You may have been thinking about learning Spanish for a long time now but have been putting off getting started because you thought you would never have enough time to dedicate to it. Well, since the majority of the country and world are now stuck at home in quarantine, you probably have more time on your hands, so why not make the most it and use it to your advantage by getting started learning a new, popular language like Spanish!
With advanced technology today and an increasing number of language learning apps and websites at your fingertips, there has never been a better time to learn a foreign language!
Not only can you learn to understand and speak Spanish from the comfort of your own home, many of these resources are totally free to use!
In this week’s blog post we will tell you about how you can get started learning Spanish or new ideas for those of you who are already learning Spanish but want to try different methods. We want to make your time at home as valuable and enjoyable as possible and hopefully the ideas here will help you achieve that.
There is controversy surrounding how effective language learning apps are for learning a language to conversational level. However, they are definitely a good idea for beginners to quickly learn the most important words and phrases. As long as you don’t expect to become completely fluent with an app you should definitely give them a go. They are fun, addictive and easy to use. Some of the most popular ones include:
Duolingo – Duolingo is a very popular app. It is highly addictive and fun to use. There are a combination of listening, speaking and reading interactive exercises to take you right from the absolute basics of the language to more advanced levels. It covers vocabulary such as food, clothes, shops as well as grammar and dialogues.
Babbel – You can learn the basics as well as cover topics such as travel, business or culture. There are true to life dialogues to help you learn to be confident in everyday situations. It features speech recognition technology to help you perfect your pronunciation.
Mondly – Mondly uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help you learn Spanish (and other languages). It comes with a high-end speech recognition to help correct your speech. It comes with fun language lessons. It has easy to use software and you can set it to work at your own pace.
One of the best ways to get started learning a new language is by listening to native speakers. This is the best way to help you start to pronounce the words correctly and quickly sound like a native speaker yourself.
Notes In Spanish – Inspired Beginners – Ben and Marina are a couple based in Madrid (Ben is English but fluent in Spanish and Marina is a native Spanish speaker) who aim to help learners of Spanish learn REAL Spanish that you won’t find in textbooks through conversational podcasts. They cover everyday topics such as ordering tapas, talking about your family, holidays and hobbies. The podcasts are free to download but you have to purchase the transcript which are often discounted.
Coffee Break Spanish (Radiolingua) – Coffee Break Spanish podcasts won the European Podcast of the Year. The lessons (episodes) feature native speakers as well as Mark Penbleton the Scottish founder of Coffee Break Spanish and are less than 20 minutes so are easy to fit into a busy day. Through a series of episodes learners learn new vocabulary and learn to put together their own sentences. You will also learn about grammar and the culture in Spanish-speaking countries.
SpanishPod101 – You learn through fun and interesting lessons. You learn about the language and culture in a real world setting. There are over 1800 audio and video lessons with detailed pdf notes.
News In Slow Spanish – This features news bulletins but in slow Spanish which is ideal for beginners. Some are free but there is also a subscription to gain access to all items. You can read the transcript and if you hover over certain highlighted words and phrases you will see the English translation.
People often think that grammar is boring and full of jargon that doesn’t make sense. It is also the most important part of learning a language and by studying just a few of the most important rules you will be able to say whatever you want in Spanish!
Here are some of the most popular grammar resources for Spanish:
StudySpanish.com This features interactive grammar exercises that you can check as you do them. There are 9 units taking you from the basics – nouns, adjectives to the most advanced parts of the language such as the subjunctive. It uses sentences to show you how the verbs are used in context rather than isolated words. There are also verb drills and you can click to generate a unique quiz for each lesson.
SpanishDict is a great website for interactive grammar exercises. The quizzes include multiple choice questions. You receive an explanation for each answer after you have completed the question. You can see your score and how many you have got right or wrong.
Spanish Dict also includes:
– Pronunciation tips through videos with native speakers.
– Verb conjugations for every Spanish verb.
– Interactive flashcards.
– Word of the day.
121 Spanish Grammar
This covers all tenses plus has interactive grammar exercises. You get instant results so can easily see how well you are doing.
The best way to progress in a language is very simple – learn more words. However, a key tip as a beginner is, focus on learning the most used words first. You will come across a lot of new words but you will not need to know all of these to be able to communicate at first.
Learning Spanish with Youtube is particularly good because you can pause and rewind to pick out key phrases that you want to note down and learn or if you miss something. Unlike podcasts you can see the speakers mouth so will find listening and understanding easier than just by hearing.
Easy Spanish You can listen to real life dialogues on the streets in Spain and Latin America. You also get to see the script.
Señor Jordan has funny and catchy videos for beginner learners.
The Spanish Blog These are a set of video lessons by native teacher Laura Garrido Eslava. Her videos are short (3-5 minutes) and straight to the point so you don’t get bored or confused by too much theory and grammar.
We all spend a proportion of each day on one or more social media platform whether this is instagram, twitter or facebook. Why not make this time more meaningful by following people who post regularly in Spanish. You could even follow your favourite sports star or actor. The benefits of this include:
– You pick up-to-date words and phrases.
– You find out more specific terms on topics that interest you.
– You get to learn slang expressions and how Spanish people REALLY speak – not just what the textbooks tell you!
Reading Spanish is important especially if you go to Spain or South America. You will need to understand shop signs, menus, leaflets and road signs to get by in everyday life.
Research shows that by regularly reading Spanish you will learn more new words, more complex structures and will even end up speaking better Spanish.
Learn Practical Spanish You read the Spanish with the English translation on the right and also hear the audio file.
Reading Spanish news:
Reading the news in Spanish is a great way to stay up-to-date with current topics and the terms used in Spanish. Often you already know about the news story in your native language so this makes understanding the same story in Spanish so much easier.
News in Spanish: BBC Mundo
Hopefully you will find a resource or two here that you will enjoy using and will learn a lot from.