- 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|
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
this course is booooring
This course offer A LOT value for the price!
Really good course, can definitely recommend it!
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!
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.
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.
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.