LIVING LANGUAGE REVIEW
Average cost of the method
One book + three audio CDs: ~$22. Three books + nine audio CDs package: $50
Main textbook in 12 languages; various other textbooks combined in over 30 languages
Type of method
All-encompassing method mostly available in print (+ online courses through their platinum program), which covers vocabulary, grammar, and more through dialogues and exercises.
The Living Language series comes in 3 products: Essential, Complete, and Platinum. The Essential courses are meant for beginners. The package has one book and 3 CDs that teach basic vocabulary and grammar. The Complete courses cover beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The package has three books and 9 CDs that teach more complex grammatical structures and more vocabulary than the Essential course. Finally, the Platinum courses contain the same content as Complete but with the additional tools of a language specific mobile app, a web course, and e-Tutoring included.
The Living Language website has a page with free downloads for PDFs in over 7 languages, plus phrasebooks in 12 languages and more. Check it out if you’d like to get a quick overview of what their method looks like.
How Does It Work?
From the method’s website, here is how they describe themselves:
The Living Language Method™ is not a game of charades. It doesn’t force adult language learners to try to absorb a new language, like they could when they were babies. It makes use of all the tools that adults have at their disposal to learn efficiently and effectively, without clumsy guesswork or frustration, in order to really learn how to speak a new language. […]
It’s easiest to learn and remember a new language when you use more than one sense. The combination of audio and visual input, along with written, recorded, and interactive digital practice, creates a true multimedia learning experience that actively engages you in your new language right from the start. In addition, special recall exercises move your new language from short-term to long-term memory.
This particular method is sort of “all-encompassing,” with vocabulary lists, dialogues, many more grammatical concepts and explanations, comprehension practice, plenty of exercises, cultural topics, and so forth. If, as the description of the method taken from their website suggests, you do not like “guesswork”, or, shall we say, learning in a more inductive manner, this method might be the right one for you. In this respect, Living Language differs quite dramatically from Assimil and Berlitz. Below you can see a screenshot of 4 pages taken from Living Language’s “Ultimate French” Beginner-Intermediate textbook:
- The Living Language method is extremely affordable and definitely gives you bang for your buck.
- Living Language is very thorough and has clear explanations. If you have a look at the reviews on Amazon for their methods, you’ll see that most of them are 5 stars. From my personal experience using many different language methods, Living Language is definitely very professional, easy to go through, and affordable. I had been looking for a long time for a good Korean language method, and when I stumbled upon the Spoken World Korean series (made by Living Language), I was pleasantly surprised.
- There is no “guesswork” involved, as the official description of their method underlines. If you are the type of person who likes clear grammatical explanations, this might the be right method for you. Or you could complement a method focusing more on “assimilation” of the language through dialogues (such as Assimil and Berlitz) with Living Language.
- Depending on the type of learner you are, Living Language might not be the right fit for you, since it contains lots of explanations, grammatical concepts, and, as such, a lot of English. However, this is what a lot of people are exactly looking for. This is a more “traditional” type of method, and if you feel this is the right fit for you, go for it!
- In some of the series (including Korean, Russian, and French), I must say that I found the pace to be quite fast. From the very first chapter onward, a lot of vocabulary and sentences are introduced. However, I do not think this is representative of the whole method and of all the series they publish. In doubt, look for reviews or download their free PDFs, and make a decision based on your own observation. If you have already had some light exposure to the language before, however, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.