PROS / Every Fluenz skill level comes with a boatload of learning material.
CONS / Individual lessons last about two and a half hours, so you need to set aside a significant amount of time.
VERDICT / If you're serious about learning to speak Spanish, Fluenz offers plenty of supplemental material to its main course. However, this is best for serious learners willing to set aside time to practice.
Learning Spanish requires consistent interaction and rewards to be effective. Total immersion classes require students to follow lessons and instructions entirely in Spanish. This can drain your attention quickly and leave you confused and frustrated. Unlike language instruction applications that use a one-size-fits-all approach, Fluenz's Spanish learning software provides explanations and subtitles in English. That way, you get the chance to connect the lessons to cultural experience.
Fluenz provides a comprehensive multimedia teaching method, useful explanations, an appealing interface and interactive lessons, all of which make it our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner. Many language programs focus on stuffy, formal phrases rather than organic speech. Fluenz emphasizes a practical vocabulary that includes words Spanish speakers use daily. Rather than abstract academic exercises, this approach focuses on teaching you vocabulary and a Spanish accent so other speakers can clearly understand you in conversation.
In total, there are five levels in the Fluenz collection. Depending on your previous experience with Spanish, you can start from level one or at a more advanced level. If you want to learn Spanish fast for travel or business, the first installment is more than adequate. Fluenz does an excellent job giving you the tools to form sentences and the accent for others to understand you. Once you have the building blocks, other Spanish speakers can help you communicate.
In Level 1, you encounter real-world situations relevant to any travel you may be doing. In this section, you learn about restaurants and shopping, monetary transactions, transportation and lodging. You cover specific and relevant situations like finding bus or train routes and polite protocol for interacting with hotel, restaurant or service staff.
Grammatically speaking, you learn to construct sentences in the present and future. In addition, this section covers commands, questions, gendered nouns and other parts of speech. To aid with the travel and commerce aspect of these lessons, you learn how to count up to 999,999 and tell time.
This is a lot of content to cover for beginners, so each lesson takes about two and a half hours to finish. This may be an issue if you have a busy schedule to maintain. Thankfully, these lessons are easy to follow and engaging. Fluenz offers a series of lessons with video instruction and activities. The lessons blend instruction from the tutor with words and phrases displayed on the screen as she teaches. In the activities, you are required to use audio, images and simple quizzes to practice.
Whatever level you start with, Fluenz packs the kit full of learning tools. You can learn Spanish at home, on your commute or in your free time with the entire package. In the Level 1 kit, you get an audio CD; ready to Install DVD; access to Fluenz Online courses; Fluenz for iPhone, iPad and Android; comprehension MP3s; and flashcards.
The combination of all these tools make the Fluenz system appealing to Spanish students of all learning types. The lessons, called workouts, prompt you to speak, listen, read and write in Spanish. This software makes extensive use of videos, along with images and audio assistance. You learn to recognize words and practice typing in the answers in Spanish in response to challenges posed in English.
You can even hear how you sound in a regular conversation. You can record your voice while practicing given conversations, which is a great way to self-monitor your progress and pronunciation compared with native speakers. When it comes to pronunciation, Fluenz teaches Castilian Spanish with a Latin American accent, meaning you speak universal European Spanish the way Latin American speakers do. This allows you to be understood easily regardless of where your conversation partner hails.
The Fluenz interface is easy to navigate. You can just sit back and let the software guide you, or there are various activities and quizzes if you want to create your own curriculum. What's nice about the Fluenz interface is that it is so simple, not to mention attractive and easy to use. There are fewer buttons and menus than many other applications have, so nothing gets in your way as you learn Spanish. The purpose of every button and tab is obvious, and the menus are uncluttered.
The system is straightforward and best for mature learners because it lacks games, but the activities are engaging enough to keep your attention. However, younger learners may tire of these lessons without much interactivity. Levels allow you to begin wherever you feel comfortable and move freely through the lessons.
Fluenz does not keep a record of correct and incorrect answers for each activity as you learn Spanish. Instead, it gives positive feedback and encouragement to repeat activities at least three times or until you master them. Whether you want to study Spanish for beginners or at a more advanced level, the Fluenz method is more effective than just getting a percentage score and never returning to the activity. Its approach makes the lessons easy to repeat and master because you can have another go at the quizzes when you need to refresh your memory.
Help & Support
Fluenz has excellent support resources for its Spanish learning software. The FAQs and user manual are easy to use and informative. There are demos to help you understand the inner workings of the software, and Fluenz has full email and phone support systems. You also get the benefit of live chat, which is a great way to get answers quickly. The support technicians on live chat are friendly and knowledgeable, and they offer tips and help with cultural aspects of Spanish.
Fluenz Spanish lessons do not talk down to you, but instead present vocabulary you use in daily life. The learning experience is beautifully constructed, the material is relevant and the explanations are thoughtful. Fluenz acknowledges the difficulty of learning a new language and does not imply that it is a breeze to master it. In a market full of excellent software on how to learn Spanish, Fluenz is first-rate because it operates as a virtual private tutor, without the lesson fees or the inconvenience of arranging tutoring sessions that fit your schedule. Its elegant interface, well-planned lessons and useful multimedia tools make Fluenz a superb choice for learning to speak Spanish.