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Living Language Spanish, Complete Edition: Beginner through advanced course, including 3 coursebooks, 9 audio CDs, and free online learning Audio CD – Unabridged, August 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 448 customer reviews

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  • Living Language Spanish, Complete Edition: Beginner through advanced course, including 3 coursebooks, 9 audio CDs, and free online learning
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Product Details

  • Series: Complete
  • Audio CD: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Living Language; Com/Pap/Ps edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307478599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307478597
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 3.3 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (448 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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).

Positives:
-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.
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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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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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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.
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