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on 26 October 2009
Smart Spanish is a collection of interviews with native Spanish speakers (some Latin American, some from Spain), who talk in a natural way about real-life topics -- photojournalism, relocation of a historic house, starting up a baguette business. There is no donde esta the library.

You hear each interview once at normal speed, and the teacher repeats it four or five times at slower speed. The CDs are formatted so you can skip a repetition if you don't need it. Because the interviews are unscripted, grammar points are explained as they come up (first interview jumps straight into past tense -- "This is how it happened..."). For this reason, you may want to have a "basics of Spanish" textbook for reference.

After six weeks with this course I saw a very satisfying improvement in my ability to "hear" phrases and everyday expressions, which seemed a blur before...

The real-life quality becomes a source of enjoyment as you go through the interviews -- the unfinished sentences, the noises in the background, the ways people tell their stories. ("You left your children with the coyotes?" gasps the interviewer. In reply, the woman manages to say, without actually saying it, "I'm not a bad mother.") It's like reading Studs Terkel's Working.
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on 10 November 2009
I started studying Spanish 20 years ago when I was a union organizer for the Roofers. I took some college correspondence courses. A few years later I left that job to work as a pipefitter.

When I quit organizing, I decided to continue to study Spanish on my own. I bought all the typical educational tapes, the ones where you repeat a
sentence after the voice on the tape. I started reading Spanish nearly every night, to increase my vocabulary. I read one or two Spanish novels a month, depending on how much time I have.

I recently started to work on big, overtime constructions jobs. The past
year I have been on big jobs in Texas, where at least half the workers on
the job speak Spanish. Some speak both English and Spanish, but a lot of the workers speak only Spanish.

I quickly discovered a few things:
One, I had a great Spanish vocabulary. I am like a walking Spanish
dictionary. I'd say I've a bigger vocabulary than 80% of the Spanish
speaking guys on the job. Spanish speaking guys often ask me for the most
correct Spanish word for certain things.
Secondly, I discovered I couldn't understand anything spoken in spanish. There is a lot of slang, but that wasn't the problem. When somebody said something, or when I listened to someone talking on a spanish TV program, a spoken sentence or paragraph sounded like one long, hundred sylable word. It all ran together, I pick up a work here or there, it sounded like it always did before I learned any spanish.
And thirdly, when I spoke spanish to anyone, it was as if I were looking words up in the spanish dictionary and talking, slowly, haltingly.

These cds were like the missing piece of my spanish education. I'm not even done with the first set yet, since I am working 7 days a week, 10 or 12 hours a day. But shortly after starting listening to the cds, playing them over a few times, my listening comprehension increase dramatically. This is really a major turning point for me. The more I can understand by listening,the more spanish idioms and slang I learn. Now, turning on the TV and watching a spanish movie is a learning experience for me. Listening to guystalking at work is a learning experience, since I can understand them. I am now conversing much more on the job, with much more confidence.

Again, I believe your cds were the key. What a great product. I wish I had them years ago. -Greg
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on 21 February 2010
Ive been using the whole range of SmartFrench products for some months now and am sure it is the best language course i have ever tried in book,cd or cd rom form.
I would recommend starting with the introduction cd's before tackling the beginner version.The introduction cd's need repeated listening ,usually this is where it all falls apart (i found repeated listening to Michael Thomas cd's extremely difficult due to his strange accent ,pompous manner and wierd exchanges between his two students )i have listened to the smartfrench cd's some 11 or 12 times and still find them quite fresh and Christian Aubert's accent easy to listen to .
Having worked on verbs,numbers and vocabulary from the introduction cd's i find i can express most of the things i want to say without a struggle.I have also used the Penguin Parallel French texts to suppliment my listening and ahve found these useful but not terribly relevent are much of the vocabulary is quite obscure , maybe Christian Aubert should write a Smart French parallel text book ,i would certainly buy that.
I am now working on the beginner conversations which are similarly fascinating (peopled by a wig maker ,a chef,a model and various other real french people ,boring it is'nt ) the emphasis being on listening and speaking rather than reading.
The cd rom is extremely easy to navigate around and as for reading smartfrench for travellers will be going with me when i go to Paris and the Dordogne this year as it is packed withvery useful phrases.
On the stregnth of Smartfrench i purchased SmartsSpanish and was delighted to find it followed the same format using a native Sanish speaker and real Spanish people ,the attention to detail is the same and i am looking forward to exploring the product in greater detail in the near future.
I find the main difference with the Smart Language series is that i practise every day and don't resent it one bit ,and yes ive found it relly sticks and tenses seem easy .
So all in all a really great product which will teach you how to speak French the way real French people speak with the correct liasons and vocabulary as it has been compiled using recorded conversations .Unique and practcal ,well done SmartFrench.
David Bentley .
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