Learn Spanish in Spain

language advantage recommends our top intensive Spanish language schools in Spain.

We’ve teamed up with don Quijote, one of the best Spanish language schools in the world. They offer you great Spanish courses in fabulous locations and most importantly good service. Going to Spain will always be one of the best ways to study Spanish and learn about the Spanish culture. If you want to be adventurous, try Spanish and Scuba Diving in Tenerife or Spanish and Flamenco in Madrid! If you’re looking for something a bit more serious, take a Spanish language business course or an internship and meet local Spanish business people. This is an authentic way to learn Spanish in Spain.


Browse don Quijote Spanish language courses in Latin America>>


Destinations
Courses in:

Alicante | Barcelona | Cadiz | Fuerteventura | Granada | Lanzarote | Madrid | Malaga | Mallorca | Marbella | Pamplona | Salamanca | Sevilla | Tenerife | Valencia


Spanish Language Courses

Intensive Spanish course

This is a group course where you can study Spanish for 4 or 6 hours a day, leaving the rest of the day free for you to explore the language and culture of Spain. You can learn Spanish for 1 to 40 weeks. You will acquire strategies for understanding and communicating messages in spoken and written Spanish, including culture and body language.

Read our review of a week studying Spanish at a Spanish language school in Spain with don Quijote>>

Find out more about Intensive Spanish courses in Spain
>>


Individual Spanish Tuition

You can take additional personal Spanish lessons after your Intensive Spanish course, or alternatively you can tailor-make your whole Spanish language course to be one-on-one, concentrating on specific language skills or on specialist vocabulary areas you need. It’s up to you! And you’ll make fast progress.

Find out more about Individual Spanish tuition courses in Spain>>


Business Spanish

There are a selection of Business Spanish language courses, so you can study Business Spanish for two hours a day during 1-4 weeks. By doing the complete 4 weeks, you will leave the course well prepared for the Basic Spanish Certificate in Business granted by the Madrid Chamber of Commerce. It is recommended to take this course alongside an Intensive Spanish course.

Find out more about Business Spanish courses in Spain>>


Spanish and Paid Work Experience

This programme gives you an intensive Spanish language course and real paid work experience in a hotel or country house. You take a minimum of a four week intensive Spanish course at one of the Spanish language schools, then put your new language skills to work in a hotel or country house in mainland Spain, or in the Spanish Canary or Balearic Islands.

Find out more about Spanish and Paid Work Experience in Spain>>


Spanish and Internship Experience

This programme gives you a high-level of Spanish language course and real work experience in a Spanish business. You take a six week intensive Spanish course at one of the Spanish language schools, then a Professional Orientation course and then start your 2 month internship.

Find out more about Spanish and Internship Experiences in Spain>>


Spanish for Exam Preparation

This programme gives you a high-level of Spanish language course and prepares you for either the DELE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) or the Chamber of Commerce Certificate in Business or Tourism examinations in Spanish.

Find out more about DELE courses in Spain>>

Find out more about Chamber of Commerce courses in Spain>>


Professional Spanish

You take the Spanish intensive course of 4 hours a day and select from the professional programmes which you will take after your Spanish courses during the week to build up your vocabulary and knowledge of your profession.

Find out more about Professional Spanish courses in Spain>>


Spanish and Activities

You take the Spanish intensive course of 4 hours a day and select from activity programmes which you will take after your Spanish courses during the week! There are many exciting, cultural and adventurous courses to choose from, so give one a go and have an amazing language holiday!

Find out more about Spanish and Cooking in Barcelona, Madrid or Salamanca, Spain>>

Find out more about Spanish and Wine Tasting in Salamanca, Spain>>

Find out more about Spanish and Flamenco in Granada or Madrid, Spain>>

Find out more about Spanish and Art, History or Literature in Granada, Spain>>

Find out more about Spanish and Scuba Diving in Tenerife, Spain>>

Find out more about Spanish and Christmas Cultural Programs in Barcelona, Granada, Salamanca, Madrid, Tenerife or Valencia, Spain>>


Spanish for 50+

For the more senior language learner, you can take the Spanish intensive course of 4 hours a day and take part in a programme of leisure activities to explore the culture of Spain and its language. Activities include visits to interesting places in Tenerife as well as dance classes in Salsa or Merengue.

