Learning Spanish Like Crazy Review – Is it Worth Buying?

The reason that the most people purchase a Spanish language learning course is because they want to be able to hold a meaningful conversation with everyday Spanish people. Learning Spanish Like Crazy is a course that promises that it can help you achieve that goal and in less time than other courses.

In this review I will share my experience using this course and what I found to be the major advantages and disadvantages of this course. I will also explain exactly what is contained inside of the learning Spanish like crazy course so that you can make an informed decision before you decide to buy. At the end of this review I will include my overall recommendation, as well is a comparison to some of the other leading course on the market.

How Much Does Learning Spanish Like Crazy Cost?

The 50 CD platinum version of Learning Spanish Like Crazy costs $299.95, the downloadable version $97.

What Is Included In The Course?

The Learning Spanish Like Crazy can be purchased in two different formats. There is a downloadable version of the course where the material comes MP3s and a physical version of the course on CD. Both versions of the course cover the same material.
Shipped Learning Spanish Like Crazy Package
The CD platinum version of the course includes 50 CDs of which 30 is audio material. When you purchase the CD version of the course you are given access to the downloadable version of the advanced Spanish level 3 and 4.

Learning Spanish Like Crazy also comes with a large amount of bonus material. This bonus material includes FSI programmatic 1, which was created by US Department of State to teach its employees Spanish. This course includes 17 hours of recorded material. The second bonus is the FSI programmatic level 2 which teaches the complex area of Spanish subjunctives. This course includes 12 hours of language lessons. The third bonus is Spanish level 3 which contains 13 hours of audio material and teaches advanced Spanish.

The fourth bonus is another advanced Spanish level course which includes 12 hours of recorded material. The fifth bonus is a rapid learning course that was developed by the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State. This is used to get government employees up to speed quickly before they are stationed overseas.

The Advantages Of Learning Spanish Like Crazy

Each audio lesson includes a transcript in the pdf format
Uses real-life Latin American Spanish – One of the best things about learning Spanish Like Crazy is that it uses real-life Latin American Spanish. This compares favorably to some other couple courses – such as Pimsleur Spanish – that tend to teach a very formal form of Spanish, that you would be unlikely to hear outside of a sophisticated soirée for diplomats. The Spanish taught here is the kind of everyday language that normal people use.

No exercises or drills – For people who dislike exercises and drills Learning Spanish Like Crazy will be a breath of fresh air. Using the course is as simple as pressing play on your MP3 player and following along with the material.

Suits busy people – Learning Spanish Like Crazy is designed for people that lead a busy lifestyle. I found that I could use the learning like crazy Spanish course without having to spend an hour each or so each day in front of my computer. I liked using the Learning Spanish Like Crazy audio course when I was at the gym and while I was walking my dog in the evening. You can easily add the audio files to your MP3 player, plug in some earphones, and you are ready to go.
Main screen with mp3 and transcript downloads

Separated into easy to learn chunks – Learning Spanish Like Crazy has been divided up into 30 lessons which are each less than half an hour. There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that we learn best will be taking your information in smaller chunks. The learning Spanish like crazy system is never overwhelming and doesn’t require you devote too much time each day to make good progress.

The Disadvantages Of Learning Spanish Like Crazy

Converting the download to CD is annoying – If you are planning on purchasing the downloadable version and burning it onto CDs to listen in your car or at home, then you may want to reconsider. Each of the MP3 files need to be first converted to an uncompressed audio file and then burnt onto CD. As there are 50 separate CDs in total this can be quite a task.

Insufficient grammar explanations – More explanations of the principles of grammar may be an improvement for this course. Occasionally I found I needed to search online to find an explanation of grammar usage in the course. Considering the cost of the course this is a little disappointing.

It is very basic in the beginning – If you have studied Spanish before like me, then you may find that learning Spanish Like Crazy can be a little basic. The beginning lessons of the course are very rudimentary and you may feel like skipping them if you already have some Spanish knowledge. Of course, the makers of Learning Spanish Like Crazy undoubtedly are right to aim the course at beginners but it something to be aware of all the same.

