As this is the first review on Trustpilot, I thought I would detail a bit about what the website does and who it is for before I give my feedback
Basically, it’s the all you can eat buffet of Spanish language learning. You pay one fixed fee ($129 a month) and you can take as many classes as you want. You’ve got a conversational option and a DELE option – the DELE option being more structured and partly for the intention of preparing people for the DELE exams (official accreditation for your Spanish level).
For this review, I’m going to talk specifically about the conversational program, or what they call specifically the “Real World” program
From the first minute I signed up, the setup was really straightforward. I had a trial for 7 days where I just paid $1 to try it out so it wasn’t a major risk for me to try out.
First class: they gather some information from you and create a profile on you. Just simple stuff about why you want to learn Spanish, what are your goals, what are important things for you (do you like corrections? Are you naturally shy? Etc). So your teacher before you class sees your profile and your progress so the class is tailored for you.
My teacher here was very friendly and passionate. A short discussion to assess my level and because I hadn’t touched Spanish for a long time and had never got to a level where I feel I could even be classed as an “upper beginner”, I was told to try from the start of the program.
Oh yeah….the good bit.
They have a set curriculum and for me, this has been a total life saver in itself!
Forget stuffy, dull and boring textbooks or drawn out courses that give you phrases that are good for a holiday by rote…but you can’t actually HAVE a conversation with someone.
Take a course instead, where you start on Level 0: - Survival. Some basic phrases to get you started, then a test, then away you go. You get tested at the end of every level. And then level 1….
Now in a traditional course they would waste hours upon hours on phrases you would not be likely to use. And tons of vocab on EVERY possible job title out there for the “¿Cuál es tu profesión?” question. (What is your job).
No…here by the end of that level, you know basic greetings, the alphabet, the seasons/days of the week and the key grammar for talking about yourself just now, the grammar for what you are doing (running, playing) and a “hack” for talking about the future with no complicated endings. So after a short period of time of learning, you can more or less say the basics. Not conversational yet, but the level structure is there.
The course keeps at this pace with just the right vocab, verbs and structures you need. And if you focus on them like I did and ignore EVERYTHING else, you will be able to talk about anything. By the time I got up to the intermediate levels, I did question myself as to whether I would be able to do those travel questions I wasn’t being taught. For example, buying a ticket, asking where was the nearest bus station. Then I got in class and was asked to give an example and BOOM I just spoke it out. It wasn’t the sentence I found later in an old textbook but it was perfectly acceptable. And THIS is Spanish and learning a language overall! You don’t learn phrases, you learn the structures and enough vocab and talk. So many people I have spoken to about Spanish say that when they get out there and try it, the phrases they have learned are different when spoken by others. Because language is personal to everyone I have realised and you NEED the building blocks of the language to function. And for me, this is what the course does perfectly! I am now a mid/high intermediate after only 10 weeks of learning! So the course that the teachers use is perfect to get conversational quickly.
Sorry I have spent so much time on the course itself and not the teachers BUT for me it is central for explanation later. And shows the core of the program that the teachers use.
So the teachers…..
The booking system is very easy. You can book by timeslot and teacher and trust me, there are options for EVERY time slot in the day. Even for myself who lives in Central Scotland and am 5-6 hours ahead of the teachers in Venezuela I have no issues with finding times that suited/suit me.
You can search for teachers by level preference (some prefer beginners, some advanced, some grammar, some conversational). So I went down the list top to bottom and booked a 30 minute class with as many teachers as I could for the first few levels. I got the chance to see what teachers worked from me, everyone was/is amazing but some are better for your style of learning and your personality.
I will say one thing. PLEASE don’t completely focus on one teacher. I always have what I call a “bank” of 6 teachers I try and use. Getting availability for one specific teacher can be hard. You can get help with the favourite teacher option where you get to see 7 days availability rather than the standard 5 days. But you can only use this with one teacher.
Some people think this is a negative. I couldn’t find that further from the truth. One point of view on your language learning when instead, you can get a combination of loud teachers, detailed teachers, naturally quiet teachers…..is so much better. Yes you will have a favourite who will know you inside and out possibly but even if they move on, you STILL have a group of people rather than just one to trust in and understand you.
As for the teachers themselves, only one teacher out of the 250 classes I have taken has been rude. And very quickly I saw with availability she wasn’t there for very long. The helpdesk take this and other concerns very seriously and I have always had my problems answered by them. No company in the world is perfect but I always feel I have support when I need it.
But in regards to teachers, all bar that one were amazing with me. Some were clearly learning a bit but so am I. And the very best are simply outstanding. Most importantly though, not once since that “blip” have I felt I wasn’t learning something or taking something from the class in some form. And when you take into account I do 2 hours a day every day, I’m basically paying around $2 an hour for a class for a teacher. Show me ANYWHERE on the internet where you can get that price. Even for say 7 hours a week, it’s still a quarter of the price of a proper class.
I think it works because of the fluidity between the program and the teachers. Go to one of the other teaching websites and can you guarantee 2 straight hours with a teacher every day? Using a SET programme yet having the personal flexibility to change things for you? Because its conversational (or what I would say casual), I always have the option of just having a chat….or reading an article, watching a video. Doing role play. The teachers are AMAZING at making different ways of keeping your Spanish fresh. Which I think the attitude/mindset of having MULTIPLE teachers is essential.
So the TINY things I think need to be worked on: -
Firstly, while I said the multiple teacher approach is good…..I have lost a couple of teachers in the past 10 weeks who got promoted to the DELE programme. It’s a clear progression system in house but I feel its where the system falls short at times. And one teacher who I ended up spending around a quarter of my time is now in DELE. So like I said earlier, get a group/team of teachers working for you. So if one leaves, you have the support of them all. It’s a mindset change but one I feel is more than acceptable to make because of unlimited classes.
The website is great but I feel an option where you can book classes directly from the portal would be beneficial. At the moment I can see a video on a teacher then manually have to search through 2 pages to find their availability. To which at times, they might be fully booked and have to use the system again. Something more integrated needs to happen.
With these two points, I still think the website and the system as a whole merits a 5 star review. Everything can improve in life, especially something as aesthetic as language learning. But a company who truly cares about you (I’ve had emails back and forward from the CEO and many others) is something hard to find.
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