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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2006
There is no shortage of material going around for learning the Spanish language. However, that said, there are very few courses and programmes which are of any true value to the Spanish language learner. The majority are either too basic in their content or just downright awful.

That's where FSI programmatic Spanish comes in. Despite its age, I can honestly say that this is the best programme for learning the Spanish language I have seen. The approach and methods of teaching in this programme are very effective, and you will find yourself dealing with complex structures like the subjunctive without even realising it. That's right! FSI's approach to the subjunctive is so simple, it's surprising that other programmes treat this subject in such a confusing and difficult manner, often leaving the learner baffled and perplexed. For these reasons alone, in my opinion, if you are serious about learning Spanish, get your hands on this baby - you won't regret it.

Having said that, I suppose I should mention that there are some down sides to the course. For one thing, it is rather old. As a consequence the sound quality isn't superb nor as good as modern programmes (although the quality overall is much better in level 2). In any case, the quality is always such that you can get through the lessons without any problems or misunderstanding. In addition to this, the drills can sometimes get a little boring and repetitive, but I implore you to bear through them - if you do, you will be greatly rewarded, your level of Spanish will improve in leaps and bounds. Hmm, other disadvantages?? None that I can think of right now. Even though there are these small problems, I still consider the course worthy of a 5 star rating. The truth is you won't find better.

In short, if you buy FSI Programmatic Spanish, you won't regret it.

Best wishes and buena suerte!!!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2012
You can get this exact same material FOR FREE. Legally, because it is public domain. Just take 5 seconds and Google "FSI Spanish Programmatic." Tada! I just saved you $100.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2007
I have tried a number of different programs from Pimsleur to Rosetta Stone. All other programs have serious problems. Rosetta stone teaches primarily the present progressive tense that is hardly ever used in Spanish, and is really for someone looking for superficial learning for an upcoming trip. Pimsleur is really good for basic info, but is too short. Barrons is the second best because the speakers talk at a realistic pace, but it is very drill oriented, has minimal instructional text, and can have very rapid speakers at some times. Learning Like Crazy is for a serious learner. It uses various accents in at a normal conversational speed. It has an amazing text for learning in addition to its excellent dialog and oral excercises, which are of real life situations. It works in a piecewise method to build sentences, conversations, etc with substitutions of common verbs and words. Best of all LSLC II uses the preterite, subjunctive, imperfect, and present tenses in nearly all its earlier exercises, dialogs, etc., and then slowly adds the future, condicional, imperfect subjunctive. You can even listen to the majority of the audio in the car, which is a HUGE plus. I listen primarily in my car and I have learned a ton.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
Ok, so I am interrupting my studies of lesson 24 now to write this review. I have used multiple methods to learn Spanish, a lot of them from Learning Spanish Like Crazy. All of them have been helpful in their own ways and feel free to check out my other reviews if you are interested in learning Spanish. I believe I have learned more from this program than any other. NO program is truly going to teach anyone how to speak Spanish. This came as a "free" download when I purchased another LSLC program. (I say "free" because I personally printed out the books and burned the program to CD. The book is 500 pages, so I had had to buy about 12 blank CDs, a printer ribbon, and paper which adds up) See if you can get it with another LSLC product, or consider buying the whole package, level 1 and 2 and this. I enjoy the level 1 and 2 LSLC program, and I can easily listen to it in my car and I have learned a ton from that.

This, on the other hand is not fun. Pages are in plain type. I have to sit at my desk, work through the exercises and listen to the CD. I have found from all my Spanish studies that if I really want to learn Spanish, I do best by repetition until I am thoroughly tired of the material, so I personally repeat the exercises several times, noting to myself and redoing the exercises later. The voices are boring and at times the sound quality isn't good... kind of like old AM radio. The voices are still understandable and the program does a nice job of emphasizing pronunciation. There are lots of drills, lots of exercises, lots of dialogs, and lots of explanations. Again, the best way to learn is to repeat exercises, but there is built in review and the exercises build on each other. It teaches thinking and understanding and truly helps me memorize things in ways that no other product I have found does (though Pimsleur and LSLC Level One and Two come very close)

The Good:
Tons of Learning, explanation, exercises, and review
Lots of emphasis on pronunciation
Great for formal speech
LOTS of preterit (simple past) -- other programs give this way too minimal treatment

The Bad:
For the motivated learner who doesn't need attention grabbing presentation
No significant treatment of informal you (There may have been some but I can't remember any)
Old info... so I wonder if any of the expressions are out of date. This is not true for most of the speech though, based on other programs, so this is a mild complaint.

If you are motivated to learn Spanish you can not go wrong with this!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2009
This is James from James Spanish (the learning Spanish blog) with my review of FSI Spanish.

Anyone who is serious about learning Spanish will want to be able to read and write the language as well as speak it. Reading is vital for all kinds of scenarios, from conducting business to reading newspapers; understanding instructions to being able to order from a menu. Yet many students ignore the reading and writing elements and focus solely on speaking and understanding. This course deals with all of the aspects of learning Spanish and teaches a good all round approach to mastering it.

Originally designed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the U.S. State Department, these courses have been used for decades to teach diplomats and other government agents how to be fluent in foreign languages.

The course includes a CD with interactive audio lessons, and a PDF disk. There are also links to download the Level 3 and Level 4 courses free, making it excellent value for money.

The lessons cover many grammatical concepts, helping you to get to grips with difficult elements such as the subjunctive tense in a manner that is easy to understand.