Comparison To Other Courses

The course that Learning Spanish Like Crazy is most comparable to is Pimsleur Spanish. Like Pimsleur Spanish the course is audio based and uses the principle of chunking the material. If you like the Pimsleur approach, then you will also probably like Learning Spanish Like Crazy. The main difference between the two is the Pimsleur tends to teach a more formal version of Spanish, where as Learning Spanish Like Crazy is closer to the everyday Spanish spoken by normal Latin Americas.

Another course that is closely comparable to Learning Spanish Like Crazy, is Rocket Spanish (my review). Rocket Spanish also features interactive audio lessons in a similar style to Learning Spanish Like Crazy. One area where there is a significant difference is the price. Rocket Spanish is typically priced at $99.95 for the premium course (although it is currently on sale for $69.95). In contrast the Spanish Learning Like Crazy Course is priced at $299.95 if you buy the platinum version on CD. You can also try Rocket Spanish out for free for six days, which is something that Learning Spanish Like Crazy doesn’t offer.

Overall Recommendation

If you are looking for a less formal version of Pimsleur Spanish, then Learning Spanish Like Crazy is a good option. The course is fun, moves along at a good pace and is well suited for beginners. The course could be improved by including better explanations of the grammar principles used and at $299.95 it can seem a little overpriced. Overall it is a good course if you are primarily interested in learning informal, spoken Latin American Spanish. If you are looking for something a little more comprehensive than a better option is Rocket Spanish.

How to Teach English Abroad

how-to-teach-english-abroadIf you’re reading this article, then you may have also read some of our other posts about learning a foreign language. Ultimately, learning another language and teaching English abroad carry many of the same motivations – a desire to connect with people across the world, experience new and exciting relationships and destinations, and broaden your respect for the world.

In my opinion, learning a language and teaching English abroad are inextricably intertwined. In order to be as successful as possible, it behooves you to learn something about the country you’ll be traveling to, including its language and culture. That will serve as the start for your connection with your students. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life, especially if you pursue it for the right motivations, and do it the right way.

The Why and Where of Teaching English Abroad

Why do you want to TEFL? Where will you go?

Maybe you’re looking to open children’s eyes to global opportunities…

Maybe you’re fascinated with the relationship between two cultures and languages…

Maybe you have distant relatives somewhere…

Maybe you want to learn more about a specific culture…

There are a lot of motivations for TEFL, and ultimately, you want to understand your own – but some of the most common fall under the categories above. Be inquisitive, be open, and be honest with yourself. If you assess why you want to TEFL and essentially come up with selfish reasons for doing so, you may want to rethink your proposition. The saying goes, “you get out of it what you put into it,” but in TEFL, the reward almost always outweighs the investment.

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable and exciting aspects of teaching English abroad is the vast opportunity of location. Where you decide to teach English is more or less completely your decision (maybe an employer has some sway), but if you apply yourself, you can really be teaching English anywhere you desire. It is a great opportunity, and native English speakers are very fortunate that so many people around the world pursue learning English.

Picture yourself having dinner at 9-10pm in Spain? Maybe you’re a Vietnam War buff who wants to head to Ho Chi Minh City. Love technology and Sushi? Japan may be for you. You could be wondering just how many dialects of Chinese there are. Maybe the Indian Himalayas are calling your name. Whatever the location, there is an opportunity…

That said, choose a location that interests you: not for a week or two, but one that you will spend your free time exploring. Picture yourself being an expert tour guide by the time you return – or maybe you won’t want to return! In the end, you will inevitably learn (some of) the language of the country you choose, so that may play a factor in your decision.

Some questions to ask yourself:

Do you crave modern technology?

Does the thought of rural living intrigue or repel you?

Define “clean.”

Do you need to be online, or can you break away for a long spell?

Who would you write home to? Do they see you in this location?

Any dietary restrictions?

Your answer to these questions may influence your location selection, so be sure to research your responses with characteristics of your candidate countries/locales.

OK, I know Where I’m Going and Why, but How do I do This?

When embarking on TEFL, there are a few paths you can take – and while there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer, you can certainly do things to prepare.

1)  Just Jump In

A story I’ve heard more than once is from folks who literally choose a location, buy a plane ticket, and figure things out when they get there. This method usually suits people who are unafraid of ambiguity, are willing to search locally for work upon arrival, or already have some familiarity with the language and culture. It has a nice, laissez-faire ring to it when the story is told later, and often sounds impressive to listeners. I’m not discounting this tactic as a way to TEFL, but one of the risks is that you never find that job and fulfill one of the reasons you went there in the first place. You also may not have a source of income, and that can be stressful for some people. In the end, if you choose this method, your success will depend upon you and your confidence level, along with your willingness to adapt if you “just jump in.”

