Review of: The Mimic Method Elemental Sounds of Spanish Course
Use: Practice and develop a correct Spanish accent
Ease of Use
I Don't Like
When it comes to learning a foreign language pronunciation is often overlooked as little more than a luxury. Most courses and teachers assume that a good accent in your target language is helpful, but not necessary for fluency.
Idahosa (the creator of the Mimic Method and the Essential Sounds courses) disagrees.
The language courses at the MimicMethod.com are the result of a learning method that focuses exclusively on learning the sounds of a foreign language and imitating native speakers. With the Essential Sounds Spanish course, students will learn the 39 elemental sounds of the Spanish language.
I have never encountered a more comprehensive approach to Spanish pronunciation than this course.
Every sound possibility is explored and thoroughly explained with charts, sound clips, videos, and audio exercises so that students can practice and develop a natural Spanish accent. Use this course correctly and your Spanish pronunciation will improve.
The only serious shortfall of the Elemental Spanish Sounds course is that it doesn't move beyond correct pronunciation. You will not learn anything about Spanish grammar or vocabulary in the course.
Courses start at $197
Is the Mimic Method right for you?
If you want to develop a correct and natural Spanish accent
You will be hard pressed to find a course on Spanish pronunciation more thorough and in-depth than this one. Idahosa leaves no stone unturned when it comes to teaching correct pronunciation. Through an abundance of charts, recorded audio, and visual examples, the Essential Sounds course takes students on a comprehensive journey through the Spanish sound system.
If you're looking for a comprehensive Spanish course
The Essential sounds course is easily one of the best courses you can find on Spanish pronunciation. However, beyond pronunciation and accent coaching this course doesn't offer users much else.
You won't find any Spanish grammar or vocabulary here. Nor will you find any conversational phrases. This course is solely about learning correct Spanish pronunciation
If you're not a technical person
One drawback of the course's depth is that things often get very technical. There's A LOT of IPA related information. In fact students of the course are encouraged to learn all the phonetic sounds and syllables related to the Spanish language.
You also run into a lot of technical terms like "alveolar", "dialectical consonants", "fricative", and many more. In my opinion the jargon doesn't get in the way of the learning because Idahosa explains things very well.
But some learners may not share his appreciation for the kind of technical jargon which is often ususally for linguists and speech therapists.
What is the Mimic Method?
The Mimic Method is the brainchild of polyglot Idahosa Ness. The story of Idahosa's language learning journey is as interesting and unorthodox as his courses. His first introduction to foreign languages was in his high school Spanish class, where he admits that he was at best a mediocre student and fairly indifferent to the language.
It wasn't until his trip to Guadalajara, Mexico as a teenager that he discovered a knack for mimicking the native speakers of foreign languages. At the time he did his best to sound like the native Spanish speakers around him, and his efforts bore some surprising results as his ability and appreciation for Spanish sky rocketed.
His travels eventually took him to China (where he learned Mandarin) and onto Brazil (where he became fluent in Portuguese. Overtime, and after a lot of trial and error, Idahosa gradually came up with his own personalized approach to learning a new language.
Idahosa's musical background influences his language courses
Drawing from his countless interactions with native speakers and his background as a musician, he was able to develop a practical and effective method to become conversationally fluent in a foreign language. The Mimic Method is a direct offshoot from Idahosa's personal experience.
So what exactly is the method he has come up with?
The method and philosophy behind the course
If you're using the Mimic Method, sound is king when learning a foreign language. Idahosa's approach emphasizes conversational fluency over written fluency.
The idea here is that, if given a choice, most people would rather be able to speak and understand a foreign language in a conversation rather than being a great writer in the language.
With a good foreign accent you will be able to be more easily understand rapid native speech and be understood by native speakers. It will also be easier for you to internalize and understand new words and phrases, even without explicitly studying grammar.
So how exactly do you go about getting a good accent?...
Here's a taste of Idahosa's unique teaching style
Don't be misled, in Idahosa's course, you'll be doing a lot more than the listen repeat exercises you might know from other courses (most notable of which is Pimsleur). The first thing you'll learn in the Mimic Method is how to conceptualize sounds.
There should be no guessing games when trying to describe or teach the sound system of a foreign language. The Essential Sounds courses provide a slew of charts, videos, and voice recordings to help users accurately understand the sounds they're learning. Student will learn what makes sounds different from one another both audibly and physically.
Next students learn to train their brain to hear the sounds of the language and differentiate them from one another. After that learners must practice physically and audibly, producing the sounds they've learned. This includes a lot of exercise practice, similar to what you might do if with speech therapist -just in a different language.
In the end, the goal of the Mimic Method is to prepare you to communicate in real time with real people. You won't find anything in the course that doesn't serve that purpose.
What's included in the course
The Essential Sounds of Spanish course is broken into three sections of content: lectures, drills and an AMA (ask me anything) section.
The lecture section
The lecture section of the course makes up the bulk of the material. Each lecture is essentially a lesson. There is at least one lecture video (sometimes more) in each lesson where Idahosa introduces and explains a new concept.
