Product: [Language] Pod101
Overall Ranking: 85/100
Price: Basic $8/mo; Premium $25/mo; PremiumPlus $47 — Discounts Available (see below)
Innovative Language now offers their flagship program [Language — Insert here your language of choice! ] Pod101 in 34 languages, including: Afrikaans, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
The primary mode of lesson delivery is a daily audio podcast or mp3 download. The lessons are relatively short (10-30 minutes) and delivered with great enthusiasm. Lessons are available from absolute beginner to advanced. While the paid subscriptions offer progressively more resources to enrich your learning, I would encourage every language learner to at least make use of the FREE lessons.
For this review I’ve been doing lessons from SpanishPod101; and I fully plan to continue!
PROS & CONS
- [Language] Pod 101 makes use of native speakers for you to imitate and improve your pronunciation. The introductory track also contains a lesson on basic pronunciation. Premium and PremiumPLUS contain an interactive voice recorder which allows you to compare your pronunciation with that of a native speaker.
- A Vocabulary Retention Builder with spaced repetition and Customizable Flashcards are available at the Premium and PremiumPLUS levels.
- The audio lessons are fun, focus on conversation (not grammar drills!), and envision common social situations. They are not, however, what I would consider interactive; that is, there are no listen and repeat or question and answer type exercises.
- Some will appreciate the descriptions of grammatical points covered in the lesson; others will find them pedantic.
- All paid subscriptions offer printer-friendly lesson notes. Premium and PremiumPLUS also offer an instant review function with quizzes to check your understanding of key vocabulary.
- [Language] Pod101 lacks some of the features I’ve grown to appreciate in other online courses, such as “chunking,” immediate reinforcement/correction (except at Premium levels), and ongoing adjustment based on your responses. While no single program has it all, the strengths of [Language] Pod101 make it a valuable tool for everyone.
- I particularly appreciate some of the lessons which provide cultural insights.
- The [Language] Pod101 Dashboard does a great job of tracking what lessons & courses you’ve completed and showing you what comes next.
- At the premium level, each lesson offers simple quizzes which help make sure you have learned the basic points and vocabulary of the lesson.
- Professional assessment, a personalized learning program, and Q&A with a personal “teacher” are available only with a PremiumPLUS subscription which can get a bit expensive. [Language]Pod101 does not really offer personal tutoring if that is what you are seeking.
WHO IS IT FOR?
Language learners of any level can profit from [Language]Pod101! You can find your level and profit from these courses with no expense. Of course, the paid tracks offer more resources for more accelerated learning.
A number of learning tools are offered free such as pronunciation guide, key phrases, a dictionary, vocabulary lists, 100 most common words, introduction to grammar, and several apps for iPhone, iPad, and android. Additional tools, such as a Core 2000 Word List with vocabulary builder, are available for paid subscriptions.
The “Help” tab provides answers to a wide variety of questions relating to getting started, billing and subscriptions, FAQs and support, as well as both text based and video user guides, and discussions regarding the lesson setup and methodology.
Each individual lesson also allows for comments from learners, as well as responses from the Pod101 team.
There are four levels you can subscribe to: Free; Basic $8/mo; Premium $25/mo; PremiumPlus $47. If you subscribe (and pay a lump sum) for 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months, you can get progressively higher discounts from 11% to 60%. Plus, students enrolled in a school or university program can get an additional 20% off a 24-month package.
If you are dissatisfied with the program in any way, there is also a 60 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee! All you have to do is send them an e-mail asking for a refund.
From a language acquisition standpoint, the audio lessons provide the most important element – comprehensible input. For that piece alone, I consider this a valuable product and an excellent addition to anyone’s language learning toolkit. I also really appreciated being able to follow along with the lesson transcripts (available with Basic and Premium subscriptions).
The lessons are fun, delivered with enthusiasm, short enough to make a daily habit. I would encourage all learners to try out the free lessons, then consider which subscription level and discount package might work best for you. Choose a language and get started today!