Thursday, April 14, 2005

podcast #5, language instruction tapes & CD's

podcast #5, language instruction tapes and CD's

(link to the podcast)

Pimsleur Spanish I CD set
ISBN 0-743-52357-1

Pimsleur Spanish II CD set
ISBN 0-743-52893-X

Pimsleur Spanish III CD set
ISBN 0-743-52895-6

or look at this web site:
(recommended by a listener, I have not tried it)

Spanish with Michel Thomas
ISBN 0-071-38164-3

Advanced Spanish with Michel Thomas
ISBN 0-340-88703-6

Please comment on this web site:

or email me at:


At 5/23/2005 10:54 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I have used Michel Thomas's 8 CD set and I would love to try his Advanced Spanish course (assuming he picks up where he left off), but I can't seem to find it anywhere. I searched the ISBN you gave on Amazon and I can not seem to find it.

Can you give a link to this?

At 5/24/2005 12:22 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I found the Michel Thomas Advanced course on Amazon UK thanks to your podcast.

However, if you have tried Platiquemos FSI Spanish Course I would like to hear your opinion of those.

At 6/05/2005 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I are using the Pimsleur CD's. We are finding them to be fun and a stress free way of learning to speak Spanish. They teach a lot of grammer in context which seems more natural. They give a good scafolding on which to learn more vocabulary in conversation with others or by reading. We have joined a Spanish lanuage meet-up group (on Yahoo - just search "Speaking Spanish + your town") that meets once a week at a local resturant to practice with each other. We have met lots of interesting people there!

At 6/21/2005 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich, Thanks for this podcast. It is very useful and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge about learning Spanish.

At 7/05/2005 1:57 PM, Blogger Cuvtixo said...

Penton Overseas, Inc. publishes Learn in Your Car Spanish. I found the first three "level 1" CDs to be good vocabulary-builders, but was disappointed in the Level 2 set. Level 2 presents various phrases, the way 1 presented words. Not very good for actually listening while driving.

At 8/01/2005 2:12 PM, Blogger Vince said...

There is a fourth Pimsleur level for Spanish. It is called Spanish Plus. I think it is a vocabulary builder. I didn't see this mentioned in the list.

At 8/17/2005 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich, the link to podcast 5 seems to be disabled. Can you check on it and see if I'm right, and if so, fix it? Thanks.

At 8/18/2005 6:44 AM, Blogger Rich said...

Sorry for the broken link, should be ok now.

At 8/24/2005 3:32 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I have gone through the entire Pimsleur course, including Spanish Plus, twice. It is an amazing course that takes you by the hand and gives you a guided tour of the Spanish language. It is virtually painless, and you can actually feel it working. It's uncanny.

Pimsleur Plus is not quite as good as the first three levels. It only adds ten additional lessons, there is very little (maybe no) new grammar, and most of the new vocabulary is related to books and publishing. However, it is extra practice and new vocabulary. I don't regret buying it.

Also, make sure to search ebay. There are always used copies of the Pimsleur course available there.

Jason asked about Platiquemos. I am in the middle of it right now. Platiquemos is based on the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) basic course that was developed in the 1950s. The FSI basic course is the same course that is sold by Barron's and AudioForum. Barron's only sells the first two levels. AudioForum sells all four. Platiquemos divides the course into eight levels.

Platiquemos seems to have been more reworked than the other commercial versions. The audio quality is not very good, but neither was the original. There is added material and some drills have been reformatted to make them easier to do without the book. Platiquemos adds lots of new speakers. There are 18 speakers, 17 are native. The gender of some speakers has changed to make the dialogs easier to follow. There are almost 48 hours of recordings in the complete course. The Platiquemos book is much better than any other version. It's obvious that a lot of work has been done here. Platiquemos is also available in an all digital (mp3/pdf) version that is quite inexpensive and will save you the trouble of ripping.

The FSI course, no matter which version, is much more complete than Pimsleur. But where Pimsleur spoon feeds you the language, FSI pounds it into your head. The drills are relentless and require a good deal of determination. But FSI will take you farther into the language and promises "automaticity." That is, ideas will roll off your tongue in Spanish without any mental translation.

