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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 June 6, 2013
The Living Language "Ultimate Spanish" taught **all** the verb tenses. This new series is not nearly as advanced and leaves out **all** the compound tenses such as the present perfect, so you will never learn how to say such basic things as "ya he comido" (I have already eaten). You will be able to say "I ate " instead of "I have eaten" so you will be able to make yourself understood, though you won't be able to understand when others use the perfect tenses. To it's credit at least it does teach the subjunctive mood, something courses like Fluenz,Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur all ignore which is a shame because it's very important. The lay out is nice and for what you learn it is well done, but for three books of material it's a shame you never learn any of the compound tenses Living Language used to teach . I would recommend Assimil Spanish instead , or if you are going the software route I recommend the whole Visual Link Spanish series.
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on July 15, 2014
Living Language is doing something very odd in their listening/speaking CD. You listen to the vocabulary in Spanish then you listen to the translation in English. Why? You didn't buy the Course to learn how to pronounce English. You have the book right there which has the translation list from Spanish to English for you to review when you need to do so. One of the basic rules of language learning is not to cloud the language acquisition devise (LAD) with another language during the speaking/listening phase of learning. You do move between two languages when you read and write, in the beginning, but the listening/speaking component is to train your LAD to hear and speak the sounds of another language other than your L1, without interference or concern with meaning: That is the sole purpose of the listening/speaking component. Living Language in their earlier publications did exactly that, no more, no less. You listened to the CD, struggled with the sounds, read the text for the translation of the activity, than tried again; eventually you got good at it. I still have their Beginner/Intermediate CD and book, though the text is tattered and the CD worn to a nub. I sent away for this Complete course for review and to take the Advanced component, listened for ten minutes, got a returned label from Amazon and shipped it back. They have done poorly.
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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 August 12, 2013
This serves the purpose of beginning Italian lessons, but moves rather quickly through some important basics (verb conjugation, plural vs. singular, etc.) that are the building blocks of the language. I'm traveling in just over a month to Italy and this has been very disappointing in that regard. I'm now looking for some traveler language cd's so that I can get directions, read menus, and have basic travel-specific conversations while there.
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on March 13, 2013
I bought this course and I am doing an advanced part of it now. I have to tell you one thing - this is a great course at a great price ! I am so glad I got it. I got other ones as well and I even have a Pimsleur course 1 to 3. Those are good too, but price is very high because they do lots of advertising. I got Pimsleur ones for 160 dollars for one. Have three that is lots of money. I need last one - number 4 but not sure if I am even going to bother now when I have also this Living Language. This one is great, and also had practice books that are great. Something that Pimsleur course does not have. All they have are CDs and one skinny booklet.
Living Language - course of great price, very good made. I love it and recommend it to everybody!
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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 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.]
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a person who has learned a few languages, I'm quite finicky when it comes to reviewing language-based products. Having learned a language through college (I minored in Japanese) and studied Spanish, French, a little Mandarin and Korean and growing up and learning Tagalog and having tested several products since the '90s, and getting a feel of what works for me and what doesn't...

I am not an erudite when it comes to foreign languages but I hope I can help others who want to learn a language but also know what they are getting to as some of these learning language programs can be quite expensive.

So, let's go ahead and take a look at "Living Language Italian: Platinum Edition", a product that I spent a few months trying to see if it works.


Inside the "Living Language Italian: Platinum Edition" you get:

* 3 BOOKS: Broken down via Essential (Basic), Intermediate and Advanced. 46 lessons, additional review exercises, culture notes, an extensive glossary, and a grammar summary--plus a bonus notebook.

* 9 AUDIO CDS: Vocabulary, dialogues, audio exercises, and more--listen with the books or use foe review on the go.

* SMART PHONE AND TABLET COMPATIBLE APPS: Vocabulary flashcards, audio conversations, grammar notes, and interactive games all at your fingertips.


