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on July 23, 2014
I'm only half way through the first book, but so far it has been great. I've taken several beginning Spanish courses over my lifetime and none of it stuck, but I feel like the design of this course is a lot better because, contrary to what one "reviewer" said, they do NOT just give you a list of words to memorize. You are shown words which will be emphasized in a lesson, but they are presented in context in a variety of ways.

To get 9 CDs and 3+ books for $28 is just an unbelievable bargain especially compared to big-name systems which, ironically, consistently get poor reviews and cost much, much more.

Just after I started this course I stumbled across Duolingo.com which is a free online school for various languages, including Spanish. I've been working it the same time as this system because they each have their own advantages. The main advantage of the Duolingo course is that it is interactive -- you have to type in answers and if you get too many wrong, you have to repeat the lesson. With a non-interactive course, it is easy to lose focus/attention and not realize that you have missed something, which is the case with Living Language.

On the other hand, the speech in Living Language is much clearer and it is easier to back up a bit and repeat something. Also, you can read the LL books and/or listen to the CDs anywhere and any time, while you must be online to use Duolingo.

The Amazon page and other Living Language materials say that you can just listen to the CDs to learn Spanish without using the book. While that may be theoretically possible, it would be VERY much harder and time consuming. For one thing, the book has extra exercises to reinforce your learning which the CDs do not have. Another thing is that listening to spoken Spanish and reading it at the same doubles your learning capacity as aural and visual input are stored in different parts of the brain and subsequently reinforce each other. If you do not look at the book while listening to the CDs, you are simply missing out on that.

IMO, the best way to use this course is to read and listen to a chapter at the same time, then read the chapter again, working the extra exercises, then repeat both of these steps until you feel comfortable that you have learned the material. I would only listen to the CDs by themselves, such as in a car, as additional reinforcement. But I seriously doubt that anyone can learn Spanish by listening one time to these CDs while driving around (hopefully also focusing on traffic, etc.).
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on March 22, 2016
It is currently March 22, 2016. I formally dedicated to learning Spanish (from scratch) at our clinic staff meeting in May of 2015, at which point I purchased this material. In contrast to my high school German, I was clearly at my own pace with this study, and I proceeded at one lesson each week, regardless of how easy some seemed (with the exception of numbers, which went more quickly). I finished the material last night, and I am very pleased with my handle on the language in the clinical setting. I do appreciate sentence structure and generally things grammatical. That being said, if you are not keen on the subjunctive mood, indirect object pronouns and similar grammatical elements as such, the books provide brief descriptions of each as they are encountered. The authors did not presume grammatical prowess.

In the process of this study, I often found myself wanting to apply certain phrases or constructs in other contexts, and I discovered spanishdict.com to be exceedingly helpful. Here I could posit a potential sentence and see how it translated through three different translators. I also used the site for more clarity on certain grammatical points. This allowed me to bridge the gap between the study content and things clinical (or whatever your setting might be).

