on January 30, 2010
I went on a vacation to Costa Rica, and resolved to learn Spanish. I studied French in high school and college, and I enjoyed it for the most part. I've NEVER had an opportunity to actually use my French, as I've found that everyone who speaks French usually speaks English. So, I thought I would try to learn Spanish, and maybe I could actually use it.
I found a website which reviewed many Spanish Learning Software packages, and many of them are only PC compatible. The two highest rated Mac compatibles were Fluenz and Rosetta Stone, #2 & #3, respectively. I had seen the Rosetta Stone commercials ad nauseum, so I thought it would be a good starting point. The "no drills" and "no memorization" aspects sounded great, so RS was my starting point.
I started out with Rosetta Stone 1, 2, & 3. RS is a beautiful program, with lovely pictures, and an intuitive interface. There were many, many times when I was clueless as to what to do, so I would just click until I got it right. RS would sense this, and would present the material again until I scored 90% or better. However, there WERE times when I would figure out the answer through the process off elimination, without truly understanding what I was saying/doing. For example, "comprar": did it mean "to shop" or "to buy"? I couldn't tell. Also, the speech recognition on Rosetta Stone could prove to be very temperamental. There were some words, some ONE-SYLLABLE words, that RS simply couldn't accept. I would record them with my iPhone, and play it back into the microphone, and it STILL wouldn't work. These occasions were rare, but troublesome. There were multi-syllable words or phrases that I had to use the iPhone trick for. I could repeat it one hundred times into the microphone, and it would NEVER NEVER accept what I said. After a while, I felt like I was getting great practice on how to record phrases with my iPhone, but for learning Spanish, my progress was slow. Also, I wasn't learning anything practical for use as a tourist. I want to learn how to bargain a little bit: "I will give you fifty, OK?" I wasn't getting that with Rosetta Stone. I think I completed Disc 2 of RS. Again, it was good, but there were many things that I wasn't sure about.
I heard about Fluenz from that website, and decided to give it a try. I ordered 1+2+3+4+5. A bit ambitious, but, like anything, the unit price goes down when you buy in bulk. I just finished up the first disc, so I'm not at any kind of expert level, but I liked what I've seen so far. I feel like I've really nailed the present tense conjugations of the following words: To Be (both Estar and Ser), To Go (very useful for meatball future tense), To Want, To Need, To Eat, To Drink. These words will get a tourist through a great many situations.
Fluenz's approach is different than Rosetta Stone. They start with Sonia Gil giving an intro, then a simple conversation between two or more people. You can listen to it without subtitles, with Spanish subtitles, or with English and Spanish subtitles. You should listen to it three times, once with each subtitle option. Sonia comes back, and breaks down the dialog, explaining what each word means, and how they relate to each other. There are then various drills, many of which involve typing down what you hear. These are challenging, and fun for me. I pride myself on my spelling, and these can be hard but satisfying to complete.
Fluenz does NOT use voice-recognition, which simply and effectively eliminates the frustrations I had with RS. My accent may not be as polished as it might be with RS, but at least I'm not fretting about getting stuck on a certain passage, wondering if it is me or the computer that is at fault. However, Fluenz DOES make use of the microphone. The aforementioned conversations are repeated, with you taking the role of one of the characters. You say the line that is shown, and click 'stop', and the conversation continues. You then play back the conversation, so you can hear your own voice. At that point in the lesson, you can tell if your accent is crap or not. And this works for me. I want to be a tourist, not a Telemundo newscaster. If I can crack a joke in Spanish, and make a senorita laugh, then this whole language thing will have paid off.
One thing I've found to be kind of humorous: Sonia Gil is very attractive. Sometimes my mind goes blank, as I'm just staring at her face, and I miss what she said completely. Doh!
MacBook users: Both Rosetta Stone and Fluenz work beautifully with my 2009 MacBook. No external microphones needed. RS adjusts the sensitivity of the microphone automatically, Fluenz does not. You will have to go System Preferences/Sound to adjust it. Once you do, it is done. No problem.
