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Tag Archives: languages FSI Spanish

I love languages – different languages – the fact that there are different languages. Languages not only have different sounds for the same objects or action but in some way they represent different ways of looking at the world.  The thought, that in shifting ones mind from one language base to another, might give a different perspective on the world is fascinating to me.

Over the years I have studied French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Arabic. I have recently begun to learn Spanish. Along the way I have also picked up books on the Russian and Hawaiian languages. Of all of these languages, the only one I would claim even an intermediate capability with is French, and I still dream of some day achieving a moderate level of fluency in it.

The reason I bring up the topic of languages is because I came upon a great resource that I want to share. When I was learning French, on my own, years ago,  I had purchased courses (on cassette tapes!) from Audio-Forum. Their programs were a packaging of the courses developed by U. S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) primarily for their diplomatic corp. These courses were pretty dry compared to today’s multimedia offerings, but they are thorough and I believe effective. The FSI courses rely on a lot of repetition of key sentence patterns, which are introduced through conversational situations. I was thrilled to have recently heard about, and today confirmed, that these FSI Language Courses are available online – for free!

These courses are made available by a non-profit, non-governmental group. The instructional material itself is public domain. There are over 40 languages available including all the major world languages  and a few that I have never heard of.  The courses include the audio of the programs which is essential for the “listen and repeat” strategy of the program and also PDF versions of the printed manuals for acquiring written language capability. The audio does not seem to be downloadable but can be played through a web browser. The courses may have been developed  decades ago so some of the vocabulary may be a little dated but I’m sure once you’ve mastered the bones of the language, you can pick up the latest vocabulary without trouble.

There are in fact three FSI Spanish courses available: Programmatic, Basic and FAST as well as some regional quick-start guides. I am using the Basic Spanish course right now to supplement the Pimsleur course that I have started.

As alluded to earlier, there are some excellent multimedia and web-based language learning options these days but if you have the motivation and imagination I believe you can go a long way with the FSI Language Courses (as generations of diplomats have – and its hard to beat the price).