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113 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2007
I did a formal review of the Fluenz Mandarin program and have had the opportunity to use the Spanish software before its official release. Fluenz Spanish 1 is designed for beginners (teens and up) who want to develop a good foundation before pursuing more advanced Spanish study or who simply want to be able to communicate on a basic level in Spanish. Familiarity with the Spanish language is an increasingly important skill in the US and it's very useful that Fluenz has come out with such a comprehensive intro-level Spanish course.

Like previous offerings from Fluenz, the Spanish program uses an elegant modern aesthetic, relying on the latest flash technology for video sessions and "workouts." The Fluenz learning system is unique in its use of an on-screen tutor who guides users on video throughout the program and its practice of "leveraging" your knowledge of English to help you learn Spanish faster. The developers have kept the same types of challenging exercises used in the Mandarin version, but have enhanced the crispness of audio and video and made the interface more user-friendly by allowing easier navigation through the many program components. I encountered somewhat awkward navigation with the Mandarin program, but this has been fixed in the Spanish software.

The program is divided into 30 sessions, each of which opens with tutor Sonia Gil, one of the developers of the program, who explains all content for the lesson and relates personal stories about the trials and tribulations of learning Spanish. After Sonia's introduction, there is a conversation which can be followed with or without subtitles (in English and/or Spanish). Next, Sonia comes back for the heart of the lesson, where she thoroughly breaks down every word and expression from the conversation, relating English and Spanish usage straightforwardly and effectively.

After Sonia's "breakdown," the session finishes with a series of interactive workouts designed to review the material from the lesson and help the user absorb it. There are at least 10 types of workouts by my count, covering (in various combinations) vocabulary, listening comprehension, writing, reading, and speaking. These range from simple exercises asking you to write the word you hear spoken to more complex matching games and voice recording. Each workout has its own color scheme for easier navigation if you want to jump to a specific type of exercise. The recording device in the Spanish program is similar to the one used in the Mandarin software, allowing the learner to record and compare her or his Spanish with that of native speakers. This device first covers simple phrases, and then offers you the opportunity to insert yourself into a conversation. After the completion of the review workouts, Sonia comes back to summarize and conclude the session.

There are a number of Spanish learning programs on the market, but few if any can match Fluenz in quality and visual attractiveness. The personal touch of having an on-screen tutor really stands out and the software feels like it was tailor-made for Spanish rather than taken from a generic mold. Given the price, I would have liked to have seen a more advanced voice recognition device (this feature is unchanged from earlier Fluenz software), but overall the Fluenz program is a refreshing new inclusion in the world of Spanish learning software.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2011
Verified Purchase
I ordered this product directly from Amazon.com as a Christmas present to myself and as usual the product arrived quicker than I had expected. Gracias Amazon. While taking an immersion Spanish course in South America, I finally found the time to actually use the software. First thing that I have to say is that I am very impressed with Sonia's method of teaching.

She provides so many details in the course to help you learn Spanish. I don't think that I have found another course where the instructor is so passionate about getting the student to understand the language.

I do think the course could have progressed a little quicker. That's the only improvement that that I would recommend for the course. But I guess that I only feel that way because I am not a beginner and should have started with the next level in this series.

The extras that course gives are excellent. Especially the podcasts. The core part of the course or the software covers a lot of traveler's Spanish. Ideal if you are traveling to Mexico. But not ideal for the person who is motivated to learn Spanish for other reasons. That's where the podcasts full in the gaps and provide you with lots of practice conjugating verbs, improving pronunciation, learning the masculine and feminine articles, and so much more. I have to say that Sonia is also great at teaching pronunciation in the podcasts. I am sure that the bonus podcasts are really improving my pronunciation.

The audio CD is a review of the material covered in the software CD-Rom. I am also finding the audio CD lots of help. They could have easily sold the CD or the podcasts as a separate course since they are excellent teaching tools. What stands out most about this course is the tremendous value that you get. The CD-Rom, the audio CD and the Podcasts.

Some other products that I recommend for Spanish language learners are Visual Link Spanish. This is a great learning Spanish software program for the visual learner. Before I discovered Visual Link Spanish - Level I, in all of my reviews I had recommended another Spanish software product. The one that is heavily marketed in all of mass media, including radio and television. But after using Visual Link, it is clear to me that this software is a much better alternative for the visual learner. If you do not consider yourself a visual learner, then Fluenz is probably the way to go.

In order to speak Spanish fluently, you must also learn lots of new words. For increasing Spanish vocabulary, I recommend Quick Study-Spanish Vocabulary Flash Cards-1000 cards You get 1,000 of these cards at an excellent price.

