I have tried. And I will tell you why. I
have spent a lot of money on Spanish courses hoping to learn the Spanish
that will help me sound like a native Spanish speaker and understand
native Spanish speakers not only when they speak to me but when they
speak to each other. This is the first and only course that I have found
that really teaches you the Spanish of natives.
I must admit that I like the new version of Rosetta Stone Spanish more
than the first version but it still fails to prepare the learner for real-
life-Spanish. As soon as you get in a situation where a native speaker
starts yapping away at 100 miles per hours, you will have no idea what he
is saying after using Rosetta Stone Spanish. And that's the same
problem that I had with Pimsleur Spanish. After finishing all of the
Pimsleur series when I was finally put into a real-life situation where
native Spanish speakers were having conversations with themselves I had
no idea what they were saying, they could have been calling me every kind
of SOB and I wouldn't have had the slightest idea.
But you certainly won't have that problem with this course. After
finishing both levels of this course, I felt confident in speaking AND
comprehending not only when native Spanish speakers were speaking to me
but also when they are speaking to each other. No course that I know of
can give you that ability. It's great understanding native Spanish
speakers when they speak to you slowly and clearly. But it doesn't beat
being able to understand them when they speak to each other. I can give
you a real life example.Read more ›
And another thing that separates this course from the other Spanish lessons that I tried is that the other course seemed as if it lacked a real objective about the content that it was supposed to teach. I felt like their only objective was to just teach me 3 or 4 new words every lesson. But with this course I always felt that there was some type of objective or subject for me to learn. I found an outline on this company's web site which shows the topics that it teaches. I have copied and pasted it so that other Amazon customers know the abundance of content that this course covers.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The lessons are, like Pimsleur, structured to pound stuff into your head so you won't forget it as soon as you learn it. But LSLC differs from Pimsleur in several key ways.
1. There's enough vocabulary to choke a mule -- and that's good thing.
2. Every verb is fully conjugated in each lesson, so you recognize the patterns and start "absorbing" them faster...but it's done in a conversational style so you barely realize "hey, I'm conjugating a verb" and you don't get grossed out by the fact that you're learning grammar.
3. Brief explanations are given on things that are complicated or irregular so you understand why you are doing what you're doing, instead of learning by rote. (Adult learners need to understand why, trust me.)
4. It moves along at a good pace. It's taken me 10 days to get to Lesson 13 and I've enjoyed every lesson. Lesson 13 introduces the student to reflexive verbs (and you know it because they tell you, "today we're doing reflexive verbs." Pimsleur never tells you what you're doing -- which is fine if you're a kid, but boring and confusing if you're over the age of 40!)
5. Best of all, it isn't boring. There are plenty of reasons to pay attention when attempting to learn a language, but it's easier to say than to do with some courses. LSLC makes it easy to pay attention because there's always something going on.
6. Lessons are logically laid out, with specific groups of related words in each lesson so you can absorb them all; with Pimsleur the words sometimes seem chosen at random and the conversations change ideas from sentence to sentence.
Again, I'm only on Lesson 13, but I like what I'm doing and my vocabulary has increased drastically; I know words for day-to-day functions that Pimsleur never covered although we take such words for granted in English. I've already purchased LSLC level 2. This is great! Highly recommended to anybody who wants to really learn and understand Spanish.
I live in Trinidad and Tobago (unlike any of the other reviewers that I have seen so far). TnT is located just 9km (about 5-6 miles) off of the coast of Venezuela, and 99.5% of the population here knows just a handful of Spanish words. After taking a course at the Venezuelan Embassy here for two years, I still found it quite difficult to understand them when they spoke - especially among themselves! I can read and write it quite well, but still had great difficulty understanding the natives. After studying the first maybe 14 lessons, I visited some friends of mine over there in December, and to my surprise I understood them a heck of a lot more. By the way, these folks speak much faster than Mexicans and Colombians in normal conversation - particularly those from the Eastern part of the country, so most of you have virtually no stress, since most Americans interact with Mexicans or Puerto Ricans. Try conversing with someone from Guiria, Venezuela to see what I'm talking about! The Mexicans I have interacted with speak very clearly compared to most Venezuelans - and the accent is easier to understand. Of course the LSLC instructors were quite easy to understand, and YEAH - it's a CD, so you don't have to ask them to say something again!
I would recommend the course for anyone, but would like to sort of categorize it (hope it helps somewhat):
- Beginners: You need some good reference material and a tutor to work with, alongside the course. The course is not ALL! 501 Spanish Verbs by Christopher Kendris, and Dorothy Richmond's 'Practice Makes Perfect' series of workbooks - these are GREAT! A good dictionary such as the Oxford Spanish Dictionary is a must. NOT a pocket dictionary - at least not for serious learners. The Oxford is bulky, but it contains many idiomatic explanations and context-based translations for virtually all the words it contains, along with explanations of the nuances of using certain words - again, in context. Regional differences are well-covered in this dictionary. There is no dictionary out there that comes close - although the latest Collin's tries really hard. I have lots of reference books, but I have found these outstanding in building stuff clearly so one could understand without boring drills.