I recommend Fluenz over Rosetta Stone, especially if you are an adult who wants to 'speak tourist'. Rosetta Stone is good, but the little snags proved to be frustrating for me. Fluenz is more real world oriented, with expressions like: "We are going to the store together, would you like to come?", whereas Rosetta Stone had expressions like: "The car is in front of the house" or "the dog wants meat"
The people at Fluenz are great as well. I ordered 1+2+3+4+5, but I only received 1+2+3. I contacted Amazon, who said "Because Fluenz's inventory is constantly changing, we can't replace items sold by them that are Fulfilled by Amazon." I could either return the whole thing, or they could refund part of the money. I let Fluenz know about this, and they promptly sent me the missing discs 4+5. So Fluenz's customer service is great. Over educated young college grads.
Follow Up: 5/17/10: I've been using Fluenz, off and on, (it's hard to remain focused), but to address my previous statement: "For example, "comprar": did it mean "to shop" or "to buy"? I couldn't tell. " Comprar means both "to shop for" and "to buy". Doh!
I trade comments with Sonia on Facebook, she's the best! Nothing wrong with Rosetta Stone, but Fluenz is the real deal, in my opinion.
on March 11, 2010
Like everyone else, I'm comparing what I consider to be the two top dogs when it comes to Spanish language learning software: Fluenz and Rosetta Stone. Which software you should choose depends on what you want to be able to do first. Do you think it's more important to learn to order food in a restaurant, or explain where a cat is in relation to a table? It's a serious question, because therein lies the difference between these two programs.
Rosetta Stone assumes that you are an infant who should learn colors and animals first. If you are an infant, stop reading, and navigate to the Rosetta Stone section. If you are an adult who would rather learn the word for "cellphone" before "horse," then you should undoubtedly choose Fluenz.
Fluenz features a slick user-interface and a real person who acts as your personal tutor. (Incidentally, she is quite attractive.) Unlike Rosetta Stone, which uses a strict immersion model, Fluenz relates Spanish to English in order to build on the knowledge you already have about grammar and the way words work together. With Rosetta Stone, I found myself having to look up words because the pictures are sometimes unclear. For instance, there was a picture of a child and a man with the word "abuelo." I didn't know that it meant "grandfather" until I consulted a dictionary. You can't rely strictly on visual cues for everything. With Fluenz, every detail is spelled out and explained for you. You are told the precise meaning of every word and given tips for pronunciation and usage. I have found that this explicit approach is much more effective for my learning style. Your experience, of course, may vary.
After the principal lesson, Fluenz tasks you with a series of "workouts." These are very enjoyable exercises that increase in difficulty and require different skills than Rosetta Stone exercises. For instance, in Rosetta Stone, you can almost always use process of elimination to choose the correct picture. In Fluenz, you are almost immediately asked to construct your own sentences using the words you've learned. In other exercises, you must transcribe spoken dialogue. I immediately realized that comprehending an entire spoken sentence was much more difficult than comprehending a single word. To me, it's a far more aggressive approach than Rosetta Stone, and I can feel my brain working harder.
I will also say that I have used Rosetta Stone quite a bit, but I stopped using it because I simply became bored with the tedium of the program. I find Fluenz far more stimulating. I can hardly wait to come home every day and use it again. It's as addictive as a video game, and the best part is that I'm getting practical knowledge of Spanish that I can immediately apply to real life situations. I'm so fond of the program that I plan to try the Italian next.
If you are on the fence, but are one of those people who tend to go with the most popular choice, let me say this: Rosetta Stone will probably always outsell Fluenz. The reason is simple. Rosetta Stone only needs one Spanish program that it can sell world wide, because it does not teach using other languages. From a business standpoint, it's genius. From a learning standpoint, it's lacking. Fluenz is specifically designed for those who speak English to learn Spanish. If this statement applies to you, pick Fluenz over Rosetta Stone.
on October 5, 2010
I have completed 4 of the 5 levels of Fluenz Spanish and am on lesson 3 of level 5. Before investing in this great language learning program, I tried RS, Rocket Spanish and Tell Me More Spanish. Fluenz is by far the best language learning software out there if you are serious about LEARNING the Spanish language.
My background...Never studied a language before. I'm retired and was looking to something to keep the brain hoping along. I liked the Spanish language so much that I decided to work towards an oral proficiency rating so I enrolled in a Spanish certificate program at the University of Wisconsin (7 semesters of Spanish required). I tested out of Spanish 1. I'm currently taking Spanish 2, and outside of additional vocabulary, I found that I knew all of grammar and sentence construction required for Spanish 2 and should have enrolled in Spanish 3. So, I'm at least at a 3rd semester university level of Spanish. My Spanish professor continually praises my pronunciation, knowledge of grammar and sentence construction. Where did I learn all of this? Using the Fluenz program!
