I’ve been reflecting lately on how effective any of these learn-Spanish programs and websites are for average users. I’ll get to why I have been considering this a bit further down the page.
From what I observe, people tend to lead rather hectic lives. This includes so-called “retired” people. It is easy to be scattered. And this makes it less likely that people will do their Spanish lessons as much as they thought they would.
I admit that I have always been an incorrigible optimist about how much I could do in a given amount of time, and as a result I am always juggling too much. Because I’ve been like this at least since high school, I’ve had a lifelong interest in time management. I have taught private classes and workshops for corporations on the subject. I use lists and prioritizing every day — even on my days off! (My husband thinks I am nuts, but that is another matter!)
So if you were to ask me about the average user of Rocket Spanish, Fluenz Spanish, Rosetta Stone, other programs, or the various websites I’ve reviewed. How much do I think they learn? I would say, I doubt they learn much.
I doubt they make the time to study. I doubt they review within 24 hours for maximum retention. I doubt they know that they should review for things to go from short-term to long-term memory. I doubt they focus. I doubt they pick up again if they stop for a while. I doubt they make it a priority to do what they say they want to.
Call me cynical if you will. I just think that’s the reality. We have so may things pulling us in different directions.
And a large part of what I do with this website is to try to combat all those forces leading toward inertia. I was thrilled last week when I had an email l from a personal friend who lives in Mexico and has recently started studying Spanish again because of this site.
Now, the reason I have been wondering about this mythical creature, an average user? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the US government has just passed some regulations that websites that recommend or sell products must tell readers what results the average user can expect. The intention here is to protect the gullible from shysters, but as I see it, it really is not possible to know how much Spanish an average user will learn.
Even if you use the programs diligently, I can guarantee that you will not ever speak just like a native! I do believe that you can learn a lot of Spanish fast, like before a trip, but only if you are motivated and really work at it.
Another part of the FTC regulations requires websites to indicate if they make money from sales. I have had this on my About Us page all along, but now I am adding it to every page of the site. It’s on the blog now, down low on the right. I make a commission if you buy from Amazon, Rocket Languages, Fluenz, Yabla, and maybe one or two other small places I have forgotten. I don’t make a commission if you go to the free places, but I still put a lot of effort into finding good ones.
This income enables me to work on this website. If I didn’t receive it, I would have to use my writing skills in some other way. I appreciate your patronage, and I exclaim happily when I see that I’ve made sales, both for the income and because I am happy people are acquiring good tools. Last month was record-breaking, and I was very grateful.
I really do not believe that my opinions are shaped by these commissions. I’ve been evaluating information for decades, in public libraries and in my own business, and I am professional about it. I care more about the quality of a product than about how much I make if it sells.
Okay, enough of a rant.
If you consider yourself an average user, or if you don’t, your opinions as usual are welcome! (BUT if you put your website in, I am much less likely to approve your comments unless they are lengthy and well considered, as I’m getting a lot of “comment spam” lately.)
Filed under: Rosana's Ramblings