Leading up to this summer, Luke and I talked a lot about immersing ourselves in Spanish as much as we possibly could. We scoured the internet for different online courses, we looked up language schools in different cities around Mexico, and we finally settled on one that looked like the perfect combination of what we wanted, the Baselang Grammarless program. This is a comprehensive Baselang Review of that program as well as the Real World program which we then started taking afterward.
Like we usually do during July and August, we took some time away from work and traveled around, but this time we decided to stay in Mexico. We wanted to be able to study in the mornings with this course and then head out for the day to practice all of the Spanish we would hopefully be learning.
What is Baselang?
Baselang is a Spanish language learning company. While many other online language schools have different languages to choose from, Baselang is all about learning to speak Spanish.
They currently offer two programs.
The Real World Program costs $149 per month and offers unlimited lessons during that time. It is really great value and offers a structured curriculum as well as lessons where you can simply practice and speak Spanish with your teachers. You can choose from any of their teachers and schedule your lessons for completely different times every day of the week. There is a lot of flexibility in the Real World Program and it is truly a fantastic price.
However, the Grammarless Program really attracted both Luke and me. It’s all about teaching you to speak the language without really digging too deep into the grammar, just like the way you learned your first language – speaking and repeating and listening. It turned out to be even better than we thought it would be, but I’ll go deeper into that below.
The Grammarless Program costs $900 and is an 80-hour course which you can take over either one month or two months. You either take it 4-hours per day, five days a week or a month or for 2-hours per day, five days a week for two months. We opted to take it over two months.
The Grammarless Program also includes unlimited access to the Real World teachers so that you can practice speaking more. So in addition to your 5 classes a week, you can take as many extra classes speaking classes as you’d like.
With the Grammarless program, you have the same teacher for the entire course. This made me nervous at first because I was concerned that it could pose a problem if I didn’t like the teacher, but I didn’t need to worry. I’m not sure exactly how they choose the teachers for Baselang out of all of their teachers, but it would seem that they first have to look at which teachers are available for your requested time slot.
With the Real World Program, you can have a new teacher every day. Sometimes I have one half-an-hour slot with one teacher and a second-half an hour with a different teacher just to try out different teachers and see which ones I like best for another one-hour lesson.
The majority of the teachers from Baselang are from Venezuela, but things are starting to change a little bit now because the company is so much busier with students. I have also had teachers from Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and Argentina.
All of the Grammarless teachers are bilingual and can easily switch between Spanish and English to explain things. In Real World, you can choose teachers who only speak Spanish so that you really push yourself to the next level or you can still talk with bilingual teachers if you want to have a grammar lesson with someone who can help in English.
How Classes are Conducted
All Baselang classes for both Grammarless and Real World are conducted via Zoom. It’s a program that you download onto your computer much like Skype, but better in my opinion. It doesn’t need super strong wifi like you tend to need with Skype. It’s completely free to use. You can video call and your teacher is able to share their screen so you can look at the different lessons together.
Zoom is really easy to set up and if you aren’t sure, once you join Baselang there is a quick tutorial to help you get started.
Our Level & Learning Styles Before Baselang
I would say Luke and I were advanced beginners when we started this course. We were comfortable in situations that we’ve been in many times – talking to Uber drivers, going to restaurants and bars, but we had a very limited vocabulary and we were speaking almost 100% of the time in the present tense.
Luke definitely had a larger vocabulary and better listening skills before we started this course. He hears it every day at his job and uses the language almost every day. As for his learning style, he learns best when he’s actually speaking and putting things into practice. He is not interested in grammar in any language, which is why this course really stood out for him. By the end of the summer, he wanted to have more confidence using more tenses and be able to comfortably speak with more people in more diverse situations.
When I first started the course, I had pretty bad comprehensive skills when it came to listening. I also had absolutely horrific confidence in any new situations. If we had to go somewhere new and speak Spanish, I always got so nervous that I basically forgot all of the Spanish that I knew. While my accent may be better than Luke’s, he had a much more extensive vocabulary. By the end of the course, I wanted to gain confidence speaking to anyone, even if it wasn’t going to be 100% perfect.
Unlike Luke, I love grammar, but I wanted to try something different. I studied Spanish in school learning all the different grammar, but none of it stuck and I wanted to see if a different approach would work better.
The Grammarless Curriculum
Neither of us really know what to expect when it came to the content of the lessons. I could only really go off what the website says about the course, which is this:
If you don’t need to understand the inner workings of English grammar to speak English, why would you need to understand Spanish grammar to speak Spanish?
