learnissimo.com — online one on one Spanish classes

A lot of people can’t afford the luxury of time. It’s such a busy world that you don’t have the time to do what you want to do.  There’s so much to do that 24 hours a day isn’t enough anymore. Luckily, internet started and the world became smaller. Smaller in the sense that it not takes less time to do your shopping, pay your bills and do business because you can now do it in the comfort of your own home.

A lot of businesses took advantage of the internet rage, everything from yoga classes to burger joints to colleges have their sites online. One business who took advantage of this is language classes. Rushing from work to prepare dinner at home is a hassle of its own, let alone squeezing a language class in between. This is where the genius of sites such as learnissimo.com comes in.

Learnissimo is a tutor-based website offering a couple of languages, which includes Spanish. You don’t have to download anything, because you don’t have to use any kind of software to study. Learning with Learnissimo is like being in a virtual classroom, with you being the only student. The thing I like most about this site is that it offers flexibility and personalization. How? It does so through a couple of things. First, the learner has the freedom to choose a tutor. This comes in while you are creating an account, before you pay for anything. You can check out the tutor’s profile which includes information about them. Information includes their name, where they live, how many students they are currently teaching, number of lessons they have taught, how long they have been teaching, other languages they can speak, and even their hobbies. All of their tutors are competent, as you can see on the feedbacks given to them by other students. Wanting to compare tutors, I first chose a tutor who is only teaching 4 students, than that of another tutor who is teaching 34 students.  My tutor has only one year of experience, the other one has 19 years. Though there are difference in the teaching techniques, my tutor is as competent as the other tutors, which shows that Learnissimo chooses their teachers well. If it so happens that you don’t like the tutor you chose, you have the option not to go on with the class and choose another tutor instead. Another thing that I liked about the program is that you can choose your own schedule. Not all classes offer this, so this is a plus for Learnissimo.  The only downside is your favorite tutor may not be available on the schedule you chose, so you would have to choose another tutor.

Learning through Learnissimo is hassle-free. All you need is a fast-internet connection, a webcam and a mic. It’s not really hard to navigate through the site, except if one doesn’t have any experience of using a computer. Also absent from the site is a forum for students, which could have been helpful in sharing experiences and heads-up among them.

Overall, Learnissimo is excellent for people who have no time to attend classes. It’s also excellent for people of all ages. Not dealing with software means tutors can easily adjust to their student’s level. Every penny you pay for learning through Learnissimo is worth it. Check their website and see for yourself. Website address is http://www.learnissimo.com

How much business is businessspanish.com?

I was impressed when I saw the name businessspanish.com online. A lot of people learn Spanish to do business, and I thought how nice it is that there’s this whole site dedicated to business people. I checked it out, and seems like only the name is impressive with this site.

First of all, learning through the site is free. This is good, because no one would pay to use the site if all you would learn is a bunch of vocabularies. Yes, that’s quite all you would get from the site. Although they teach words that business people could use, such as SIGNATURES  and CONTRACTS and stuff, that’s all there is to it.

I checked out the dialogs tab, and what I found isn’t business related at all. It teaches about how to introduce a friend, and inviting friend over which is not much use for business. I was hoping something that would teach you phrases that you could use to talk with employees, perhaps, but that’s not the case.

The look of the site is quite old, like it hasn’t been updated in ages. And there are some pages which is blue on the background and it really hurts the eyes. Also, all you get to do is click on words, like there are no sections or tabs to click on and that sometimes gets confusing.

There are audio for each word on the vocabulary list but it doesn’t play right away like sites usually does. Clicking on the word would open a window making you choose a program to play the audio (Win media player on my case), and you HAVE to do that to each word. Quite a pain if you ask me.

I guess you shouldn’t expect much from this learning site, which is absolutely free in the first place. It’s good enough to use as a sort of dictionary, provided that you are learning Spanish from elsewhere. By the way, don’t believe the name. The site’s not really very useful for business.

Unforgettable Languages : memory and recall

It has been said again and again that one of the keys to learning a new language is enriching your vocabulary. This may be the case, but the problem most people have is that learning vocabulary can be boring, and you tend to forget it a few minutes after you learn a new word. A lot of software turned to flashcards to fix this problem. They show you a picture with the word underneath it, they hide the word, and you give the correct word for that picture. Pretty okay, but not really for the weak in memory. And then I found this wonderful software called UNFORGETTABLE LANGUAGES. They offer Dutch, Japanese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Welsh. They promise to make you learn and remember fifty words per hour, and to speak a new language in the weekend. I’m not so sure about the speaking thing, but boy, are they good to make you remember new words.

