I tried 3 podcasts today – Notes in Spanish: Inspired Beginnners, Spanish Para Todos and SpanishPod. I have to say that I was disappointed in all three of them. I’m can’t say whether they are really poor or not, but after Coffee Break Spanish, they seem to lack organization and verve. It may well be that Coffee Break Spanish works for me, so perhaps these podcasts shouldn’t be counted out unless you try them yourself.
Notes in Spanish: Inspired Beginners is not meant for the newest of beginners, but it was rather disorganized and lacked continuity from podcast 1 to podcast 2. I think they are attempting to make it a bit immersive by doing quick reviews of the previous podcast, but they reviewed some things so fast as to be generally useless. For example, one phrase they discussed was how to ride a bike, and it went like this:
Guy: Hey ___ – do you remember how to say you are riding a bike in the countryside?
Girl: Yes – (Spanish spoken quickly)
Guy: Great – what about (next phrase)?
Coffee Break Spanish takes things a bit slower and make sure to repeat things more than once, both when introducing a word/phrase or when reviewing it. Notes in Spanish: Inspired Beginners is no longer on my iPod, but I’ll consider trying the Intermediate and Advanced levels when the time comes.
Spanish Para Todos may be good, but the instructor speaks so deliberately that getting started seems to take forever. It’s organized into 5 parts – an English preview of the dialogue, a slow reading of the dialogue in Spanish (twice), a review in English and a final reading of the dialogue in Spanish at a native speed.
Theoretically, this sounds great, but I couldn’t stand how long it took to get started and how slow the initial two readings of the Spanish dialogue was. It was too slow for me, but perhaps it would be just right for someone else. Another thing that bothered me was the scenario of a classroom with good and bad students, but that is definitely the unschooler in me responding. Spanish Para Todos is off my iPod.
For the last one I tried, SpanishPod, but I don’t actually know what their method of instruction is like or if there is any. The vibe is some 20-somethings talking about Spanish and travel, with seemingly great emphasis on talking. The podcast I tried was 12 minutes long and after 5 minutes they still chatting away in English. A friend had visited Mexico and they discussed some cultural aspects but nearly half the podcast was done and maybe 5 or 6 Spanish words had been spoken. It’s nice if you are interested in learning about some culture, but if I subscribe to a podcast to learn Spanish, I want to learn some Spanish. Adios de mi iPod, SpanishPod. Maybe their other podcasts are better, but the first impression I got from them is hard to get over.
It’s clear that Coffee Break Spanish is the one for me, and the one I would most recommend to others. I have not tried their bonus materials, but I like how they refer to them as ‘bonus’ materials and not a vital necessity for learning. They are well organized, well paced and the personalities of the hosts are engaging. Most importantly, my retention from podcast to podcast is very high. I definitely think that trying out CBS is well worth the time.