Find out more about Spanish for 50+ courses in Spain>>


Summer Camp Spanish for Kids (Kid and Teen Programs)

This is a great opportunity for your child to learn Spanish as they experience a fun and active summer holiday while making international friends. The summer camps include intensive Spanish language courses together with sports and leisure activities. Give your child this language summer holiday with Don Quijote!

Find out more about Spanish Summer Camp for Kids in Spain>>


Browse don Quijote Spanish language courses in Latin America>>


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Language Fun In The Sun!

learn a language for your summer holiday

The holiday season  is here again. If you are jetting off somewhere nice, you’ll get more from your time away if you learn a bit of the local language. We’ve selected the best and most innovative quick holiday language courses for beginners.   Heard of pay as you go?   This is learn as you go! [Read more…]

I WANT TO LEARN … A LANGUAGE FOR MY SUMMER HOLIDAY!

The holiday season is here! Get more from your time away when you learn a bit of the local language.

We’ve selected the best and most innovative quick holiday courses for beginners, so that you can pick up the essentials before you head away – even if you’ve never studied a language before. Or just download a language course onto your ipod or mp3 player … and learn on the plane … on the beach … or at the bar! Don’t just speak English, get the holiday language advantage!


While you’re there:

There are lots of different language courses you can download onto your ipod or mp3 player and take away on holiday with you.

01 Michel Thomas

audible-michel-thomas-method-portugueseOne of our favourite download courses is the Michel Thomas Method, which is available in all your favourite holiday languages from Spanish to Portuguese.

languages: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>

02 Teach Yourself One-Day

audible-teach-yourself-one-day-spanishTeach Yourself cover lots of levels and lots of languages – but these short courses are a perfect way to get learning for your holiday.

languages: French, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>

03 BBC Quickstart

audible-bbc-quickstart-frenchBBC Quickstart is for you if you are going away on a weekend or short European break and want to grasp the basics of the language, without having to master any complicated grammar or phrases.

languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish

Learn a language on your iPod ® in the UK>>


Before you go:

01 Teach Yourself One-Day

teach-yourself-polish-one-dayIf you’re a complete (and we mean complete) beginner, then these may be the courses that get you started with French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish in just one-day. Perfect for that holiday or weekend break. Much better than just speaking English.

languages: French, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish

method: audio cd, booklet, dvd (French, Spanish only)

read our Teach Yourself one-day Greek review!

more information and to buy  Teach Yourself one-day from our Teach Yourself shop [UK and Europe]>>

more information and to buy  Teach Yourself one-day from our Teach Yourself store [USA and Americas]>>

02 Pimsleur Quick & Simple

pimsleur-italian-quick-simpleEight quick and simple audio lessons from Pimsleur to give you a start in conversation in your new language.   It’s like learning a language when you were a kid – slowing building up key words and phrases.   Just do 30 minutes a day and you’ll see progress in no time at all.

languages: Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Greek (Modern), Hebrew, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish

method: audio cd

read our Pimsleur quick & simple Mandarin Chinese review!

more information and to buy  Pimsleur Quick & Simple [USA and Amercias]>>

03 Talk Now!

eurotalk-talk-now-dutchTalk Now! is the world’s bestselling language learning CD-ROM series for beginners, used by more than eight million people to date. It’s an ideal introduction to a new language for an absolute beginner and leaves you with the basic vocabulary to get by and the first building blocks of your new language. You can have fun learning through playing games and even record your voice to compare yourself to native speakers.   There is an amazing range of languages – perhaps the widest ever available – over 100!

languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Alsatian, American English, Amharic, Arabic, Arabic (Classical), Arabic (Modern Standard), Armenian, Assamese, Azeri, Basque, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, Breton, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese Chinese, Catalan, Chichewa, Chuvash, Cornish, Corsican, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Frisian, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujurati, Hausa, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jèrriais, Kannada, Khmer, Kirghiz, Korean, Kurdish, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luganda, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Malagasy, Malay, Malayalam, Maltese, Mandarin Chinese, Manx, Maori, Marathi, Mexican Spanish, Mongolian, Navajo, Nepali, Norwegian, Papiamentu, Pashto, Pidgin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Romansh, Russian, Rwandan, Saami, Sardinian, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Sesotho, Setswana, Shona, Sindhi, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tagalog, Tamazight, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Welsh, Xhosa, Yiddish, Yoruba, Zulu

media: cd-rom

platform: pc, mac

more information and to  buy  Talk Now! CD-ROM language software [UK and Europe]>>
more information and to  buy  Talk Now! CD-ROM language software [USA and Americas]>>


Not sure which language course to go for?   Contact us now for more advice!

Language Guides

Our Language Advantage Guides give you all the help you need to start learning a language.

Keep up-to-date  with the latest advice on the best and most innovative language courses for your current or next learning level by reviewing our Language Advantage Guides.


I want to learn a language … for my summer holiday

More soon!

I want to learn a language … for business

I want to learn a language … for kids

I want to learn a language … for beginners

I want to learn a language … for intermediate learners

I want to learn a language … for advanced learners


TEACH YOURSELF ONE-DAY GREEK REVIEW

teach-yourself-greek-one-dayAn independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

The Teach Yourself One-day language series is great if you are off on holiday and don’t want to learn the full ins and outs of a language. It’s a 75-minute CD with a small vocabulary booklet for back up containing the 50 most needed words for your trip. With One-day Greek, the help of characters Liz and Andy and the vocab booklet, you can learn the basics of holiday lingo in just over an hour.

There are 10 sections on the CD and each of them has vital vocabulary lists which are also available in the booklet. I found that the CD would be especially useful for holiday-makers, as the series took me back to the days when learning how to ask for something in a shop was a chore and directions seemed so confusing.

When I first started the CD, as a complete beginner to Greek, I found it daunting. In the first section, Liz asked Andy about Greek words he already knew. This made me feel slightly apprehensive, as I had assumed the course would be for pure beginners and not beginners with a prior knowledge of the language. It turned out that the words he knew were only words he would have picked up from holidaying in Greece once – such as hello! Apart from this he was actually a pure beginner.

Towards the middle of the CD, Liz begins to introduce the sections with everyday role play situations. These are very fast and difficult to understand at first, but the good thing with this is that you can hear Greek at a proper speed and adjust to a real Greek accent. Liz then goes on to explain exactly what was said and how you would pronounce it. I found that I had to repeat the CD a number of times in order to hear the pronunciation and really take it in.

The format of the CD is effective, but some of the scripts seem to be forced and it was often hard to answer the questions as Andy’s answer was often said straight away. It is therefore a good idea to pause the CD once Liz has asked the question, think of the answer yourself, say it out loud and then check it against the answer that Andy gives on the CD.

At the end of the CD, there is a recap section going back over the whole course or the “one-day Greek challenge” (which sounds a lot more fun than recapping!). I found this a great way of actually discovering what I had learnt in Greek and what I had managed to remember. The challenge works in a way that makes it easy for you to skip back to the relevant section if you have forgetten any of the words. So you can keep revising and repeating the course until you can do the challenge standing on your head.

I found the vocabulary easier to remember by doing the series over a few hours rather than cramming it in to just one 75 minute session. For me to listen to Liz and Andy continuously for 75 minutes would have been a slight drag, but with breaks it is bearable and you can actually get the corny ‘gag’ that Andy has said out of your head!

This CD is a fab way of learning the local language and maybe even managing to socialise, having a conversation with the locals and jumping onto a bus and knowing what you have to say.