After years of teaching thousands of people of all ages Spanish, I discovered a different way. A completely different method that flips the entire process on it’s head. A method that completely skips grammar and goes straight to learning how to speak.
Instead of starting with the grammar and examples, you start with practice. Each class, you go straight to usingthe new concept – without even having to understand it.
This made me nervous because I am and always have been one of those people who like to understand why. Perhaps that’s the very reason that I wasn’t being successful with my language learning up until this point. Both Luke and I were really looking forward to trying out a totally new-to-us method.
The curriculum is broken up into four types of lessons, core lessons, pronunciation practice, situational practice, and conversation practice.
The order in which you go through these different lessons seems mostly up to the teacher. Luke and I went at totally different paces and did totally different lessons each day. I practiced pronunciation almost every day, while Luke had it perhaps only once or twice a week. I didn’t do a core lesson every day, but Luke did.
That being said, the core lessons are what will teach you to speak Spanish. They are the meat of the course and Luke and I both feel they are powerful tools to get you talking ASAP. Each lesson introduces a sentence structure or word that you can immediately start using. Then you spend part of that class using it in different situations, so by the end of the class you remember it well.
One of the things we both really liked about the course was that the curriculum was very open-ended. It left both teacher and student room to ask questions, to use them in unique situations, and to be creative in their teaching style.
The only negative of the curriculum is that once you finish with the different lessons (which we both did around week 6), you are left with not much structure. The teachers are great at finding different tools on the internet like videos, readings, audio recordings, and even little tests that cemented some of the things we’d learned, but I found it frustrating at times to realize that some of the classes just had no real direction.
The Real World Curriculum
Luke and I both really loved the Real World Curriculum which we have now begun since finishing with Grammarless. When you have your first Real World lesson, the teacher gives you a bit of a comprehension test. They ask you different questions and you go over some of the lessons and then they sort of settle on where you should begin. Luke and I both started around Level 4.
Each lesson focuses on only one or two things, for example, Ser and Estar, Para versus Por, or a specific tense like Present Perfect. You get examples, photos, vocabulary, and then there are practice exercises, which I really loved. It allows you to really cement the information before moving onto a different lesson. It’s set up in a much more structured way than the Grammarless curriculum.
Real World lessons are 30 minutes long, but if you can find one teacher who is free for several sessions in a row, you can have classes that are an hour or two hours long.
I love that you can use different teachers for every class, but over time you do want to start using just two or three of the same teachers because they will get to know your level and get to know you. The only problem with this is that you may find two or three teachers that you really like, but they aren’t always going to be available for those same slots.
Following the Grammarless program with the Real World Program has really pushed up forward even more. In the last two weeks, we have been able to dig a little bit deeper into grammar questions than I was able to do during Grammarless.
The Real World Curriculum also has electives which are really a great way to grow your vocabulary. You basically choose a topic like food or travel and you can take different lessons which teach you new words, walk you through dialogues that use those words, and then finish with exercises that allow you to create sentences, answer questions, and then ask questions, too.
One final thing that I love about the Real World program is that there are a few teachers who only speak Spanish. While the majority of the teachers in the Real World program speak both Spanish and English, there are several who only speak Spanish. This means that you literally have no choice but to speak Spanish for however long your lesson is. I love the challenge!
Baselang Review of the Grammarless Program – Pros and Cons
The Pros of the Grammarless Program
- The teachers: Every teacher that I had was truly outstanding. They were always prepared, they were interested in my learning, and they were helpful with corrections.
- The ability to take as many classes as you want: Being able to schedule speaking classes on my “days off” of the Grammarless program really allowed me to push myself and learn even more than if I was just doing 5 days a week. It also really helped my confidence to be able to practice with other people with different accents. It’s a fantastic bonus to the Grammarless program.
- The curriculum: The Grammarless curriculum really gets you learning phrases and word structures. The point of the course is to be conversational by the end and the curriculum allows exactly that.
- The cost: While $900 upfront does seem like kind of a lot, when you break it down it’s actually one of the most reasonable one-on-one courses that you can take. You get 80 hours of individual private tutoring for $900, which means each hour only cost you $11.25. That’s about what I was paying on iTalki and there was zero direction or curriculum in those lessons. If you don’t have $900, you can pay over four months at $250 per month.
The Cons of the Grammarless Program
- The rigidity of the lessons: Classes are at the same time every single day and sometimes life gets in the way for both student and teacher. I wish it was a little bit more flexible and you could change the times depending on the day of the week, but I understand why it’s like this. I also think that it does force you to be really serious about it because there’s no flexibility in the time. For me, that meant I couldn’t miss a class which was both a pro and a con at different times.
