Wednesday, May 12, 2010

U.S. Foreign Service Institute language freebies

Interesting. The U.S. Foreign Service Institute's pre-1989 language courses are now in the public domain. You can download them and learn a language (almost any language, at that!)

What's fascinating about the Spanish Programmatic language course is that it's also available for big bucks on 10 CD's from a company (here unnamed) that makes a big deal about learning the language from "native rapid speech." It's the same course as the FSI's, with a difference — the FSI's MP3 transcriptions from the original tapes have been electronically speeded up (i.e., time-compressed, pitch-corrected) to fit on the CD's, making the "native rapid speech" both hyperkinetic and non-human.

The FSI's original tapes are indeed "rapid speech" to the untrained English-speaker's ear, but they are NOT, by any means, speeded up. And the MP3's are based on those, not on any artificially time-compressed, pitch-corrected sludge. What you hear is normal Spanish spoken by native speakers, and it's free, in the sense that your tax dollars prior to 1989 occasionally did purchase some very fine things indeed, aside from NASA and Teflon.

In other words, download the FSI materials, and only the FSI materials, if you want to learn a language or two. There are about 40 of them, in various stages of completion.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home