Let me strongly suggest this highly-cost-effective material for anyone who has no certain knowledge of the Spanish language.
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on November 21, 2016
THIS IS BETTER THAN ROSETTA STONE...Ordered the product because it offers audio CDs from Essentials to Advanced along with corresponding Physical in your hand workbooks and FREE online learning access from your computer or access device. Product is sold at Barnes and Nobel at $50.and sets right next to Rosetta Stone for $250. I had previously purchased Rosetta Stone which provides no workbooks and the online access costs $14 per month or $89 per year....this after you pay a premium price for something that is no better than this product. Rosetta Stones model is to charge you a lot of money for a product that does not provide audio CDs so you can learn while driving to work..just software to load on a computer as backup...Rosetta continues to ride on the coat tails of a so yesterday novel idea without really advancing the product beyond finding ways to continue charging you for something already paid for...limits you to two computers...no customer service beyond telling you to read the instructions...Rosetta stones computer presentation and online website is nothing special either...so save yourself a lot of grief because at the end of the day YOU do all the work with these lessons..question is how much do you want to spend because no self taught course will do it for you. Order this product and do the work...
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on March 25, 2013
English is my second language, and I am not a big fan of leaving feedback, since my English writing is poor. However, I decided to leave this feedback since Living Language really has to be appreciated for their great method of teaching, their great service and their great price that is very affordable. It has been a while that I am trying to learn Italian language, I tried Rosseta Stones, Pimsleur, and also I experienced having a private italian teacher. I am so pleased with the Living Language methods of teaching, and I highly recommended. The CD's guide you step by step through all the exercises in the book, and it explains you all the grammar's exceptional that there are in Italian language. Good luck.
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on November 11, 2011
This is a really good and thorough course in the language that presents in conversational form all the major concepts: verb tenses (present, past, & future) & moods (indicative, subjunctive, conditional, & imperative), idiomatic phrases, and other grammatical structures. It looks about equal to two college semesters of Italian (maybe three, depending on how different schools structure their language programs; it's essentially first-year Italian). I've been using this course for two weeks now and am halfway through it. I wouldn't recommend this pace, but I mention it so you can interpret what complaints I have in light of it.

This course consists of 3 books: Essential, Intermediate, and Advanced, and includes a blank notebook and 9 audio CD's that correspond to the lessons in the books. There is also an online language lab for quizzing knowledge. The whole course comes in a cardboard slipcase. The lesson books are about the ideal size: lightweight paperbacks, between the size of a trade paperback and an average college textbook; they're big enough to spread out and work with, but small and light enough to use nearly anywhere. The English type is in black, and the Italian in blue, which aids learning. The course is 46 lessons in all, and seems built around language immersion, emphasizing conversational phrases and language that you might use when travelling to/studying in Italy. From this use, of course, you could go anywhere with the language. This course's grammatical explanations are clear and comprehensive, though I might want many more examples to really understand the concepts from a variety of angles and in a variety of situations. (My learning style is more analytical than intuitive, and I don't mind poring over grammar & verb charts to drink in concepts.) This course does a good job of introducing new vocabulary and grammatical concepts "on the fly," by which I mean it throws these things in without formally explaining them beforehand. The reason I find this a good thing is because that's how one would encounter the language in Italy or with a fluent speaker, and this course trains you to be always attentive to new words, phrases, and grammar. I might like a vocab. list at the end of each lesson for new words introduced in that lesson, rather than the glossary for the entire course at the end of each book. But that LL omits vocab. lists does encourage active learning. The notebook that LL provides seems to be for the purpose of writing down new vocab. as one encounters it, and new idiomatic phrases and verb conjugations, etc. The "Unit Essentials" sections in the Intermed. and Adv. books are useful for summarizing key grammatical concepts; likewise the general language summary at the end of each book. I also might like a comprehensive table of contents to help me review what sections of the course I might need to as I use the language once completing the course. The unit outlines along the top of each page are detailed enough for this, but require more flipping through from unit to unit than would a table of contents. Quizzes come about every 4 lessons to reinforce material. They seem a little short for really testing full knowledge, but that they are short and a little easy does keep you moving through the course, rather than getting bogged down on concepts that you will pick up anyway as you keep using the language. LL points out further resources for using the language, such as Italian newspapers and message boards, and one could even find on Youtube Italian news broadcasts and other audio-video resources. I find the online language lab to be moderately useful: I'm glad it's there, but it doesn't clinch my grasp of new concepts. (The book and CD dialogues do that for me.) Some of the games in the language lab seem distracting, like the word search and "pop the bubbles," but they do lighten the mood a bit. The online flashcards and sentence completions are useful exercises beyond the exercises in the books.