I also use the Learn-in-Your-Car course. But I don't really use it in order as I imagine was intended. The nice thing about LIYC is that is very well organized and each lesson is short. So, it's easy to find a drill that exercises something that you want to work on. I often add a few of these drills to a special playlist that I listen to when I only have a few minutes to spare (hidden moments).

Penton Overseas also makes two other interesting programs. VocabuLearn is vocabulary exercises. Immersion Plus is dialogs with transcriptions. They also sell all three products in various combinations and packaging. Be careful not to buy the same product twice.

I've never listened to the Michael Thomas course. But everyone seems to either love it or hate it. My biggest objection to the MT course has been the complete lack of native speakers. But after listening to Rich talk about how it helped him with verbs, maybe I'll give it a chance.

I'm really enjoying your podcast Rich. Thank you.

At 8/24/2005 3:51 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Oh yeah. Destinos is a telenovela for learners of Spanish. It consists of 52 30 minute episodes, a textbook, workbooks and cassettes. The books and cassettes are available from Amazon. Sometimes you can find them on ebay. The episodes are aired on PBS regularly, or you can watch them online (free registration required) here:

At 9/22/2005 7:00 PM, Blogger Steve V said...

Baron’s produced two sets of taps/CDs with books called Mastering Spanish I and II. They are the first 30 units, 15 units each, of a course developed for the US Foreign Service Institute. They are reasonable priced, full of exercises to improve grammar and I think that they are excellent.
They cover up to, but not including the subjective tenses.

I have found the more advanced units of the Foreign Service course. They are packaged by a different publisher; it is called Basic Spanish. It is much more expansive. I have not tried it. But here is source that I found.

At 11/01/2005 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michel Thomas CDs are pretty good for mastering the grammatical side of Spanish - not so hot on vocabulary. In addition to the Advanced CDs there is also a 2 CD language builder set which provides some useful material

At 12/03/2005 1:27 PM, Blogger susanne said...

I posted this question on a another strand, but would love some input here as well:

Can anyone tell me which of these programs is best for someone who works in schools? I'm not very interested in hotels, restaurants and flight attendants. I need to know about counselors, conferences, report cards, etc.

At 12/15/2005 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know if I can put these CDs on my mp3 player? I'm assuming I can but I don't want to lay out the money unless I know for sure.


At 12/15/2005 4:22 PM, Blogger Rich said...

Yes, you can put any of these CD's on your MP3 player. At least, I put them on my iPod with no problem. For that reason, you probably want to buy CD's, not cassettes.

At 3/01/2006 1:20 PM, Anonymous Joan said...

Rich, I love your podcasts! They offer more information
than any other single source I know.

I was surprised not to see mention of two language instruction CD
programs that I've tried: Rocket Spanish (see ) and, especially, Learning Spanish
Like Crazy (see ).
Rocket Spanish seems to me best for true beginners. It offers
interesting, contemporary dialogues between a Chilean male
speaker and an American female who is fluent in Spanish. After
the opening dialogue, the two speakers examine and explain each
phrase slowly and carefully, so that you know exactly what they
said and why. Since I came to Rocket Spanish knowing un poco, I
found the pace too slow and the vocabulary not sufficiently
challenging, but I was nonetheless impressed with the lessons'
clarity. In addition to the lessons (which are available on CD
or--for a lot less $--downloadable in mp3 format), there are also
very useful written materials, games, cards, and more. There's
also a forum, and the two founders of Rocket Spanish participate
and pay attention to suggestions.

