When it comes to learning Spanish, beginners can be confused with all the programs out there. I wish to give you a quick insight into my experience.
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Why I Needed To Learn Latin American Spanish
When I decided to learn the Latin American Spanish language, my needs were straight forward – I needed to learn the language quickly!
My employer had decided to start a new venture in the Caribbean and offered me the opportunity to be a part of it, one of the stipulations being that I learn the language as he needed his own “eyes and ears” present to protect his investment.
I had been meaning to start learning the language for several years to help me on my vacations to the region, but now I had to act.
I researched and tested out a few different courses and materials, among them Berlitz, Rosetta Stone, Living Language, but I was not particularly impressed and didn’t feel as though I would make it past ordering a coffee or beer.
A few years ago there was not the variety of language learning programs available as there are today. I would say that the number of quality programs has greatly increased over the years and there are also a lot more “language learning systems” that are absolute crap.
On this site, along with articles about the lifestyle and culture in Latin America I will try to outline and review a variety of the courses available.
Right now, I will tell you a little about the course that I selected and why I chose it, a course that I still recommend today.
Why I Decided On Pimsleur
I knew a Spanish instructor at a large university here in Canada, and she recommended one specific course to me – The Pimsleur Method.
It is important to mention here also that classroom instruction was not an option for me due to my parenting and work commitments. Also, it was hard for me to find enough “quiet” time at home to study without being interrupted.
She told me that I only needed this course and also recommended that I buy a good dictionary (for the Pimsleur course, the dictionary is NOT required but if you click here you will see why it’s a good idea).
What I liked was that I only needed the audio material – no books, no computer, just myself and my ears! This lack of other material did make me a little skeptical but I trusted the Spanish professor.
Smartphone, MP3 player, CD player, and Computer Compatible.
You choose the best format for you – Download MP3, CD, Software for Mac, PC.
- There are price points for every learner: in small chunks (starting in the $20 range) or as complete series (from $119 to $970).
- You can get a free lesson if you want to check it out before buying.
- Pimsleur is digested in easy 30-minute chunks. As they say “30 minutes a day is all it takes to learn with Pimsleur!” And remember, that downtime (commuting, jogging, cooking, etc.) now becomes a learning opportunity.
- Pimsleur has a proven, outstanding track record spanning over 50 years!
- Pimsleur is a conversational method. You will start speaking immediately! No long grammar drills, verb conjugation tables, etc. You start slowly with a few small phrases and expand from there and you learn at an amazingly fast pace.
A Fast Start – So Important
I purchased the course and started immediately. I had heard that there was a lot of repetition, and there is, lots of it, but the decades of building The Pimsleur Method have been spent perfecting the technique they use.
The method is basically to build conversations by using frequently repeated words and phrases in such a way that they stay in your memory, These conversations are then gradually expanded at planned intervals to allow maximum memory retention.
That apparently is the science of it and it works.
What Happened To Me?
I can’t explain it very well but the bottom line is, the words and expressions stayed in my memory quite easily. You have no need to “rewind” as everything flows at a natural speed. However, I did occasionally repeat a lesson if I was not convinced that I had perfected it, but that happened maybe one time out of every ten lessons.
It is soon apparent that the aforementioned repetition forms a key part of the training. The instruction is clear and precise. My progress seemed to be rapid, continuous and, what proved to be crucial, gave me great motivation and encouragement to keep going.
Looking back, the results were quite astonishing as from my first trip to help plan my employer’s project in July, when I knew no Spanish, to my second trip in October that same year, I could carry on a basic conversation, exchanging pleasantries, arranging meetings, accommodations, travel plans, banking transactions, small talk at parties, etc.
If others talked at 100 mph, then i did get a bit lost, but a simple polite request to speak a little more slowly and a smile, did the trick.
Remember, I achieved this on my own – I was not surrounded by Spanish speakers, neither did I have “study partners” to work with.
I was only at the project site for 10 days every 2 months but within 3 or 4 trips, I felt very comfortable with the language. Yes, I would still ask my colleagues to speak a little slower at times, but that was not an issue for them. During my time back home I kept practicing but thanks to The Pimsleur Method, it was now a joy, not a chore.
Not A Gimmick – Simply Scientifically Proven
The Pimsleur Method was established over 50 years ago and it is without a doubt one of the best, easiest and fastest methods to learn Latin-American Spanish. I did it, you can too!