Reviewed by Keith Mitchell
I can still remember some of my schoolboy French that I stopped 50 years ago. My daughter has recently moved to Spain and, as always, where ever I go I like to use a few words of the local language. After my first ever visit to Spain I decided that I would go back to visit regularly. Hmmm! Most locals I came across had a smattering of English, but my knowledge stopped at Hola and gracias, por favor. Bit rude on my part so this course came along at just the right time.
You have the option of French, German, Spanish and Russian (that blew my mind on the first word!!) for your lessons and a special Estonian course of phrases also. You have the option to start as a complete beginner. If you are looking for glossy pictures and razzamatazz, the Lingvist’s language course on line probably isn’t for you. I found the website easy to get in to and very easy to navigate. Select your language and your focus, plus your level of competence and get stuck in.
To start with it is minimalist and gives an English word with a box for you to type what you think the Spanish equivalent will be. Try guessing, it is good fun and you will be surprised how often you think “wow, I was close there”. Easy words mixed with a few more difficult. You soon pick up the male or female words from words around them (ending o for male singular, a for female) which helps your guessing. You then get the correct word and spelling for you to overtype and a pleasant voice giving the pronunciation. Each time you have completed correctly, another word appears. If you don’t want to guess, that’s fine, you can click on > on the right of the word box and get the correct word. So far so good.
There is constant recapping, so you can try to remember and spell the words you have already passed. I noticed that if you have had trouble with a word that word recaps more often. Soon you get the message congratulating you on passing your first 100 words. I specifically liked the little drop-down menus you can use to check 1st, 2nd, 3rd person use such as I am, you are, he is etc. You can do as much or as little as you want at any one time. I found the time flew by and was shocked I did nearly 2 hours very enthusiastically. I started on the general words to see how I progressed.
Pushing on through the days, the one word answers start to appear in phrases which means you pick up even more words without noticing.
Each time you get a new word the screen shows you that fact. Down the side of the screen are small icons allowing you to check words to learn grammar tips etc. I notice now that I have progressed a bit, besides phrases that are questions, a reply is now forthcoming in a different voice. Also there is an icon to change the focus of your course, giving the option of Holiday or Football focus instead of general words and phrases. Having got the initial few days done in general words I have now moved to the Holiday focus, which I have no doubt will REALLY impress my daughter who had been learning Spanish for about 6 months before her move (I have learnt “the bill” already).
It is early days, but I have to say this is a splendid course so far. It is well worth spending a few minutes at the start looking at the side icons so that you can see the range of assistance, challenges and so on. I changed to German for a quick to see if that was similar. It follows the same format. You can trundle along slowly or really start blasting along. Remember it will take time to get words and grammar stuck in your mind, so progress is governed really by your ability to learn and the effort you put in. There is no easy fix.
What a superb Christmas present this would make for someone wanting to learn a new language, to brush up on dormant skills. I can see that this would be good for all ages. I would highly recommend this site and course. Had someone got this for me for a present I would be very pleased.
You can purchase the course monthly for £19.95 per month, quarterly from £13.98 or annually for £6.66 (that is a one off total cost of £79.95). There is an option to try a small part the course for free so a good way to start to see if you like it and can cope. I believe that Lingvist also do many other languages so always worth a look. Definitely good value.
A sound ***** from me.
For more information or to start learning a new language visit lingvist.com.