Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

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Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby Babbler » Tue 02 Feb 2010 6:30 pm

This is like the discussion on Rosetta Stone, but more general. What are your experiences self-learning courses that you can get (e.g. Living Language, Colloquial, Rosetta Stone, etc.)? Which worked for you and which didn't? What aspects of the language they help with best and worst? Which one would recommend using? How would they compare to language classes and one-on-one tutoring?
Native language: English
Second language: Français

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Re: Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby DmitryS » Fri 05 Feb 2010 7:04 pm

As for me, the best courses were by Colloquial. Phrases are chosen from real life situations. You have both audio and transcripts, they provide you with appr. 1,000 words that "remain" with you forever.

Hugo's "... language in 3 months" are like these, too.-

Second place - Michel Thomas. I've done introductory Spanish and Italian with him. He explains everything rather good and requires you to do many examples, asks loads of questions and so on. The problem is, that these are only introductory, very basic courses.

The worst experience was with Pimsleur. They do a rather special gimmick - in the beginning of the lesson they let you hear all the material of the lesson, and afterwards they just provide translations of the phrases and repeat them a few times. If you have misheard something - that's your problem. The phrases are not those of the "live" language, but rather of the coursebook.
Language is the history of a nation. Language is the path, that culture and civilization are going along. Therefore, learning Russian language is ... a vital necessity. / A. Kuprin (1870-1938), Russian writer, explorer and adventurer

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Re: Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby Delodephius » Fri 05 Feb 2010 9:58 pm

So far I mainly used Rosetta Stone. I downloaded it from the net as everything else I do (Arrrr!). Since it is free for me I guess it is worth the money. Sure, someone would say it is not right but I would have to give a two month salary for a lousy language program. It's cheaper to move to the other country.

As most people said it is mostly about learning the vocabulary. I'm still trying the Version 3 which apparently has more sections than the previous versions, including useful phrases, but I'm still at the basic level so I haven't tried it yet. It is undoubtedly more complex than Version 2.

I'm using it to learn most languages I'm interested, first of which on my list are German, French and Japanese (but don't tell anyone ;) )

Also I tried a software called Hindi Guru to try and learn Hindi couple of years ago. It was interesting but confusing a bit. I don't remember why anymore.

I would like to try other software but I don't know which one can be downloaded via torrent. I was also thinking of buying a course from PONS, I don't know if you are familiar with it, it is popular here in Serbia, it is a German program with an audio CD and textbook. It is a bit expensive for me (like 30$ I think) but if Rosetta Stone fails I'll give it a try.
- Latina Ἑλληνική संस्कृतम् पाळि עִבְרִית پارسيک الفصحى 文言 Norrœnt

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Re: Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby AvaS » Mon 19 Jul 2010 2:07 am

I have never been a fan of Rosetta Stone. The language seems too isolated; even if I know what a word means, I would have no idea how to use it in a conversation.

I've used Teach Yourself, the Colloquial Series, and the Hugo series. I agree that the Colloquial series is the best one. Sometimes the Teach Yourself series is the only option around, though.

I've done the 1st and 2nd levels of the Pimsleur courses in Russian, German, and Japanese. The language is very formal, but I liked that the courses got me used to thinking in the target language. I would recommend them as a beginner's tool, especially if it's a difficult language for you.

The self-instruction method I *love* is the Praxis language set of courses. Currently there are ChinesePod, EnglishPod, ItalianPod, SpanishPod and FrenchPod. The barrier to these courses might be that they require a monthly fee, but they are worth in in my opinion. Also, very often I will download a bunch of lessons, and then allow my subscription to lapse until I catch up again. I don't have access to all the content and exercises, but it saves me money.

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Re: Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby Yaziq » Fri 23 Jul 2010 6:40 pm

In my study of Ukrainian I use a Hippocrene phrase book which has a problem of wrongly using a "g" where an "h" should be due to Soviet influence of some kind and a Lonely Planet phrase book which doesn't have the g/h problem and is generally better. I also use several other books and attempt to read Ukrainian Wikipedia articles as best I can. Needless to say, resources for studying Ukrainian are more limited than those for studying Russian.

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Re: Your Experiences with Various Self-Learning Courses

Postby hihola » Tue 27 Jul 2010 9:58 am


I personally like audio courses.

I have tried Michel Thomas audio course (French, but there is also Spanish and some other languages) and it was quite effective. It is like participating in live class when you follow 2 other students who are making mistakes and being corrected by author. If you don't mind Michel Thomas accent, and idea of listening to somebody else making mistakes, then it is great course that encourages active participation.

Pimsleur (Spanish, French etc) is good course too, it is more formal than Michel Thomas, but it has scientific approach. You are reminded to recall from your memory word or phrase in pre-set intervals and somehow it helps to remember the word very well. With Pimsleur you will learn more grammar and technicalities than with Michel Thomas.

Why don't you try to get free samples of these courses ( in audio download version) and see what you like better.

In summary, both courses encourage to speak and it is the most important thing in learning language.

Good luck with your studies!
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