Learning Spanish Like Crazy
Leave Us a Review
  • Learning Spanish Like Crazy
  • Learn Like Crazy Inc.
  • Published by: Learn Like Crazy Inc.
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2007

Learning Spanish Like Crazy is an audio course book designed for beginner level students. This book specifically focuses on Spanish spoken in Latin America and the voice actors all come from a variety of countries from that region. While working with this course students will learn new vocabulary, work on speaking and listening exercises, go over basic grammar structures, and much more.

REVIEW BY Tyler Follis Book EXPERT
Review posted: 02/12/2013
Have you used this book?

I first came across Learning Spanish Like Crazy when I was looking for another audio-based Spanish course after finishing Learn Spanish with Paul Noble. It seems like this audio course is not as well-known as its competitors like Pimsleur, Paul Noble, and Michel Thomas, but it’s not hard to understand why. The website for the program looks horribly unprofessional, the prices for the course range from $8 to $118 depending on where you look, and the name of the product doesn’t exactly conjure ideas of professionalism and reliability. Despite all this, I would say it’s one of the best audio courses I’ve used for any language – let’s explore why.

The key strength in Learning Spanish Like Crazy is the voice acting. This one aspect of the course is enough to set it apart from any other audio course I have ever encountered. In contrast with its many competitors, the speakers for this course don’t sound like they’re reading off a script, they don’t sound like robots, they don’t sound melancholy and uninterested like they’re wondering when the recording session is going to end. The speakers for this course sound enthusiastic, flirtatious, sometimes silly, and almost always natural. Aside from a few conversations here and there which seem a little forced in terms of the vocabulary used in the conversation, the speakers sound more like they’re having a chat with one another than reading from a script. I absolutely love this about the course, as it not only makes for a better and more realistic learning experience, but it also makes you more interested in trying to catch what the speakers have to say.

"...the speakers for this course don’t sound like they’re reading off a script, they don’t sound like robots, they don’t sound melancholy and uninterested like they’re wondering when the recording session is going to end."

As far as the course works, it’s pretty much a Pimsleur clone with a few variations. For those of you who don’t know how the Pimsleur course works, the basic format is like this:

· You listen to a conversation in Spanish (you won’t understand the first time)

· An English speaking narrator will tell you what a word (or phrase) means and two native speakers will demonstrate the pronunciation

· You will be asked to repeat after the native speakers

· The English speaking narrator will ask you, “how do you say _______ in Spanish?”

· The native speakers will give you the answer and you will repeat after them

· Repeat these steps over and over again until you have been introduced to many new words, phrases, and grammar constructions

· At the end you will hear a conversation again (usually the same one from the beginning) and this time you will understand

It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s a tried and true method that has proven effective for me and countless others. Aside from the higher quality voice acting, another primary difference between Pimsleur and this course is the level of difficulty/speed the course progresses. Many language enthusiasts seem to have expressed a disappointment with how slowly Pimsleur courses progress. Learning Spanish Like Crazy has addressed this problem. At the beginning, things don’t move too fast and it’s pretty easy to follow, but I found myself having to do some of the later lessons more than once because I didn’t catch everything. One will certainly have to pay close attention and stay consistent with the course to be able to progress with good results. The relatively difficult course progression might turn some people off, but I think motivated students will welcome the extra challenge.

As you move along in the course, the narrator/instructor of the course gradually starts replacing nearly everything he says with Spanish. For example, the things he says in English at the beginning of the course, such as: “how do you say ______?”; “how do you ask ______?”; “listen”; “repeat”; etc. will all be replaced with the Spanish equivalents. I thought this was a nifty way to increase the amount of Spanish you are being exposed to in each lesson, and I think other foreign language audio courses would be wise to follow suit.

The speakers on the recording are all speakers of Latin American Spanish, but the course does not tell you exactly where they are from. When the native speakers are demonstrating the pronunciation of new words and sentences, the speak clearly and enunciate every sound, but you can tell when listening to the dialogues at the beginning and the end of the lesson that the speakers revert to their more natural, colloquial pronunciation. I find this to be a positive quality of the course, as it does its best to give you examples of what Spanish speakers actually sound like when they are having a conversation. For students learning Spanish with the goal of going to Spain or interacting with speakers of European Spanish, this course is probably less than ideal, but I think that would still be useful in terms of learning grammar and vocabulary.

Another strength of this course is its attention to grammar. For every piece of speech it introduces — noun, pronoun, verb, etc. — it makes sure to drill you on it until you are comfortable using every form of the word. I liked this aspect of the course because I felt like I was able to learn a lot of grammar without having to read lists of rules and stare at tables. After a while using this course, I found myself effortlessly conjugating all the regular verbs and common irregular verbs.

The greatest weakness of this course is the varying quality. I’m not sure if I just got a bad copy of the course (I do not believe this to be the case, based on other reviews I have read), but the audio quality is generally rather low, and it only gets worse from there. There was a definite turning point during the middle of the course in which the quality of the audio dropped greatly, which was disappointing, but not so bad that it hindered learning.

Some students may also complain that some of the vocabulary terms introduced seem somewhat obscure (pillow case, for instance), and are left behind after appearing in only one lesson. While I can understand how some people would find this troubling, I didn’t find it to be distracting or useless. I think it is apparent that some of the content of the course is not necessarily expected to be readily memorized for the long term, but is merely presented for the purpose of getting you used to Spanish words and grammar conventions. I can understand the argument that says, “Why not just do that with terms that are more useful or common than ‘pillow case’?”, but I didn’t feel like it took anything away from the course for my purposes.

The course comes with a transcription of every lesson, which I found quite useful. As far as I have seen, this is one of the only audio courses that provides complete word-for-word transcriptions of the content of each lesson, providing a great tool for students and teachers alike to review.

All in all, this is a course with strengths and weaknesses, but I think that if you can get over the poor audio quality, there is a lot of value to be had with this course. By my approximation there is about 16 to 17 hours of content to be had with volume 1. I haven’t looked into volume 2 yet, but I imagine it’s more of the same, which would be a good thing. I give this course a rating of Highly Recommended and would suggest it to any beginning Spanish learner, especially as a companion or follow up to Learning Spanish with Paul Noble.

For instructors: This would be a great course to use as assigned homework for beginners' Spanish classes. It gives your students a fun and intuitive way to learn Spanish outside of the classroom, while giving them a break from their normal course materials.

For students: The key to succeeding with this course is to take things slow. If you can't produce all the phrases throughout the lesson, take your time, relax, and repeat the lesson if you have to. You may be interested in trying to complete as many lessons as possible in one day, but, unless you are an experienced language learner, it is probably a better idea to limit yourself to one or two lessons a day until you have maintained a steady pace for the course. You can try to take on more once you have proven to be consistent and comfortable with the material.



Leave your review for 'Learning Spanish Like Crazy '

Fields with * are required.