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Amazing Tutor

Sonia Gil explains the workings of Spanish every step of the way in hundreds of videos—from your point of view.

Targeted Practice

Every single workout is linked to a video explanation—speak, understand, write, and read Spanish, flawlessly.

Unique Approach

We've tailored our program for the needs of English-Speaking adults and teens—learn faster and speak better Spanish.

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Start in minutes on your desktop, laptop, Android phone, iPad, and iPhone.

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Seamlessly Jump Across Devices

The entire program for your computer or your mobile device. Install it on your desktop or laptop, or download or stream every session, including every single video tutorial and workout, right from your iPhone, iPad, and Android phone.

Real Users, Real Stories

My Fluenz Spanish

The best language learning program I’ve seen

Dr. Moises BenamorOrganization
of American States*
My Fluenz Spanish

Excellent content, outstanding delivery well polished interface.

February 27, 2010

I really love the format, delivery, interface, and teaching style... I like to know as much as possible about the background of words, tenses, grammar, etc., so this is perfect for me.

I'm sure there are plenty of reviews that outline the difference between Rosetta Stone's "Immersion" approach vs. the Fluenz structured learning approach (if you haven't, just look at a few reviews, you'll see a detailed description before long), so I won't go into that here, other than to say that there's nothing wrong with the immersion approach per se, but both my wife and I would have found it frustrating not knowing the details. That said, the Fluenz approach is perfect for us... they really do an outstanding job of explaining everything in an engaging way, with really nice visual queues. The exercises following the scenarios are well thought out, and are a good balance of repetition and variety so that you really come to understand how & why the language is structured the way it is... and they do it in a way that allows you to learn how to put together the pieces in just about any way. I really feel like I understand what I'm saying when my wife and I practice using different sentence structures.

I work in IT, so I see a lot of software, and Fluenz Spanish is actually very impressive... they've just done a great job with the software application.

We'll definitely go with Fluenz for our next language project when we decide on what's next!

J. Johnson

A perfect balance between the beauty of Spanish and a pragmatic approach

Dana OmranWorld Bank*

Fluenz is absolutely the best language learning
software out there

Robert TiedemannUS Navy*

I was engaged from the very beginning by the honest and real approach

Maryem
SaderAveda*

My Fluenz Story

I've never had as positive an experience with a product as I have with Fluenz

About a year and a half ago I started dating a girl who was studying for her PhD in French, so obviously that language was her life. When I started thinking about proposing, I decided I wanted to learn French for her and be able to propose in French (with several sentences, not just "will you marry me"). After researching various options I picked Fluenz as my method of learning (the free demo on their website is what sold me). At the time only French 1 & 2 were available, but as they've released extra discs I've added 3-5 to my collection.

Different people learn in different ways, but I can say the Fluenz style worked very well for me. I took one semester of French in college about 7 years ago, but lost interest and quickly lost what I had learned. With Fluenz, I feel like I enjoyed learning more and that the learning "stuck." Rather than being thrown in the deep end and being expected to figure things out for myself, I liked having an on-screen tutor explain grammar rules and vocabulary. I also liked the various techniques used, and I'll get into that more after my story.

As I started approaching the date when I wanted to propose, I had completed Fluenz 1 & 2 and about half of disc 3. I was very happy with how far I had come, but I knew I wasn't quite comfortable with translating and pronouncing a proposal all on my own. So I posted on Fluenz's online message board to ask for help.

This is an excellent time to point out how constantly impressed I've been with Fluenz's customer support and interaction with their customers. Fluenz employees are great about responding to questions, whether about the software or the languages they offer, through email, their Facebook page, or their message board. But I was still amazed and pleasantly surprised when, within a day of my posting, I had received a translation from the co-founder of Fluenz herself (and the on-screen tutor for French 1 & 2), Sonia Gil. Later I even received an audio file from the native French speaker who records dialogue for the software, to help me practice my pronunciation. Fluenz really went above and beyond to help me out

Fast-forward to this past Saturday - I proposed, and she said "oui!" She was also quite touched and very impressed that I had learned so much French. We want to go to Paris for our honeymoon, and I think through a combination of finishing levels 3-5 and practicing with my now fiancée, I'll be more than comfortable communicating in French.

