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Baselang Review - high potential but not achieved

 Okay so I said I'd do an in-depth review of Baselang, so for the curious - here it is...   

The premise is basically a flat rate for unlimited Spanish lessons.  And that is accurate.   Now the details:


It says you can book any time from 5am-midnight, EST.   This is *almost* accurate.   In reality you can book on any half hour in that range (or multiple half hours in a row if you want).   And you can book up to literally the last minute (I may have done this a couple times - and never any issue).   I noticed the 11-midnight block was often 'sold out' (as in all teachers blocked).   My guess is that this is people in PST trying to get evening lessons.  In my boot-camp week, there were only two instances where I tried to book a lesson and couldn't; one was an evening slot and the other 10pm.

You can book your "favourite" teachers (of which you can have up to three) up to six days in advance, others only four days.  This is a royal pain when trying to schedule in advance.   Also, favourite teachers were almost never available and it meant I had to sign in every morning to see if I could get them 6 days later.

All lessons end five minutes before the class time to enable the teacher to write notes -- makes sense as you'll have multiple teachers.  However, you never get to see these notes.

They have a handy feature that lets you privately rate the teachers, so when deciding going forward, you know what your previous scored for them was.  This is super useful, but a royal pain to find / navigate.  It should be accessible from the history (eg - see the teacher's name, click on them, select score) - but it's not.  It's so buried it's essentially useless and super frustrating.  Also, there's nowhere for comments.  I ended up just keeping my own notes so I could remember when I was lessoning with a ton of people.

Grammar and structured classes:

They have a TON of grammar lessons, BUT you cannot select your own level.  I was super annoyed at this and it is one of the reasons I will not continue with this service.   So you do an assessment in your first class -- mine was broken between two teachers; the first gave his assessment, which generally aligned with my own.  The second decided I needed to be in a very low level because I needed practice.  Well yes, absolutely - that's why I'm here.  But if that's the standard, I should be in level one.  I need practices with EVERYthing.  But that doesn't mean going through basic level grammar powerpooints is going to be a good use of time.   For grammar lessons, I want the focus to be on topics I still need to learn.  Like, you know, actually teaching me ;-P

For practice, that - to me - is what the conversation classes are for.  Applying all the concepts, and especially being ale to switch in-between them.  I *know* my grammar knowledge is way beyond my ability to apply; that's literally the whole point of boot camp.   But - I'm also very checklist focused.  Had they put me in a level where they were actually teaching me new concepts, I likely would've stayed and worked my way through them all.  And there's 9 levels through almost native level proficiency - like, that would've been a solid commitment.   But by saying I had to take a ton of classes on stuff I know inside-out at this point...  Not into that.

I did try taking a couple of their "elective" courses, which cover a huge range of topics.   The range was impressive -- topics you'd expect like Work, Medicine, Pop Culture, or Travel, but also a whole category of "random" which included superheroes, nanotechnology, and volcanoes.   So yeah - tons of things to learn about that *could've been* excellent.   Alas, it's very poorly set up for online learning.  Essentially a powerpoint, several slides with a vocabulary word on each page and a picture.  Okay - except sometimes I wasn't even sure what the picture was of?  So less useful.  Then a slide or two of match the word to the definition - moderately useful...  Then there would be "use this word in a sentence" but often the word in question wasn't the vocabulary word?  lol so random.   The next slide is what did me in from uselessness.  A word search.  Like seriously?   You want me to sit here and look for words while you watch me in a 25minute class?  This is *not* a good use of time.  Happy to do it as homework (I even have a Spanish wordsearch app of my phone! lol) but for teaching time?  What a waste.   Then read a text and answer questions about it -- this was generally reasonable.   And some discussion questions.   If they fixed the vocabulary and moved right to the discussion questions it'd probably  be stronger.

Other Misc:

Several teachers identified quickly that my pronunciation is a problem.  This I've heard before, BUT here is the first time I've had teachers who actually helped me correct it.  They were able to call out very explicitly what I was doing and how to fix it, one or two easy changes at a time.  Obviously still a long way to go, but at least they gave me a start.  Not all teachers do this, but I specifically picked teachers who said in their profile they had a conversational style and focus on pronunciation, too that helped.  That was the single biggest win I had from this.

Some of the teachers follow curriculum options for the conversation classes (basically pick a topic from a list and then there are questions about it), there are also listening practices lessons (pick a topic, listen to a thing, then answer questions), but must just had a conversation, which was honestly exactly what I needed.

Unlimited really is unlimited.  I gave it both a "normal life" test -- how many lessons would I take in my usual world if $ made no difference, and a "boot camp" test -- how many could I take in a week.  Lol boot camp, were that an ongoing thing, would be worth the cost.  But in reality, the number of lessons per week wasn't much more than I take through Italki, at more than double the price with lower quality instruction.  So yeah - not worth it for me right now.   The only plus was that I got in a few extra lessons that I wouldn't have in italki because of the combo of 25 minute lessons (it's easier to squeeze that in than an hour) and book last second ability.  However, not being able to book out more than a few days was super frustrating. Like I want every Tuesday at 6pm -- I can do that on italki.  Here, not so much.

I tried a TON of teachers -- if for no other reason than to practice talking to a bunch of different people.  I think about 11 different people in total, and I have to say, all but one were super positive, friendly, and helpful.   Also, it says next to their name when you're selecting a teacher whether or not they speak English.  My non boot-camp week I picked teachers who did, just in case ;)   Boot camp though, I went for all Spanish except the one teacher I found earlier who was so phenomenal I wanted to continue with her, and I just asked her to stick to Spanish, which she did.

The website says if you cancel in the first month, they'll refund your money.  I did this and it was refunded no problem.  They also say they'll give you  $20 extra for "wasting your time" -- I did not request this as I did get some value from it and I may someday try it again.  When I'm not also doing an MBA ;-P   Esp if they fix a few of the issues that were just not quite there....


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