As I stated at the start, I have tried Rosetta Stone (fell asleep), Rocket Spanish (very little grammar)and Tell Me More Spanish (not bad but only for those who are at an intermediate level). By far, Fluenz Spanish offers the most grammar instruction of any of the others and will provide you with a solid foundation in the Spanish language. Some have posted reviews here after only completing 1 - 2 levels. If your goal is 'fluency' I suggest that you finish all of the lessons before judging how much fluency you will acquire using this program. How do you measure fluency anyway? What does that mean? I will say that Fluenz's main focus is not on building a huge vocabulary but on building a strong foundation. What good is it to know a lot of Spanish words if you don't know how to construct a sentence or conjugate classes of verbs or know when to use ser vs estar or pasear vs cominar or para vs por? You will not be understood if you can't put the words you know together to communicate with a Spanish speaker. That is the main goal of the Fluenz program....teaching you to communicate!
Learning a new language, may initially seem fairly simple, but it is not. Learning a new language requires lots and lots of hard work. If you are only looking to parrot some touristy phrases then maybe this is not the program for you because you will learn far more. At first glance, it may seem that the conversations revolve around touristy type things but everything you learn is applicable to everyday situations. I know. It's what I've been doing in my UWM class. All communications are in Spanish using Skype, voice boards and e-mail. The professor lives in Spain! We write about the economy in Spain, our dogs, cultural things, different sites in Madrid, etc.
Any language learning program is, by nature, scripted. It helps to use supplemental materials such as a grammar workbook for extra practice, listening and listening and listening to lots of Spanish even if you don't understand it verbatim, finding a Spanish speaking partner to communicate with, etc. Fluenz will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your fluency, but, in the end it's up to the student to reach out and explore additional learning opportunities. Most of us didn't learn English in 6 months!
The top 6 reasons to invest in yourself and buy this program:
1. The onscreen tutor - nothing on the market comes close to the benefits of having a real person explain, what can be, complex grammar and sentence constructions.
2. Emphasis on correct pronunciation - It's not so much how fast someone speaks, it's how clearly they enunciate each word. All of the Spanish speakers enunciate each word very clearly. Also, the speech speed starts out slower in the early lessons and increases to a speed you will hear, say, watching Spanish language television.
3. Each lesson builds on previous lessons. It may seem a bit repetive, however, the goal is to move the student from a translational phase to an instinctual phase where not much thought is needed to communicate in Spanish.
4. Customer support - best in the business. Most language learning software companies only provide technical support. The Fluenz team is ready, willing and able to provide all the language support you could ever want. Stuck on a concept? Just ask. You'll get an easily understandable answer complete with examples.
5. Provides a strong foundation on which to continue to build your fluency. After only 4 levels, I feel that I can pretty much figure out something new when I see it because my foundation is so strong. My Spanish professor does not restrict her use of the language to what we have already learned but I have been able to understand what she is communicating whether she's using a verb tense that I've not seen, words I don't know or Spanish idioms and sayings.
6. Supplemental CDs and podcasts - Hearing spoken Spanish w/o subtitles forces you to focus on what is being said overall. You may not understand what is being said verbatim, but if you can pick up key words, you will know what the speaker is communicating. Great for practicing what you will experience in the real world.
And, one last thing, the interface is simple and beautiful! The program is for adults, taught by adults.
on June 5, 2010
This is a **great** program.
I've wanted to learn Spanish for a long time, have Spanish-speaking friends, and travel to Spanish-speaking countries. When Fluenz came along as an alternative to Rosetta Stone, I committed to it. I am so glad I did.
The program is addictive and fun. It is like a video game: what new door are you going to open next? The visuals are lovely and there is nice music. Sonia Gil is a terrific teacher and it really helps to watch her pronounce the words. The workouts are fantastic. There is repetition in the program but one must practice and repeat to learn, it is the only way. They have also figured out how to repeat things in different ways. The first time through a new dialogue is tricky but the second time is so much easier. They have a clever way of building up phrases that is very natural. The workouts are well-designed and clever, exploring the many facets of how you use a language: talking, reading, writing, and hearing. There are a number of different people speaking, which really helps when you are trying to figure out what is necessary for correct pronunciation, and what is idiosyncrasy. And the voices are really nice!