Bearing all this in mind, this CD is a fab way of learning the local language and maybe even managing to socialise by having a conversation with the locals and jumping onto a bus and knowing what you have to say. It is also excellent value for money as it only costs £6.99 in the UK.

The only thing left for me to do now is go holidaying in Greece and really put this learning CD to the test.

Adio!

to buy Teach Yourself One-Day Greek [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself One-Day Greek [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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TEACH YOURSELF JAPANESE CONVERSATION REVIEW

teach-yourself-japanese-conversationAn independent language course review by Sarah Maddocks

Teach yourself Japanese Conversation is a 3-hour, 3 CD, all-audio language course which is aimed at complete beginners or people who want to refresh their Japanese. Don’t even think about trying to do the course all in one go – it would be near impossible not to mention brain frazzling!

The CDs follow a couple called Chris and Sarah (I know, original names!) whilst visiting an ex-colleague in Japan. The idea of the CD is to learn the language through 20 conversations that Chris & Sarah have with native speakers. The course is accompanied by a booklet containing transcripts of the conversations; the key vocabulary is in bold.

The content of the CDs differ. CD1 & CD2 have 10 real-life conversations about things that you’d be doing on a weekend break or a short holiday or business visit to the country. For each conversation, there are two dialogues in three sections: the first section is listen and repeat, the second section is using the language in context and the final section is practising the conversation again. The CD3 is a recap session and gives you lots more real-life conversations.

When I first started listening to CD1, the first thought that sprang into my mind was ‘why on earth had I decided to even attempt to learn Japanese’. I stupidly (stupidly as in for future reference don’t do this) made the mistake of opening the booklet before I pressed play and thought I was way out of my depth. Still, I carried on and am glad I did. From the start I knew I had made the right decision with this course. The narrator is not irritatingly bland like on some courses – in fact quite the opposite as she is reassuring and easy to listen to.

The fab thing about the CDs is they are repetitive (in a good way) and the narrator often advises you to pause the CD which is easy to do. Throughout the sections some basic grammar rules are explained, as well as when to use and when not to use certain constructions.

CD2 continues on from CD1 and the level remains the same throughout, which is great as it doesn’t progress too fast or too slow (in other words just right).

CD3 is what would be called the revision CD. All the conversations in the booklet are replayed at normal speed and then a different version is played, with a kind of question time at the start. I found this a great way of recapping and actually testing what I had learnt (seeing as in the past I think I have mastered a self-study tape but in actual fact I really have no idea about the language!).

The booklet offers explanations of what to do in certain cultural situations. This is particularly handy if you go to Japan. The last thing you’d want to do is blow your nose, offend the whole room and have no idea why!

This 3-hour course is absolutely fabulous (excuse the quote from the television programme!). To me it seemed like a great 3-hour exam preparation course. Instead of boring me slightly (GCSE German memories flooding back!), it was very entertaining and made me feel that I would be able to handle myself in any one of the situations played out in the conversations and more importantly understand what was being said back to me.

I especially recommend this to people who have done language courses before and found them dull and uninteresting, as this is completely different. You actually come out of this course with a real sense of achievement.

I would recommend this to everyone who wants to learn a more adventurous language and who isn’t scared of challenges along the way. I especially recommend this to people who have done language courses before and found them dull and uninteresting, as this is completely different. You actually come out of this course with a real sense of achievement and a feeling that you could now go to Japan and find the train station, and more importantly order a beer and a sake!!!

to buy Teach Yourself Japanese Conversation [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself Japanese Conversation [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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TEACH YOURSELF ITALIAN VERBS AND ITALIAN GRAMMAR REVIEW

teach-yourself-italian-grammarAn independent language books review by Andrea Martins

Whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced learner, the Teach Yourself language books are a must. I used the Teach Yourself Italian Grammar and Teach Yourself Italian Verbs books whilst studying for a GCSE * Italian course last year. Although we had a text book as the main learning tool for the course, I chose to buy these books as extra aids for my studies. Even if you are not taking classes, the Teach Yourself books’ purpose is to do exactly that – Teach Yourself.

