- 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)
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.
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
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.
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||amount of material can be overwhelming for beginners|
|most thorough course|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
im not going to give a real rating because im not too far into to judge it really yet. i probably wouldnt give it a real rating till i was at least half way done… which might be a while. What i can say so far is though….. IT IS SO BORING! i try to get excited about it but its so hard. No pictures, the dull voice, and constant repeating (well at least in phonology) Im only on phonology so hopefully the part 1 will be better. Phonology is a huge part in itself though. Im not even half way yet. Also it is a bit fast passed. I would recommend taking notes (i dont but i probably should and might go back and do so) Overall this and many other programs, books, podcasts, etc are all great but… you have to make it work for you. meaning take your own personal notes, work on what you are struggling with, use certain studying tool, etc.
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!