Summary: The Transparent Language Essentials Courses aim to get absolute beginners engaged and interacting with the language they’re learning and speaking the basics in no time at all. While there are lots of different exercises for you to work through, the material isn’t all that helpful and it does get very repetitive. Although the courses aren’t all that useful or in depth, with over a hundred languages on offer it might be worth checking out if you want to learn the very basics of a more obscure language such as Buriat, Kazakh or Turkmen. But, even then, I’d try to find other resources first.
Quality While the exercises are for the most part well-designed, diverse and easy to use, it is the core material itself which is lacking.
Thoroughness There are hardly any explanations at all, you just have to endlessly memorize words and phrases.
Value I would only consider using if it were free and I was studying a very rare language.
I Like I really like the fact that they offer up courses in languages that are usually overlooked.
It’s pretty well-designed, easy to use and has lots of different activities to work through.
I Don’t Like The core material is severely lacking and you won’t learn much grammar or how to form even a basic sentence yourself.
It gets very repetitive and so I didn’t find it that fun to work through.
You learn virtually nothing about the different cultural contexts of the languages you’re learning.
Their teaching methodology is the biggest issue, leaving you memorizing lots of words and phrases in isolation.
Price: There is a free two-week trial period for you to try it out. Otherwise, it is $24.95 per month or $149.95 for a whole year if you just select one language. If you want access to all of the languages it is then $49.95 per month and $249.95 a year.
Summary: One of the most famous language teaching courses out there, Michel Thomas is a household name and his audio lessons aim to teach you your language of choice, naturally, intuitively and without any memorization involved. With 18 languages for you to choose from, the courses are aimed at absolute beginners and at the end you should be able to understand and speak to a basic level. I tried out the French foundation course and found it to be severely lacking and as such cannot recommend it at all. You may, however, have more luck with the other language courses that they offer.
Quality Very easy to use, the audios are decent quality but Michel Thomas’ discouraging manner means that students get flustered and this detracts from the content’s quality.
Thoroughness Michel Thomas doesn’t go into much depth and any explanations he offers up are just at a surface level.
Value I wouldn’t use these even if they were free due to Michel Thomas’ teaching style which ruins the material.
I Like Um…in all honesty I’m not sure if I enjoyed any of it!
I Don’t Like Michel Thomas never praises the students, often interrupts them and creates a negative learning environment.
The pacing of the lessons often seems off to me and in certain places they feel very hurried.
All of the lessons are almost identical and so it does get quite monotonous working through them.
Summary: Grammar Hero is a product from Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language. It follows the story-based method of teaching languages, but this time with a focus on the most difficult grammar points. You start out by reading a story and the grammar point is underlined, later you learn the rules, then you re-read the story with explanations, and finally you’ll practice using the grammar point to express your thoughts and opinions. It’s a comprehensive method that’s meant to help you internalize the grammar.
Quality The stories are unique and interesting, while highlighting the grammar points.
Thoroughness Covers the most challenging grammar in each language.
Value Fairly expensive and may not be affordable for many learners.
I Like The stories are different for every language.
Enjoyable to read, clear audio recordings, and more interesting than other ways to study grammar.
Focuses on only the most challenging grammar points.
I Don’t Like It’s pretty expensive.
The final “Activate” section is just a worksheet. It’s useful but hardly exciting.
Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, and Brazillian Portuguese.
Price: It costs $197 to purchase Grammar Hero in each language. There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee.
Summary: One of the most famous language learning resources out there, the Rosetta Stone method relies on immersive teaching so students will only find the material in the language they’re learning. Starting off with the basics, the units get progressively harder and cover a large range of topics. Suitable for beginner and intermediate students, it is more expensive than competitors and the exercises get very repetitive after a while. While it isn’t a bad resource, you can definitely find something better.
Very easy to use and navigate, the content is well presented but the similar format becomes deadly boring after a while.
While a lot of material is covered, you have to infer everything from the pictures that you are given. As such, there are no explanations at all.
It’s not as good and more expensive than other resources.
It’s easy to use and navigate – the content is very clearly laid out.
The extra features in the ‘Extended Learning’ pack make the material a bit more interesting to engage with.
While it is not particularly fun to use overall, I do believe that learners would improve their language skills using Rosetta Stone.
I Don’t Like…
The main units are very repetitive and I think I would find it demoralising after a while if I kept using it.
It doesn’t explore the cultural context of the language at all.
There are no explanations about any of the content and so you have to infer the meaning of everything through pictures.
It’s too expensive.
Price: The price varies by subscription length:
$79 for 3 months $119 for 6 months $179 for 12 months $249 for 24 months
Summary: Pimsleur’s courses primarily focus on oral language. They are one of the biggest names in language learning but was something I had a hard time recommending to people in the past because of the insanely high prices.
They recently added a subscription model with much more reasonable prices and a new app that is much better designed. This review focuses on the new subscription model which isn’t yet available to the general public from the Pimsleur website but you can find it here.
I was really impressed with the quality of the lessons and now that the price is much better, I’m happy to recommend studying with Pimsleur.
The lessons are very well structured and the new app works great
Pimsleur primarily focuses on oral language at the expense of grammar.
The new subscription cost is very affordable.
The lessons focus on oral language which gets students speaking right away.
The lessons are very active. You’re constantly being prompted and need to produce the language you’re learning.
The lessons build upon each other exceptionally well with previously learned material constantly being reinforced.
The app is well designed with lots of beautiful images and interesting cultural notes.
I Don’t Like…
The lessons aren’t terribly exciting.
The written language is much more of an afterthought and not heavily featured in the lessons.
The practice activities included in the premium plan aren’t particularly well done.
Price: A basic subscription costs $14.95 per month and a premium subscription costs $19.95 per month. This is a massive improvement over the old prices which cost as much as $550 for five levels.
You won’t find any information about this new subscription price on their website. The link below will take you to a page with more information on their subscription plans.