The software’s developers believes that memory and recall are the keys to learning a new language rapidly. The software’s method is simply to introduce the learner to new words in their target language, and associate that word to English for easier recall. So let’s say you’re learning the Spanish word OSO which means bear. You would be asked to picture a bear OH SO! Near you (for about 10 seconds) in order for you to associate the word. With the course designed to stimulate the human memory, believe me, it is EFFECTIVE.

Not only does Unforgettable Languages teach you vocabulary, it teaches you grammar and sentence construction as well while using the same method. The only thing that I don’t like is that the words they associate with the grammar is sometimes far off, and some of the sentences won’t really help you converse in the language. Take the example saying “the fish is red”, that’s not something you could really use in a conversation, isn’t it?

For $124.99 for the actual software or the instant download, the software is on the expensive side considering that they only have 45 hours of Instruction. But what’s expensive if you can learn the language in no time? Speaking and understanding another language is such a wonderful experience. Personally, I don’t base on the amount you have to pay for software to say that it is expensive. I base it on the learning and knowledge I get. Nothing is too expensive if you can benefit a lot from it.

How to choose the right software for you

Many people learn Spanish as a second language today. Being one of the most spoken languages in the world, one would surely benefit learning Spanish whatever their reason is. With all the software available in the market, you might get easily confused on which one to get.

It is so easy to just pick one software and start learning Spanish with it. Doing it that way, however, is a poor sense of judgment. A good foundation on learning a language is very essential to attain fluency. Imagine how disappointing it would be to spend weeks or months using a software only to learn in the end that you are not getting any benefit from it. A lot of people make this mistake, so please be very careful.

One of the things that need to be considered when choosing a language learning software is your learning style. Are you the kind who likes to be in control of the lesson? Do you prefer being able to choose which exercises to take? Or are you the kind of learner who needs a hardcore lesson plan? Identifying which type of learner you are, and comparing this with the way a software works would keep you wanting to use that software, which would of course benefit you maximize the learning experience.

You also need to consider the time you can spend on using the software. Some software requires 4 months to finish while others takes one month. If you are busy with work, then you may want to choose something that doesn’t require more than at least two hours of learning every day. This brings me to the next thing to consider, which is THE REASON FOR LEARNING. Do you need to learn Spanish for business? Or is it just for vacation? Having clear goals for learning Spanish would help save you time and effort for learning things that you may not need at all. There are different skills you need to acquire for different purposes. If you are, for example, learning it for business, then you would need to learn business vocabularies. You would also need to learn to write in Spanish in order for you to make business letters or correspondence in email. Learning Spanish for vacation on the other hand doesn’t need writing skills very much. What you need to learn are phrases and words that you might need in travelling, talking to hotel staff, or asking for directions. You won’t need to learn all the names of, let’s say, animals for this purpose so you could leave them out of your lesson.

Also one of the things you need to consider is your budget. You don’t have to worry much about this, as most software is affordable. The only question here is whether to get the cheaper or more expensive one.  The difference between the two is the features each software has. Although some not so expensive software offers fewer features, it doesn’t necessarily mean you would learn from them a lot less. Remember that it’s still one’s dedication and determination that will make a person learn and speak a language.

Byki — add new words to your vocabulary everyday

Byki.com has free software downloadable from the net which is called the Byki Express. It’s basically a flash-card software whose aim is to widen your vocabulary by feeding you new words. Byki is a language learner’s heaven with 74 languages to choose from.  All you have to do to download the software is to go to byki.com, create an account then choose the language you want to learn. You would then be sent a link on your email, which you have to click in order to proceed with downloading the software. Trying the free software is a great way to find out if you want to upgrade to premium version, plus the Byki Express has unlimited time and unlimited sessions so you can be sure to make the most of it.

The software is painless to install, although it takes some time to do it. One great feature of the software is that you can pick right off from where you left, so you don’t have to begin from the very start every time you open the software. It’s basically working on flashcards after that, memorizing and widening your vocabulary, which all that the software actually does.

The Byki software heavily relies on memorization in order for it to be effective. It was made with the idea that repetition is the key for a person to learn. You would notice how the flashcards tend to be picked up more often if you are having trouble with that word, which is a very good way for it to stick in your mind. I wasn’t really paying attention during the part where I was reviewing the flashcards, but the words later stuck in my mind after it showed up again and again when I wasn’t able to choose the correct answer. I really appreciated the technique this software used, which seems to be really effective.

Although an excellent software, Byki Express is not enough for those who are seriously learning Spanish. The software doesn’t deal with sentence construction and grammar rules, which is essential for every person trying to master a language. The program is good as a supplemental learning for those are already having Spanish classes, and just needs to learn a few words every now and then.

