Author’s Note: Language Transfer is not paying me anything to write is article. In fact, they don’t even know I’m writing it. This is my honest review of a course that in a few days has helped my greatly improve my Spanish.
It seems like everyday, there’s some language program or course out there claiming to have the best way for you to learn Spanish in just a few minutes a day. Most of them are doing so for some sort of financial gain, but even for free programs, they usually come up short of delivering their goal. So I go into any new program that promises to deliver great Spanish learning results with a healthy degree of skepticism. I’m happy to report that Language Transfer, a new independent free learning course, is delivering on what they promised and then some.
I write this review with a disclaimer than I’m not even 20% through the course. There are 90 lessons, and I’ve finished 15 of them. I was originally going to wait until after I finished the entire course to write a review about it. But I’ve been so impressed with it so far, that I wanted to let you guys know right away, so you can get started. I will write another article in a month or two when I am done with the whole course.
Language Transfer teaches Spanish in a completely different way than most of you will have been taught before. Instead of focusing on memorizing, Language Transfer describes itself as the “thinking method,” where you learn Spanish conceptually, often based off of the English you already know, to build out your Spanish skills. Once you start the program, you’ll realize how much Spanish you already know as an English speaker. This is because both English and Spanish have roots in Latin. Spanish is completely descended from Latin, so much so, that Mihalis Eleftheriou, the founder of Language Transfer and the teacher of the course, calls it “Modern Latin.” English, on the other hand, descended from both Latin and Germanic Languages. Because of this, some English transfers very well in Spanish, while others does not. But because of the heavy Latin roots in both languages, you can learn a lot of Spanish by simply “transferring” the English you know into Spanish.
This is where the program really shines. You are not learning a new language, but learning how to use your thought process to transfer the English you know into Spanish, and then transfer the Spanish you know into other Spanish. That is why it is called “language transfer.”
Because of this, you will learn Spanish is a very different order than you are used to. Current Spanish learning theory seems to say that there are “basic” words that every Spanish learner must memorize in the beginning of their course, so they can put together very “helpful” sentences like “the blue duck eats an apple.” Language Transfer doesn’t believe in this. Instead, they teach you the concepts that are easiest to grasp first, so you can build a strong Spanish vocabulary based off of these concepts. By lesson 4 or 5, you will learn how to think thousands of words and form complete sentences with them, long before you ever learn how to say apple (we still haven’t gotten there through lesson 15). For example, we learn the Spanish word for “yes” in Lesson 9, around the same time we learn how to make sentences like “I am not trying to justify myself, but I want to explain something to you.” This may sound strange, but when you learn how think Spanish instead of memorize it, this will make perfect sense.
And it will yield major results. A little over a week of Language Transfer and I already feel like it’s helped me as much if not more than the almost year I’ve been studying things the “old way.” Learning through memorization, which is how Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and other courses teach you, is slow, tedious, and requires frequent repetition because your brain can only hold so much memorized information. That doesn’t mean there is no value in these courses. DuoLingo has taken me pretty far and helped me learn a lot of Spanish that has been useful in Panama. But after starting Language Transfer, I’ve realized that it’s definitely not the most efficient.
I’ve talked a lot about Language Transfer in this article without explaining much about how the course is structured. Language Transfer is an audio course comprised of 90 lessons, each about 7-15 minutes long. The whole course is about 14.5 hours of lessons. They are available for free download on the Language Transfer website, or can be streamed on SoundCloud or YouTube. In the lesson, Mihalis teaches his lessons to a real student who is learning the material for the first time. What I like about this is you follow along with her through both her successes and failures, so you feel like it is a real experience, not a rehearsed canned experience.
It is important to note that even though no one on the other end can see what you are doing, Language Transfer is a course that requires your active participation. It is not a course to listen to at the gym or in the car. It is one to do when you are sitting down, focused on learning Spanish. This is because you are expected to participate and take the role of the student in the lessons, so you can respond to his questions and practice the thinking method yourself. If you just listen to the lessons and don’t participate, Mihalis makes the point that you will “learn about Spanish,” but not how to speak Spanish. After Mihalis asks a question of the student, there will be a brief pause before she answers, and this is where you are supposed to pause the audio lesson and take your time to come up with your own answer before continuing. To call it a “pause” is generous, it is more like a breath, so when you listen, be quick with your hand on the mouse to click pause before the student answers. Playing the part of the student will especially help you with pronunciation, which is a major thing that Language Transfer focuses on. This is especially important, because while many English and Spanish words are spelled similar or the same, they are pronounced differently in Spanish than English, because Spanish has it’s own pronunciation rules. Language Transfer does a good job of explaining these rules, so you won’t sound so much like a “gringo” when you pronounce Spanish words.
The great thing about Language Transfer is that you can start from the beginning at almost any Spanish level, and you will find value in it. Even if you have started learning Spanish through another method and can speak some of it, you will be learning by such a different process that there will be value for you in the very early lessons. This makes it effective for a range of Spanish levels, from having never spoken a word to being pretty far along.
One last piece of advice I would give on the program is to not go too far too fast. You may think because it is relatively short, you can block of a couple of days to power through all of the lessons, and all of a sudden you will learn all of this Spanish. I would not recommend this. Your mind can only retain so much new information at a time, and you will do much better in the long run if you only do 1-3 lessons a day.
With 75 lessons still to go, there is obviously a lot more of Language Transfer I have to see before I can truly write about how far this course can take you in your Spanish journey. However I feel confident enough in the process I’ve seen after the first 15 lessons to write this glowing review. If you are struggling to learn Spanish, this might very well be the solution you have been looking for.
Authors Note: For more advice on learning Spanish, as well as a support community for your Spanish journey, you can join us on Facebook at the Expat Spanish Study Group.