- Intermediate: I think the best way to treat this is to relate my own experience. This course helped me to fill the gaps in my understanding of certain annoying things that you don't see in texts and that are not found in other audio courses - stuff like '¿Como?' meaning 'What was that?' or 'What did you say?' in English, clearly explained. Before, I used to say '¿Qué?' and any native speaker would look at me kind of funny, but I never knew my (potentially rude) error until I used the course material in Nivel 1. You can find yourself in some embarassing positions if stuff like that is missed in your speech. I did learn a lot of new stuff with the course as well, such as a few idiomatic expressions that you can't really translate directly. And yes - your accent becomes really HOT! My friends told me they were amazed at how I sounded when I visited. Of course I felt great, even though I knew that I still have much more work to do.
- Advanced: Heck, you don't really need this stuff - this is for newbies and the peeps like me who are still striving toward fluency! Anyway, I think that even advanced non-native speakers may pick up something small in here, maybe as revision or something.
Dive in, folks. For those of you who have used the more antiquated products that focus on mainland (Spain) Spanish, you'll really appreciate this stuff (it is for Latin American Spanish). The use of different people from at least two countries really helps you differentiate the accents. Remember, my problem was lack of listening skill (and still is to a great extent), so that's how I addressed it. LSLC allows you to attack both speaking and listening at the same time, so if they're your squeeze, get the course. The FSI material included is wonderful for rigorous reinforcement, but it's not as much fun as the LSLC. It's actually quite mechanical, BUT has serious material, so it should be used too.
Hey, a tip I have tried is to buy some music in at least one genre that you really love, performed strictly in Spanish, and listen to it over and over. You will be amazed at how well your listening will improve and you'll be checking that dictionary pretty often too. I have several albums that I listen to, and I tell you - they've helped plenty. This also seems to reinforce your ability to hear words slumped together as individual or logical groups, and at least for me, allows you to start to figure out missed or unclear words based on the other words around them.
Now handle yuh scene!
So I went through level 1 of lslc really easy,but then from there I struggled.I just felt like there was just to much information per each lesson.
However,I kept reading about how great and easy pimsleur spanish is,etc etc.So after I struggled but made it to lesson 5 on lslc, I decided to buy pimsleur 1,to see what the big deal was.
Wow,what a difference.
With pimsleur,you only learn about 4-6 words per lesson.However there are 2 special things about the words you learn.
1.After you learn the couple of words,you use them many times over and over,and in many different combinations.
So if you learn:I have,you have,and,but,1,2,3..the lesson would look like this:I have one.You have three.I have two,but you have one.I have one and two,but you have three ETC.
2.You use the words frequently for the next 2-4 lessons.And each time you learn a couple more words,you use the words in various combinations,with words from the previous lesson(s).So if in the next lessons you learn:I want,you want,dollars..You would say phrases like:I have 2 but I want 3.I have 3,do you want 1.I have 2,but I want 3,and you want 1 ETC ETC ETC.
With pimsleur everything is just so simple,.I have been doing 2 lessons a day with no problems.I have only had to review one lesson twice,and I am almost done with pimsleur 1(30 lessons).
As a reviewer said on here,you probably learn more in 30 lessons of lslc than you do in 3 times the lessons and time of pimsleur.But that is where the problem is,the lslc team has crammed so much info per lesson,that I had to review some of the lessons 7-8 times to get it down greatly.After reviewing the text for the lessons,some times they conjugate 3-4 verbs,plus teaches some nouns and other stuff.
The only other problem I have is that they have decided to put info in the lessons by grammer patters(ar verbs in these lessons , er verbs in these lessons,possesive nouns in these lessons etc.)Once again unlike pimsleur that rolls on smoothly lesson to lesson,with LSLC you learn how to talk about possesive pronouns,and then in the next lesson your learning how to start a conversation,and then in the next your learning how to conjugate ir verbs ETC.So you kind of start learning one thing, then start learning another thing ETC ETC.
Also,unlike pimsleur where you may use a word20-30 times or more, you sometimes only use a word 2-3 times with lslc.
So why am I giving 4 stars?
Well because despite it not being as easy and natural as pimsleur,everything else is great.The voice and sound clarity is top notch.You learn the grammer rules easily,and some good patterns of the language(for instance in lesson 1 you learn how to conjugate regular AR verbs,and just by learning the unconjugated verbs,with a little thinking,you could conjugate them).
Plus,While it can be just to much at times,there is alot of words and information to learn.From reviewing the text(which is also a great benefit,you get the text for them words you are just not sure of)I can see it teaches alot of everything verbs, lots of nouns ETC.
Plus,as promised,you get to learn all the informal phrases and the tu conjugation of each verb.
If I was the driving force behind LSLC,I would make each 1 30 minute lesson into 3 or 4 shorter lessons.This way it would be alot easier to learn and absorb the info,and they could still get away with cramming tons of information in 15 hours.
