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Below I've collected my notes from my experience with Baselang and I've also uploaded my 3 lessons (1×60 minutes and 2×30 minutes) in full, completely unedited.
Note: You can design the lessons exactly as you want. For this case study I decided to lean back, and pretend like I had no idea about how to learn languages. In order words, how would a complete beginner learn with Baselang?
One disclaimer I have to say is, while I attempted to be as enthusiastic and excited about learning Spanish as possible, I wasn't learning it actively at the time of recording. If I were in fact learning it I might have been more proactive, although this is hard to tell. My number 1 priority was to assess the quality of the service and report it back here on the site.
Enjoy my terrible Spanish! I hope you found the below information useful.
Remember you can get a $1 trial, and $10 off your first month on Baselang as an Actual Fluency reader. Simply click this link to get started.
Baselang Case Study
(You can find the recordings at the bottom.)
Notes from my week
(Note: These notes were written during the experience and are presented exactly as I wrote them.)
I subjected myself to learning Spanish for one week, one hour a day with Baselang, this is what happened.
[Day 1] Monday
I opened the confirmation email and logged into the website. Once there I was asked to update my Skype username, so that the teachers could call me when the lesson were coming. The site was easy to navigate and I had no problems booking my first two lessons for the first day.
Baselang has teachers around the clock, so availability is not a concern at all. I quickly booked two lessons for a few hours later (each lesson is 30 minutes) and was confirmed and scheduled to have my first ever Spanish lessons with a teacher called Samantha.
As the stereotypical introvert, the wait was not without a hint of nervousness – but also a bit of excitement. Just how much Spanish would Samantha be able to teach me in an hour? How much Spanish would I learn in a week? I was about to find out.
The First Lesson
After answering a questionnaire designed to help other teachers (there are a lot of them) get to know me in the in the future, we were off to the races to learn survival Spanish.
We went through 3 levels of basic greetings and vocabulary, and my teacher was very enthusiastic and supportive and managed to make the whole session fly by rather quickly.
At the end I felt good, for having actually learnt and achieved something in Spanish in such a short time.
I did not have any lessons today due to other commitments.
During my first two lessons on day 1, my first tutor informed me that I could book lessons with a five minute warning. Of course, this had to be tested.
So I logged onto the Baselang website at 11.25 PM and tried to book a lesson for 11.30, which went through smoothly. I grabbed my teacher’s skype details and added her right away. No more than a minute past 11.30 did an emphatic “hola!” come into my skype window. By 11.32 the lesson was underway.
The lesson continued in the same vein as my first lesson. I was shown pictures with the spanish word underneath and told to repeat after the teacher. As I was doing this exercise in building fundamental vocabulary and also learning some of the pronunciation I was thinking that this sort of training doesn’t really need a teacher this early. Baselang does introduce students to Memrise, which is a flashcard application that I love a lot, and perhaps relying too much on Baselang to tell me how I enjoyed learning Spanish was sort of becoming a bit of a crux.
I know how I can learn vocabulary quickly, and even practice the pronunciation so when I have used teachers in the past for my Russian and Hungarian I always try to steer the conversation towards explanations or practice, that is hard to do alone.
On the other hand I thought, who am I really doing this case study for? Both of my teachers have already made it very clear that the lessons can be tailored exactly to my wishes, and should I have any specific requests they will be honoured immediately.
Plus, I was literally starting from scratch. What else could I have done during the lessons?
So with that in mind I realised that I had to forget I was a very knowledgeable language learner who had done tons of experiments to try different methods.
I had to represent what is still the majority who are interested in learning a new language. Namely the people who’re learning their first foreign language, or perhaps their first independently studied language.
With that in mind I understood the philosophy behind the way my first Baselang lessons had gone. They were making sure that my level was increasing from the bottom up, and they also made sure that people new to language learning had a much greater chance of success.
During the lesson my second teacher focussed heavily on not just saying the english equivalent, but also creating a little memory connection to the word. For instance with the word Frío (cold) she talked about how Denmark (my home country) is a lot colder than Venezuela. This is pretty awesome and will definitely aid memory retention.
At the end of the lesson, the teacher asked me if I could make some sentences with the words I had learnt. This was extremely difficult and probably not ideal. Once I hesitated the teacher should’ve probably realised I wasn’t capable yet and moved on – maybe by showing me some sentence structures, teaching me a very that could be helpful or something otherwise.
In the last few minutes of the session I stumbled through some very basic sentences like “The passport is red” “The house is big” as a completely new learner that was cool, although still a bit scary.
It could have been because we only had a few minutes left, so instead of starting something new she just improvised – either way it’s not a big deal.
me I needed to work on my rolled R (which I knew, having tried to roll Rs for years now) but she also told me to work on my double L which I found strange, as I could not even think of a Spanish word with double L, let alone one that I had said during the class. Maybe it’s a common foreigner problem in Spanish.
Again due to time constraints I did not get any lessons. When I think about my initial idea of getting daily lessons for a week, perhaps this regularity of lessons every other day is more realistic for most people with jobs and families. Tomorrow is another day where I’ll definitely book a lessons again.
I had my 4th lesson on Baselang with my third teacher. He asked me if there was anything I wanted to focus on, and I said that perhaps reviewing the first few lessons would be useful.
We started reviewing the 3rd survival vocabulary lesson, and while we didn’t have much time it was a very enjoyable lesson. The teacher brought a lot of energy and passion to the table, and was very excited about sharing some differences in the Spanish spoken around latin america.
I did feel sometimes he overdid it a bit, where we would spend maybe 5+ minutes on a single word, but during this he also taught me related phrases and we put the words into a more practical use.
One realisation I have made is that single (30m) lessons are not that useful, unless your schedule is extremely busy.
Since the lessons end 5 minute early (to allow the teachers to finish the paperwork before their next lesson) and you usually take at least some time to get going in the lesson, I sometimes felt that these 30 minute lessons were over before they began.
I’d definitely recommend booking at least 1 hour sessions to get some momentum going. You can book the single lessons if you’re a really busy person, but understand that you’re probably not getting more than 15-20 minutes of actual learning out of them.
This is not a huge problem, as you’re not really paying for the minutes and the unlimited concept definitely counters this, and I think most people are more confident with 1 hour sessions anyway.
Lesson 1 (double lesson)
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