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Best Self Study Method


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I am interested in learning Spanish, but have no idea which method works best. 

Berlitz, one of the oldest methods, claims to have a web-based program for those with busy schedules.

Although I have seen ads on television for Rosetta Stone's proven method, I hear their program is rather expensive.

Then there is the Pimsleur Method which claims it will take only 10 days with audio CDs to start conversing.

Has anyone had experience with these or other methods for learning a foreign language?

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We used Visual Link for my son for awhile. It seemed to be really helpful. You can try out their lessons for free, and the cost of the actual software isn't bad, compared to some. I only had him quit with it because I found out he had figured out a way to "cheat" and I couldn't be sitting there with him for 40 minutes straight while he did the lessons.

http://www.spanishprograms.com/

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The BBC is another of the famous and most effective places to learn Spanish (as well as other languages) http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/

Don Quijote is also a good learning place, particularly if you plan to travel abroad to learn at a native location, http://www.donquijote.org/

I would say that practice makes perfect and if you take some  of the free course and get you involved in Spanish speaking communities like the one at WordReference and our own Liguaholic community, you will soon master the language.

A bonus resource  I would recommend is usting Linguee, http://www.linguee.com

This is a one-of-a-kind online translator because you can introduce a word, term or phrase  to get serveral examples on how your idea could be expressed in Spanish.

This way you can realize the different contexts of a given world and even compare the phrase against Google's results to find how popular (and accurate) the usage could be.

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Well, I really like the Pimsleur method.  I've bought several Pimsleur audio courses, and so far they have worked great.  I've managed to learn to pronounce some really tricky words, sadly I haven't had the chance to complete the course (I'm very busy with work), but once I move to the Netherlands I'll be using the Pimsleur dutch course. 

The pimsleur method is really great, because you learn the language in a very active way!  I LOVE their audio courses!  If you decide to go for this, you can be sure you will be learning the language in a very effective and fun way!  I actually enjoyed using the dutch course, but as I said... I no longer have a lot time for that :( 

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I think the main reason expensive courses work is because, when you've already sunk a lot of money into buying a program, you feel COMMITTED to seeing it through and actually studying.  When you have a free course or a self-collected set of materials, it's easy to lose motivation because you didn't invest a lot into it.

I advocate free language-learning sites above all else.  While I don't have an opinion on which of the paid materials you mentioned is the most effective, I have heard a friend say that Rosetta Stone was VERY effective for her brother when he learned Spanish.

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I think the main reason expensive courses work is because, when you've already sunk a lot of money into buying a program, you feel COMMITTED to seeing it through and actually studying.  When you have a free course or a self-collected set of materials, it's easy to lose motivation because you didn't invest a lot into it.

I advocate free language-learning sites above all else.  While I don't have an opinion on which of the paid materials you mentioned is the most effective, I have heard a friend say that Rosetta Stone was VERY effective for her brother when he learned Spanish.

That's an interesting way to look at it. The money investment really does motivate people. I, too, think free materials are nice though. A lot of the time they are just as good but lack the polisha nd sophistication of expensive programs.

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If you know NO Spanish and can't take a class, I think the BBC series mentioned above and Rosetta stone are great.  If you live in the USA you should also be able to find a 'language exchange' though and find a Spanish speaker who will teach you Spanish in return for you teaching them English.  The only con of this is that you do have to put forth effort to teach yourself- you will have a built in conversation partner and to me that is the most useful thing.

If you're further along and seeking to maintain skills you already have, read in Spanish, watch movies in Spanish,and find people to talk to in Spanish!

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Regardless of study method, if you are passionate about it then you will learn no matter what. If you are just doing it and going through the motions then it will seem like much more of a challenge.

Watching Tv in that language with subtitles in the same language can be quite helpful.

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I haven't used the Rosetta Stone myself, but I know that it's quite expensive. Considering that the majority of people willing to learn a language never really starts seriously studying it, buying it might be a bad idea, unless you're really, really confident that you will use it :P

There's a lot of great free resources available, though.

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I use the 'coffee break' series from radio lingua network via podcast and have been quite impressed with them. I am currently working through coffee break french. I have also found some useful apps that, though they don't 'teach' me too much, they quiz what I already know and help with memorization and the written form.

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How expensive are these courses? I barely have grocery money; are there no free courses?

I wonder if my local university would let me audit some classes? I have no need for another degree but like learning.

You know what it means when you are on a fixed income, right? It is society's way of placing older citizens on an iceberg and giving them a resounding push! Byby!

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  • 1 month later...

I don't usually use the self-study method because I am so use to learning a new language as is. I don't really do none of the extras that some people do. I like to keep my learning methods simple and easy. Although I know lots of people who learn using different methods.

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Guest isabbbela

I have heard nice things about Berlitz. It's very well known and respected.

But I think ultimately who makes your online learning is yourself. It doesn't matter if you are self studying with the best backup/support material, if you don't push yourself, do homework and study consistently, it's not going to work.

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There are lots of web-based programs which claim to work. There is a website I'd recommend for memorising vocabulary. Memrise.com

I think one good way to learn would be taking a course, be it online or within your community.

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I think this question deals with "self study" meaning tapes, online or books versus classroom study.  As to anyone who really is motivated to learn, local libraries have books (yes we forget about them) as well as many have tapes for check out.

So if you are short on funds and do not  necessarily want to do self study, check out the local community colleges and extension courses.

As to self study, sure the fancier computer online courses will be expensive.  You can shop the online for value, also look into getting used CDs or yes videotapes or cassettes if you can save a few bucks.  Many of these older formats are out there..some for minimal amounts or even free.  Then decide what works best for you.

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Honestly, with today's technology, I wouldn't try learning alone anymore. I'd just find someone I could talk with online so I could learn through conversation, since memorizing phrases really doesn't work too well for me, and I suspect this is true for many other people too. I'd pay my potential language learning partner back by teaching him or her about a language that I know of, or use one of my other skills to return the favor. Lots of people are out there wanting the same thing, and we now have the technology to speak to each other for almost no cost, so I think it's best to take advantage. :)

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