A little more about my experience with Fluenz: when I was researching various ways to learn a language I settled on Fluenz because I liked their method of teaching through explanation rather than just forcing users to figure out meaning through context. They build on users' understanding of English to explain rules and structure in French. It's been really helpful for me to build a foundation in the grammar and useful vocabulary from the beginning. Plus, I appreciate that the lessons are geared towards learning relevant words and phrases for traveling in France and communicating in French, rather than just generic nouns and adjectives.

The next several paragraphs are a thorough breakdown of the different sections in each session of Fluenz French. It may be more information than you need, but I appreciated knowing what various exercises would be offered for each session before I made my purchase, and I'm hoping you will too. Each disc has 30 sessions. Each session starts with a brief intro from the on-screen tutor, followed by a brief conversation in French. They encourage you to listen to the dialogue three times - once with French subtitles, once with French AND English subtitles, and once with no subtitles at all. I actually prefer listening without the subtitles first, to see how much I can understand, but that's just personal preference. The conversation is followed by a thorough breakdown of the new vocab and structures by the on-screen tutor. This is the most useful part of the program, and the thing that really distinguishes Fluenz from a lot of other language programs out there, because it's a clear explanation of the "rules" and vocabulary of French. I find myself often pausing the explanation to write down notes on all that I'm learning.

Following the tutorial, there's a section where you can hear and repeat each new vocab word/phrase one by one, to practice your pronunciation and train your ear. Next comes a section where you match a phrase in French to its translation in English, followed by an exercise of matching vocabulary words to their corresponding pictures. The next section involves being given a word or short phrase in French and having to type its meaning in English. For all the typing exercises you have the option of enabling a "challenge mode" where you have to get accent marks right in order to advance, and this has been great for helping my memorization of words and accents.

After translating several short phrases, the next exercise is "sentence buildup," wherein you start out translating a word or short phrase, then keep building on that phrase step-by-step until you have a much more complex sentence. I love this exercise, and think it's probably the most useful one for me. It's much more challenging than the matching exercises because you must do all the work yourself - no multiple choice - so it's great for ensuring I've learned all the details and nuances of the language. Because of the challenge, it's also a much more satisfying feeling when I get a complicated sentence right on the first try.

The next two exercises are essentially audio versions of the previous two. You must listen to audio samples of the same words and phrases from before, and write them in French. This is great for training your ear to recognize French, but I sometimes wish they used different phrases than the ones I just translated - at times I'm not so much transcribing what I hear as I am simply remembering what I just wrote minutes before. But I'm happy to say this is really my only complaint with the program.

The next three exercises all refer back to the conversation from the beginning of the session. First, you record yourself recording each line of the dialogue, then play it back to compare it with a clip of the native speaker. Other programs offer voice-recognition software to offer feedback on your pronunciation, which sounds nice, but seeing how iffy the Google Voice app on my phone is at transcribing messages, I'm skeptical as to how well a program could detect and critique the subtleties of accent and pronunciation. Being able to compare my recording to a native speaker's is a good alternative, and lets me really hear the differences and work to eliminate them. The next exercise is similar, but instead of reading the lines one by one you do the conversation as a whole, reading one person's part. And the third and final exercise in this series involves listening to the conversation and writing the dialogue in French.

On some sessions, the next section involves being given a question in French (for example, "what do you want to drink?") and three choices for answers, also in French. You must choose which answer is appropriate and applies to the question. This section appears in only about half of the sessions; in the other half it is skipped.

The next exercise is another matching exercise like the one towards the beginning, but with new phrases this time. After several rounds of matching, the final section involves listening to several phrases in French to work on pronunciation. You can repeat them as many times as necessary to refine your technique. Once you're done with this exercise, there's a brief conclusion video.

