March 10, 2013
Publisher Penton Overseas
Price Varies; $35.99 per level on iTunes
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
VocabuLearn Spanish is not glamorous, but it is useful. It works like this: a voice tells you a word in English, then you come up with the equivalent in Spanish, then you are told the answer, which you have a chance to repeat for reinforcement before you are given a new word in English. Or sometimes it works in reverse, moving from Spanish to English.
For Spanish there are three different VocabuLearn levels available, each originally coming on four CDs of 45 minutes apiece, broken up into parts-of-speech-based segments such as nouns, adjectives and adverbs, verbs, and expressions. It is likely that nine hours of VocabuLearn Spanish will be too much for most people to tolerate, but a subset of that, perhaps one level at a time, could serve as a valuable accompaniment to errand-running, or driving, or dish-doing. VocabuLearn Spanish can help you improve your accent, learn new words, and reinforce vocabulary you once knew but have forgotten.
VocabuLearn CDs stopped being published by Penton Overseas in the midst of the global economic meltdown. However, the product is increasingly being made available online in downloadable audio format, through Amazon.com or iTunes or other sources. (At present, Audible has some VocabuLearn products, but not this one for Spanish.)
In my experience, while the audio quality of the original CDs is high, the audio quality of the new incarnations varies, so if possible, I recommend you listen to a sample before buying anything. Prices are all over the map right now, so you might want to comparison-shop or check with libraries. I first encountered VocabuLearn products at the New York Public Library back in 2009.
Another caveat: VocabuLearn Spanish is not good for haters of classical music, because it sometimes plays in the background. I personally did not find the music distracting at all, but not everyone feels that way.
One final warning: if you search online for VocabuLearn Spanish, results can include something called Spanish Word Booster: 500+ Most Needed Words & Phrases. That is a different product, one I find intensely irritating, so please make sure you are looking at the right thing if and when you buy.