As anyone who reads this blog will know, since mid January I have been working through the Linkwords Spanish course. Well today I finally completed it, and I'd like to write my thoughts on how I feel with my Spanish now that I've reached the end of the course.
In my previous post about my experiences with Level 1 of Linkwords Spanish, I mentioned that there are 4 levels to this course, and it is available in both audio and software versions (and also as apps for Android and Apple systems, which I didn't use), as well as that each level contains 10 to 11 sections, each of which take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to complete.
I would generally do 1 or 2 sections a day, where possible (I'm sure you know that life often gets in the way of things sometimes, though!). It took me a fair bit of time to get through all 4 levels because I wanted to just work through everything gradually and learn all the material thoroughly. The other factor that made things take a bit longer was because, for each section, I first learned the material with the audio course, then I went through the software course in order to learn the reading and writing part.
So what did the whole Linkwords Spanish course cover, and how far can it take a Spanish learner?
With all 4 levels, I have now learned a vocabulary of around 1200 words as well as have a comprehensive knowledge of Spanish grammar.
Vocabulary wise, the course covers pretty much everything a person could need in most aspects of their everyday lives. Names of animals, household items, places in town, types of food and drinks, family members, car words, parts of the body, places in the countryside, hobbies, school subjects, telling the time, talking about the weather, illness/ailment words, and much more. Heck, even how to start and end letters was discussed. In addition to this, most of the common verbs and adjectives you'll need to describe what you do and how you feel as you go about your life are taught too.
Grammar wise, the course teaches most of the essential verb tenses (present, future, past, conditional, imperative, etc), and even some of the more complex ones (such as 'I had...' for the past) that are required in order to express one's thoughts properly and have articulate conversations. I feel I have a good command of these now, and am comfortable in manipulating the verbs to get in and out of the different tenses as and when I need to. Also taught is how to handle adjectives, nouns, plurals, comparatives, superlatives and a whole host of other essential grammatical points required in order to construct sentences properly.
You're also taught some really useful phrases such as basic greetings, asking how people are, asking someone to repeat something or speak slower, etc.
I have to be honest and say that this is an extremely comprehensive amount of knowledge, and considering I've learned it in just over 2 months I'd say that makes the course very impressive (well, either that or I'm just a super genuis!). There's no way even a school student studying Spanish for over 5 years knows as much as what I've learned in these past few months, so that says a lot about how effective Linkword is.
So what level of Spanish am I at now, honestly?
So I guess the question is, where am I at with Spanish now that I've completed the course? I mean, the thing that truly matters is how all this knowledge works for me in the real world, and whether I can actually now speak, read, write and understand Spanish or not. That will be the acid test as to how effective Linkword Spanish is...
Ok, first of all I've noticed I know the name of the noun for most items I'll encounter in a typical day. I look around my room and I realise I can name most things in here in Spanish. I can walk round the city and know the name of most landmarks and types of shops in Spanish. So that's a massive plus point in favour of Linkword. For the words I don't know, I'll gradually add those in as I continue with further study.
I can describe most of my everyday actions (what I have done, am doing or will do later in the day) thanks to the comprehensive list of verbs taught in the course. I can also describe many of my emotions and feelings in Spanish too.
You know how we all have that little voice in our heads where we kind of talk to ourselves througout the day? Like when we will mentally say to ourselves what we have to do, etc (for example, 'I have to go to the shops and buy some bread' etc)? Well, I can think most of my everyday thoughts in Spanish now, so that's pretty cool!
I decided to see if the writing and listening aspects of Linkword had paid off for me and so I started reading news and sports articles on a Spanish media website. To my surpise, I could understand quite a lot of what I read, as well as recognise the different tenses the sentences were written in. Sure, there are still a lot of words I don't know, but for many articles I can more than get the gist of what I'm reading. As for the listening aspect, I started watching kids cartoons in Spanish (since these are more likely to be easier to understand than films etc). Upon doing so, I was able to recognise a lot of the words I was hearing, and understand portions of the script (phrases and sentences). I still have a long way to go before I can totally understand fast spoken Spanish, but I have a good starting point thanks to Linkword.
As for the speaking aspect, I feel reasonably confident in that, but would like to practice with Spanish speakers if I can to further improve my conversation skills.
I almost feel I have enough knowledge to live the bulk of my life through Spanish know, if I had to (obviously there would still be words I'd need to look up, especially for more specialist things, and it would be hard to totally understand tv and radio as of yet) which would be a fun challenge, but since I currently live in an English speaking country I'll have to use Spanish as and when I can :-)
So where do I go from here?
Having completed Linkword Spanish, I now need to continue further study in order to reach a higher level of fluency. One point made at the end of Level 4 by the presenter was that 'there is no end to learning a language'. That is so very true. I mean, at what point can one say they now 'know enough' in a language and don't need to study it any more? My answer to that question is that one never stops learning a language; you will always be learning new words, phrases, etc as time goes by. Heck, we even do that in our native languages if you think about it.
So with that in mind, I will look to some other Spanish courses and resources to add to what I've learned with Linkword, as well as keep learning new words for nouns, adjectives and verbs I don't know. There is a really good resource online called 'wordreference.com' where you type in an English word and look up Spanish word (as well as for other languages too), so that will be my 'go to' in order to add more vocabulary to my knowdlege. I will use the Linkword memory technique to help me learn further vocabulary too, because it is highly effective.
I will also continue reading in Spanish, perhaps more articles and some books, and look to start watching drama series' and films in Spanish too. I'm sure all this effort will pay off.
I will also regularly review the content of Linkword Spanish, perhaps every week or so for the next few months, until I really feel it's part of me and I am 100% confident with it all.
I'll say I definitely recommend Linkword Languages method to any other language learners out there. I'd like to thank Dr Michael Gruneberg for allowing me to use his European Spanish course too. I will continue using Linkword courses for other languages I learn in the future. In fact, I purchased their Japanese course today, which I am excited to get started on soon and will blog about for sure.
Further points on the Linkword Languages method
Before I bring this post to a close, I'll add a few interesting points regarding Linkword. The method has been proven to work with dyslexics and poor learners, and there have been some interesting studies done regarding this:
To find out more about Linkword method and the courses they offer, please visit www.linkwordlanguages.com