As you can tell, there's a pretty good mix of different types of exercises - matching, transcription, manual translation, pronunciation work - which helps provide a full coverage of all the facets of learning a language - reading, writing, speaking, and hearing. On Fluenz 1 & 2 I could usually finish an entire session in a little over an hour, because the structures weren't too complicated and I remembered a bit of French from my one semester in college. Once I got into French 3, though, the tutorials got longer to provide more thorough explanations, which is great, because the material has gotten harder as the sessions have delved deeper into the language. The exercises also take a bit longer to complete because they're more advanced. Now I regularly spend 2+ hours on a session. You could probably finish it faster if you're in a hurry, but I like repeating exercises to get full comprehension.

One thing I really like about Fluenz is that they're always actively developing new tools and resources. When I bought my "red box" I figured I was just paying for the software discs and the audio discs that accompany them. Since I made my purchase, though, they've added free podcasts, online flashcards, and the aforementioned message board, which provides interaction with both Fluenz employees and fellow customers. They've also provided free updates to their software and even gave me a steeply discounted price to buy their new products as an existing customer.

In short (though I know this review is anything but short), Fluenz has been an invaluable tool for me and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who learns best through teaching and explanation, rather than "soaking it up" the way we learned English as children. Their software and their support helped me give my fiancée the perfect proposal I wanted. Merci beaucoup, Fluenz!

J. Roe
My Fluenz Story

Very comprehensive and very good

Thomas J. WilliamsAccenture*

Fluenz keeps me coming back for
more

Frank ArtaleCitrix*
My Fluenz Story

I highly recommend this program and look forward to continuing my studies.

I am learning German because my son decided he wanted to learn. I did loads of research before buying anything and loved the Fluenz demo. I decided to buy it for myself because it was so affective, and fun. I never expected to use it with my son, as he is not in the intended age range, but he tried it and also loves it. The lessons are so well presented and easy to follow without "dumbing down", and the workouts are so good at reviewing new and old information without becoming repetitious and tedious, that my son and I are having no problems learning German with Fluenz.

We look forward to our time with Fluenz everyday, and seeing Nora and Sonia again. It sounds silly, but having real people talking to us, even on a prerecorded video, makes everything feel so personal and encouraging, and makes understanding and retaining the information presented much easier than reading it out of a book or off a computer screen.

The accompanying Audio CDs and free Podcasts are a nice addition, especially for strengthening aural comprehension skills, and have the same personal feel of the lesson videos. And the free online Flashcards are ideal for long-term retention and understanding. We love Fluenz!

K. Wallway
My Fluenz Story

My Fluenz Story

A breakthrough in learning software

Carolina UzcateguiMicrosoft*
My Fluenz Story

Finally, a REAL way to learn a language.

February 27, 2010

I rarely write reviews but I had to for Fluenz Spanish. They have hit language instruction for adults dead on. I have been struggling with Spanish on and off since high school. I learn a little, lose interest in the learning method, and never get past the basics. As a police officer I feel I should have functional Spanish conversational skills and the "should" is turning into "need" every year, both to serve others and also to protect myself. I had tried Rosetta in the past and it was OK, but after several weeks I felt I had not learned anything useful. Honestly, I got good at understanding a little and guessing the rest. After a renewed commitment to learn Spanish for good, I researched my options and decided to try Fluenz. GOOD CHOICE!! The style of teaching is easy, builds upon itself, and drills down on both learning and retention. I committed to treat this like a college class and do one session, plus review the last session, 4-6 times a week. I have learned and retained more than through any other self instruction method. If you have tried others and have given up - TRY THIS!!

Jensen

Rosetta Stone was overcome with Fluenz's method.

I always had a mental block learning romance languages but found germanic languages a bit easier for me. After I resolved that I needed to learn some Spanish, I did some research and ultimately decided on Fluenz. I have not regretted it. The mental block I had with Romance languages in a traditional class lessons or Rosetta Stone was overcome with Fluenz's method. I found it a lot easier to remember words and concepts, which I attribute to the "jump in and start practicing" approach. We all learning different. Fluenz has worked well with me and helped me overcome the issues I've had with Spanish.

I will also note that I rank Fluenz's customer service very highly. They're a small company but their response time is usually faster than some of the larger companies I've dealt with. They work with you to resolve any issues. Also, upgrades to the software are included in the purchase price. As a consumer, these polices make me more comfortable recommending the software to other people.

Vito Marzano

Best software on the market!.