I am a busy person and impatient but this program has my total attention. I can't imagine an easier and more efficient way to learn the language.
In addition to the video program they have audio CDs and podcasts, these are tremendously helpful in supplementing the program since hearing the words without seeing them is a different way of doing it and reinforces things. I can listen to these while I run in the morning, great for reinforcement while multitasking.
Their support is fantastic. I had trouble figuring out how they do accents on the keyboard when I started and I had a chatperson online in seconds.
The program is expensive - I bought the whole Spanish program - but it is worth every penny.
I go to Spain a couple of weeks so I'll get my test there but I know that I'll have success with the language, since I can already use it at home.
I'm back from my trip to Spain and am happy to report that my Fluenz 4 level Spanish was entirely sufficient for my travel needs. I could get by in areas where people spoke no English at all: the basic vocabulary I learned from Fluenz and my pronunciation were good enough for me to do everything I wanted, buy what I wanted, get directions to difficult-to-find places, and also get the food I wanted in restaurants. I was able even to discern the difference between accents of people I met. This is after only about 4-5 months of study, most impressive! I need more: I am still not up to holding long and complex conversations with my Spanish-speaking colleagues, although I do write them emails in Spanish. However, I have not yet even finished Spanish 4 and 5 in this program. I can't get over how fast I was able to achieve the basics with Fluenz.
Update: About a year and a half later-- I have just returned from spending several months in Chile. Although it is not even 2 years since I started my Fluenz lessons, and I did the entire course twice, I can now say that I speak Spanish... not elegantly, but I was able to do *everything* I needed to while I lived in Chile, from day one. I still need vocabulary, but from the minute I stepped on the plane to go, I felt comfortable knowing that I could understand and communicate in Spanish. Moreover, the Chileans all told me that my Spanish is clear and understandable, this is the accent that you get from the course. It is a GREAT product. If I could give it 10 stars, I would. I have since tried both Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur and Rocket for other languages not here... Rosetta Stone did not work at all for me, and the other two are reasonable, but nothing is like Fluenz.
on August 13, 2011
My wife bought Rosetta Stone French and I didn't want to buy it for Spanish based on her complaints - those complaints are the same as the others listed in the Fluenz reviews.
So far, I've completed Fluenz 1 and am now halfway thru Fluenz 2 and here are my opinions so far:
- The program provides enough speaking and writing opportunities to give me the the confidence to try to speak and read.
- The vocabulary is presented in a logical format and order based on what a traveler needs to know before going on a trip.
- I'm not a fan of choosing the correct picture because most of the time Fluenz has not given the vocabulary for all four pictures. I think they're going for a picture reinforcement as opposed to testing.
- To make the program work, you need to speak-type-speak for every workout whether it asks you to speak or not
- The sentence matching is only helpful if you read the English, speak the translation, and then search for the correct choice.
- Vocabulary building is painfully slow, but is very easy to supplement
- The program needs to reinforce speaking more, not just writing/typing on the keyboard
- The explanations in English are very good, the podcasts are helpful but there is too much chit chat for my liking and the audio CDs are good.
- Fluenz provides enough interaction and changes in workouts to keep the content interesting. I was afraid after spending this much money that I would quit early on, but I enjoy studying with Fluenz.
To really learn Spanish, you need to train your ear as well as your tongue. This course (and all computer based courses in my opinion) falls short. The two best things to supplement this course are the FSI Spanish Course (it's free, just search for FSI Language Course) which will train your ear and your tongue and Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish. I am not saying that the book or the FSI course should be used instead of Fluenz - they should only be used as a supplement. The FSI course is too boring to use alone for self study and you can't learn proper pronunciation and rhythm of a language from a book.
So overall, I am happy that I bought this program and because of my experience, my wife is buying the French.
I definitely recommend Fluenz if you are going on vacation to a Spanish speaking country.
9/11/2011 I don't know how I missed it, but at the Fluenz site there are "flashcards" for each lesson and level. They are very good and only add to the value of the Fluenz software.
8/6/2012 Several months ago I completed all 5 modules and my opinion is still the same - I recommend Fluenz. The final module was difficult to get through because of my supplemental studies I was beyond level 5 and it was too simple for me. Fluenz is lacking the subjunctive mood and could use a little more work in the past tenses, but overall I am happy that I purchased the product.
