If there’s one thing TEFL teachers and their students have in common, it’s the need to learn a new language. Or improve upon existing skills. For me, it was about learning Spanish from scratch. In the UK, when I grew up, there was only the option to study French, although you could delve into Spanish or German later on. Spanish, obviously, would have been more useful to me. I think it’s fair to say that along with English and Mandarin, it is one of the ‘Big Three’ global languages, and it’s use will grow rather than decline.
So how to learn a language. It’s no good landing in a country and expecting to pick it up just by wandering around, listening and reading adverts on the metro system. I can tell you that from experience. As a result, whilst I have a pretty decent vocab when it comes to adjectives and nouns, my grasp of verbs is pretty poor. There’s no way round it – study is required.
I’ve flitted with a few courses, but I’ve finally found one that appeals to me. Rosetta Stone is a fully computer based learning system, that offers courses in countless languages, and best of all, as far as I’m concerned, there’s a Latin American Spanish course. The differences between Spanish Spanish and LatAm Spanish are not huge, but if the appropriate one is available, then all’s well and good.
I’ve not long started the course, and have chosen to start from the very beginning. My Spanish is good enough that I could skip a fair chunk of the beginning, but as I’d previously taken a rather patchy route to language learning, my grammar is also patchy. It can’t hurt to fix my basic errors. Besides, it’s nice to complete a whole course.
My first impressions? Well, it is very easy to get into. Install, load it up, and away you go. It’s also easy to dip in and out of according to the time I have available. Only got five minutes? Great, I can get some study done. With a book based course, you’d spend that five minutes getting the books out, finding your place and looking for a pen.
It’s also thoroughly engaging. I’m enjoying it. That’s key to learning anything. There’s a lot of mouse work, clicking on pictures according to the audio. There is also voice recognition, which allows you to practise pronunciation. I’ve put this through its paces, by seeing how accurate it is. It’s more than accurate enough, although sometimes it’ll tell you you’ve got it wrong when you’ve got it spot on. But it’s only the mildest of mild frustrations.
So far, it has the thumbs up from me. Although as I pointed out, it’s early days. I’ll complete a more thorough review when I complete the course. That will be some months in the future though. It’s a pretty extensive teaching system, with the language split into five courses, each one itself split into lengthy sections. I’m not complaining though. The one drawback? The price. It’s not cheap.