We’re going all the way through the five discs so tonight we started with disc one. They say that each lesson lasts about 2 hours but for us, because we’re refreshing stuff we already know, it didn’t take but an hour. We’ve decided to devote Wednesday evenings to our lessons so I hope to have posts up on a regular basis. I don’t anticipate going through each and every lesson with you, but rather, I think I’ll focus on discussing the overall design and what works and what doesn’t. Shall we begin?
Meet Sonia Gil. She is your guide for the program (at least for lesson 1). Sonia does a lot of talking. Her introduction video gives you an overview of the lesson plan and what to expect with this program. This screen shot above is from her video at the beginning of Session 1. Sonia introduces you to some common words in the Spanish language and some common usage. Next we move on to a little dialogue.
You have the option to listen with Spanish subtitles, English subtitles, or no subtitles. The reviews online mentioned that you should do all three options. I started out with no subtitles to see if I could figure out what they were saying. I remembered quite a bit. Next I moved on to the Spanish subtitles and tried to see if I could remember what the words meant in English. Finally, I listened with the English subtitles to see if I was correct.
Once you have completed the listening portion (with or without subtitles) Sonia does a little breakdown for you of what was said, why it was said, the order it was said, and why that order is used. Spanish is a romantic language so it’s root is Latin. This language has masculine and feminine words and therefore it is common to drop pronouns since you’re able to determine the subject through the language itself.
See how in the video they placed the word “She” in parenthesis? This is because that word doesn’t actually appear in that sentence. I appreciate that Sonia takes the time to show you how (mostly) normal conversation takes place. We still learn the correct writing: Yo estoy muy bien, but she shows us that it is very common to say, Estoy muy bien. Sonia goes over common phrases and introductions and departures in this first lesson and I’m sure that, like us, you’ve heard most of it before.
Next, you’re tasked with matching the words you’ve heard with the English equivalent. Of course, this is a beginning lesson so it was incredibly easy for us. However, it is good to reinforce what you’re learning. After matching up the words you’ve just been practicing, you move on to one of the parts of the lesson that I considered the most difficult part of the lesson… writing what you’re hearing.
Here you can see a screen shot of my written words. I turned off the “Challenge Mode” because I wasn’t able to get the accents down on the mac and for this first lesson I just wanted to write what I was reading without worrying about all of that. You can turn on the option if you really want a challenge. They give you the English on this round but there are absolutely no hints which makes it quite difficult. You literally have to keep trying until you get it right or you click the button for them to go ahead and show you the answer. It definitely tests your knowledge.
Next up is the listen and write portion with short words/phrases and no English to guide you. This was most definitely a challenge for me. The above screen shot is from the short words and phrases and the screen shot below is from the whole sentences portion. I had to replay the phrases and sentences sometimes because they, for sure, did not talk slowly. This is good though. They don’t baby you. They definitely talk like you would in normal conversation and I found it quite challenging in a very good way.
Next, we get to the portion of the lesson where they have you read aloud and it records you. Not really my favorite because I feel like I sound like a valley girl speaking Spanish. However, I guess it’s good for you to practice and I’m sure once the lessons become more difficult I will appreciate the ability to be sure I’m sounding like the folks in the program.
So as you can see in the screen shot above they provide the dialogue for you and as you go through it you read your part and they speak theirs. Then you get back into the listening and writing what you hear but they don’t provide you with the English. This was by far the most challenging and you can see that I didn’t worry much about punctuation as I was trying to type while they were speaking so I didn’t miss anything.
I really felt like I enjoyed this portion of the lesson. It really helped reinforce what I was learning. Afterwards we get back into the matching game again which I thought was probably the easiest portion since once you know what some of the key words are you can piece together the puzzle even if you’re not positive.
Next week I’m sure it will be more of the same so the next time I post about this program I’ll probably only talk about the differences in lessons, what didn’t work, or what I find that really works. I hope you’ll join me! Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll do my best to answer. Overall I feel like this is going to be a good challenge and I’m looking forward to our weekly lessons. I hope to eventually write a post or two (maybe more) in Spanish to help reinforce my learning. I think this is going to be a good program for us! 🙂