Has anyone used the FSI materials? How effective are they and do they really get you to fluency? How long did they take you?


What are your language goals?

to become conversationally fluent in spanish, french, italian and perhaps german. i would also like to learn russian and arabic for in business.


I have used FSI, mostly as supplemental material. The advanced German and Spanish courses are thorough. I don’t recommend the beginning Italian course. I have used some other courses as well. Some of them are good and some of them may be good for some people.

How fluent you become and how fast you get through the course is up to you-your schedule and your ability will determine that. The courses have a lot of repetition, so in a way they are dummy-proof, but whether they work if you fall asleep while listening to them is unknown.

I liked them. I would give some of the courses a thumbs up, but not all of them.

I used FSI for French a couple of years ago when I began my study of the language. I think it is good for “drills” but the goal of their materials is to get the government official/student to an intermediate stage, such that once the official is working abroad, they have enough language capital, if you will, to function. One of the ideas behind such a program is that once you have accumulated a certain number of hours (learning time), you are then able to progress further and/or rapidly. In my opinion, it’s not designed to get you to fluency with the aspects of life that it covers, but to a functional proficiency level, which in turn will pave a way towards becoming fluent. I say this because there are so many variables and “areas” within a language i.e. business, science, arts, literature, etc., that FSI doesn’t cover it all; indeed it cannot cover it all. That’s okay, though because no language learning program can cover it all. Variation and a tremendous amount of exposure amounts to fluency.

Okay, thank you Yvette and Vi7.I think it will be best if I use them to supplement my learning and not be my actual learning. Again, thank you.

This is all personal. I find drills uninteresting. They have no resonance with me and I do not do them. I prefer to learn from interesting content.

That’s the problem I have. I like the dialogs and pretending I’m one of the characters but when it comes to the replacement drills and everything, I get so bored.

Do whatever works. The only way you’ll fail is if you give up.

Some people like to do languages in a leisurely way, other people are so motivated that they don’t mind doing drills and learning grammar. Neither way is “wrong”. There are yet other ways to learn that haven’t been discussed here.

It’s fun to talk about languages, but it does cut down on the time you have to study them.

I worked through nearly all of the Chinese FSI programme. I thought it was really good but yes the drills are something of a slog. They are well designed though and you do effortlessly pick up vocab and grammar just by hearing and repeating. I like the FSI program because everything is regularly repeated and reinforced and you feel a definite sense of direction and progression. Im using the French FSI programme at the moment and i like it for the same reasons as I liked the Chinese one.