This course is not designed for beginners, and assumes that you already have a basic knowledge of Spanish from a Level 1 course. It is also not for the student who only wants to be able to memorize a few key phrases for their holiday in a Spanish speaking country. It is a comprehensive in depth course for any student who really wants to be able to communicate in Spanish, and if you are serious about learning then this is a great course to invest in.

Another thing that I noticed is that although the publisher states that he has re-mastered the original FSI cassettes to give the CD course digital sound quality, I still found that the sound quality was only slightly better than the original cassettes (which I was able to borrow from the library quite a while ago). Although this is a pretty good method to learn Spanish, I am only going to give it 3 stars because there are several modern language courses that are more effective for learning how to speak Spanish than the FSI method. iv

In closing my review of this product, I'd like to share with you the three Amazon products that I have found most helpful in my pursuit to learn Spanish. If you are truly serious about achieving fluency, I'd recommend getting all 3 of them if you can afford it.

1. Lights, Camera, Spanish (Book + DVD): Learn Conversational Spanish by Watching a Romantic Adventure This is actually a 90 minute movie for Spanish-language learners. It gives the option to watch the movie with subtitles but I'd recommend not using them to improve your Spanish. This "movie" also includes a workbook so that you can reinforce the Spanish vocabulary words and phrases from the film. The workbook also has lots of exercises to keep you engaged in the film. But be prepared to hear Chilean accents. Although pleasent to the ear, the accents from Chile are very different from most Latin American accents.

2. Verbarrator Version 1.1 (Windows Version) This software replaces the traditional verb conjugation books and makes learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs an interactive and fun activity. This should be a required resource for anyone who wants to improve their ability to conjugate Spanish verbs. Especially anyone who is challenged by the drudgery of learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs and who is looking for a new way to make learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs an easy and fun activity

3. Diccionario esencial de la lengua espanola de la Real Academia Espanola (Spanish Edition) If you are really serious about speaking the language fluently, then at some point you will need to replace your Spanish-English dictionary and get a pure Spanish dictionary with both the vocabulary words and the definitions entirely in Spanish. I use this one only because it was highly-recommended by a friend from Spain who teaches Spanish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2008
Aaaaaaah I wish I had a way with words so that I could do this product justice. This program is superb. If you are serious, yes you've heard it before, IF you are serious, this is the way to go. The negative aspects about this course are outweighed by the benefits 20 to 1.

I have gone through this course and the 2nd one and now I have an excellent foundation to build on. YES you still have to work after the courses, but it's worth it!!!! When I talk to people time and again I am told "I like your accent, it's not.......well it's not American" or I am asked by confused faces "Where's your accent?". It will teach you to talk with little to no accent. I'm serious! And it will give you an excellent understanding of grammar making it easy to take on new words. Get this product and work at it! ¡¡¡¡Vale la pena!!!!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
THIS IS THE ORIGINAL, AND ALSO THE BEST. FOR MORE THAN A DECADE I HAVE TRIED TO LEARN TO SPEAK SPANISH FLUENTLY. I HAVE BOUGHT MANY COURSES, AND HAVE RESEARCHED MANY OTHERS SUCH AS: ROSETTA STONE,ROCKET SPANISH,LEARNING SPANISH LIKE CRAZY AND EVERY OTHER THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE. THAN ONE DAY, I WAS SEARCHING ONLINE AND I FOUND THIS GOLDEN OLDIE AS ANOTHER REVIEWER CALLED IT. YES, IT IS AN OLD METHOD, NOTHING FANCY HERE, BUT IT WORKS. IT`S VERY SIMPLE, YOU LISTEN TO THE AUDIO AND REFER TO THE STUDENT BOOK. I AM WORKING WITH THIS COURSE EVERYDAY, AND I CAN TELL YOU THAT I AM FINALLY ON MY WAY TO SPANISH FLUENCY. I AM SPEAKING SPANISH ON A LEVEL THAT I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE ABLE TO. THIS IS AN OLD TREASURE CHEST OF SPANISH KNOWLEDGE THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE ADVANCED LEVEL OF SPANISH THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS DREAMED OF IF YOU USE IT PROPERLY. I DEFY ANYONE TO FIND A BETTER SPANISH COURSE THAT GIVES BETTER RESULTS. USING THIS COURSE IS LIKE SPANISH BOOT CAMP. THERE ARE MANY DIALOGS,PRONOUNCIATION AND PRACTICE DRILLS THAT WILL WHIP YOUR SPANISH INTO SHAPE IN LESS TIME THAN YOU THINK, IF YOU PUT THE AMOUNT OF TIME INTO THIS COURSE THAT IT DESERVES. YOU CAN FIND IT FOR FREE AND DOWNLOAD LEVELS 1 AND 2 ALONG WITH THE STUDENT BOOKS AT THE FSI LANGUAGES SITE, BUT IF YOU BUY IT HERE, THE AUDIO IS RE-MASTERED AND WILL SOUND BETTER. ONLY GET THIS IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING SPANISH FOR REAL, AND WANT TO BECOME FLUENT IN THE LANGUAGE. IF I COULD ONLY HAVE ONE SPANISH COURSE, THIS ONE WOULD BE IT. IT CUTS THE CRAP AND GET`S RIGHT TO THE POINT AND I WOULD CHOOSE IT OVER ANY OF TODAY`S POPULAR SPANISH COURSES. I WISH THAT I HAD FOUND THIS ONE FIRST AND SAVED ALOT OF YEARS AND MONEY. GOD BLESS
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2007
This is just a re-mastering of freely available material from the Foreign Service Institute. And it's not even the good FSI material. You can learn with this but the audio is very bad by modern standards and the material is very dated. The method is also down right annoying compared to more modern methods.

[...]
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