I've discovered through my travels that some people have a knack for picking up languages and others struggle to retain every single word of vocabulary. I'm probably somewhere in the middle, but closer to the struggling language learners than the naturals. So I've tried just about every method out there and was intrigued by these CDs from Earworms.
Think of them as the hipster's no-effort language course, or maybe as something that will enable language to creep into your brain like a worm. Play a little chill-out electronica, slip in some repetitive language lessons, and next thing you know the listeners are ordering cervezas like they own the place.
It's not quite that simple of course, but points to Earworms for taking the Pimsleur method and making it less nap-inducing. There's lots of necessary repetition and repeating, which despite all the desire for shortcuts, just plain works. The trick here is you get to listen to some cool music while it's all sinking in.
My only real beef with this system is that it really doesn't give you all that much for the money. When the Spanish one with "200+ essential words and phrases" stopped playing on my car CD player after what seemed like a pretty short time, I really thought something was wrong. Turns out that the 11 lessons, ranging from about a minute to nine minutes, were all there is. You're going to need three or four of that length before you can say much of anything. By the time you start adding up the tab (at $17 to $30 a pop), Rosetta Stone starts looking a lot more attractive.
Of course you can't listen to Rosetta Stone while you're cruising down the highway on a road trip, which is why I still think these Earworms are a nice place to start. Go see more at the Earworms site, but be prepared to endure an intro screen, lots of Flash, pop-ups, and other annoyances before you get to the core.