Top positive review
399 people found this helpful
on October 3, 2011
I bought this set after seeing a friend's copy of the French edition. I really like the set up and I do feel that I am learning a lot (though the first book seemed mostly a refresher of items I learned in high school and college).
-Division of chapters is clear and the companion cds read almost every word on the page. (Which makes it easy to read along with the chapter or use it as extra practice on your drive to work as I do.
-The book is written in a way that seems more organic to learning conversational Spanish. Instead of just learning a bunch of words and how to conjugate them or just a set of general vocabulary each chapter is topic based. This means the the number section isn't just "uno, dos, tres." It also includes "Tengo dos gatos" and "Ella tiene tres perros." (I have two cats. She has three dogs.) Slowly interspersing new vocabulary, sentence structure, gender-dominance of the terms, and of course conjugation.
Negatives: (why I did not give it 5 stars)
-You have to come in with a basic knowledge of the Spanish alphabet and sometimes the pronunciation doesn't seem as clear in writing.
-Sometimes some of the most important/interesting vocabulary is thrown into the summary paragraph at the end of the chapter giving the reader only one chance to familiarize with that set of vocabulary before it is either not referenced again or thrown into another part of the following chapter. (The cd does read this chapter to you but does not give you the option to repeat those words.)
-The cd can really only be used after reading the chapter for extra study. I tried to use some of the lessons ahead of where I was in the book. (Only the next lesson, not far in advance.) And I found myself tongue tied. The cd gives you a chance to repeat the Spanish out loud after they have given a definition in English and it has been read quite rapidly in Spanish. It did not give enough time for the me, as the reader, to repeat the more complex sentences and spoke so rapidly that it was hard to hear. So I will now only use the cd after reading the chapter. (It was very frustrating because I knew some of the vocabulary but not one or two words that I felt like the reader flew over.)
-The online learning content though useful seems a little slow or gimmicky at times.
Overall I think it is a great purchase and since I am a librarian with access to many self study guides at my local library I would still recommend this to a person wishing to get serious on relearning what they vaguely remembered from high school over some of the other sets available. Also at the library since I have many Spanish speaking patrons it makes it easier to converse, granted it is still for the both of us Broken English and Broken Spanish. I do find that I am understanding more structure and the in between words that I was previously missing.
[End note: It would be excellent if Living Language decided to make something like this for ESL, since I have many patrons in the library who wish to have a firmer grasp on English and have been asking me what I have been doing in order to converse better with them in Spanish.]