There are over 300 titles in the Teach Yourself range and they are advertised as being extremely functional, simple and easy to use and cover languages from Afrikaans to Zulu. Most of the language courses have CDs or a cassette with them, but with the verb and grammar series, there are no cassettes; just you, your Teach Yourself book and your interest to learn.

It’s just you, your Teach Yourself book and your interest to learn …

There are 22 units of functional grammar in the Teach Yourself Italian Grammar book; functional in that each unit covers a basic communicative function such as ‘Ask someone else’s opinion’ or ‘Talk about events and actions in the past’. Each unit is laid out in a very clear and non-technical way. There is, however, a Grammar Appendix which lists any grammar points not explained in the book as well as a list of the common irregular verbs. The Index also lists specific grammar points.

Each unit begins with a brief synopsis of what the unit contains highlighting the particular language points covered. You are then introduced to a few examples. These are explained with some individual points being given additional coverage (this section is called Language Plus). A particularly useful section of each unit is ‘Language in Action’ which comprises of up to four exercises as revision based on what has been covered in the unit. Exercises include: fill the gap exercises, reading and writing exercises, translating and so on. I found this useful not only for grammar revision but also for communicative use as the exercises show you how to use the language and grammar in the context of everyday life.

But it’s not all verbs, grammar and verb endings. There are some pictures, postcards, maps, letters and written dialogues which all enhance the grammar being covered giving you examples from spoken and written language. I personally found it helpful to work through each unit only after I had completely learnt and understood the previous one. You do not have to have completed one unit to begin the next one, although I did feel that this helped me with my own greater understanding and fluency. You are given the choice of systematically working through each unit like I did or work at the grammar points that most interest you. It is entirely up to you.

One disadvantage of this book is that the pronunciation of the Italian is not explained as you might find in other language learning books. I feel that this could lead to confusion for the complete beginner.

It’s not all verbs, grammar and verb endings

The Teach Yourself Italian Verbs book is a great book for learning that aspect of language learning that we all love to hate…verb conjugations! You can consult this book about any verb as each one is presented in their full conjugation under each tense (including the conditional and subjunctive tenses). Not all the verbs in the Teach Yourself Italian Verbs are listed though. The book would be huge otherwise! Instead, 200 of the most commonly used verbs are presented in the verb tables and many more are catered for in the glossary at the back of the book. Here you can find the verb that you want and the glossary directs you to a verb in the book that behaves the same way as the one that you want to use.

Each of the 200 verbs are set out one to a page and at the bottom of each page is listed the basic uses of the verb with examples, and well known phrases and expressions using that verb. Whilst taking the GCSE course last year, I found this book really useful for learning verb endings and verb uses. Each verb is set out clearly and with some hard grafting and memorizing, you too will understand how the tenses are formed and use the formulae for each new verb that you come across in your language learning.

For the complete beginner or advanced learner using this book for revision, the first section of the book ‘What are verbs and how do they work’ clearly explains the formation and tenses of verbs together with their grammatical uses. It is a really useful book to use alongside the Teach Yourself Italian Grammar book.

The only disadvantage to this collection of books is that you do need a lot of self-discipline to use them and be determined to complete the units (especially those in the Grammar book). Depending on how self-motivated you are you may find it difficult to continue using these books on a regular basis. Unfortunately, grammar and verb conjugations of any language can be the crux for fluent language learning and therefore some attention does need to be made on these language points.

Grammar and verb conjugations can be the crux for fluent language learning.

I would also say that the language learner would have to have learnt some Italian in order to have a go at learning the verb conjugations in the Teach Yourself Italian Verbs book as many of the verbs are not looked at even at GCSE level. This could seem daunting for complete beginners. However, the Teach Yourself Italian Grammar book states that ‘you need no knowledge of grammar terminology to use it’ – an advantageous point as grammar can be a very complex and boring subject at any level and even for language enthusiasts!