Overall, this is a solid course that will teach you Italian. I think the best learning will result from using all the course's materials, as LL suggests, including practicing with the CD recordings, filling up the notebook with vocab., idiomatic expressions, and verb conjugations, and reviewing these regularly. The whole course (Complete Italian) is a good value for the price, though the Essential might not seem so for being so basic. Once I master Italian, I plan to use other Living Language Complete packages to learn other languages.
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on January 21, 2014
I just receicved this a week ago and I definitely like this course a lot. I've already had a basic foundation of the Italian language but this course is very helpful in getting the basics down more solidly and moving beyond what I already knew. The only caveat I have to point out is that the program content is a little redundant. In this day and age the CD's and books are superfluous especially given the fact that the on-line study course is exactly the same as what is featured in the books/CD's. The iphone app is a replica of the online version but that feature is actually neat because it allows for continual study even if a PC isn't nearby.
Living Language should give customers an option as to whether they want the book/CD version of this course or the online/app version.
I doubt I'll ever reference either CD or book as there simply is no need to given the online option and, lets face it, who really has a CD player anymore or keeps books around? I know many still do but for me, being forced to purchase the whole pack was a bit of a waste of money.

One last thing..and this I really don't like and they don't tell you about it in the advertisement. The online course is only valid for one year!! Yea it's in the fine print. So, if anyone ordering this doesn't get through the entire course in a year, good luck with getting your resources online. I think that's a bad move on the behalf of Living Language as it'll force people who don't get this information under their skull cap in a year will basically need to re-purchase the whole thing again....only to be stuck with 2 sets of books and CD's.
This is even more annoying seeing as the online verison has fun games to help reinforce new material....something the books can't and don't offer. Living Language really needs to re-visit their decision to restrict online course access to only one year. People pay for this expecting to have unlimited access to ALL study materials not just for one year.

All in all, I don't know that this is the BEST course but it beats the antiquated Rosetta product and one can learn enough Italian through this to be able to hold a decent conversation. It'll take months and, ideally, a native speaker who can help explain the finer points and different dialects which exist in every region across Italy but for a self study course this is definitley a great option.
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on May 6, 2016
Right now, I'm only writing the review based on it's opening and not on it's use. There's no pictures yet, so I'm adding some. The order of pictures is;
1) The packaging.
2) The little bookshelf stuff.
3) The workbooks compared to a normal piece of A5 paper. I thought they'd be this large, but they're not. They're still amazing, and thick though!
4) An example of the wordlists they give you.
5) An example of the quiz/practice the give you. This is why I took one star off. As you can see, the answer key is RIGHT THERE. There's no sense in practicing if the answer is in your vision.
6) The Audio CD's!
7) The journal it comes with. (It's wide ruled.)

Nonetheless, I'm SUPER excited!
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on August 22, 2015
EXCELLENT material, well organized, complete!
Simply perfect!
Worth every penny.
I'll certainly buy Living Language again.
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on October 8, 2015
This is a good course if you want to listen and learn with a book. This is a CD course, not DVD so there is no visual learning, but it covers the basics, the lessons are targeted to help you learn and expand on what you know at that point. I have only worked with the first book so far but am very pleased with the course and at the price this is excellent value for money.
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on March 4, 2015
I really enjoyed how nicely paced this course was, I would recommend this course to an absolute beginner or just someone who wants to go back and review their Italian. I took a risk getting this course because I have never tried a Living Language course before. What I have to say is that this course really helped me improve my Italian and even build upon it. As someone who likes to move at a fast pace this course really helped me, although there were some days I was lazy, this course was also great to move at slow pace with the audio. I personally did not use the audio CD.s because I had an exam in a month so I had to move at a really fast pace, but I did listen to them from time to time. The CD's were great to just listen to, although I would not just listen to the CD's to learn Italian. They are just a great way to go over and practice your listening skills.

Now on to the course overall physical wise. The books are not very big and thick so they are great for someone on the go. They can easily fit in a bag and lightweight to carry. Honestly this was an added bonus for me. The books are separated into 3 parts: Essential, Intermediate, and Advance. Easy to carry and easy to look back at any material. Although I would have preferred if the CD's came with an MP3 for easy listening. Overall I enjoyed the course and have bought Living Language Brazilian Portuguese since I loved how well this course was put together.
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