I admit it. I do not have a good track record with learning languages. High school French was forgotten as soon as I left high school and College Italian had me mystified. I had learned some Spanish from waiting tables in a Spanish bar (admittedly not much that I could repeat without blushing!) and my friends had helped out a lot, but I realized that in order to get a better understanding of the Hispanic culture, I needed to learn proper Spanish. So, I dove right in.
I researched all of the different language courses I could find, and finally settled on two very different programs, Rosetta Stone and Fluenz Spanish 1+2 for Windows.
I started with the Rosetta Stone program, mostly because it was available right away. The online program was easy to set up (I just had to register and had a contact person to help me if I needed it) and I got started right away. The program teaches you through pictures-you are not given the English translation-so it is easy to connect pictures with Spanish words.
Because of the lack of translation, I had a little trouble with the actions verbs. However, I was given plenty of repetition to help imbed the words in my brain. The nouns were amazingly easy for me-they seemed to just click and I literally learned more in the first 2 hours of the program than I did in an entire year of high school French. I also retained most of what I learned, and breezed right through the reviews a month later. The layout is easy to follow and the speech recognition was very accurate. All together, the Rosetta Stone proved to be a very thorough and high quality program, that packed a lot of learning into each lesson.
The Fluenz Spanish 1+2 for Windows program came through the mail a few weeks later and I could not wait to get started! I put in the disc and was introduced my guide, who followed me throughout the program, helping me with pronunciation and moving things along. Fluenz uses a one-on-one conversational method to introduce the language. Unlike the Rosetta Stone , Fluenz provides translations of the conversations, training your brain to translate the Spanish into English instead of associating it with a picture. It felt like a more methodical approach (which really helped me with the verbs), and the one-on-one method really helped clarify things that left me confused with the Rosetta Stone. This program worked great for the more mechanical/methodical part of my brain. For those (like me) who like to learn the rules of a language this is the perfect program.
After a few months with both programs my Spanish has improved dramatically. I really liked the compliment of the more vocabulary focused Rosetta Stone, with the more methodical Fluenz software. Learning Spnish can lead to such great things, like a better job or new friends from other cultures, and I would highly recommend either program for those who are looking to learn it. If you are interested, you can find out more about either program here: