6 weeks in and it’s finally time to share my experiences of using the new Elemental Sounds course from The Mimic Method. As this is my first course review I thought I would explain the format will use. I have started with a quick summary of all the key information followed by a more detailed description below. Rather than a star rating at the end I have focused on the key factors I think you need to consider when deciding on whether the course is for you. After all, everyone is different so it will be personal taste if you think you will find it useful or not.
This review is based solely on my experience of using the course and is not affiliated or influenced by The Mimic Method. Just a language learner sharing his thoughts to help others progress with their own learning.
Let’s get to it!
Provider – The Mimic Method
Course – Elemental Sounds (German)
Price – $147 on launch (not live yet)
Format – Video tutorials and accompanying audio recordings
Platform – Web browser
Would I recommend? – Yes
What is The Mimic Method?
Remember when you were a baby and you were trying to learn your first language? Well probably not, but we all know how it goes… A little bit of “mama” and “dada” and then before long you are mimicking all the words and sounds around you. Idahosa Ness, the founder of The Mimic Method, has taken this idea and created a set of courses that focus on learning languages the natural way; by ear.
How does it work?
Every language has a finite number of sounds that you will use when speaking. The Elemental Sounds courses break down each sound so you can learn how to hear and pronounce them properly. This isn’t just about have a good accent though! If you can hear the sounds your comprehension will be better, and if you pronounce them properly you will be understood. Another little bonus is that it will massively boost your learning speed for new information… Pretty good right?
Each course is split into a series of video tutorials (roughly 6 hours in total) where Idahosa explains all the technicalities of how your mouth, and other oral organs, are put together to make the different sounds you will encounter in your new language. Then, with the help of native speaker audio recordings provided with the course, you practice until you have mastered them all.
Ever since I started learning languages I have always struggled with hearing what someone is saying during a conversation. Even after learning Italian for 5 years I haven’t cracked it. I always felt like I was speaking to a Mermaid. I knew they were saying something but it was as though they had their head underwater; sounding like a garbled mess. That is the main reason I chose to give this course a try. With the focus being entirely on sounds, and how to recognise them, it sounded like the perfect course for me.
As an early adopter I was lucky enough to get an offer that included all four courses (for French, Spanish, German and Portuguese), and loads of bonus materials, for the same price as a single course would be on launch… bargain!
I started with the German course as I have already learnt a little bit, for our holiday earlier this year, and wanted to see how it could improve what I already knew. Making my way through the course, I quickly got a good understanding of how all the different sounds worked and what the differences were, which was great to recognise how I had been making errors and what I needed to do to correct them. Then by listening to the audio recordings over and over I started to hear the differences. It took a little while but it was great when I finally cracked it. It was light a switch had been turned on in my brain. I started making out the words and phrases much more clearly. There are still a few tricky ones that I struggle with but I am starting to get the hang of them by finding the patterns. Some sounds naturally come in combinations which helps when trying to recognise them.
I think the big difference now is that I am actively listening. I hear a lot of language bloggers talking about how to actively learn things and I finally understand what they mean when it comes to listening. Instead of just sitting there hearing someone talking and trying to guess what they are saying, I am breaking down the words and phrases into the individual sounds; which is making things a lot clearer for me to understand.
This course is a little different to others I have seen. Most courses are like a guided tour at a tourist attraction. You pay your money, join the group, and they hold your hand as you walk around and get told all the information, hopefully reaching your destination knowing more than you did at the start. With this course you are being given a set of tools which you can use when learning a language to break it down and reconstruct it accurately. This may not teach you the language itself but it will help you to learn faster and more effectively in the future. As the saying goes… “A stitch in time saves nine”.
I have to say that I am very pleased with the results, but the true test will be applying the techniques to my learning from now on. It will take a lot of hard work and time before I really see the true benefit. However, even at this early stage I can happily say that my listening comprehension is definitely better.
As much as I love the course, and I really do, there are a few points to consider when choosing if this is right for you…
The content is very technical
Idahosa does a great job in breaking down all the phonetic concepts but they are still very technical and complicated at times. If you are going to choose this course you need to be prepared to stick with it and really spend the time learning about phonetics and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) so that you can get the benefit from the techniques he teaches.
You won’t learn any language (well.. Maybe a little)
This course is focused entirely on learning how the sounds of the language work and not about using it in conversation or teaching you new phrases. You will get recordings of the 500 most frequently used words which you can practice and memorise but they don’t give you the translations as that comes later. Hear, pronounce (or Mimic if you will) and then understand; that’s the way they do things. Think of it like a foundation that you will then build your language on later. Without a solid foundation any building will crumble, so it is good to put the time in at the beginning.
You only get out what you put in
When it comes to learning how to create the sounds and fine tune your hearing and pronunciation it is just a matter of practice, practice, practice… and guess what? Practice! You will be taught all the sounds, how they are made, and given the audio recordings for each. But the only way you will actually start to hear them better, or improve your pronunciation, is to put in the time and effort to use them. In the first week I spent hours listening to the recordings of the different words trying to hear the difference between two of the German “e” vowels. It was pretty hard going at times but I stuck at it and have seen the results. Unfortunately there is no quick fix to this stuff, which is why most people struggle to master it when learning a new language.
One thing that I can’t ignore is the $147 price tag. I personally think this is a lot of money, but when you compare it to other courses on the market it is competitively priced. Also, when you think about the value of the techniques that you are being taught, to improve your listening comprehension in a language, I personally feel that it is worth the money. It will just depend whether you think you can improve this on your own without the courses help. I have tried for many years, with no luck, so I am glad I gave it a try because it has worked for me.
I hope you have found this review helpful and if you have any other questions about the course please let me know in the comments below and I would be happy to help.
It’s not over yet though! I have just started the Spanish course to see how it works with a language I haven’t learnt before, as well as continuing with improving my German comprehension. Stay tuned for updates on my progress in the future.
Ciao for now!