Let me preface this by saying I have tried a number of "free" learning programs as well as Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

For me, the combination of an on screen tutor, learning VERY useful phrases, and writing for the majority of the lesson has proven to be the winning combination. As of today I am 9 lessons into level 2 and I have learned substantially faster with much better conjugation than any other software.

Highly recommended.

Andrew Cady

This is the way to learn Spanish, if you can't live in a Spanish speaking country

Fluenz is the best way to learn the Spanish language if you can't move to Barcelona or Bogota. I really enjoy the program so I have stuck with it which is not what happened with other programs. It really is superior to the Rosetta Stone's way of teaching, as things are actually explained. I personally think Fluenz should be given to students in schools, as I think it is a better way to learn than the language classes I took anyway. It is not all that easy, you still have to go through the lessons and struggle through the exercises, you have to put in the time, no doubt, but Fluenz makes it as painless as possible. I must confess the language I most wanted to learn was German, and Fluenz does not yet offer a German program, but I am now able to talk with my Spanish speaking colleagues and they are impressed. My Spanish is actually better than my German, despite having a stronger desire to learn German and despite having spent more time with the Rosetta Stone German program. Odd, I know. Also, Fluenz is expensive, but it does not disappoint. If you want to learn Spanish, Fluenz is the way to go! Also, their customer support is excellent and friendly. Gracias para su tiempo.

P.S.: Fluenz is working on a German program and they told me it would be out before Christmas 2011!

D. Sullivan
My Fluenz Story

Awesome... I had wonderful experiences with this program

The courses are run well and the customer service was wonderful. I feel this is a wonderful program for learning french

Angela Lanpher

Me gustó... Great product.

Have tried many of the other Spanish learning products and feel this is easy to use and learn. As with many language learning software, it takes time to learn a new language.

David J. Stidhalm

I mastered Mandarin far faster with Fluenz. Their approach just plain works

Terry BrownellIntel*

I am ridiculously excited about this method of learning a language.

I've gone through Sessions 1-8 so far in Level 1 Spanish (Latin America) and I feel that this is the best possible way to learn a language on your own. The videos are broken down into wonderfully manageable sections, the "instructor" is incredibly clear and helpful in her explanations (and it somehow feels like she's right there in the room with you), and the exercises are interesting and effective. I have been covering one to two sessions per week using the DVDs (it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to get through one session). Then I do the online flashcards throughout the week to keep the material fresh. I work with many native Spanish speakers and every week I go in to work with something new to say to them. They are very impressed with what I'm learning and this is such an enjoyable activity for me. I can't wait to get through all the DVDs and be able to talk to my co-workers and customers fluently! There is no doubt in my mind that this system works!!

David J. Stidhalm

My Fluenz Story

I cannot commend this program enough.

The courses are run well and the customer service was wonderful. I feel this is a wonderful program for learning french

Ashley
My Fluenz Story

Awesome!... This is a great program!

I was considering a Rosetta Stone purchase but went with this product because of all the great reviews. I watched the free tutorial on Fluenz's website and ordered it immediately.

After studying in Rome for a year in college (2001), I tried to keep up with the language but had trouble just reading the words in textbooks or trying to get together with groups of native speakers to practice. I was hesitant to spend so much money but I figured it cheaper than signing up for another class and easier to do in my free time because I could set up the computer anywhere, anytime.

When I completed disc 1+2 of Fluenz after 3 months (breezed through because I'm not a beginner), the rules of grammar made even more sense and I spoke better than I ever had. I am constantly thinking in Italian now and constructing better sentences. I already have a wide knowledge of vocabulary (which is limited on the discs but that's what an Italian/English dictionary is for) so it's easy to exchange one word for another from the basic sentence structure the discs provide. I'm excited to complete the next three discs.

I read great things about customer service and find them all true. They have been very attentive. I visit the commons frequently to practice flashcards and find that helpful too. My only complaint is that this program didn't exist a decade ago when I was actually living in Rome!

UPDATE:
Just finished disc 3 after 1 year (total from starting with disc 1). Love the program. Can't say enough good things about it. Very effective way to learn a language although I still need to push myself further by signing up for a conversation class at a local college to practice what I've learned.