As an independent learner myself, self-motivation is the key to using these books. It may be best to use these books in conjunction with your own tapes and a course book (if you are taking classes) in order to hear the correct pronunciation and get an all round Italian language learning experience. Grammar and verbs and the way they are used are essential to learning any language but cannot be used alone. The great thing about these particular Teach Yourself Italian books is that they give you the freedom to choose whatever grammar point or verb you want to learn allowing you greater flexibility in your learning.

So give these Teach Yourself language books a try…..and see how motivated and enthusiastic you really are!!!

to buy Teach Yourself Italian Verbs or Italian Grammar [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself Italian Verbs or Italian Grammar [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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TEACH YOURSELF INSTANT GERMAN, GREEK & ITALIAN REVIEWS

teach-yourself-italian-instantAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

The Teach Yourself ‘INSTANT’ language series from Hodder Arnold is a must if you’re off to another country for your holidays or work and have little time to study. The INSTANTS are a way to learn the ‘get-by’ essentials without being bogged down with heavy grammar and confusion.

I have studied Greek, Italian and German using this series and have found the results amazing.

I have studied Greek, Italian and German using this series and have found the results amazing.
   

The Teach Yourself Instants are available in eight popular languages (and four for learners of English from French, German, Italian and Spanish), but each one is made up of the same structure and designed to be completed in only 6 weeks with 35 minutes of study per day. The book is divided into six sections with an accompanying cassette. This way you can mimic the speakers to get the perfect pronunciation!

At the beginning of each chapter the week is divided into individual days with instructions telling you which exercises to do each day. You have a set day-by-day study programme to follow of just 35 minutes each day which really gets you into the discipline of learning your new language every day. You can cross out the exercises you have done and test your progress at the end of each week, so you really feel that you’re getting somewhere. The great thing about these is that they are flexible and you manage your own time – if you miss a day, do an hour the next day!

You have a set day-by-day study programme to follow of just 35 minutes each day which really gets you into the discipline of learning every day.
   

On the first day of each section there is a short dialogue between Tom and Kate who are travelling in the destination country. You can listen to it and read along with the English equivalent on the opposite page which is translated ‘literally’ into French-speak or German-speak, so it is easy to become familiar with the different word order. Then you have a list of all the new words of the week for you to read through and then test yourself on what you’ve learnt. There is one page per section called ‘GOOD NEWS GRAMMAR’ to cover the basic points of the week and a passage to learn by heart. Even though this is tricky it is really worth doing because it is great for your fluency.

Each week you are given questions to answer in your chosen language to give you added practice of writing. These packs contain only the most useful words and phrases and are an incredibly useful tool for any lover of travel. They have the added bonus of FLASH CARDS with the English on one side and your chosen language on the other so you can really see how much you know. I found these really helpful, especially if you are learning with a friend and you can test each other.

The first pack I tried was INSTANT GREEK before going on a beach holiday to Zante with a friend. When I managed to tell the taxi driver where I wanted to go, where to stop and ask how much it cost, I felt a real sense of achievement because it is nothing like the languages I am used to leaning. It is worth noting though that if you are learning a language like Greek or Japanese which has a totally different alphabet the real written form is not used. Instead the foreign words are written with English script so that you can just focus on the pronunciation. I didn’t find this a problem with Greek because all I wanted to do was get by in the country but a little knowledge of the script would have been useful to recognise the written form. However, just a basic knowledge of the language is a great way to start conversation with the locals!

When I managed to tell the taxi driver where I wanted to go, where to stop and to ask how much it cost, I felt a real sense of achievement.
   

Secondly, after finding the Greek so helpful I learnt INSTANT ITALIAN for a tourist holiday in Rome. I found my new found Italian extremely useful when I was lost with a friend late on the evening of our arrival, trying to find our hotel! It was also great for ordering meals and getting information about trains etc. The INSTANTS just make it simple.