To speak Spanish fluently besides having a stand alone course as your base and a method to learn new Spanish words, you will also need to master conjugating Spanish verbs. The best product for that is the Verbarrator Version 1.1 (Windows Version) software. The Verbarrator software does a great job of replacing the boring Spanish verb conjugation books and makes learning Spanish verbs enough fun that you will want to use the software every day. And the more you use the tool the quicker that you will learn how to conjugate Spanish verbs and reach fluency. The Verbarrator is probably the best investment that I have made in my journey to learn Spanish because it is a product that I use almost daily.

The last product that I recommend for anyone who is really serious about learning Spanish is The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice w/CD-ROM (UItimate Review & Reference Series). This Spanish grammar book covers every aspect of Spanish grammar imaginable. To get the equivalent learning-Spanish value of this one book you would have to buy 3 or 4 books in the Practice Makes Perfect series
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2009
Verified Purchase
A trip to Barcelona prompted me to review of Spanish language learning programs and purchase of Fluenz Spanish 1. I don't like visiting a country without some knowledge of the language. I was extremely satisfied.

I am a native English speaker with some/limited fluency in French, German, and Japanese - because I have traveled in those couuntries. No Spanish. Despite the "some fluency", I have no real facility for languages. I find them hard to learn.

I put 50 hours into Fluenz Spanish 1. Yes, it takes some work. But that 50 hours alone says a lot -- I didn't give up because the program is engaging, and I was learning what I needed to know to travel.

The approach of this program is very clever. For example, the future "tense" is taught by using the phrase "I am going to...tomorrow". So you do not have to learn a mess of verb conjugations. And the vocablary is directed for the traveler/visitor. No schoolyard conversations with your classmates about whatever.

The use of English is hugely useful. It makes learning so much easier. And Sonia Gill is a really good teacher.

Did it work? Absolutely. I was very comfortable in Spain. In Barcelona, the native language is Catalon, not Castilian. Catalon is somewhere between Castilian and French. I could read every sign in both languages - useful if you want to get somewhere. I could always make my requests understood - useful if you need the toilet.

The down side: I could understand people in the tourist industry because they spoke slowly. Anyone else - hopeless. They speak really fast. And you have to decide which language they are using.

The good side: I actually bought Fluenz Spanish 1 F1, I guess. There were some errors in that version - not major but annoying. I assume F2 fixed those. But because of a very generous upgrade offer, I now have Fluenz Spanish 1 F2, 2, and 3. These folks take care of their customers. And I like the program enough to buy the additional two programs.

By the way, my wife's passport got stolen. I was able to do "okay" in the police station. That was a good thing.

Barcelona is now my favorite European city. Part because of the city, part because of the people, part because of the food, and part because of Fluenz Spanish 1.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2008
Usually a few lessons into any self-teaching language tool, I get bored and give up. Fluenz has done something unheard of, which is not only keeping me on pace, but to look forward to doing so. Every day, or every other day, I can't wait to spend an hour or so in finishing the next lesson and build my comprehension using a variety of learning techniques to hit the concepts home. I really appreciate the fact that there are small teaching segments throughout a lesson that firstly prepare you early in the lesson, and finally summarize what you are learning at the end.

I also love the fact that it's not simply trying to get you to the point where you can only interact in ONE particular situation, such as in a restaurant, or coffee shop. While practically tricking the user, it feels covert in the way they teach you how to conjugate (Scary word) verbs, and teach you gender recognition of nouns. I do have some very basic learning of academic Spanish and French that I had learned in the past, and I will say this blows those styles away.

I'm very happy Amazon picked up this product and will recommend it to all who are interested in learning from scratch. I'm so motivated to learn Spanish through Fluenz that I may even order the Manderin set in the near future.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2008
After reviewing quite a few spanish language learning programs, I settled on Fluenz. The reason I like this product so much is that it is teaching me the way I tend to learn. I need to see the spanish and english translations instead of just pictures. I need to see how the word is spelled versus just listening to it over and over. I am completing 2-3 lessons a week though quick learners could easily complete more. I like to review what I have learned and Fluenz accomplishes that as well. Having a personal tutor, the same one, for each lesson is really nice. Sonia breaks everything down into understandable pieces. Another part of the program I like is the relevance. I am learning conversations that will allow me to communicate in spanish speaking countries. I don't need to know the red dog is under the table. I need to know how to ask for directions, order from a menu, make reservations and appointments and so on. This program will allow me to have a solid understanding of all kinds of basic principles and conversations and I will be able to build my vocabulary from there. Fluenz is just the ticket for me to check one more thing off of my bucket list, to learn a second language.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2007
I checked out the demo for the Spanish 1 program on the Fluenz website. Very impressive! The program just came out but it looks extremely thorough and I really like the instruction from a video tutor. Also very well designed visually. I have done a good deal of research in the last couple weeks and Fluenz is by far the most complete Spanish learning program I have come across (and there are many!). It makes sense to buy from Amazon, as you get a discount from the Fluenz website price. I am very happy that I took the time to find Fluenz instead of just going with one of the bigger companies. Full recommendation!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
Fluenz is like a real classroom with an on-screen teacher who is a native Spanish speaker. Although I think there is room for improvement in the usability of the Fluenz interface, I have found that the Fluenz approach works for me and is helping me learn. I bought all five levels and I'm currently half way through Spanish 2.