2)  Take a Course

This is probably the simplest way to become the most prepared: you will learn basics of teaching English, you can boost your resume, and it will arm you with the confidence to get out there and make a difference. So which course?

There are programs that offer many certification systems of differing intensity, and give you further access to placement opportunities abroad. There are methods for teaching youngsters, how to overcome cultural differences, and both online and classroom options to best suit your schedule.

3)  Learn Basic Linguistics

If it’s possible, a very helpful basis for TEFL is to learn some basic linguistic principles, such as syntax, and phonology – how sentences and sounds are formed. Using these tools, it is much easier to relate to learners and encourage speaking more like native English speakers. Showing that you understand how their language works in relation to English establish trust and displays an interest that engages them beyond their basic desire to learn English. Remember, you may have students that are learning for many different reasons, but you can become a memorable teacher and influence in their journey by being prepared and educating yourself first.

Go Enjoy!

When you feel ready, whichever path you choose to TEFL, get out there and enjoy the experience. Most people will tell you it’s one of the most rewarding times of their lives – that it changed their perspective on life, or more likely – changed their life itself!

Remember that you are in their country, but you are using your expertise to help them learn your language. Respect and relationship nurturing go a long way to helping them along their journey, but also remember to take moments to learn from them. And finally, remember to be grateful that English is pervasive enough to grant you this opportunity. Soak it up like a sponge, and make some wonderful friends along the way.

Free Spanish Verb Conjugation Chart

If you’re anything like me, you’re dizzied trying to keep all the different Spanish verb conjugations straight –

Do I use the past participle…?”

“I can’t remember if the pluperfect uses haber.”

“Is this a subjunctive case?”

“What if it’s a command?”

These questions are difficult, and common – so how do we tackle conjugation in Spanish?

Forms of Conjugation

In Spanish, and many other languages, verb conjugation is an important part of being understood.  The form of the verb changes based on the listener and also based on time or conditions, e.g. happened in the past, will happen, could happen, etc.

Here is an example of a simple verb conjugated in the present tense for each listener:

COMER (to eat)

spanish-conjugation-chart1

Now multiply that by the 10+ time/condition-based conjugations, and you’ve got your hands full!

Some verbs are irregular and change their root (called stem-changing verbs), and follow a common “boot” conjugation pattern, where all the singular forms plus the “Ustedes” form adopt the same root spelling:

VOLAR (to fly)

spanish-conjugation-chart2

If you notice the red text changed from ‘o’ to ‘ue’ – the “boot” comes from a mental picture if you were to draw a continuous line encapsulating only those boxes containing the verbs with red text.

 The Real World – Conjugation Strategies

I spent hours (probably days) poring over my old Spanish conjugation charts, memorizing the proper forms (above), and here’s what I found:  I almost never got it right in real-time speech.  The feedback of studying just wasn’t fast enough for me – plus, there are so many times when you get it wrong, and people understand you just fine.  Think of all the folks who speak broken English to you – chances are you can easily rephrase what they mean, and they will confirm with a heartfelt (and relieved) “Yes!”

But assuming you’re an aspiring scholar of Español, or at that really advanced level, then you’ll want to make sure you completely nail verb conjugations.  It is a true sign of deeply understand the mechanics of a language.

What it does take is practice, practice, practice – and a little help from some tools.

Let’s take a look at some strategies for mastering Spanish conjugations.

1. Live Conversation

As you’ve probably gathered from the rest of the articles on the site, getting yourself out there is the best way to learn any aspect of a language.  While it sometimes is not fully practical, engaging with native Spanish speakers is one of the surest ways you’ll improve your conjugation skills rapidly.  They’ve been conversing in these terms all their lives, and it comes naturally.

Not only are you forced to recall (or in most cases, forget) all the different forms on command, but if you don’t get it quite right, you’ll have immediate help and feedback.  Plus, you’ll also have the opportunity to listen for conjugation forms, and ask the speaker to repeat themselves if you didn’t quite catch it.

