Updated 12 Mar 2012
Top 5 Spanish Courses
Review of Popular Spanish Courses (Download or CD)
by Kim McConnell, Editor, Study-Spanish-Language.com
Over the past five years I've had the opportunity to test virtually all the top Spanish courses with my students. It's fascinating to hear their comments and see how use of the best Spanish courses can dramatically improve their learning progress. (See results below.)
All of the courses I reviewed are widely used, available by immediate download or on CD, and cost $99 or less.
If you want to suggest a course for review, please email me.
Note: Whichever course you choose I strongly recommended you augment your studies with the Verbarrator for fastest progress.
||Rated #2 of Top 5
Transparent Spanish Premium Edition
Editor's Comments: Effective, immersion course that teaches grammar, vocabulary, reading, listening, and conversation practice through Spanish texts, videos, and stories.
Description: Transparent Language is a major provider of language learning software for consumers, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. More than 12,000 schools and universities use their products. PC and Mac compatible. More
Best Price: $89.95 at Official Transparent Languages Website
Go to Official Transparent Languages Website
||Rated #3 of Top 5
Editor's Comments: This is a very good course if your goal is to learn basic Spanish in the shortest time possible. The course achieves this using the 80/20 principle. This principle states that in any field of human endeavor 20% of the effort brings 80% of the results.
Description: Unique, efficient course that teaches 138 "core" words and how to use those words to form 88,000 phrases and sentences. Students work through 68 structured audio lessons with the aid of a guidebook. More
Best Price: $59.95 at Official Synergy Spanish Website
Go to Synergy Spanish Website
||Rated #4 of Top 5
Editor's Comments: This is the most complete course in the under $99 category. Includes hours and hours of fun, effective lessons in all major aspects of language learning (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Excellent value.
Description: Comprehensive language course that includes 31 interactive audio lessons each 15 to 25 minutes long, over 400 pages of instructional text and grammar lessons, hundreds of exercises, and MegaSpanish learning software. Appropriate for beginner and intermediate students. No prior knowledge of Spanish is required. More
Best Price: $99.95 at Official Rocket Spanish Website
Go to Rocket Spanish Website
||Rated: Not in Top 5
FSI Programmatic Spanish
Editor's Comments: Although this course has been proven effective, it's also tedious and old-fashioned. You need a lot of discipline to complete this course. I don't recommend it to beginners because it tends to discourage them. However, the course makes a great supplementary learning tool for intermediate students, helping them nail-down difficult study topics. FSI is not nearly as user-friendly as newer, modern courses.
Description: This course was originally developed decades ago by the Foreign Service Institute and used to train US diplomats. Includes over 50 hours of re-mastered audio lessons plus a scanned copy of the original textbook. The lessons go from beginner to advanced level. This learning method requires that you use the text and audio together so it's not suitable for learning in the car, while jogging, etc. More
Best Price: $97 at FSI Programmatic Spanish Website
Go to FSI Programmatic Spanish Website
Choosing a Course
In choosing a Spanish course, you'll need to consider your language goals. For example, do you want to learn Spanish for travel or for business? Do you want to become fluent in the language or just learn enough Spanish so you can get by?
Our students (especially beginners) consistently give Learning Spanish Like Crazy the best feedback, probably because it is the most fun and accessible course.
However, Synergy Spanish offers the most direct route to achieving basic Spanish communication skills in the shortest time possible. You will not develop advanced Spanish skills with Synergy. It is strictly designed for achieving basic communication fast.
Learning methods also need to be considered.
If you are the kind of person who learns best through listening, repeating and conversation, and will not do grammar or written exercises, the Learning Spanish Like Crazy courses may be best for you. If you prefer a more serious approach, You might like the Transparent Spanish courses best.
See also side-by-side comparison of Best Spanish Courses (Download or CD)
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How to Type Spanish Accents on Your Computer
English keyboards don't have keys designated for Spanish accent marks and special characters. But you can still type them using unique codes or by reconfiguring your keyboard.
The simplest way to type Spanish accents and special characters on a Windows PC is using three-digit Alt codes. Press and hold down the Alt key while typing in the numeric code.
á Alt + 160
é Alt + 130
í Alt + 161
ó Alt + 162
ú Alt + 163
ñ Alt + 164
ü Alt + 129
¡ Alt + 173
¿ Alt + 168
Another option is to reconfigure your keyboard via the Control Panel.
Here's how to type Spanish characters if you have a Mac.
á Option + e, then a
é Option + e, then e
í Option + e, then i
ó Option + e, then o
ú Option + e, then u
ñ Option + n, then n
ü Option + u, then u
¡ Option, then 1
¿ Shift + Option, then ?
Note: In modern Spanish communication, capital letters do not use accent marks.