Lo Mas TV — TV watching on the internet

I came across Lo Mas Tv while surfing the net and I read great reviews about it. Curiosity striking, I decided to check it out.

What I like about Lo Mas TV is that it uses interesting materials as a means to teach students Spanish. The first thing that you can do when you open their website is to choose a video. They have so many options for their videos. They have music videos, television programs, documentaries and travel. I chose to check a Shakira video for this review. Their Yabla player opens once you choose a video, and the video would start playing. The Yabla player, unlike padcasts or books, was designed to actively engage the learner. It deals with listening, reading, visual and interactive aspects all at the same time. The Yabla player is very easy to use. The lyrics of the song (since I chose a music video) is shown below the video, with the English translation underneath it. You can click on a Spanish word that you don’t understand, and the interactive dictionary on the right side of the window would search the meaning for you. You also have the option to loop the video, meaning the certain phrase currently playing on the video would play again and again so you can really grasp each word. You can also slow down the video, to better hear the pronunciation of the word although the audio would seem a little bit messed up if you do this. You have the option to finish the whole video, or you can proceed with the games which is basically fill in the blank. A part of the song would play, and you get to fill in the missing word. A little bit childish in my opinion, and not so much challenging if you already know a bit of Spanish.

Lo Mas Tv claims to be effective for beginners, although not so much in my opinion. There is much immersion but not so much instruction, which could make the beginner confused especially with grammar rules.

Like other software and language learning platform, Lo Mas Tv uses flashcards for learning. You can click on any Spanish word while watching a video and it will be saved to your personal flash card list. You can click on a set of words which will be shown one by one. You have the option to choose whether you know the meaning or not. Choosing “I don’t know it” will show you the word’s meaning. Choosing “I think I know it” will show you another set of buttons asking you if you were right or not. Again, seems like a little childish to me, just the same with reading a dictionary. Guessing the meaning of the word then checking the meaning after. I mean, I don’t have to pay for that. Anybody with a Spanish dictionary can do that on their own.

Lo Mas Tv comes cheap though, at only $9.95 monthly, that’s less than 35 cents a day. Quite cheap, plus they have a seven-day money back guarantee.

Overall, I would recommend Lo Mas Tv for people who are tired of the usual stuff. Watching something that’s interesting while learning Spanish is good enough for me to make me pay the $9.95. If you’re a fond of youtube and is learning Spanish at the same time, then this is the one for you.

Have a good deed returned with Live Mocha

Live Mocha is a fusion between social networking and language learning. The site is a meeting place for people wanting to learn Spanish, or any of the 35 languages they offer. The developer’s genius is using people to give for free and getting something free in return (more about this later).

I gave Live Mocha a little spin and here’s what I learned.

Registration is very easy, plus it’s free. All you have to do is choose the language you want to learn, specify the language that you can speak plus a few more information. You would then proceed to completing your profile, and then continue to enrolling in a course. You have two options for the course, the Spanish travel crash course and the Spanish Plus. For this review, I chose Spanish plus level 101 which is for students starting with basics with little or no exposure to the language. For the more advanced students, you can choose level 102 which is for students who can put sentences together; level 201 for those who are comfortable enough to ask a few questions and follow simple conversations; and level 202, which is for students who can have simple back and forth dialogs and follow more complicated conversations.

You would proceed with learning right after choosing your level. A few simple words will be introduced, and it would be spoken in your target language (although there is a translate button if you need it). The first round teaches you words like man, woman, girl, boy, etc. After this, the program would add more words making it I AM A WOMAN, I AM A MAN and so on. This course offers the very basic, which would benefit you provided that you are good with analysis as there is no teacher to break down everything for you. Like on this sentence for example: ELLA ES ALTO vs. EL HOMBRE ES BAJO. The program was able to teach the learner that ALTO means tall, and that BAJO is short but it didn’t tell you to use ELLA for women and EL for men. Also, there were no clear explanation on how you would construct the sentence; you just have to figure it out using the example.

After learning comes the review. It’s a little exercise checking if you learned anything at all. The review is a mix of two approaches. The program would speak a word, and the learner chooses the correct picture or the other way, which I like better, is where the program would show you a picture with words underneath it then the choose the correct order of words to form the correct sentence.

The next test deals with writing. What you need to do is form a few sentences using the vocabulary you just learned then you submit it. Here’s where the genius comes in. Although the site is supported by advertisements, one of the reasons it’s free is because they don’t have to get teachers in order for the student’s to learn. The learners are also the teachers — learners of the language they want to learn, and teachers of the language they are able to speak. In order to go through with submitting your test, a window would pop up asking you to rate and comment on a test submitted by an English learner. It’s actually very easy and it would take you less than two minutes to rate their test.

