- Audio CD
- Publisher: Learning Like Crazy (June 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0976666103
- ISBN-13: 978-0976666103
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2 x 7.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 85 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,510,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learning Spanish Like Crazy Level 1 (Out-of-date version replaced by New and Improved version: Learning Spanish Like Crazy Level 1 CDR)
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For those not familiar with the Pimsleur method, here's a quick run-down: the learner uses audio CD's to engage in mock conversation with a native speaker. You learn your second language like a child learns his first, by mimicking proper accent, acquiring grammar through conversation practice, and learning useful phrases to help you function. This is opposed to classroom language learning, where you often listen to a non-native speaker, study grammar rules out of a dull book, engage in little if any conversation, and memorize lists of vocab.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy certainly copies Pimsleur in many regards. After all, LSLC is also audio-based and teaches through mock conversation. The huge difference between the two is the amount of material covered. Pimsleur aims to make you proficient in essentials, LSLC aims to expose you to a vast array of topics regardless of their immediate practicality. It's a simple matter of wide versus deep, quantity versus quality. Personally I would far prefer the latter.
How does this play out practically? I walked into Pimsleur German I and LSLC I with roughly the same amount of knowledge of each language. In both cases I listened to each lesson two or three times. I have both German-speaking and Spanish-speaking friends and believe me when I say I felt far more comfortable conversing with the former. Indeed, were I dropped off in Berlin right now I could function confidently at a very basic level in German society---getting around, ordering food, making purchases, handling money, meeting people, etc. Were I dropped off in Mexico city after using LSLC, the same would definitely not be true. But don't take my word for it. Buy LSLC and, despite the breadth of the material, see how much you find useful or can recall during conversation.
1. Poor memory scheduling / formatting
It's charitable that I write "poor" because LSLC arguably has no memory scheduling. As opposed to Pimsleur, which constantly reviews vocab and phrases at an appropriate rate to move them from short-term to long-term memory, LSLC will literally introduce you to a word or phrase, repeat it a few times that lesson, and that's the last you'll hear of it. Grammar is approached similarly: instead of smoothly integrating new grammar topics into future conversation, most grammar is attacked in "blocks": today we're learning X. Now we're done. Today we're learning Y. Now we're done. A structured approach to grammar isn't necessarily bad, but, as others have pointed out, LSLC's heavy topical focus removes the challenge of real conversation and replaces it with repetition in many instances.
2. Little explanation of grammar
This is another one that baffles me. Supposedly LSLC does a great job of explaining new grammatical rules, rather than just throwing you in head first and hoping you figure it out after listening to it enough times. (Which is something Pimsleur could improve upon.) This is true in maybe the first six lessons, after that I heard little if any explanation of the grammar. Perhaps the most brutal indictment is lesson 13, where you receive no instruction on how to modify a type of verb that has no English counterpart. Fortunately they told me this lesson focuses on reflexive verbs, that way I could simply look it up online instead of wasting even more time repeating the same lesson.
3. Irrelevant topics
This is without a doubt the most frustrating aspect of LSLC. It's one thing to struggle through a poorly formatted program if you know you're still going to walk away with some useful phrases for conversation or activity. Its another thing to walk away with phrases that have little or no value in most conversations that a novice will encounter, even with close friends. Whereas I could be learning how to invite others to dinner and order food, I'm instead learning "the dog eats in the hallway" and "the pillowcase is on the dryer." Oh, but it gets better. In lesson 13 you will learn invaluable phrases like, "After I wake up, I shave my face" and "My father doesn't brush his teeth every day." Exactly what I wanted to say to that cute Latina girl! (For those of you who have read the LSLC web site, you know what I'm poking fun at.)
Lesson 13 also begins a series of lessons that sound like they were recorded in someone's basement. (Notice that I keep coming back to this lesson---believe me, I was tempted to chuck the CD into oncoming traffic.) Nevertheless, I pushed on, finally reaching the halfway point and deciding to quit with little regret---namely because they were still teaching me useless phrases. ("You always dance in the club!" No, I always dance with my cat in the hallway! Fortunately I know how to tell you that!)
Despite my disappointment with LSLC, it does have a few strong points. First, the actor / actress are actually quite engaging and seem to enjoy what they're doing, which makes it more fun for you. Second, a transcript of each lesson is found on an extra CD. I badly wish Pimsleur would do this for those of us who can't tell exactly what is being said or want to learn the spelling. Finally, LSLC is more easily affordable compared to Pimsleur, though using eBay the difference is lessened substantially.
Since it's not that expensive, I would recommend LSLC for someone who already knows basic functional Spanish and wants to increase their vocabulary, get some conversation practice, and develop a Latin American accent. But for anyone looking for a solid foundation to practical, conversational Spanish (businessmen, students, travelers) this is at best just one component of a much more robust Spanish education.