2. Good ol’ Paper

Remember that “Spanish conjugation chart” I mentioned spending days studying?  There are several variations of these, some of them compact, in a pamphlet-style folder, some on a long legal-sized sheet, some even blown up to poster size.  In any format, these hard copies can be useful for the myriad “regular” verbs in Spanish – those that follow well-defined rules.  They’re also great for quick reference and tend to have helpful color-coding; but many folks also find them incomplete and overwhelming.

3. Online Software

Apart from standard search engine queries that will often only yield results for your verb of interest, there are many software products aimed at helping you master conjugation.  You’ll want one you can customize to your own level, which lets you select any number of verbs, the time you have to translate simple sentences, and which tenses you want to practice.  This way, you can really hone in on problem areas and immediately get feedback on your performance.  You should also focus on a product that allows listening and speaking translation, otherwise, you might get stuck when listening to a native speaker whose voice you’re not used to.

4. Live There!

It sounds trite, but if you have the means, even for a month or two, go live in a Spanish speaking country.  Then you won’t’ have to deal with any “Spanish verb conjugation chart.”  It’ll all be right in your brain.  Not only that, you’ll get the benefit of cultural context, which is immeasurably valuable with language retention.  You will be able to form so many associations with the language you acquire, it becomes harder to forget even the most complicated conjugation patterns.

Conjugation in any language is tough, but hopefully you’re better prepared to go give it your best shot!

Is Visual Learning the Fastest way to Learn Languages?

When learning a new language, it helps to be self-aware in terms of how you learn best.  The vast majority of people are visual learners – which is no surprise given the importance of vision to the human species – but plenty of people also learn best through auditory and kinesthetic means.

Here we’ll explain the different learning types, but dive specifically into visual learning and tools to help you learn your target language faster.  But first – let’s answer a few questions to see if we can get a hint as to your learning style:

Quiz - What's Your Language Learning Style?

This quiz will tell you what type of language learner you are. Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic

 

Learning types

1. Visual

These are the people who remember things best when presented to them through visible media – perhaps drawn on a board, projected on a screen, flash cards, pictures.  Generally, the more they see, the more they remember and form associations with those visual cues.

2. Auditory

Auditory learners rely on sounds and speech to comprehend and retain material best.  They will thrive in conversational-style classrooms or lectures as they can remember what was said.  They also probably have a better shot at accurately reproducing sounds they hear.

3. Kinesthetic

These are the people that learn by doing, and in general will retain information better by associating new concepts with distinct motions, or by simply moving while learning.  Muscle memory also comes fairly naturally to this contingent.

Visual Language Learning Strategies:

  • Labels

One of the easiest ways to begin learning simple nouns is to label household items using the target language.  For visual learners, this method repeatedly etches the name of the object into the learner’s vision – and if you’re a visual learner, this will form associations very quickly.

  • Flash cards

This is an easy way to take many different words and phrases and have them available in a compact form.  Be sure to include pictures to increase retention, otherwise, simple words with definitions probably won’t get you too far.

  • Watching

Watching natives speak your target language (in person, on TV) will provide you with the body language and facial expressions that culturally accompany that language.  It may also help you nail down the mechanics of difficult sounds, as well as parse sentences in new, fast-sounding languages.

  • Reading/Writing

As a visual learner, you will remember much of what is written, especially that which you write.  So make the effort to take your own notes, possibly adding pictures when applicable.  Trying to spell out words will help you begin to recognize what does and doesn’t look correct, and will help reinforce your retention of key phrases or new vocabulary.

  • Pictorial/Mnemonic Rules

Some languages are amenable to using mnemonic devices or pictorial cues to aid in retention and recall.  The famous “boot” structure in Spanish reminds learners how to conjugate categories of verbs in different tenses.  Another example are “-ma, -pa, -ta” words, which almost as a rule take a male gender article despite ending in “a”: “el mapa” – the map.

Traps to Avoid

  • Using a Single Method

One potential pitfall to identifying and understanding the best way that you learn is that you focus so intently on those methods while blatantly or unknowingly ignore other learning opportunities.  Prevent the urge to pigeon-hole yourself into one learning method.  Remember it is your strength, but not your only strategy.

