Learning Spanish: Easy Learning Spanish

27th January 2010


As I stated earlier, I'm starting to learn Spanish, and I'm ploughing my way through a number of audio CDs during my daily commute. The North Circular traffic snarls are now no longer a cause for frustration, but an extra opportunity to practice my pronounciation.

Having finished the "Instant Recall Vocabulary" CD, I then started on the 3-CD pack, "Easy Learning Spanish" by Harper Collins.

Here's the blurb:
This exciting new Easy Learning language course allows learners to take on board all of the Spanish they will need while abroad without the need for thick textbooks and complex grammar. 3 audio CDs and accompanying colour booklet make language learning fun, fast and flexible. 3 audio CDs guide learners through a series of 12 short units. Each unit introduces 5 new key words or phrases before expanding on the basic vocabulary with practice activities, memory tips and culture and etiquette advice. An accompanying 48-page colour booklet provides full transcripts of the CD conversations as well as helpful hints to guide the user through their learning experience. Unit 1: Hello Unit 2: Excuse me Unit 3: Where's the bar? Unit 4: Over there Unit 5: What would you like? Unit 6: Have you got any!? Unit 7: Can you help me? Unit 8: I want to go to! Unit 9: Have you got a room? Unit 10: It hurts Unit 11: I want to make an appointment Unit 12: What's it like?


What's it all about?

It's about 4 hours. Boom boom.

As the blurb says, there are 3 CDs and a booklet in the package.

It's very much phrase-based - vocabulary is only introduced as an adjunct to phrases.

Each learning unit is divided into sections: "Introduction", "You Try It", "Taking It Further, and "Revision".

There's an accompanying booklet, which summarizes the content of the units. The booklet's OK, actually, to be honest I found it better than the CD...

The Good bits

  • It's well structured and fairly easy to work through - you know what's coming next at each point.
  • You get to listen to and use phrases in real-world situations - ordering a room, food, or drink, for example.
  • Dialogue - there are some (relatively) long sections of dialogue, which whilst initially intimidating, do at least get you used to hearing people talk in large-volume section in a foreign language. It gives a sense of satisfaction to hear "proper" dialogue and understand it.

The Bad bits

  • Specific to Spain. It's great to know about the sights in Madrid, if you're planning to go to Madrid. It's less useful otherwise. Sometimes it felt a bit too much like a guide book in places.
  • Order variation. Sometimes you were expected to repeat the Spanish phrase, sometimes to provide it then hear it again. I found this a bit confusing.
  • Phrase-based. A bit like learning Tango by learning a long set of sequences, this taught you a set of phrases. You didn't really get a sense of how to put words together in different orders to create your own sentences. And it can create an illusion that you know more than you do.
  • Not fun. Ultimately, for me it was hard work to plough through it; I didn't get a real sense of progression the way I did with the "Instant Recall" CDs.


This is, basically, an audio phrase book. I learnt from it, but I didn't feel I learnt a lot.

It's probably ideal for going on a weekend trip to Madrid; less so if your aim is to learn, well, Spanish...

So, a bit disappointing, all in all, but slow progress is still progress.

David Bailey, 27th January 2010

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