When it comes to learning a language, for me, I feel the best approach is when you start out from the basics and you are provided with a workbook and possibly working with flash cards for better memorization. Some competitors would get you started with not greetings but actual pictures and words, without having any booklet for one to understand how these words are to be used in conversation.

I believe it's important to start with greetings and name identifications as the beginning of conversations and language learning.

So with chapter 1, you learn how to say good morning, good afternoon, good evening, see you later, hello, goodbye, my name is, I am from, please to meet you...

This is how I learned in college. Like what I learned from the book's taught by my teachers, this is how things are laid out in the Essentials Book in English, then the Italian word and how to pronounce it phonetically. You don't have a live teacher, but you do have these audio CD's, so you can hear the pronunciation of the words.

In college, we were given around a dozen to two dozen (sometimes more) words to know. This is where flash cards are important and you will need to provide yourself with your own flash cards [or a notebook which comes with this set]. Unless you have a smart phone or iPad. This is where the apps come in handy because the apps are essentially interactive flash cards with the sound.

Once you have a good grasp on the words and pronunciation, then you can move on to the next vocabulary practice and then do fill in the blanks to grammar building and essentially speaking in basic conversations.

And then bringing everything together for structure. This is where I find "Living Language" to work perfectly as it features the English and Italian versions of the sentence along with pronunciation.

This is where I have a few problems with some software out there is they only give you the foreign language without going into details of one learning its English counterpart for studying. I understand some educators may like to discard all English in their classes. In fact, my second semester for Japanese, my professors eliminated English as we had to speak the Japanese we learned from our first semester. For me that is easier to understand than starting a beginner out with a foreign language and not knowing its English counterpart.

And there are plenty of workbook exercise included in the booklets for one to further their studying of the language.

And from the on you, you keep building your knowledge of Italian as you progress and are feeling confident in moving on to the next lessons as they become more difficult and more challenging but eventually, you will learn to speak and take part in the online courses and possibly even train with fluent speakers online or people you may know who speaks the language.


I have to say that I was quite impressed with "Living Language Italian: Platinum Edition". When I look back at my college years of learning a language, I felt that the best way of learning was through informative workbooks that help guide the person in learning. Yes, you may not have a live teacher but you have the CD's to teach you pronunciation, you also have the smartphone or iPad app available to those learning and also the ability to access to the online course.

I believe that learning a language, especially as a beginner, you need to start with the basics, learning of greetings, introductions and those basic essentials to start conversing in a foreign language and these books really do an effective job in guiding the learner through vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure.

There are too many language learning software or audio books out there that try to rush the learner and its unfortunate because those are the type that frustrate those who really want to learn. They get nothing from those products. In fact, there are even expensive products who don't do as good as job in helping one learn conversational foreign language (maybe words) than this Living Language product.

This is the first time I personally have used a Living Language product and now after testing it out for a few months, I can see the efficacy of the way things are presented. These courses are created for people to actually learn step-by-step the right way, not rushing anyone to learn as quickly as they can in a day (which don't work) and also others that teach you a variety of words but yet don't focus on conversational speaking or sentence structure.

This product covers all basis and while it is over a hundred bucks, it comes with a full course of beginner, intermediate, advanced, apps and online course. Still much cheaper than other competitors out there and much more effective. This is probably the closest thing to learning from a class in college than other products that I have come across and well worth the money!

Overall, "Living Language Italian: Platinum Edition" for its quality, for its price and its effectiveness is highly recommended and gets 5 stars!
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on June 4, 2012
I have been teaching individuals (adults and children) foreign languages for over 20 years and have spent countless dollars on books and other learning materials that always fall short. FINALLY, I have materials I can use with older children, teens, and adults. The Living Languages materials (only this one - not other Living Language materials) are concise and thorough, with content organized in a logical fashion. Audio cds are a good supplement for learners to hear a native speaker. I use this material in conjunction with Rosetta Stone. Together, they provide a COMPLETE learning experience.
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