Money can’t buy you the best Spanish course–it’s free. And it’s called Complete Spanish, the Thinking Method by Mihalis Eleftheriou.
What is it?
A well-thought out collection of 90 audio lessons (each about 10-15 minutes long) for Spanish learners, which start from the absolute beginning and cover almost every minute detail there is to the language.
Who it is for?
- Perfect for learners who are just starting out or haven’t yet
- Also perfect for students at any level having a break down over their current teacher or method of study
How it works?
Firstly, you will learn Spanish in a very different order than you are used to (if you’ve not yet begun learning, this is the best thing you can lay your hands on).
Most Spanish (or any language) learning theories roots for “basic” words that every learner must memorize in the beginning of their course, so they can put together “helpful” sentences like “the blue boy has a red mouth” Language Transfer doesn’t believe in this. Instead, it teaches you the easiest-to-grasp concepts first: by lesson 4 or 5, you will learn how to think thousands of words and form complete sentences with them, long before you even learn how to say “mouth.”
For example, we don’t learn the Spanish word for “yes” until lesson 9, but around the same time we learn how to make sentences such as “I am not trying to justify myself, but I want to explain something to you.” Strange, right? And no memorization or rote technique involved here.
I’ve completed the course in an honest manner, and if I recall correctly it didn’t teach me how to say “cat,” or “apple” or “mouth*” for that matter–but seriously, who needs that. Alright, we do, but a simple Google search or dictionary does that for you. Besides, imagine getting lost in Latina Land after years of conventional/rote study, unable to recall anything besides “This is the pen of my aunt” and “Carlos has fallen from the tree.”
In the lessons, Mihalis teaches to a real student who is learning the material for the first time. If you’re familiar with the Michel Thomas courses, you can draw the similarities. What I like about this is you follow along with her at a natural pace, so you feel like it is a real experience, not a rehearsed one.
Though no one on the other end can keep a tab on what you are doing, Language Transfer is a course that requires your active participation. So you can’t listen to it while doing push-ups or taking a walk or driving the car; you have to sit or even lie down (at your own discretion; his voice can get sleep-inducing sometimes), focused on learning Spanish. This is because you are expected to take the role of the student in the lessons, responding to his questions and practicing along. If you just listen to the lessons and don’t participate, in Mihalis’ words, you will learn “about Spanish” but not how to speak Spanish. After Mihalis asks a question of the student, there will be a brief pause before she answers, and this is where you are supposed to pause the audio lesson and take your time to come up with your own answer before continuing. (if you’re sincerely participating though, hitting the pause is not even necessary as she goes at a fairly natural pace.)
What you get from it
- Complete Spanish–every grammar rule and language bend there is, including the exceptions and less familiar ones
- Ability to form the most difficult sentences
- Ability to speak using the correct pronunciation, dialect, etc. so you don’t sound like a “gringo”
- Thorough understanding of the language mechanics
- Perfect for students at all levels: from total beginners to intermediate learners. It’s never too late to change your ways!
What you have to get for yourself
- Vocabulary–besides the language transfer words and the ones used in the course. Yeah, you can’t ditch the dictionary. Not yet; not ever. You may be able to form any number of complex, weirdly difficult sentences with impeccable grammar and precise pronunciation, but how awkward would it be if you stall because you don’t know or can’t recall the “Spanish word” for something? Super awkward! Falling short on vocabulary will render all that learning useless.
- Practice-Practicing what you learn is important if you don’t want the previous lessons getting foggy in your brain as you proceed further up.
- What’s more, the course pushes you to understand how to analyze language, how to think about it, how to get interested in it. . . One thing you’ll realize is nothing is as difficult as it’s made out to be once you start thinking about it.
- It doesn’t unnecessarily spoon-feed you though. So if you want to know how to say “apple” you use that dictionary, and if you want to say “mouth” or something listen to anything from the latin-pop charts!
- Learning through memorization, which is how Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and other courses teach you, is slow, tedious, and requires frequent repetition because your brain can only hold so much memorized information. I’m not saying other methods of learning are stupid; if something works for you better than the rest you stick with it! In my case, the Thinking method did it. There are a lot other things in life where you have no other option than memorization–I just think a creative process like language learning is better without it.
My take is listen to the first lesson, and don’t tell me if it didn’t work. Cause if this doesn’t work for you, I don’t know anything else that will!
Where to get it?
You can download it from the Language Transfer website, stream on youtube, souncloud, or any other shady website you’re used to.
I still don’t get why this stuff is available for free! As they say, the best stuff in life is.
*apple is manzana by the way.