- The Curriculum isn’t long enough: Luke and I both finished the curriculum around week 6 and for the last two weeks of the course, it was much more open-ended. Luke spent a lot of time having conversations in Spanish and I did a lot of reading comprehension lessons. While these weren’t necessarily a waste of time, they were easily things we could have done on our own time or perhaps we could have spent the last two weeks working on the Real World program.
- The organization isn’t the best: If there were any issues like the teacher not showing up or needing a substitute teacher because your Grammarless teacher was busy, it could sometimes be a hassle to sort out. Worse than that, if it happens on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s basically impossible to sort anything out until Monday unless you email several different people. On two occasions, Luke was told by his teacher that he would have a substitute and on both of those occasions no teachers showed up. We also didn’t have access to our Real World program for the first three weeks and there wasn’t really much help other than to say they were “working on it.”
Who Should Take the Grammarless Program?
This is not the course for people who already speak in different tenses or have extensive vocabulary. This course is for beginners and although before the course I classed myself as an advanced beginner, I still learned A TON in this course. Like I said above, Luke and I really only spoke in the present tense before taking this course and now we can use at least four tenses with quite a lot of confidence and we’re familiar with several more that we didn’t know before.
This is the course for those that have the time and dedication and for those that want to really accelerate their learning. It’s not easy to find the time to study Spanish for 2-4 hours a day, but if you want to improve your Spanish in less than 8 weeks, there really isn’t anything better out there for this value.
If you need more flexibility, you should definitely opt for the Real World Program. This allows you to have your lessons at different times each day and for different lengths of time. So if you have a free afternoon on Saturdays, you can take a two-hour lesson and then on Monday mornings you can squeeze in an hour. You need to take roughly four hours a week to make the $150 price tag worthwhile. Alternatively, you can opt to simply pay as you go. This option allows you to pay $9 an hour for classes as you take them.
So Are We Fluent in Spanish?
The Grammarless Course doesn’t promise fluency, it promises that you’ll be conversational.
I would say that we definitely are. I’ve seen a huge change in Luke’s confidence and his pronunciation. He is talking to more people about more complex topics. He’s using different tenses confidently and more importantly, he uses them correctly. He’s thinking less in English which has allowed him to have more fluid conversations with native Spanish speakers. His comprehension and listening skills are really incredible now.
As for me, I feel far more confident than I ever have been in any language that I’ve attempted to learn. I’m purposely putting myself in new situations here in Mexico in order to speak to different people and attempt to talk about different things. My listening comprehension has improved immensely. I’m able to have conversations with people on several different topics and while it’s not perfect every time, I’m being understood and having a great time speaking Spanish.
We have a long road to fluency, but overall the Grammarless course really pushed us into a new level of Spanish speaking.
General Thoughts On The Course and How We Felt About It
Luke and I have been talking about the course all summer long and there have certainly been some ups and downs, but we both agree, it’s the best thing we’ve done for our Spanish learning. We have never been better at Spanish. We have never understood more, never spoken more, never been more confident.
If we could go back, we would do it all again. It was truly the best thing for us at this stage in our learning. Our teachers were wonderful, the curriculum was challenging without being beyond our abilities. The amount of time we spent speaking and listening in Spanish has completely changed everything. No course is perfect and we perhaps wish that there was more to the curriculum, but we still learned a lot.
We know we have a long way to go and we are by no means fluent, but this course has given us the base that we never had before. It has given us a solid foundation on which to continue to build our vocabulary and grammar understanding.
What’s Next for Our Spanish Learning Journey?
We are going to continue to use Baselang. As I mentioned above, we have now started on the Real World Program and we are loving it so far. Now that we’re back at work full-time, having the flexibility to schedule lessons at the last minute or to have them at different times each day is amazing. There is so much Real World curriculum to do and we want to keep speaking Spanish every day.
I have scoured the internet for private one-on-one Spanish lessons and the $150 a month price tag of Real World is really unbeatable when you want to study for one-two hours every single day.
We both plan to take one-hour lessons from Monday to Friday to continue to practice as well as an additional half-hour speaking lesson whenever we can fit them in. We’ll take a few lessons that go through the curriculum and then simply a few conversation classes to keep practicing with different people. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.
I will come back to this review and update it once we have take more of the Real World program to give even more insight into the curriculum and a few pros and cons. I’ll also continue to give you updates on our progress in future posts!
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