In addition to the lecture students are often given homework (which usually includes review questions), as well as drills and direct links to tools and resources that will help them practice what they just learned.
One of the drills from the course
There isn't a single lecture or lesson that doesn't include a practical task or application to help you use what you've been taught.
There are a total of five lecture modules in the 39 Elemental Sounds of Spanish course:
- 1Course Introduction
- 2The Spanish Vowels
- 3The "Easy" Consonants
- 4The "Tricky" Consonants
- 5From Sounds to Syllables
The course introduction section lays out the philosophy and approach behind the course. Here Idahosa shares his experiences in language learning and the objectives of the course.
In the Spanish Vowels lesson users are taught the different types of vowels in the Spanish language, and how to physically form each vowel when speaking. Idahosa also shares some exercises to help students learn to physically feel their way around correct pronunciation.
In lectures three and four Idahosa gets down to the nitty-gritty of Spanish consonants. Consonants are broken into their phonetic groups and students learn the physical mechanics behind each sound.
Does the Elemental Sounds course teach the Spanish Rolled "R" sound?
It's hard to talk about Spanish pronunciation and not bring up the rolled/trilled Spanish R sound. For many native English speakers this sound is the most difficult one to master in Spanish.
Rest assured the Elemental Sounds course gives special attention to the trilled R. In addition to the usual lectures students are given a progression of drills and exercises to develop a natural and native pronunciation of this distinctive Spanish consonant.
The course also provides several recorded live coaching sessions where you get to watch Idahosa coach three of his students through the correct pronunciation of the Rolled R sound.
In the From Sounds to Syllables section Idahosa walks you through how to take the elemental sounds and start to apply them to syllables and eventually sentences. Here you'll learn how to mimic and use Spanish songs to really take your pronunciation to the next level.
Best way to use the course
The Essential Sounds Spanish course works best as a primer for beginning Spanish students. a strong foundation in Spanish pronunciation will go a long way toward helping you speak the language quickly. If you're completely new to Spanish, you stand a lot to benefit by working through this course before diving into vocabulary or grammar.
If you're an intermediate or more advanced learner then this course can be a great way to correct any bad pronunciation habits you might have. You can also use it to learn the more difficult Spanish sounds you haven't mastered yet (like the rolled "r").
The Essential Sounds course is also useful if you're having trouble with understanding spoken Spanish. If you know the language on paper but can't understand a native speaker on the street, then it might be a good idea to train your ear and mouth. This course does just that.
What other people say about the course
"This is the course that I wished had been available when I first started learning languages. Nailing the pronunciation from the beginning just makes learning a language so much more efficient. It saves a huge amount of time in the long run and allows you to gain confidence quickly in your new language."
Conor Clyne // TsarExperience.com
"Although I am disappointed with the extent and range of the content that the Mimic Method has on each language, Idahosa does brilliantly explain each and every elemental sound in the languages he looks at.
While it is very technical and even philosophical at times, you can mostly always produce the sound that he has explained.
Unfortunately for a course that is so limited in scope, there is not nearly enough material to justify the expensive price. I wish there had been more exercises for students to develop their ear for each language and afterward their pronunciation of sounds, words and sentences."
Nick Dahlhoff // AllLanguageRecources.com
Alternatives to the Mimic Method
If you're looking for a course which puts heavy emphasis on pronunciation then the Pimsleur Spanish courses are a viable option. The course is completely audio based and focuses exclusively on conversational Spanish.
With it's unique listen-repeat-recall method users will learn to mix and match Spanish words and phrases until they reach conversational proficiency.
Pimsleur breaks down new phrases into words, and new words into individual syllables. While it doesn't have the in-depth and highly technical explanations given by Idahosa in the Essential Sounds Spanish course, Pimsleur is still a head above the rest if you want to learn pronunciation.
Rocket Spanish is a comprehensive Spanish course that will take you from a beginner level up to the mid-intermediate level in the language. The course is designed around interactive audio lessons.
Each lesson will breakdown a Spanish conversation which native speakers into smaller parts so that you can pick the grammar and vocabulary and then use them yourself when you speak Spanish.
Even though the emphasis of Rocket Spanish is always conversation, the course also does a good job of incorporating reading and writing as well.
Spanishpod101 is a Spanish course in the form of audio podcasts. Each lesson is an episode and features a conversation between two native speakers, as well as lesson notes, and sentence examples.
Every episode is moderated by two hosts who help explain difficult concepts and share interesting insights into the language or culture.
The site also features many extra resources like in site flashcards, slow playback and recording (for pronunciation), and vocabulary lists.
The Mimic Method's Essential Sounds course is the most in-depth and effective course on Spanish pronunciation I have ever come across.
No other course I have tried or reviewed (and there have been many) can match Idahosa's apt ability to explain abstract phonetic concepts in a way that is simple and helps the average language student improve his or her accent in their target language.
Yes the course is a bit technical, and it doesn't teach any vocabulary or grammar. Still, if your goal is a near native if not flawless Spanish accent, then this is definitely the course for you.