D. Burger

My Fluenz Story

Best software on the market!.

Let me preface this by saying I have tried a number of "free" learning programs as well as Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

For me, the combination of an on screen tutor, learning VERY useful phrases, and writing for the majority of the lesson has proven to be the winning combination. As of today I am 9 lessons into level 2 and I have learned substantially faster with much better conjugation than any other software.

Highly recommended.

Andrew Cady

The best way to learn any language.

This program has elevated my knowledge of Spanish significantly. I'm able to form sentences, understand the news and even think in Spanish. It definitely helped me out in my college Spanish class. While other students are telling the professor how they feel or what the commute is like, I'm discussing Fidel Castro with her and the state of Cuba, albeit in not that sophisticated terms, with her.

This program should be at the core of your Spanish language studies along with any of the Practice Makes Perfect work books and watching Spanish language TV. Fluenz is a small and young company but you can see the dedication in each program. Let's put it this way: I bought this exact program and a year later upgraded to a Windows 8 laptop. The CD-Roms are compatible with XP/Windows 7. I received a link to download all of the discs for Windows 8.

This program took me from memorizing grammatical rules and vocabulary words to actually being able to understand Spanish and maneuver my way around the language. At this point, having finished disc three, I can understand Spanish as it's being spoken to me without translating it in my mind. I can think of no better way to learn a language. This even beats classroom instruction as you have an example and then Sonya explains the material covered followed by practice exercises.

Dominik Zakrzewski

Best program out there for learning spanish.

I am learning German because my son decided he wanted to learn. I did loads of research before buying anything and loved the Fluenz demo. I decided to buy it for myself because it was so affective, and fun. I never expected to use it with my son, as he is not in the intended age range, but he tried it and also loves it. The lessons are so well presented and easy to follow without "dumbing down", and the workouts are so good at reviewing new and old information without becoming repetitious and tedious, that my son and I are having no problems learning German with Fluenz.

We look forward to our time with Fluenz everyday, and seeing Nora and Sonia again. It sounds silly, but having real people talking to us, even on a prerecorded video, makes everything feel so personal and encouraging, and makes understanding and retaining the information presented much easier than reading it out of a book or off a computer screen.

The accompanying Audio CDs and free Podcasts are a nice addition, especially for strengthening aural comprehension skills, and have the same personal feel of the lesson videos. And the free online Flashcards are ideal for long-term retention and understanding. We love Fluenz!

K. Wallway

Really good learning tool.

February 27, 2010

I've been using this product for a few weeks and find it very helpful. I did a lot of research of Fluenz versus Rosetta Stone and decided to go with Fluenz because of my learning style. It is very interactive and makes it enjoyable to learn. You're not just sitting there looking at words then finding out what they mean. They have videos, practice converstations where you hear the conversation in Spanish, then see the conversation in Spanish with english subtitles. It hammers in words by using different methods, visual, typing, matching English with Spanish phrases. I've been using it on a Mac and PC (can install on up to 3 computers) and have had no problems with the software yet, although I'm only in Lesson 1. The main lady in the video can be a little annoying with her talking so much about how great the program is. But she's still effective nevertheless. There are hours and hours and hours of videos and they are done professionally with nice subtle background music rather than have everything quiet. It also allows you to speak back and record how you say the words which was interesting in playing the recording. I'd highly recommend this product for anyone that's serious about learning Spanish.