I completed INSTANT GERMAN at the end of 2001 for a New Year’s party in Germany. I was with some friends who spoke a little English but a basic knowledge of German was essential to introduce myself, communicate with them and wish everyone a ‘Frohes Neues Jahr’ (Happy New Year).

One minor disadvantage that I found was the fact that each pack contains the same set of six chapters so, if you have completed one INSTANT course and then go on to try another, you are faced with the exact same scenarios. This has the problem of being a bit repetitive but at the same time I can easily see how the stories are carefully structured to contain all the useful vocabulary which is great to know in any language.

So go on, before you go on your next travels get the INSTANT language advantage and give it a go!

to buy Teach Yourself Instants [UK]>>
to buy Teach Yourself Instants [USA]>>
to find out more about Teach Yourself language courses>>

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PIMSLEUR QUICK & SIMPLE MANDARIN CHINESE REVIEW

pimsleur-mandarin-chinese-quick-simpleAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

Being used to studying Latin languages which all have a similar structure, learning Chinese Mandarin was something completely new to me. I had often been keen on trying Chinese, Japanese or something totally different but always thought it would be really difficult to pick up for a total beginner and never even tried.

The Pimsleur method is very well structured and it gave me a real buzz to say simple phrases in Mandarin which would be of use to me if I was in China. Pimsleur is a totally audio method of language teaching, which means no books, pens or paper, similar to the way Michel Thomas teaches. This method seems to be getting increasingly popular as a modern and more ‘to the point’ way of language learning. Having tried a couple of Michel Thomas courses for other languages I was familiar with this kind of technique. The main difference between the Pimsleur and the Michel Thomas way of teaching is that Pimsleur uses real native speakers on the cassettes (I presume for all languages in the series – not just Mandarin). With Michel Thomas it is always him who does the speaking in the language.

It gave me a real buzz to say simple phrases in Mandarin which would be of use to me if I was in China.

So Pimsleur has real Chinese speakers, which I think works well, especially with a language like Mandarin where intonation is so important to meaning. He uses a Chinese man and woman throughout to illustrate examples and it is nice to hear each gender speak rather than just one.

There are 4 cassettes in the first pack that I used, so 8 cassette sides to work through. The key to absorbing it is being totally focussed and not thinking about anything else at all. While listening to it (in a relaxing bath!) for the first time I thought the whole thing was going to be too fast and that I would just have to keep rewinding it again and again. I realised though that the cassettes are made without this intention – you should just press play and let it run. By doing this I also realised that he is always going back to things you have learned before, introducing something new, and then going back again to what was learned at the beginning so slowly, it all starts to fall into place and you start to create sentences of your own which shows you are really getting somewhere.

It all starts to fall into place and you start to create sentences of your own which shows you are really getting somewhere.

I liked the way that there was a fluent conversation between two Chinese people at the beginning of each cassette. When you first listen to it you think ‘Oh my God – that’s impossible’, but by the end of the cassette you can do it! Listen to it again and you realise it was not impossible at all! It is really confidence boosting!

The listener has to make his own ‘word associations’ in order to recall vocabulary although some help is given by Pimsleur by translating things literally into English. It may be a little difficult for someone who has never learned even a European language before, but still, with perseverance, it is worth a try. It is a case of relating a totally new sound to an English meaning and once you can create that link in your mind, with practise, you shouldn’t forget it.

I found a few negative points to this course, one being that it is written for Americans. I now know perfectly well how to tell a Chinese person that I am American but don’t have a clue how to tell them that I am English! This, of course, will have to be adapted if these products are to be marketed in the UK. I found the second cassette a little harder to absorb and listened to it two or three times before moving on. Maybe an American might be able to tell me why it is important, but I could not understand the reason for Pimsleur revising how to say ‘College Road’ and ‘Long Piece Street’. This is another thing I can now say pretty well but cannot see it ever being useful.

