Living Language is a series older foreign language instructional courses on the market today. These courses are based on methods developed by the US Department of State to teach their diplomats before they are posted overseas. Living Language courses are invariably well regarded by their students and have a reputation for high production values.
Below I will be sharing my experience using the programs and provide an in-depth personal review of their products. Here you will find a complete overview of the range of products and courses offered by Living Language. I will explain the major advantages and disadvantages I have found working with the programs. Finally, I will provide a comparison with some other leading foreign language courses on the market and give my overall recommendations.
English, French, Arabic, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.
There are five different packages: online course, mobile apps, the Platinum, Essential, and Complete Edition.
The Platinum Edition is the most comprehensive option on sale. When you purchase this edition you'll receive the whole package which includes three course books, nine audio CDs, apps, the online course, access to an e-tutor, and the online community. Depending on which course you are taking you may also be provided with a character guide for the alphabet.
The online course includes the same instructional material as you'll find in the Platinum pack, but you do not receive any physical products. The online course can be accessed on the internet. This is a flexible option which allows you to access the course using any device and from any location provided that you have the Internet. A typical online course will include 46 language lessons which cover grammar, vocabulary, cultural notes, and conversations. You will be provided with access to an e-tutor and the online community. Online courses also come with games and puzzles to help reinforce your study.
You can also buy a number of mobile and tablet apps in addition to any program. These enable you to study your language on the go. You can buy them directly from the iTunes store, Google Play store, or Nook app store. The apps come included if you purchase the complete Platinum course.
If you are looking for a less expensive option, you can choose the Essential components or Complete components course. A typical Essential components course will have a text-book which includes lessons, exercises, dialogues, glossary, and a grammar summary. It will also include three audio CDs and access to the online learning through the language lab. This includes flashcards, quizzes, and games. A Complete components course will include three books which cover grammar, other exercises, and nine audio CDs.
The cost will depend on which course additions you purchase and the language that you are studying. Below is a general guide to the pricing of the course options.
The Platinum Edition is usually priced at $179. Access to the online course typically costs $150. Purchasing an individual app can range from $3.99 for a single stage to $9.99 for the complete edition. An Essential components course will typically retail for about $22.99 and the Complete components course is usually $49.99.
All courses follow a similar approach to language teaching. This approach is called the "Living Language Method". This is not an immersive approach. At no point are you asked to simply guess what a word or phrase means. Instead you are given specific instructions and translations into English. There are four stages to the method.
The Living Language programs have a number of advantages that set them apart from other foreign language instructional courses. Some of the best things include:
Living Language courses have downsides. Here are some of the major issues I have encountered with their products:
Each language company has its own approach to teaching foreign languages. In this section I will look at how the Living Language method and products compare with other leading companies on the market. One of the main competitors is Rosetta Stone (my review). Rosetta Stone offers quite a similar product to Living Language with many of the same features. For example, e-tutoring, an online community, and interactive conversational practise. In my opinion the content of Rosetta Stone courses tends to be a little more interesting, but overall Living Language's quality of the e-tutoring sessions provides great value.
One of the weaknesses of Living Language compared to some other programs is the audio component. When using the program you typically hear words either as a sentence or as a stand-alone word. The content does not have much context. Studies have shown that deep listening exercises with prolonged audio are an effective way of learning a new language. Two courses which do this better than Living Language are Pimsleur (my review) and Rocket Languages (my review). Pimsleur is primarily an audio-based course which requires you to listen to sentences and fill in the gaps. Rocket Languages is a multimedia course in the same way as Living Language, but has a stronger audio component. With Rocket Languages you typically listen to up to 25 minutes of continuous audio content.
The main rival to Living Language is Rocket Languages. Like Living Language, Rocket Languages offers a wide variety of foreign languages. It uses a number of the same teaching techniques including reading and writing exercises, audio listening, practice conversations, quizzes, games, and online learning. But Rocket Languages is priced at just $99 95 for access to the online courses. With a significantly lower price it's a more attractive option than Living Language. Rocket languages also provides a six-day free trial of its language courses (available here). If you're deciding between the two, I recommend that you take the free trial with Rocket before you commit to one or the other.
Overall Living Language offers some high quality courses with excellent production value. Their system has been proven to work after more than 50 years in use. If you are willing to apply the time and effort that Living Language courses require, you'll see good results. The downside is its highly academic approach to teaching languages. If you struggled with the teaching methods used in high school or college, you may find the courses difficult to work with. As noted above, before purchasing I recommend that you take the trial version of Rocket Languages. Rocket has more enjoyable products to use and a lower price tag. If you are looking to get access to the e-tutoring classes, Living Language is an excellent choice. Otherwise I recommend trying Rocket first.