One of the many perks of knowing Mr. Multilingual is that I get to try out language products from time to time. It so happens that, in preparation for a trip to the lovely and enchanting Barcelona this fall, I’m playing—errr, working my way through Platiquemos.
I say “working” because Platiquemos is the most hardcore language audio course I’ve ever done, and I’ve done quite a few—Pimsleur, Living Language, PDQ, Rush Hour—most of which I can pop onto my iPod and easily absorb while I drive. Not Platiquemos.
To do Platiquemos properly, I need all of my faculties and the companion text. This is because the phrases and dialogues are spoken at an authentic pace, which some might call “brisk” and others “breakneck.” The idea is to get used to hearing the language as it is naturally spoken. That way, there’s no need to bring your Spanish up to speed after landing in a foreign country; you’ll arrive on tempo.
But before you can drive the speed limit, you start by buckling your seatbelt and slowly and methodically learning proper Spanish pronunciation. Or should I say “overlearning”? The trick, they say, is to master a small portion of the language so well that it takes little effort to use it comfortably and fluently.
Pronunciation is learned by imitating sounds, and Platiquemos is the first audio course I’ve come across that compares and contrasts sounds in English and Spanish. Did you know that “see” and “si” are not homophones? The English “see” is open and expansive, while the Spanish “si” is shorter and somewhat swallowed. With Platiquemos, you learn to clearly distinguish the differences between the two.
I’m only a few weeks into Platiquemos, and I haven’t yet picked up enough speed to feel the wind in my hair, but I’m enjoying the ride, and I think this course is going to be well worth the extra effort. Fluency in Spanish after all these ambling years, here I come!
Note: I’ll check back in as I work my way through the course. In the meantime, I invite you to share your thoughts on Platiquemos—or your favorite audio language course.