  • Too Much at Once

Give a new learning method a try (like labeling household objects), but you don’t need to go overboard.  Just as you wouldn’t throw 100 flash cards into a pile and expect to tackle them all at the same time, you should pace yourself with each strategy you undertake.  Make sure you cycle your methods so you’re not using a technique as a crutch, reinforcing things you’ve already mastered.  Keep a constant set of fresh material, with enough challenging content from before to give a good mix.

  • Resignation

Don’t be discouraged if a technique doesn’t work for you even if it is a method that falls under your style.  Remember these are strategies and not truths.  Be willing to try other tactics and commit to not giving up.  Similarly, don’t discount a learning method simply because it falls in a different category.  We’re not all one-track minded, and we can’t treat our language learning endeavors as such.

The Real World

Recognize that when you finally reach a level of fluency, you will have a mixture of mastery, and will very likely have used many different learning tactics.  Language and culture, like our species, is a compilation of senses, experiences, and feelings.  Diversity in the real world is good, and so it should be in your quest to learn a foreign language.

Does Your Language Influence Your Outlook? (Linguistic Determinism)

Does Your Native Language Influence Your Thought?

Culturally, people across the world see things differently, and this is certainly expected.  In America, for example, when someone sneezes, you say something akin to “Bless you;” in Germany, it’s “Gesundheit.”  In China, however, the sneezing act is culturally ignored.  Different foods disgust different people for different reasons, and deep roots in religion give rise to many notions of how the world should work.

With all the diversity, it’s inevitable that we all think differently.  Some argue, though, that your native language impacts your world view.  Let’s explore a few ways this may be true, and you can decide for yourself!

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Top 8 French Songs for Kids

1) Frère Jacques – perhaps one of the most widely translated and borrowed French songs for kids, Frère Jacques is a fun children’s about a friar who must wake up to ring the morning bells.  While the translation is taken loosely in other languages to suggest that the friar is still asleep despite ringing bells, it is nonetheless fun to sing.  The melody is traditionally sung as a round, meaning one person starts, and when they reach the next set of lyrics, another person joins in from the beginning.

2) Alouette – while not entirely the friendliest of songs, because it depicts someone plucking the feathers off an annoying lark, this song’s melody is ubiquitous, sounding in many nursery toys without lyrics as well.  It also experiences numerous lyric substitutions to fill in almost anywhere as a catchy jingle.  The song is cumulative, which means each verse adds on to the previous, similar to “The 12 Days of Christmas” (more…)

Is French Hard to Learn for English Speakers?

French is arguably one of the most beautiful-sounding languages, but is notorious for bestowing its spelling and pronunciation woes upon the novice speaker. Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of French that make it hard, and offset it with others that may make it quite easy, and ways to help yourself improve.

If your goal is to be able to recite and translate international treaties and carry on philosophical or political conversations, your outlook is going to be different from someone that aims to enjoy the food, culture, and history of the French, and sustain everyday conversations. (more…)

The Truth of Studying a Foreign Language [Infographic]

To embed this infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:

Rocket Spanish Review – Is it Worth Buying?

rocket-spanish-trialIt is incredibly easy to get started with Rocket Spanish, and you don’t have to provide anything more than your name and email address.  I was expecting a whole “signup” process and a big form (because that’s what I’m used to with free trials), but not so with Rocket Spanish.  This was a couple clicks, set a password, and done!  It was entirely painless and a great start. Please continue reading for full Rocket Spanish Review and sneak peek into the members area

Once inside, it felt like there may be a lot going on, but right in the middle in big colorful letters was a “Start Here” guide, which I clicked to begin.  Leading you through the features of the site is definitely a perk for a first-time user, and there are 10 check boxes that light up as you explore the trial features. (more…)

Benefits of Learning Spanish as Second Language

For millions of people, Spanish is their mother language, and millions more speak Spanish as a second language. Apart from the fact that this romance language is fun to learn, there are many benefits associated with learning it. Whether you are travelling to countries where they speak this language predominantly, or are hoping to do business with Spaniards or Latin America, it is all worth the trouble to learn Spanish.

Use of Internet

spanish-internetThe world is gradually becoming a village, meaning that we meet new people from diverse backgrounds every day. You may be surprised to learn that most of those you meet on a daily basis have at least some basic knowledge of Spanish. Given that most people spend more time on the internet than anywhere else these days, some knowledge of Spanish may provide a boost when it comes to making new friends. It could be great to chat in your newly learnt language, even if you make some mistakes. (more…)