I had to email tech support a couple times because of hardware issues and they emailed me back within an hour and were able to offer suggestions that fixed the issue.
on March 18, 2010
I agonized over purchasing this product for a year or more. Viewed as a single purchase, it's a serious chunk of change. But then I began to ask myself, "Is there value to speaking another language? Is this cheaper than an equivalent series of Spanish lessons in a classroom? Won't I be more productive since there won't be others of varying levels of understanding 'disrupting' the class? Isn't there value to being able to revisit a lesson as often as I want? Isn't Sonia kind of hot?" Finally, Self said, "Just stop asking stupid questions and buy the damn thing!"
There have been other in-depth reviews of Rosetta. All I can say is that I hated their approach and I didn't feel like the focus would make me a good speaker. Luckily, I got it from the library, so no harm done.
I'm wrapping up the first DVD, so I might be jumping the gun a bit here but I am confident that my results here will be much better. The lessons are focused so that you can build intelligent utterances from the first one; and you're learning to have conversations that a person might actually have in Mexico, Spain, or anywhere else in the world. The lessons build on each other in an intelligent and useful way.
Each lesson starts with a very brief introduction, followed by a conversation. You have the option of playing the conversation with no subtitles, with Spanish subtitles, or with Spanish AND English subtitles. I like starting with none, then Spanish, then Spanish and English. This means that I have to rely on my ears first and that makes it a bit more difficult. Since I had Spanish in high school, many, many years ago, even with Spanish subtitles I can get the gist of the conversation. By forcing myself to go without the subtitles first, I really have to focus. It isn't always easy because of the way the words sometimes slur together, but that's real world training.
Sonia then explains the conversation, paying special attention to the new words and offering useful side information. This then leads to the workouts. The workouts are well done and the variety is very effective.
- Repeat The Words -- words are displayed and you say them out loud. There is a play button that lets you hear the native speaker say those same words.
- Match The Words -- provides two columns. The left column has Spanish words or phrases. The right is in English. You drag the Spanish version to cover the English version. When you're correct both sets gray out.
- Choose The Best Image -- you are provided with four images and a word. You click on the image you believe represents the word.
- Write The Word You Read -- a word is displayed in English. You type the equivalent Spanish word (and they provide shortcuts to emulate the Spanish characters not on your keyboard).
- Write The Phrase You Read -- same concept as above but with phrases.
- Write The Words You Hear -- a native speaker says a word in Spanish, then you type it.
- Write The Phrase You Hear -- same concept as above but with phrases.
- Basic Conversation -- the conversation for the lesson is displayed. For each line, you can hit the play button to hear the native speaker. You record your own voice saying the same line and compare the two.
- Advanced Conversation -- you take the role of one of the speakers from the conversation and record your part. You can then play back the original recording or a new version with your voice interacting with the other speaker.
- Pick The Right Answer -- a question is displayed in Spanish, as well as three possible answers. You select the best answer.
- Type The Conversation -- the conversation from the lesson is played, one line at a time. You type that same line, based on what you hear.
- Match The Phrases -- just like Match The Words.
- Repeat The Phrases -- just like Repeat The Words.
Through these workouts, you are getting new material and old material all the time. The review is a natural part of the way the lessons and workouts are structured. It is sometimes annoying, but always effective. There is also the option of picking "Challenge Mode." With Challenge Mode, you have to type all the words with their correct accents. Without it, they cut you slack as long as you spell the word correctly.
Since the focus is on conversation, you are learning the conjugations you need rather than learning all the conjugations at once and trying to remember them all. This approach focuses you on the most useful conjugations and you begin to remember them as a natural part of the conversations you build.
If I can get through all 5 DVD's, I'll probably pick up Mandarin. I hope they're working on expanding that set as well.