After writing is a test for speaking. The learner just needs to read and record a paragraph then submit it. Just like on the writing exercise, you would need to rate somebody else’s work before you fully submit yours.

Learning using this site is fun and easy, plus the interaction is fast. I received a few reviews on my tests about 5 minutes after I submitted them. The review should have been helpful, but since they are Spanish speaking people, they gave the review in Spanish. You would not understand a thing if you do not speak Spanish (let me put emphasis that the whole reason you are learning is because you don’t understand it!). This made me think of the reviews I gave. Did the learner I rated understand any of my comments? I don’t know if the developers could do something about this but I sure hope they would take notice as I’m sure learners, especially the beginners, would love to know where they went wrong.

Navigation through the site is relatively easy. You would have no difficulty finding what you need even if it’s your first time using the site. Furthermore, the interface has an easy feel making you feel relaxed and comfortable for learning. Think of it as facebook with a twist.

Over all, I would give Live Mocha 4 stars (out of five). It is helpful, it is free, and I’m sure it would make you more interested in learning although again, I need to point out that using the site requires good analysis. Good analysis in the sense that you need to figure out some sentences and some words for yourself.

The online textbook that is Babbel.com

Babbel is not as impressive as I thought it would be. Being an online language learning platform, I was expecting it to make the most of technology available to them. What I found out instead is a textbook transferred over to the internet.

Registration is very easy, and takes less than a minute. After the registration is the choosing of the course. They have several courses to choose from. These are:

THE BEGINNER’S COURSE – claiming to be a light introduction to the language and promises to teach you step-by-step.

LISTEN AND PRACTICE – This is where you get to listen to everyday conversations in order to learn useful expressions.

THEMES AND SITUATIONS – Promises to give you the basics and beyond

GRAMMAR – grammar practice in easy, understandable steps

BASIC AND ADVANCED VOCABULARY – Promises to teach you 3000 words, which comes with example sentences

1000 USEFUL SENTENCES – 1000 of the most useful sentences to get you communicating right away

REFRESHER COURSE – ideal for those who have studied Spanish in the past.

No matter how I put it, I’m just not satisfied with what Babbel has to offer. I believe that a person needs to understand the grammar rules of a certain language in order for them to learn it, and that’s not something Babbel has put into consideration. Their learning is based on memorization, which has not been the best method for anyone as far as I can remember. Yes, they have forums and a chat feature but that’s not good enough even for the cheap price that they’re asking you to pay. It’s a good thing that they have a money-back guarantee within the first 20 days, and that you can cancel your account anytime so I can ask you to see it for yourself. If you ask me, I’m better off learning from a textbook than pay Babbel good money for the not so impressive lessons they are offering.

Power Speak Spanish Edition

The Power Speak Spanish Edition is a multi-media, game based approach to learning Spanish. At $200, it is not cheap but I wouldn’t say that it expensive either. The amount of content of this software represents very good value so you can well be assured that you’re not wasting your money when buying this software.

The program was designed for kids ages 10-13. It starts by having the student create their own avatar, and they get to design it and everything. The student gets to keep their avatar, and the program keeps the student’s interested by making them earn points to jazz up their avatar later.

The lesson then starts after the student designed their avatar.  There will be two kids telling a story using English. They would repeat the story, adding more and more Spanish words as it goes along. An exercise in the form of a game would follow each story, reinforcing what the kids has learned that day. The lessons are laid-out in a five day schedule per week, and a quiz would be held every end of the week to check on the student’s learning. The whole software could be finished in four months and a half if you follow the schedule.

There are so many activities in this software that it will surely make learning fun, interesting and motivating. What I like most about this software is that it comes from a communicative standpoint, so you don’t have to study using boring grammar tables and stuffs. Navigation is also very easy, as the programmers had kids and teenagers in mind when they designed the software. Although especially designed for the young ones, adults young at heart would also enjoy learning Spanish using Power Speak. One thing that I realized is that other software labeled as “for kids” were actually adult programs repackaged. That’s one thing Power Speak is not. You would notice that it was designed and made for it’s targeted users right from the interface, to the design, to the lessons and to the activities.

Tell Me More! Spanish : All-you-can-learn at a reasonable price

Tell Me More! Spanish is the All-you-can-learn software. Although quite expensive compared to the other software in the markets, Tell Me More! Spanish is the best value for your money. This program is great for learners of all levels. It can cater to the need of the absolute beginner to that of someone who already has experience in the language but still needs to polish their grammar, pronunciation or needs to work on their comprehension.

