I first learned of Learning Spanish Like Crazy when I was about 3 months along in my learning Spanish journey; I had started the Pimsleur Spanish series and was in the middle of Level 2 at that point. I downloaded Learning Spanish Like Crazy while I was still doing Pimsleur, but did not actually start it until I had finished the last level of Pimsleur Spanish (level 4).
The first thing I noticed was that the audio quality was excellent and the people were quite easy to understand (the articulate very clearly), also the native speakers do speak faster than the Pimsleur speakers but this is a GOOD thing because it gets you used to hearing native speakers talk at a normal rate of speed (you get used to it very quickly). I swear, I love Pimsleur (well, at least the Pimsleur teaching method) but I learned more Spanish in a month with LSLC than I did in 4 months with Pimsleur!
The only thing I could possibly complain about is that LSLC doesn’t have enough reading/writing exercises to really learn much as far as reading/writing Spanish goes (although they do include a transcript of all the dialogue, which you could use for this if you wanted), but LSLC specifically bills themselves out as an audio course that teaches you how to SPEAK Spanish, so I don’t really have a problem with that (plus, there are tons of great workbooks on Amazon that will take care of this).
Overall, it’s the best Spanish course I’ve tried so far (I’ve tried and experimented extensively with Pimsleur, Rocket Spanish, Rosetta Stone, and FSI Spanish), it’s available on both CDs and in an entirely digital MP3 format that can be downloaded immediately, and I highly recommend it for any and all beginner to intermediate level individuals who are really serious about getting fluent. You can check out their website here if you’ve heard enough, but I’d recommend you hang around because I’ve still got a few important points I’d like to make about it.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty stuff that’s really relevant if you’re trying to teach yourself Spanish. The three things that were very important to me as a student of Spanish who was trying to learn on his own and that really stuck out in my mind upon using Learning Spanish Like Crazy were:
- The speakers used are native speakers from Latin America (I am planning to live in Colombia and Argentina for a few years in the near future) and they are using normal, everyday (colloquial) language, whereas the speakers in Pimsleur are from Spain and use a very stiff, formal version of Spanish;
- Learning Spanish Like Crazy actually uses the Pimsleur method of teaching (which, I will gladly admit, is excellent) HOWEVER they’ve significantly improved on it by including a LOT more general material and especially vocabulary;
- They actually give basic lessons in grammar (you will be told what exactly the subjunctive is, for example, why it’s used, and when) as you go through the lesson–they don’t spend much time on it, maybe 2 or 3 minutes per 30 minute lesson explaining any necessary grammar for just that lesson, but they DO do it, and that makes a world of difference to me if I can understand the basic structure of the language and understand WHY something is done a certain way, it really helps me to learn and remember the material. Also, a nice little bonus is that they do include a written transcript (PDF format in the downloadable version) of ALL spoken dialogue, which Pimsleur does not do.
At this point I’d encourage you to head on over to the official site, read what they have to say, read and listen to (they have audio clips) the customer reviews and testimonials, etc. Check it out here: Learning Spanish Like Crazy Homepage
Just a bit of additional information, if you’re interested is a really great quote from the top rated (rated ‘Most Helpful’ by other Amazon customers) review on Amazon.com of Learning Spanish Like Crazy:
As a Pimsleur Spanish fan, I immediately recognized that this company copied the Pimsleur method. I have to say that in doing so they actually made an improvement over the Pimsleur method. LSLC leaves out the antiquated vocabulary found in Pimsleur Spanish. The vocabulary in LSLC is also more conversational or more suitable for everyday conversation than Pimsleur.
One major distinction that I noticed is that LSLC uses a native Spanish speaker as the narrator. I think that was a great idea because he speaks to the student mainly in Spanish. Except in the very early lessons. In my opinion, his constant instructions said in Spanish, accelerated my listening comprehension. There are certain commands that become second nature after listening to the narrator say the commands over and over in each lesson.
Very recently I was having lunch with a native Spanish speaker, a friend from Honduras. He wanted to order something else in the restaurant. And when the waiter was standing near our table without even giving it any thought. I told my friend “dile” which means “tell him.” My Spanish speaking friend was impressed with my pronunciation. But most important, I was impressed with the way that I was able to give the command “tell him” without even giving it a moment’s thought. That was important to me because although I felt that Pimsleur Spanish was a very thorough course, I felt that Pimsleur Spanish did not do a good job covering commands in Spanish. It is kind of difficult to communicate in a foreign language if you do not know how to give commands.
I do have a couple of complaints about LSLC. My biggest complaint is that the company has been very slow putting out level 2 of LSLC. I have completed Level One and now I am ready for level 2 but at the time of this review the company has not finished level 2 or has not released it. I am a little annoyed that after finishing level 1 of LSLC, level 2 is not ready for me to take my Spanish to the next level…
(note: they’ve got Level 2 out now, here it is)
Again, here’s the Learning Spanish Like Crazy homepage if you haven’t gone there yet…