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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 December 6, 2017
It moved too fast for me to learn. The speaker almost sounded robotic which made it hard to learn the correct sounding of the words. I had previously used Pimsleur to learn Spanish and ended up purchasing that brand again for Italian. I am in my 40s so my mind probably isn't moving as fast anymore to learn new languages. This product might work fine for others.
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on August 30, 2017
the first three CD's --Essential Italian--were most helpful. the value for me fell on the intermediate level and I didn't get much out of the advanced level. it was an ok purchase for basic phrases, however, and the books are nice reference pieces.
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on April 22, 2014
This program is very useful and easy to follow. I enjoy every minute I spend learning Italian, thanks to Living Language. I am excited to see my progress and look forward to teaching my goals. I hope you are too!
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on May 23, 2014
This does a good job of going through learning Italian. It is only audio and a book so there is not any PC interaction or DVD videos but not sure that makes it any easier. With the small price point I think it is a great alternative method as opposed to the high dollar tools.
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on May 3, 2014
Comes with CDs. (9) and three workbooks, and notebook. I am learning and still on the first CD. Very extensive. A big key is the right attitude, you will certainly enjoy these. Good choice.
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