The program consists of 960 hours of learning with lessons presented as games,  activities and workshops. One of the features that this software can boast of is their way-excellent speech recognition system and the SETS (Spoken Error Tracking System), which has the ability to give you immediate feedback on your pronunciation.

Unlike other programs, you don’t have to make another purchase to be able to bring the software around. Tell Me More! Gives you the ability to make your very own audio Cds to help you practice when you’re away from your computer. One of the great things about this software is that it doesn’t only teach you, but it also gives you options on how you want to learn your lesson. The learner will get to choose if they want to learn through FREE-TO-ROAM, where you have the power to pick  an exercise for the topic you have chosen to learn; GUIDED MODE, which is suitable for people who has an experience with Spanish since they will be able to choose the topics they want to learn, skipping those which they already know; and DYNAMIC MODE, which is similar to the guided mode except that the program will choose the lessons basing on the goals set by the user.

Although not compatible with Mac and Linux, Tell Me More! Spanish installs and works smoothly with any Window computers. All you have to do is insert the disc, run the installation program which is as easy as 1-2-3, and Viola! You’re ready to start your lesson by selecting your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced).

What’s more, you can log in to the software using multiple usernames so each of the family members can use the program, learning at their own pace and tracking their own progress. If this is doesn’t give you great value, I don’t know what will.

I always believed that when buying a software, or anything for that matter, you need to look at the features and not on the price. You may say on the onset that this software is pricey but believe me, there’s nothing else on the market today that will give you that much needed knowledge like Tell Me More! Spanish can.

LingQ — linking you to the language learning world

LingQ is a community-based language learning site. They offer English, Japanese, German, Spanish etc. All you have to do is go to their website (http://www.lingq.com/), and register. You would have the option to register to a free account or pay for a basic account at $10 a month, plus account at $39 or the premium account at $79. The free account offers unlimited number of lessons but only has 300 LingQs (flashcards that the site uses). The other accounts offers unlimited lessons as well as LingQs but the premium account offers all these plus personal tutoring.

Unlike other language learning software and programs that uses pictures, LingQ uses reading and listening techniques. The learner chooses a topic they like which was recorded in their targeted language, and that’s what they use to learn. Or if you come across a phrase or a word that you’d like to learn in your targeted language, you can LinQ that and you could have it translated later. Learning this way means you are learning while staying interested the whole time.

The thing that I liked most about LingQ is that it focuses on the learner’s interests. I read time and again that focusing on the learner’s interest plays a big role on language acquisition — which actually makes sense. As I’ve noticed back when I was still going to school, I focus more when I am interested in a subject so what happens is that I  tend to retain information more. This is the same concept that LingQ uses for language learning.

Although effective for most users, this course would not fit you if you’re the visual type. As pointed out earlier, LingQ does not use pictures like other software does. This is also not suitable for kids or teenagers, as the interface might bore them. I would say, all-in-all that the $79 you would pay for the premium account is well worth it. If you’re not sure, you could create a free account first, try it out then decide if you it’s effective for you or not.

Teach Me! Spanish review

Teach Me! Spanish is very simple software. It’s so simple that many find the software itself boring (but not the learning). Teach Me! Spanish was developed using two principles. The developers believe that a person basically needs two things in order to learn a new language. One is having a vocabulary of about 2000 words, and the other is that you need to understand the grammar rules of that specific language. Teach Me! Spanish were able to fuse these two points into their program. Teach Me! Spanish is also very easy to navigate, and there is no issue with the installation. One of the strengths of this software is that it has a progress tracking feature in the image of a line graph, which made me think that although the developers did good on the education side, they lacked on the creativity side. The program is divided into four sections including vocabulary lessons, grammar exercises, stories and pronunciation. They did well on these sections except on the pronunciation, where you would have to be really, really careful when pronouncing the words in order for their voice recognition feature to work. Also one thing that I don’t like about this program is that although they focus on vocabulary and grammar, they were not able to focus on having the student practice conversational skills.

The software works by having the student enter the correct words into place throughout a story. The student has three options on how to enter the words. The Normal Mode requires you to write out each Spanish word in full. The Auto Word option requires you to just type the first letter of the word, and the software pops out the other needed letters. The third mode, the Browse Mode, can have you access all the answers for each exercise. I was actually quite disappointed with how the software works. I was expecting something that would really challenge me, and it turned out that Teach Me! Spanish were not able to deliver on that.

Teach Me! Spanish maybe effective, but it’s quite expensive if you compare the price to what you would get from the program. Besides, most if not all people who studies a language is aiming for fluency, and that’s not something this software can give.

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