Bryan I. Johnson
My Fluenz Story

I'm addicted... It's so fulfilling to realize the things you learn

Before my husband and I got married we made a pact that we would one day work on learning Italian together. He had taken Italian in college but I had never taken a class and was extremely nervous about how this would go. All of these types of softwares are extremely expensive and it's hard to pull the trigger unless you know you really want to do it. We had registered for rosetta stone for our wedding but no one bought it for us - I'm glad no one did. After the wedding I sat down and started reading reviews... it seemed like the reviews for Rosetta Stone weren't so good... and it sounded like it focused more on auditory learning where I felt like I was more of a visual learner. A friend of mine who grew up speaking Spanish and was trying to re learn said she even finds Rosetta Stone difficult. I also read things that made it sound like they expected you to learn like you would when you were a child... this made no sense to me. We learn language much differently as a child than as adults... it becomes much harder and basically you use a different part of the brain that doesn't pick it up as naturally (I knew this already because I'm a speech pathologist). Fluenz appealed to me because they acknowledged this in their philosophy. But still... we sat on it for awhile.. at the time they hadn't finished the whole series but also I had to feel SURE before spending the money. Finally last month (coming up on our one year anniversary) we put all our Amazon gift cards we had from the wedding towards it and bought 1-5. So far I am half way through the first CD and loving it. My only regret was being fearful and not buying them sooner. I'd say the first eight I was moving pretty slow and kept repeating a lot of stuff but now that I just finished lesson 15 of 30 I noticed I am picking things up quicker. It's so fulfilling to realize the things you learn. I do think the software sometimes makes me feel overly confident but since I'm still in practice mode I think that's okay! No software can make it "easy" - it still takes work... but this one is organized well and I like that it involved reading, writing, speaking and listening. It also comes with Audio CDs (each track does an 8-10 minute review on about 4 lessons on the CD). I know there is an online community and also pod casts available - I haven't really checked out either yet. They give you all the tools to be successful. You just have to make the commitment. I'm excited to keep learning in time for our trip to Italy at the end of the summer. So if you can relate to how I felt don't make the same mistake - don't waste the time worrying if you can be successful. Make the commitment and do it!

C. Miler

I cannot commend this program enough.

The courses are run well and the customer service was wonderful. I feel this is a wonderful program for learning french

Ashley

My Fluenz French

Incredible Methods!

February 27, 2010

I've taken Spanish since 8th grade. Now, I'm in a field of work that has me moving to Costa Rica and Bolivia for 2.5 years. I need more Spanish! I was reluctant to purchase the software after knowing some Spanish already, but needing some help. But I have to say, I love this!!

The way the lessons are set up make it so easy to follow along. Everything is practical (which is what I need)! Basics are thrown in to every lesson, but the meat of the material are the things adults need to know and use. For example, rather than spending a lesson on animals, colors, foods, and other nouns Fluenz teaches taxi services, hotels, business, phone conversations, dining. And by learning those things you learns colors, foods, and animals but in a more practical way with scenarios.

Bethany

An effective and fun way to start your language learning journey.

I am learning German because my son decided he wanted to learn. I did loads of research before buying anything and loved the Fluenz demo. I decided to buy it for myself because it was so affective, and fun. I never expected to use it with my son, as he is not in the intended age range, but he tried it and also loves it. The lessons are so well presented and easy to follow without "dumbing down", and the workouts are so good at reviewing new and old information without becoming repetitious and tedious, that my son and I are having no problems learning German with Fluenz.

We look forward to our time with Fluenz everyday, and seeing Nora and Sonia again. It sounds silly, but having real people talking to us, even on a prerecorded video, makes everything feel so personal and encouraging, and makes understanding and retaining the information presented much easier than reading it out of a book or off a computer screen.

The accompanying Audio CDs and free Podcasts are a nice addition, especially for strengthening aural comprehension skills, and have the same personal feel of the lesson videos. And the free online Flashcards are ideal for long-term retention and understanding. We love Fluenz!

Deanna Davis

Excellent Software.

This product was definitely worth the money. I had only used the Berlitz software before this and though that software has a lot of tools, you never really feel like you're grasping anything. Fluenz, on the other hand, is very engaging and teaches you the language from the ground up. Lessons are all listed in numerical order so you won't get confused about where to begin. Each lesson begins with a basic conversation that increases in difficulty with each segment. Sophia, the program tutor, then breaks down the conversation so that you learn not only vocabulary, but sentence structure as well. What's interesting is that you see her sitting there explaining things to you as opposed to just listening to a voice. It's a very important aspect of the program that's sure to keep the user engaged. I would definitely recommend this to a friend.

Jeff Ghant

Independent Reviews:
Fluenz is Better

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

To use English or not to Teach a Foreign Tongue?
Fluenz says yes, trumps Rosetta Stone.

