Top positive review
401 people found this helpful
Excellent. Here are some suggestions for additional material.
on December 27, 2012
This latest edition of the Living Language self-study language programmes is a modified and enhanced version of their "Complete: Basics" series. It seems to be part of a program by Random House to consolidate their language courses. Unfortunately, the vastly superior "Ultimate" series has been abandoned in the process. The new "Complete" edition is divided into three levels. The first level, "Essential", is drawn from the Living Language "Starting Out In Spanish". The second and third levels, "Intermediate" and "Advanced", respectively, are, for the most part, slightly modified versions of the previous "Complete: Basic Spanish". The Intermediate and Advanced books contain "Units", each of which covers a theme (Family, Work, Hotel, Restaurant, Medical Appointment, etcetera). The Units are divided into four "Lessons", the first three of which present the Words, Phrases, and Sentences that are used in the fourth lesson Conversations. Although the approach seems quite logical, it does take a little getting used to at first as, occasionally, some individual Phrases or Sentences seem a little odd because they are missing the context of the end-of-unit Conversation. Each Lesson also contains explanations of grammar. Despite the publisher's decision to label the second and third books as Intermediate and Advanced, be advised that this is STILL an BASIC self-study language course. Nonetheless, enhancements include: a vastly improved visual presentation, some much-appreciated additional exercise material, and access to some fairly simple on-line learning activities. Also, a glossary and a summary of grammar are included as appendices in all three levels. Although I have detected a few, very minor errors, in my opinion, the "Complete" series merits five stars.
AUDIO RECORDINGS - ONE IRRITATING FEATURE
The audio recordings are, as always with the Living Language programmes, of a very high quality. The voices are clear, well-modulated, and at an appropriate speed. The latest set of recordings includes EXTENSIVE instructions in ENGLISH that are drawn directly from the printed material. This accounts for most of the expansion of the recordings from the original 4 CDs to the 9 CDs in this latest edition. Some users might find the English audio reassuring, as it will permit them to read through the text only once and then rely more-or-less completely on the recordings. The DISADVANTAGE of all of this English audio is that, as the learner becomes more comfortable with the material, reviewing the key phrases and dialogues will require some deft skipping forward to avoid - what will have become - superfluous English instructions.
SUGGESTION FOR ADDITIONAL PRACTICE
I have found that finding opportunities to PRACTICE a language to be one of the greatest challenges. If you simply want to DRILL--DRILL--DRILL your Spanish, I suggest that you visit the website FSI-LANGUAGES-YOJIK.EU. The FSI BASIC COURSES were developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), U.S. State Department, in the 1960's through the early 1970's. While they were meant to be taught in a classroom by a qualified instructor, the texts and accompanying audio recordings are absolutely fabulous for practicing the basics of the language. And here's the really good part ... they're FREE as pdf/mp3 downloads! Have a look at FSI BASIC SPANISH.
In the event that you're striving to become truly functional in Spanish, then you might consider subscribing to the online monthly magazine "THINK SPANISH". The magazine is designed for adults who are at the Early Intermediate Level. The articles discuss the food, art, history, geography, science and culture of Spain, Central America, Central America. The goal is to help students improve their vocabulary and listening skills. The roughly 25 pages of text and 1 hour of audio can be downloaded as pdf/mp3 files. You can find them on the Internet at "THINKLANGUAGE.COM."