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 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 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 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 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
on July 10, 2015
Fluenz is the best Spanish program we have used. We are homeschoolers, and over the years I tried several different programs with our children, including Rosetta stone, Berlitz, and Learnables. All of them fell short of our expectations. Fluenz is absolutely amazing compared to those other programs.
(Rosetta Stone was very confusing to my daughter, because they never explained anything, and expected her to learn through "immersion." I did the Rosetta Stone program myself up to level/year 4, and I think I only gained about 1-2 years of high school level Spanish )
The Fluenz program is highly superior to all the other programs. It provides a teacher who speaks in English, and who teaches the lesson and explains anything that is confusing. The practices are very thorough, and my daughter's accent is extremely good. Many people have commented that she sounds like a native speaker.
You can repeat or skip any sections that you want to. You learn through pictures and video, conversations, and also through extensive writing/grammar exercises. The entire program can be done on the computer.
As a mom who homeschools 5 children, and who has only a basic knowledge of Spanish, I really appreciated the fact that my daughter could do her entire Spanish program on her own. That freed up my time to help her with some of her other classwork. With Fluenz, I know my children could learn any language, regardless of my own person knowledge.
The only negative to this program is that there is a lot of repetition. So if you have a child who highly dislikes repetition, they may not like it. But honestly, without the repetition, you probably will not retain much of what you learned.
Soon, when my daughter is done with this program, she is going to test out of college Spanish through the CLEP program. You can get up to 14 college credits that way.
I tend to be very picky about curriculum, but I have to say that I cannot be more pleased with Fluenz.
on March 8, 2010
i got so proficient in spanish with this program that i could hold a pretty complex conversation last night with my spanish speaking friends after just one one and a half level (2 months of studying). granted i have a colombian husband and speak 3 languages already, however i made a language challenged friend take a session and she was ecstatic over how much material she grasped and how easy it was.
fluenz teaches basic structures and as one progresses the course builds new layers upon the material that is already internalized. the results are very impressive. i feel more and more confident with every session. it's very rewarding to see how i can handle easily the structures that are getting more and more complex. also fluenz introduces many different environments to be comfortable in from customs to finding your way in an office building. it goes over many extremely useful situations which is rarely found in any other language course...
this course does not particularly focus on vocabulary, but the words that are taught are pretty useful. i found it very helpful to supplement it with flash-cards to expand the vocabulary. there isn't a strong emphasis on pronunciation either, so if that is a challenge one might want to devote more time to it. i suppose it could be very useful to listen to the audio many times and try to polish that aspect. Ivan Loscher has an amazing voice, however i prefer sonyas, it's a little bit less theatrical and easier to understand.
i strongly believe fluenz is the best language program available, way ahead of rosetta stone. and it keeps improving! customer service is the best i ever encountered in any industry (to the point, not phony or condescending, informative and quick)
questions about my experience with this software? please do not hesitate to ask...
UPDATE: I am almost at the finish line and i can speak spanish now. I put in a lot of effort and it paid off! i want to thank the creators of this program once again. it puzzles me how so many people think that this course is expensive. i have been studying for six months now and the price works out to less then $100 per month, not to mention a great re-sell value.
now about my progress... in addition to studying i have been watching a mexican soap opera (mas sabe el diablo) on netflix. the plot is simple and exaggerated emotions make it easy to understand. i also have a dictionary in my phone, which makes learning process easier.
sure the course can be repetitive sometimes but it is a necessary part of progress. without building a strong foundation the wouldn't be such drastic progress. It is a system and as with any system one needs to go all the way to really appreciate it. my spanish speaking friends are utterly impressed with all the subtleties i can express, which would be a lot harder to master if i didn't have the basics down.
commit to it, look for other helpers you can incorporate into it and you won't believe the results...
I also have a plan for after completion of this course. I am planning to go through a pure grammar book and afterwards vocabulary builder.
on June 22, 2010
Ok, i went around buying everything to learn spanish - i decided to learn spanish no expenses spared. I've even planning a trip to south America in an intense immersion school
I bought the top packages i could find - Rosetta stone, pimsleur, mango, and fluenz - i also bought other things like link words, checked out spanishpod101.
Of course i'm not just wasting money, i'm using them all together. But if i had to pick one i would pick fluenz.
Why? I like it better than rosetta stone because fluenz is purposeful in the language - i like the teacher who guides you through all the lessons, you also seem to natural start to formulate sentences in your mind. Each lesson is based on a certain conversation but during the practice session they improvise using this structure and this make me start to formulate sentences naturally in my mind.
I may prefer fluenz because of my learning habits - i like things explained. The language used in rosetta stone is harder to practice with people (things like the cat is under the table). By the way, if you've tried rosetta stone in the past, the new version 3 is way superior - i like it. But fluenz is my choice if i just could have one.
Pimsleur's good too (my second choice), and it compliments fluenz.
so....asta lavista baby
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 May 9, 2012
I grew up in a bilingual household (English & Chinese), took French for 3 years in high school and attended DLI for Korean. I decided in my 30s that it was time to learn some Spanish and did some research into the different programs that are available. I had some old Spanish phrase tapes and decided to try those while I did my research - they basically teach you to be a parrot uttering sounds that roughly equate to what you want to say. No bueno! It was just pure memorization. With my research, my decision came down to Rosetta Stone and Fluenz. My company will pay for Rosetta Stone so I would have had access to that for free but from what I read, I decided that Fluenz was going to be the program for me. The following reasons are why Fluenz won out:
Software: Point to fluenz
Fluenz: cleaner look and feel to the software
Rosetta stone: dated look
Price: Point to RS
Fluenz: $478 for complete program
Rosetta Stone: $399 (currently with the mothers day sale) BUT free through my company
Customer service: Point to Fluenz
Fluenz: online forum where their staff answers questions. They seem to constantly be trying to improve the look, feel and materials
Rosetta Stone: read numerous complaints about the outsourced customer support being rude about licensing.
Licensing/Use: Point to Fluenz
Fluenz: Use on up to 3 computers, online access to flash cards, audio cds included and podcasts
Rosetta stone: Complaints online about using the materials on just one computer and needing to pay for monthly access to their materials?
Company/staff mission or goal: +10 points to Fluenz
This one is hard to explain. Both companies make money on people trying to learn a language but Fluenz seems to have a smaller staff that is truly focused on language learning. They are students of languages and care about the language learning experience first and business people second. They have put a lot of thought into their approach, the student's perspective, their materials and seem to be more focused on communicating. Rosetta stone seems to be more focused on the business aspect of it all. They want to make the program good enough to sell it. It's like the difference between learning from an instructor that has a passion for what they are teaching vs learning from a teacher that is just showing up for a 9-5 job.
I did try the Rosetta Stone materials for a short period for Mandarin and didn't like the look or feel of it. Fluenz was more relevant to daily life and therefore would have had more reinforcement just by thinking about what my normal activities in Spanish. The program seems closely tied to the DLI teaching method. You learn a bit of vocab and sentence structure through situations. It's not just vocabulary or sentence memorization - it's truly grasping what you are saying. I've had no issues whatsoever with the software and love the reinforcement provided through the audio cds and podcasts. I'm starting from square one and am averaging 2 sessions a day. I expect that once I get to a higher level I'll slow down a bit but I dont expect to require more than a year to be able to hold my own in most daily conversations.
I highly recommend Fluenz to anyone looking for a Spanish program (dont know anything about the other languages they offer but I look forward to working my way through them all). I could have had Rosetta Stone for free and decided that Fluenz was worth paying out of pocket for.