The first program I tried was Learning Spanish Like Crazy. Like
Rocket Spanish, it is available both on CD or in a much less
expensive downloadable mp3 format. I found LSLC much more
challenging than Rocket Spanish. Having gone through all 32
lessons once, I'm now going through them again, and I'm surprised
and delighted to see how much I've progressed. Many of the
opening dialogues (spoken carefully but at true conversational
speed) were largely incomprehensible to me when I first listened
to them. Now, I find I can understand most of them completely.
Even so, I still find the exercises that follow them very helpful
for sorting out issues like the use of the preterite vs. the
imperfect, etc. Each of the lessons is considerably longer than
the Rocket Spanish lessons, and there's a .pdf text transcript of
each lesson available for download (I think if you buy the CD
version, they ship the texts to you as well). Like Rocket
Spanish, Learning Spanish Like Crazy has a useful web forum.

Right now, both Rocket Spanish and Learning Spanish Like Crazy
offer just Level I (though LSLC's Level I goes much further than
Rocket Spanish's). However, the creator of LSLC has said that
Level II (which will cover the subjunctive, among other topics)
should be available in a month or two.

Both RS and LSLC are oriented toward Latin American Spanish.
LSLC tries to offer a variety of native speakers with different
Latin American accents. The sound quality of both programs is
very good. By contrast, I tried a sample of the Platiquemos program and
decided not to buy the program because the sound quality was rather
disappointing. (I was interested to see that in his comment on this blog, Mark also mentioned the poor
audio quality of Platiquemos.)

I haven't tried Pimsleur or Michel Thomas, but I do think that
Rocket Spanish (if you're a true beginner) and Learning Spanish
Like Crazy are two very worthwhile programs to consider for learning Latin American Spanish.

At 5/08/2006 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheap Pimselur Alert!

I bought the Course 1 CDs from them cheap and intended to sell them back.

Pimselur is a great course but the business appears to be out of business so the terrific buy back I was expecting for Course 2 has evaporated.

I've left messages, emailed etc. and gotten no response. Their voice mail boxes have been "full" for weeks now.

Buyer beware.

At 11/05/2006 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got the FSI course Programmatic Spanish from 20$ from . They bundled the full course on one single DVD using mp3 files and PDF books. Although you will not get real books, I think it is quite a bargain compared with other FSI publishers.

At 1/15/2007 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking for something for my 13 year old son and me (his mother) to use simultaneously. I took Spanish 1 back in high school which means I recall very little, if any, Spanish.

My son will be taking Spanish next year in school and he is interested in getting a head start. (He took another elective this year in lieu of the language).

Thanks for any advice you have!

At 1/22/2007 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an experienced language learner. I became fluent in Spanish a long time ago.

There is a mass of material available for learning Spanish, more than for any language except English.

If your goal is to learn to speak and understand Spanish, then you should spend almost all your time working with recordings.

Platequemos and similar material can be very helpful, if you are at the right level. But it will likely be discouraging for beginners. It emphasizes language at native speed, and you will find it very difficult to imitate the speakers. Wait until you have been through a lot of slower material before tackling this program.

Pimsleur is a great introduction to the language and I recommend beginners start with this program. However it wouldn't be a bad idea to read up on the sound system before tackling the program. Knowing small things such as, "the Spanish /t/ is pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth" can be a great help toward getting a good accent.

Any other material with native speakers can help you. Just look for stuff that interests you and that is not above your level. Its best to work on lots and lots of stuff at the same level rather than to frustrate yourself working on difficult material.

Count me among those who hates the Michel Thomas material. That is because there are no native speakers on his recordings and he has a distinct accent. You will be hearing and learning incorrect Spanish. With so much good material out there, why mess with something like this which will give you bad habits from the start.

At 7/24/2007 6:44 PM, Blogger Jim said...

I am a new learner and was wondering if anybody had any comment about "Rocket Spanish"?

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At 6/01/2009 2:08 PM, Anonymous Pimsleur Spanish said...

I encourage anyone interested in Spanish to try Pimsleur Spanish--you can get the first lesson of each level 1, 2, 3 or 4 (Plus) free online at my website.

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At 6/21/2011 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 3/12/2016 6:10 AM, Blogger javascript:void(0) said...

Anyone know how / where I can get a copy of the transcripts for Penton Overseas' Immersion Plus? have the audio from my local library but no transcript. Tried to contact Penton directly but IF I found their website, not hopeful anyone will respond to the msg I left there.


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