Each Fluenz session starts with a short intro letting you know what you're about to learn. Next you listen to a dialogue three times, with and without English and Spanish subtitles. The instructor then spends six to ten minutes explaining the grammatical structures, verb conjugations, and new vocabulary. Exercises follow, in which you will type what you hear, match what you hear to images, match Spanish and English phrases, repeat the pronunciation, and record your own dialogue. The exercises are generally well constructed and build up slowly the way a good teacher would cover the material in a class.

The dialogues are focused on real-world situations that you could be expected to find yourself in as a visitor to a Spanish-speaking country. For example, you'll learn the words to speak about going to a hotel, buying a cellphone, taking a taxi, and asking how much something costs. Fluenz does not try to teach you the broadest vocabulary or every grammatical structure.

Fluenz requires a lot of typing, so you may find Fluenz more challenging than competing products if you're not a touch typist. Fortunately, you can ignore accents if you choose. Typing is important even if you will never write in Spanish because it's easy to recognize the best option in a list of choices, but it's more difficult to stare at a blank screen and have the words come to mind. Typing requires that you be more fully engaged so you are learning more actively.

Fluenz's interface is attractive and is entirely Flash based. There are several small usability problems and a couple of Mac-only challenges. These issues will not stop you from learning Spanish, but the usability could be improved.

I like Fluenz and I recommend it to others who want to learn Spanish. I am definitely learning quickly and I find Fluenz's approach to be easy, effective, and even fun.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2009
I was a bit skeptical about my ability to stick with learning a new language on my own, since I'd previously tried a cheapie software package to learn Swedish to little effect. My experience with Fluenz, however, is completely different. Ever since I got started with Fluenz's Spanish 1 last month, I can't stop playing around with it. The combination of verbal and written lessons and exercises is an excellent balance of repetition and new challenge for me. The program's little details are even engaging--their colorful scenes & other photos serve as nice eye candy. The additional podcasts available on their website are also nice to play with--though a little dry. My only complaint is that I can't download the DVD's contents onto my computer. This is a problem because I have an older laptop that sometimes doesn't want to run DVDs effectively. Otherwise, I'd highly recommend Fluenz Spanish 1 for those who just want to learn the basics when visiting a Spanish-speaking country.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2008
Verified Purchase
Fluenz Spanish 1 Windows, Including DVD, Audio CD, Podcasts, and Fluenz Navigator. Next-Generation Spanish Language Learning Software

I wanted to resume what I learned of Spanish since high school but was too busy for formal classes and the "leading" software (Rosetta Stone) simply did not work for me, it was too much like matching pictures with words.

You can REALLY see the amount of work that was put into the Fleunz program. It strips down the language for you and not only teaches you Spanish but shows you how Spanish works in comparison to English. I almost want to say that the creators of this company have thought of every possible question and problem one might face.

Using this program and reading a Spanish newspaper online along with watching spanish language news daily, I can actually hold a conversation now WAY PAST "yo quiero un cafe." I can convey thoughts and ideas and I'm half way donw through it.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2008
I purchased Fluenz in early December 2007 and am about 2/3 through it in early January 2008 - taking time off for the holidays. As a person who has not seen any Spanish since high school many years ago, this software has helped me revive the language in a very easy to learn format. The lessons are very well organized and they touch the subjects that you really need to know if you are planning travel to a Spanish speaking country. The workouts are consistent in format and presentation and each lesson is just the right length to allow the student to digest what they have learned. As you progress through the program, ealier lessons are reinforced and new materials are added in an order that truly helps one develop their command of the language. I give it 5 stars and look forward to my upcoming trip to Central America where I will be able to practice what I have learned.
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