By Deborah Yao AP Business Writer
Manarola, Italy July 21, 2010 (AP)

DIFFERENCES IN APPROACHES: Rosetta Stone believes in fully immersing the student in the language, without using any English to explain phrases. Fluenz believes adults learn best when they can relate the grammar and syntax of a foreign language to the structure of the tongue they already know.

THE VERDICT: Fluenz's approach is much better. Hearing English while going through Italian words helps with learning and retention.

read full review

Founder Sonia Gil on NBC

On a trip through southern Italy years ago, I was embarrassed to discover that all along, I had been mispronouncing "tabacchi" — tobacco shops that sell bus tickets and other sundry. I'd been saying "ta-ba-chee" rather than "ta-ba-kee" until a storekeeper impatiently corrected me.

Determined not to make the same faux pas, I brushed up on Italian using two language-lesson programs ahead of my visit to Cinque Terre and Tuscany in early July. I found the Fluenz software from a relatively new company by that name better than the venerable Rosetta Stone Totale program.

The two programs had opposite approaches. Rosetta Stone Ltd.'s software believes in fully immersing the student in the language, without using any English to explain phrases. By contrast, Fluenz believes that while full immersion might work with children, adults don't learn languages as instinctively. Fluenz believes that adults learn best when they can relate the grammar and syntax of a foreign language to the structure of the tongue they already know — in my case, English.

I like Fluenz's approach much better. I like the comfort of hearing English as I go through Italian words, to help me pronounce them and understand what they mean.

Fluenz helped me make the word associations I needed to learn the language faster. For instance, in learning the word "lui," which means "he," the smiling female instructor on the computer screen told me to think of a guy named "Louis."

The instructor also gave tips on how to pronounce Italian properly. For "Sandra," which is pronounced "sun-drah," she told me to open up my mouth for the first syllable.

These were the tips and mental bridges to the Italian language that were missing in Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone's lessons used all Italian words and sentences, which you match to pictures — of a woman eating or children reading. This approach worked well initially, until it got to more complex sentences and phrases. I'm still not sure what some of them meant.

The look and feel of both programs also differs. Fluenz used the video of a friendly instructor to welcome me to the program and ease me into the lessons. Rosetta Stone went straight to the lessons, which might be fine for some folks, but I felt a bit rushed.

Both programs offer language exercises after each lesson to pin down what you've learned.

There were a variety of tests: You match Italian words to the pictures or type in the words yourself, among others. You weren't graded but the programs tell you if you've made an error.

Rosetta Stone also offers the option of talking to a native speaker for no additional cost. There are group sessions you can join throughout the month. You pick an online meeting time that's convenient for you.

But both programs fall short in failing to introduce conjugation and grammatical rules, so that I could construct my own sentences. Perhaps it's just my preference, but as a speaker of Tagalog, Taiwanese and English, I'm not satisfied with simply memorizing sentences as I've had to with Rosetta Stone and Fluenz.

It boils down to why I take these lessons. For a casual tourist or business executive, memorizing a smattering of phrases is probably good enough. For more serious linguists, there's no substitute for a formal Italian lesson. I fall somewhere in between.

Rosetta Stone Totale costs S999 for a year. Lessons can be accessed online through RosettaStone.com, and the price includes audio CDs and a headset to practice five levels of Italian on the go. There is no software to download. Rosetta Stone also makes cheaper sets available, without the language coach and a few other perks such as an online community of learners. The one with all five levels costs S699. In this case, the software comes on CDs that you can buy online or in mall kiosks.

Fluenz offers two levels of Italian for $357 combined. The program comes on DVDs and works on Windows XP, Vista or 7 and on Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. Besides the DVDs, you get an audio CD to review what you've learned.

Fluenz also has software for French, Spanish and Mandarin, while Rosetta Stone offers 30 other languages, including Swahili and Turkish.

In the end, I had more fun learning Italian using Fluenz. The software's female instructor introduced each lesson and sought to evoke the excitement of Italy by sharing imagery such as sitting in an Italian class in Milan near the Duomo, or cathedral. Such mental motivation goes a long way toward keeping me interested in the lessons.

She also encouraged users to keep learning by telling us we can do it: "Italian is your friend," she said. "I hope you go to Italy soon."