One more thing.Besides pimsleur and fsi spanish(and its variations),I dont think that there is any program out there that teaches anywhere near what this one will(And I have rocketspanish,synergyspanish and a few other products).
So in a nutshell,this product is great,but it is difficult to try to learn that much in 30 minutes,and without repeating the words alot.
I still recommend you buy it,just wanted to give an honest opinion.
For those not familiar with the Pimsleur method, here's a quick run-down: the learner uses audio CD's to engage in mock conversation with a native speaker. You learn your second language like a child learns his first, by mimicking proper accent, acquiring grammar through conversation practice, and learning useful phrases to help you function. This is opposed to classroom language learning, where you often listen to a non-native speaker, study grammar rules out of a dull book, engage in little if any conversation, and memorize lists of vocab.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy certainly copies Pimsleur in many regards. After all, LSLC is also audio-based and teaches through mock conversation. The huge difference between the two is the amount of material covered. Pimsleur aims to make you proficient in essentials, LSLC aims to expose you to a vast array of topics regardless of their immediate practicality. It's a simple matter of wide versus deep, quantity versus quality. Personally I would far prefer the latter.
How does this play out practically? I walked into Pimsleur German I and LSLC I with roughly the same amount of knowledge of each language. In both cases I listened to each lesson two or three times. I have both German-speaking and Spanish-speaking friends and believe me when I say I felt far more comfortable conversing with the former. Indeed, were I dropped off in Berlin right now I could function confidently at a very basic level in German society---getting around, ordering food, making purchases, handling money, meeting people, etc. Were I dropped off in Mexico city after using LSLC, the same would definitely not be true. But don't take my word for it. Buy LSLC and, despite the breadth of the material, see how much you find useful or can recall during conversation.
1. Poor memory scheduling / formatting
It's charitable that I write "poor" because LSLC arguably has no memory scheduling. As opposed to Pimsleur, which constantly reviews vocab and phrases at an appropriate rate to move them from short-term to long-term memory, LSLC will literally introduce you to a word or phrase, repeat it a few times that lesson, and that's the last you'll hear of it. Grammar is approached similarly: instead of smoothly integrating new grammar topics into future conversation, most grammar is attacked in "blocks": today we're learning X. Now we're done. Today we're learning Y. Now we're done. A structured approach to grammar isn't necessarily bad, but, as others have pointed out, LSLC's heavy topical focus removes the challenge of real conversation and replaces it with repetition in many instances.
2. Little explanation of grammar
This is another one that baffles me. Supposedly LSLC does a great job of explaining new grammatical rules, rather than just throwing you in head first and hoping you figure it out after listening to it enough times. (Which is something Pimsleur could improve upon.) This is true in maybe the first six lessons, after that I heard little if any explanation of the grammar. Perhaps the most brutal indictment is lesson 13, where you receive no instruction on how to modify a type of verb that has no English counterpart. Fortunately they told me this lesson focuses on reflexive verbs, that way I could simply look it up online instead of wasting even more time repeating the same lesson.
3. Irrelevant topics
This is without a doubt the most frustrating aspect of LSLC. It's one thing to struggle through a poorly formatted program if you know you're still going to walk away with some useful phrases for conversation or activity. Its another thing to walk away with phrases that have little or no value in most conversations that a novice will encounter, even with close friends. Whereas I could be learning how to invite others to dinner and order food, I'm instead learning "the dog eats in the hallway" and "the pillowcase is on the dryer." Oh, but it gets better. In lesson 13 you will learn invaluable phrases like, "After I wake up, I shave my face" and "My father doesn't brush his teeth every day." Exactly what I wanted to say to that cute Latina girl! (For those of you who have read the LSLC web site, you know what I'm poking fun at.)
Lesson 13 also begins a series of lessons that sound like they were recorded in someone's basement. (Notice that I keep coming back to this lesson---believe me, I was tempted to chuck the CD into oncoming traffic.) Nevertheless, I pushed on, finally reaching the halfway point and deciding to quit with little regret---namely because they were still teaching me useless phrases. ("You always dance in the club!" No, I always dance with my cat in the hallway! Fortunately I know how to tell you that!)
Despite my disappointment with LSLC, it does have a few strong points. First, the actor / actress are actually quite engaging and seem to enjoy what they're doing, which makes it more fun for you. Second, a transcript of each lesson is found on an extra CD. I badly wish Pimsleur would do this for those of us who can't tell exactly what is being said or want to learn the spelling. Finally, LSLC is more easily affordable compared to Pimsleur, though using eBay the difference is lessened substantially.
Since it's not that expensive, I would recommend LSLC for someone who already knows basic functional Spanish and wants to increase their vocabulary, get some conversation practice, and develop a Latin American accent. But for anyone looking for a solid foundation to practical, conversational Spanish (businessmen, students, travelers) this is at best just one component of a much more robust Spanish education.
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