Besides that though, once I had got past this stage I started to regain interest and was learning how to ask where things are, say I want to go to the restaurant, drink tea/beer, eat, ask when, what, with whom and lots of other interesting and useful expressions.

I think the most difficult part is probably the totally new vocabulary and sounds and the fact that intonation makes such a difference to a Chinese ear. The underlying grammar is not too confusing and I can think of European languages I have studied, such as German, when I have found word order more difficult.

In some ways Mandarin can be easier – really! I was delighted to find only one word for ‘to be’ in every person, singular and plural. However, expressing positive and negative can be more complicated to get your head around -with no obvious words for yes and no. But once you understand that you have to repeat the verb to do this, it becomes logical.

Each topic is only loosely touched on because it is a fairly difficult language to master and Pimsleur just tries to teach the get by basics in this first Quick and Simple series.

Once you have finished the course you will still feel like your Mandarin is fairly limited – it will be – but you have also come a very long way since the beginning, from not knowing anything to ‘getting by’ (just about!) Four cassettes is only the start and there are follow-on courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners, if you are still feeling really keen when you reach the end!

I definitely enjoyed this course as a whole and will certainly consider following it up. I will stick to audio for now though – learning to write it could be an even bigger challenge!

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MICHEL THOMAS SPANISH LANGUAGE BUILDER REVIEW

michel-thomas-spanish-language-builderAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

I tried this product with rusty GCSE Spanish and found it a great revision session. This Michel Thomas pack, the ‘Language Builder’, contains 2 CDs and a pocket-sized vocabulary book containing everything that is covered during the course. This is useful because it allows you to see how the words are spelt so you will be able to recognise them in written form when you are in the country. It is designed to follow on from the 8-hour Michel Thomas Spanish pack or can simply be used as a revision tool for someone who already has a little knowledge of Spanish.

The great thing about Michel Thomas is that he breaks down the language step-by-step to make things simple. He explains how sentences are constructed by translating them literally into English or relating the new word in Spanish to an English one. This way it makes the new vocabulary and structure easier to remember, particularly for those who are learning a language for the first time. I use the term ‘remember’ loosely because part of Michel’s technique is to make you ‘recall’ through logic rather than to ‘remember’. He tries to emphasise that there is no mystery and that anything new can be explained and broken down simply.

The great thing about Michel Thomas is that he breaks down the language step-by-step to make things simple.

As a female learner one of the main problems I found was the constant use of the masculine form when giving examples. Women trying to learn will not be so comfortable with feminine forms and would need extra practise after this course. He mentions the feminine form and reminds you that it exists but definitely not enough to realise where you are going wrong. He tends to focus on sentence structure rather than essential vocabulary and although structure is very important, you would also need to put in some of your own work on vocabulary if you were to go to Spain on holiday or to work, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy train tickets, meals etc. with confidence.

A difference between this and the 8-hour pack is that there are no students to listen to. While the first 8 hours is a ‘virtual classroom’ setting where you are the third student can be really helpful at first, the Language Builder CDs just contain Michel Thomas speaking which personally I think helps you to learn at a quicker rate. Hearing where the students go wrong the first time is interesting, but to hear their mistakes a second time round is quite boring and it is quicker just to let Michel do the talking.

A problem for me was that only the formal ‘you’ is used so people like myself who are trying Michel Thomas for reasons other than formal speech will not be familiar with the use of the informal address and will end up using the formal ‘you’ with close friends. I think it would be better to have both forms in order to demonstrate a concept that we don’t have in English and to cater for students who are learning for familiar speech.

Michel has a great technique and the fact that it is completely audio is great for someone who has little time to sit down and study. After a few listens it will definitely make a difference to your confidence in the language.

All is all, it is definitely a good next step if you have got basic grounding in the language and the booklet with this pack is a handy reference guide. It’s a shame there is no continuation after this because it all stops when you feel like you’re getting somewhere. Michel has a great technique and the fact that it is completely audio is great for someone who has little time to sit down and study. After a few listens it will definitely make a difference to your confidence in the language.

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