*** Update April 9, 2010 ***
Nearly done with the first DVD (first 30 lessons), my impressions remain unchanged. I will, however, point out an annoyance on the Mac. The program runs only full screen. This isn't a huge issue but it makes pausing the video to do something else a little more involved than it should be (and the video starts immediately upon returning to the program). It has also locked up on several occasions after I've minimized it to do other work and then attempted to return. It's still a great program but this shortcoming affects the overall experience.
on April 22, 2010
#1 DOWNGRADE YOUR RESOLUTION
Yes that's right! If you have any sort of eyesight problems this product may not be for you! I have a 1080p monitor and have to downgrade my system to 1024x768 each time I use fluenz just to see what I'm doing. Granted most people do not have a 1080p monitor yet, but why pay $600 for software that doesn't even have a maximize button? Not to mention every 5 uses requires the use of the program CD, SO DON'T LOSE IT. Yes, I already contacted fluenz about this and they already know and have done nothing.This product can be band-aid by downloading application resolution changer programs that are mostly free of charge by third party sites. But they are complicated and slow.
#2 MICROPHONE SETUP
There is another glitch for those of you running on Win 7. You will get "Index out of range. Script Error. Continue?" when you try to use your microphone for the first time. Here is the solution for this bug as well:
1) Right-click on the Fluenz shortcut on your desktop and choose
"Properties" from the menu that appears
2) In the new window that appears, you'll see the word "Target:" with
a text box next to it. Inside the text box, you'll most likely find
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Fluenz\Spanish 1\launch.exe"
3) Change the "launch.exe" part at the end to "fluenz.exe", so that
the full line reads:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Fluenz\Spanish 1\fluenz.exe" (make
sure you include the quotes!)
4) You'll see a "Compatibility" tab on top. Click on that tab.
5) Once on the Compatibility tab, place a check in the box next to
"Run this program in compatibility mode for".
6) In the drop-down menu, select "Windows 98 / ME"
7) Click the OK button.
Now try running the program. If that doesn't fix the issue, go back
through the above steps, but in step 6 choose "Windows XP (Service
Pack 2)" for the compatibility mode. Let me know how it goes.
IF you don't or have already had these problems fixed, fluenz is much better than rosetta stone for undergraduate and higher students. Full immersion doesn't work on adults, just children. Not to mention that what RS offers isn't even close to full immersion and should be called partial immersion, since there is absolutely no interaction with the native speakers. (I also own Rosetta Stone level 1-3)
Fluenz (FZ) on the other hand explains everything you need, and gives you exercises to practice what is taught. No more banging you head against the wall or constantly whipping out your dictionary trying to decipher what RS is trying to teach you.That is if you can get the program to work correctly.
UPDATED 06/27/10 Final thoughts:
There is an excellent quote that I'm stealing from my tutor on fluenz. "It's not how much you can learn, but how much you can retain." If you have a young child or perfecting your fluency with an already strong foundation of Spanish, give them Rosetta Stone. If you are like most people I know, know your limitations and go with Fluenz. My recommendation is buy all the levels of fluenz first, then spend the extra money in the future on Rosetta Stone to perfect your Spanish. After using this program for three months now, I have grown to appreciate this software even more. It almost makes the stupid bugs irrelevant in fluenz's commitment to language RETENTION. Any software can give you thousands of words to memorize. But fluenz is in check with reality, and focuses on repetition and perfection of the select language skills you REALLY NEED TO KNOW/CAN RETAIN. Thank you fluenz for making language learning software useful.
on March 14, 2011
Before I bought Fluenz Spanish, I tried Rosetta Stone Spanish. The concept for Rosetta Stone sounded interesting enough; learning a language similar to how a child does. But after trying it, I came away extremely frustrated. I was able to pick up some words, but I had about a million questions about the phrases it was teaching. It gives no explanation for things in English, at all. So after a while I just quit. Then I tried Fluenz.
Unlike Rosetta, Fluenz has a teacher who explains the logic behind each word, where you should put them in a sentence, and why. The teacher gives detailed context for everything. It couldn't be more different from Rosetta, and, in my opinion, it couldn't be better. I'm most of the way through the first DVD and I understand everything I've been taught. And while I'm not fluent yet, I can now read Spanish pretty decently and I'm excited about all the progress I've made.
After trying them both, I'm not really sure how Rosetta Stone is so popular. It just seems like a really difficult way for an adult to learn a language. Though maybe my brain is just wired in a different way than people who've had success with it. I don't know.
