Do Learn To Speak Spanish CDs Work?
There are plenty of language self learning programs on the market these days. Some are quite expensive and some seem like a reasonable price but surely the ultimate judge of value for money is whether the product has managed to teach you to speak Spanish. Can you learn to speak Spanish from just a book and/or a CD or MP3? Well, kind of. This article will cover the advantages and disadvantages of using an audio language course to learn Spanish.
To begin, I think if you only have an audio course then you are learning the language the way you learned your native language. Babies and children learn their mother tongue by listening and repeating what their mother (and other people) say to them. This is usually the method adopted with a Spanish MP3 or CD. Words and sentences are spoken and you listen and repeat. Although it is not exactly the same as learning as a child (as you may have your native language on the course too) it is an approximation of this method and can be useful.
This is opposed to the standard method of learning a second language, where you learn to read, write and understand grammar at the same time as learning to comprehend and speak. This method is not instinctive but I think people want fast results and by jumping in at the deep end they feel that this is the way to go. Some people get the language but many people languish because they are lost in the grammar or overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to take in.
Secondly, learning from an audio CD can help your pronunciation. In many ways pronunciation is more important than grammar when you first start learning a language. If you want to speak to people to practice what you have learned (and you should), they will forgive your grammatical mistakes and get the meaning of your words. However if your pronunciation is bad they will simply not understand you no matter how sympathetic they are. This can really dent your confidence when first starting out. Believe me, talking to Spanish speaking people is the key to improving your skills so you don’t want to shy away from this because of poor pronunciation or a bruised ego.
Finally, a major advantage of learning Spanish from an audio CD or MP3 is the ease of use. You can listen to it in the car or doing the housework. You can repeat the words as you jog round the block or do the grocery shopping (even though people might think you are mad talking to yourself).
To some extent this is true. However, in my experience you can’t devote your full attention to more than one thing, especially when it comes to a new language. Michel Thomas has many audio only courses and he advises (in the introduction to the courses) that you don’t do anything else but listen to the audio. I tend to agree with him, especially on the first few listens.
If you have listened to the audios half a dozen times then it gets easier to multi task but initially I would say it is not a good idea.
So can you learn Spanish from a CD or MP3 ? I think they can give you a grasp of the language but you have to learn a lot more before you will be considered fluent. Being fluent requires a fair degree of confidence too. And you can only have this confidence if you use the language regularly and have made a few mistakes along the way. Even so, an audio course is a good starting point and is convenient for many people that have busy lives.