Why we are better

Fluenz

Rosetta Stone®

Very Different Methods

Fluenz tutors clearly explain how the language works, offering strategies and tips specifically designed to get English speakers to achieve fluency.

 

There are no explanations of any kind, ever, in English or any other language. Learners are supposed to hear, see, and “intuitively" absorb grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

Very Different Audiences

Specifically designed for teens and adults.

 

Recommended for ages 6 and above.

Very Different Set Ups

Fluenz tutors, at the heart of the program, guide learners step-by-step through the language, explaining how everything works. A series of workouts then lets users learn by practicing, slowly immersing themselves in the language.

 

The main learning activity is based on matching hundreds of words and pictures, and then matching hundreds of phrases and pictures. There are no explanations of any kind, ever. The supplemental online coaches are forbidden from speaking any English or offering any explanation, since their focus is to help users match words and pictures, and then phrases and pictures.

Opposing Views of Culture

Fluenz tutors connect the language to the culture and how the language is used in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

 

By avoiding English explanations of any kind, no cultural context of any kind can ever be provided.

Opposing Views of Language

Fluenz believes that not all languages can be learned the same way. Learning Mandarin is very different from learning French, so each Fluenz program has been developed from scratch, and can only be used by English speaking teens and adults.

 

All Rosetta programs essentially use the same scripts, as they believe there is no difference between languages, and that the language of the learner is basically irrelevant to the learning process. Rosetta Stone sells the same Spanish program to eight year olds in America and corporate executives in Japan.

Very Different Content

Because there are explanations, Fluenz starts with useful phrases, such as questions ("Can I have the check?"), commands ("Make a right please"), and statements ("I need a cell phone"). The structures behind these phrases can be easily understood through explanations, but not by matching pictures and words.

 

Because the system is based on matching pictures and words, it can only begin with what can be clearly photographed ("The man is running", "The pen is on the table”). Moving beyond simple descriptive phrases can only come later in the program,

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Why we are better

We won't treat you like a child

As an adult or a teenager, true success lies in having a real understanding of the language you’re learning. Approaches that treat you like a child by pretending that you can achieve working fluency with a game or without solid explanations in English, will never take you to working fluency.

Each one of our language programs is unique

Because Mandarin can’t be taught as if it were Spanish, we’ve spent years building each language from scratch and always thinking of what English language learners need. Apps based on games and immersion programs like Rosetta Stone are all built in the same way, regardless of which language is taught.

Great tutors come first

Talented teachers who explain, challenge, motivate, and lead are simply the key to all great learning. While the big language companies have eliminated the human element in all of their programs and apps, we remain committed to the magic of great teachers.

The culture of a language really matters.

The culture of a language is as important as its words. While endless game playing or the easy matching of words and pictures might take precedence for some, the fusion of culture and language in the explanations of our tutors is at the heart of the Fluenz experience.

We believe in relevant, common sense learning

Every one of us can remember a magical day on which someone unlocked the workings of a mystery with a few common sense words. We’ve spent years looking for the simple explanations that will make all the difference when learning a language.

Beautiful design makes a difference

We think of language learning as a love affair, at least it’s always been that way for us. That’s why beauty should be at the center of all language learning programs and why we try to place it at the center of ours.

We stand by our seven programs

We’ve carefully created programs for seven languages in the seven years since we started. How other companies have dozens of languages available in a matter of months after they start we simply can not say.

Fluenz Spanish (LA)

  • LEVEL 1
  • LEVEL 2
  • LEVEL 3
  • LEVEL 4
  • LEVEL 5

    Master the basics and gain the ability to navigate through a new country or city.

      Real-world situations you'll engage in:

    • Going out to eat and for entertainment
    • Shopping and monetary transactions
    • Navigating airports and train stations
    • Taking buses and communicating with taxi drivers
    • Making hotel reservations and other travel arrangements

      Foundational topics covered:

    • Constructing sentences using present and future tense verbs
    • Issuing commands
    • Forming questions
    • Masculine and feminine noun genders Adjectives
    • Pronouns and possessives
    • Counting up to 999,999 and expressing time

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