In any case, I recommend this software to anyone hoping to learn Spanish.
on December 16, 2009
The original Fluenz Spanish was the best language program I had ever used. It focused on the essentials of learning Spanish in a realistic fashion. It focused on those activities that you would really use in a Spanish speaking country; airport travel, taxi, dining, hotels...but it left you wanting more with only 2 DVDs available. BUT NOW, F2 takes that all the way to 5. Additionally, those few typos that were in the original are all gone. F2 not only adds a huge amount of content but takes the user experience to the next level. Run it from the DVD or install it on your hard drive for a smoother video experience. Sonia Gil is a fantastic instructor who is a joy to listen to and the support staff is the best in the business. My emails are typically answered in minutes and I normally do my lessons at night...so, someone at Fluenz isn't getting much sleep ; ) Add in the CD and podcast audio sessions and you have access to the learning experience where ever you are. At this price, don't even consider competing products, Fluenz is the best product with the best people!
2014 update: with an upgrade to v2.10.1 the product is even better! Updates to the DVD and audio tracks continue to improve the product quality and usefulness. Customer support continues to be top notch.
on May 31, 2010
I'm learning Spanish as my third language, while English is my second
When I started Level 1, I'm (almost complete) new to Spanish, now I finished level 5
If you ask me how is this program, my answer is, not as effective as I expected from a program at THIS price tag, it should be much better
1) the exercises are stupid
i) too much repetitions in "type what you read" and "type what you hear" section.
ii) "match the sentences in English and Spanish", "match the pictures with the word" are just too easy
iii) the speaking exercise is not well designed, but considering this is a computer program, no me puedo quejar
My suggestion for these exercises are:
i) Skip "type what you read" section or do "type what you hear" section first then go back
ii) when doing "match the sentences" section, treat it like speaking, do not look at Spanish, read the English sentence once and build your Spanish sentences until you can say this sentence as a whole sentence(not piece by piece), then check your answer
iii) turn "read the sentences", which is the last exercise, into listening exercise, listen to the recording until you can tell every word in it and understand its meaning, and say it, if possible
(be aware of the translation exercise, it will turn you into translation machine, and it will not help you to think in Spanish if you do these exercises passively)
2) no transcript, no word list off the program, at least for me, these are essential parts of language learning, I wish there's a companion book so I can review and carry with me anytime
3) you can not even listen to the whole dialogue, you have to listen piece by piece(or I missed something here? If there's whole dialogue recording, let me know how to use that, I will update the review later), this is the most stupid thing, do you not know how different it is between listening to the whole dialogue and listening to the pieces?
4) too much filler sessions, the result is that not a lot grammars and sentence builders are introduced, no perfect tense, no conditional tense, no subjunctive(yes, you can guess the meaning when others using subjunctive or conditional tense, but still, you have to use that in yours, or your sentences will be grammatically wrong. At least, subjunctive is more widely used in Spanish than in English, while preterite tense is more strictly used)which, based on my experience, are quite important. (Some might say, in language learning, review and regular practice are very important. You are absolutely right, but I think this is the learner's job off the program, we are not paying Fluenz to help us review what we have learned, right?)If you don't believe my suggestion on subjunctive or conditional tense, just find some dialogues in daily situation
5) the dialogue speed is not very suitable for beginner, some of the sentences in the dialogue are just too fast. Some might say, this is how Spanish is from native speaker. This is true, but from my experience, this is not very helpful for learner. The goal of learning language is to think in a Spanish way, or say, say a sentence in a way you build it (during which you will decide where there will be a pause in your sentence and where will not). But if the speed is too fast, sometime it might be misleading for the learner.
I gave this 2.5 stars because Sonia's explanation is really good, which makes things quite easy to understand. And the program does introduce some useful sentence builders that are useful in daily communication, like "parece que" or "¿Qué opinas tú?"
I read some review saying after finishing level 5, you can understand a large amount of the material in news or tv drama, I can tell you, this is impossible. Try BBC mundo, you will know how little you have learned
My suggestion to the future release of Fluenz: 1) Reduce the number of review-like sessions, too many sessions on direction and restaurante, on este, ese. 2) Redesign all exercises 3) Introduce more things like conditional tense and perfect tense 4) provide complete recording of dialogue for mp3 listening and provide word list and transcript as companion book
I'm not sure if Fluenz spent too much time on these fancy UI or videos, I agree that they look good, but that does not help you to learn Spanish better.
Turn all the videos into audio, put all the exercises and the summary of the explanations of Sonia into companion book, it would be much better for me, at least for my eyes