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Gentle pace - but much too limited
on 12 August 2011
After reading the great reviews of PN, I am disappointed by the coverage. This could have been so much better.
I am a big fan of Michel Thomas, having used it to kick-start my learning of Italian, and bought the French course for my daughter. But I am well aware of the annoyances of MT - his tendency to mumble sometimes; the infuriating students; the lack of native speakers.
So I was hopeful that PN would be MT but better (as some reviewers have suggested).
The good points about PN are -
- His voice is clearer than MT's
- He uses native speakers (from Spain & S America) instead of stumbling students
- He chooses topics that are a bit more practical (Hotels, Taxis, Eating etc) whereas MT sometimes seems a bit abstract ("I would like to do it for you that way but unfortunately it is impossible for me today")
The problem is he covers so much less of the language. With MT you have to listen to the students making the same mistakes over and over again. With PN, you have to listen to Paul explaining the same points again and again and again. So by the end of the last disc you are still practicing basics from the beginning of the course. By the end of MT's foundation and advanced courses, you have covered past, present, imperfect, conditional, future, subjunctive, imperative verb tenses. Plus all sorts of other important aspects of the language. Whereas with PN you barely scratch the surface.
I had to listen to some of the MT discs several times before it all sank in. But that's ok - it covers a lot of material. Repetition helps you learn. But the PN course has all the repetition built in. So I have steamed through the whole course in a few days, and have mastered 99% of the content - not because it is a great system; simply because it covers so much less. EG. verb-wise it focuses almost exclusively on the past tense, and barely touches future or even present tense. Personally I think it is better value for money if you do have to listen more than once. (Or if he offered more advanced courses to follow on). By contrast MT Italian kept me busy for about 8 weeks.
The other annoying thing is Paul's dumbed-down attitude to grammar. Some of his explanations are very clear. But he labours the point by repeating them again and again. And he assumes that his listeners are too ignorant or nervous of grammar to know what a verb or pronoun is. So he gives long, painful patronising explanations - rather than chuck out a definition and then get on with it.
So 3 stars from me for being a very clear gentle introduction to Spanish, but extremely limited in scope.
I would recommend this if you are really nervous about tackling a foriegn language for the first time. Otherwise use Michel Thomas to get a thorough grounding in grammar, then some other system with native speakers to improve your vocabulary and accent.