Learn Spanish - A guide to mostly free online Spanish resources
In September 2010 I moved to Spain and not wanting to be another Brit living on the Costa and just getting along with “dos beers ” it became obvious that I was going to need to speak Spanish. As someone who considers themselves to not the best language learner, having learnt French until the age of 16 and pretty much getting nowhere, this seemed like a daunting task. At first I thought that just immersing myself in the language would do the job and by some miracle I would end up one day being able to speak as if possessed. I soon realised that there would be a lot of hard work and perseverance if I was going to get anywhere.
The first port of call was the internet, seemingly the only place to look for anything these days where I was bombarded with “about 365,000,000 results(0.19 seconds)” . A pretty big pile of information by anyone’s standards. Where was I going to start? I was pretty adamant that I was not going to have lessons ( I say adamant, I think broke is probably a better way of putting it) and also didn’t want to end up buying several expensive books on Amazon, quenching any guilt of not putting in any real effort, to have them fizzle off in to nothingness.
Having been an English teacher on and off for several years I was aware of what I needed to know in terms of grammar or vocabulary but finding where I could learn that information and most importantly how to do that pretty much for free was another thing. Below is a guide to the resources I have used and continue to use in my quest to learn Spanish. Am I there yet? Well I can have a pretty good conversation, do my tax return, get my car serviced and have recently started to understand the radio while doing something else, which sounds easier than it is.
- Sr Jordan's Spanish Videos
An excellent place to start, Sr Jordan is a high school teacher and has an enthusiasm that is infectious. You choose the videos you want to watch in any order and there is plenty here to keep you going for a while.
- Notes in Spanish
A popular podcast hosted by Ben and Marina, with different levels to progress through. The audio to the podcast is free to download and there are also worksheet packs for sale that accompany the levels with loads of extras..well worth the money!
- Spanish flashcard sets and study tools | Quizlet
A great online flashcard resource. It has got loads of Spanish cards already on the site, but if there is something specific you can create your own and add to the pool. There are also some interactive games to help.
- Spanish Verb Conjugation Activities | Conjuguemos
One of the biggest challenges when learning Spanish is remembering all of the verb endings. This website helps you do just this by drilling the verbs over and over again. It can be painful but is well worth the effort.
- Spanish Grammar Online
An excllent site to practice grammar online with worksheets, readings, songs and videos.
- 20 Minutos - Spanish News Blog
Using a language is also important. Reading is a big part of that so why not read the news in Spanish. It’s a great to do while eating your breakfast and just five or ten minutes every day really makes a difference.
- RTVE - Spainish TV and Radio
Watch and listen to live Spanish TV and radio. You can also watch some of favourite series in Spanish (I'm not sure if this works outside of Spain - let me know on the comments below)
So I live in Spain and get to speak Spanish all the time. Well after ordering cafe con leche (a white coffee) I realised that if I wanted to speak more Spanish I would need to get out there. Getting a language exchange helped me do exactly that. I now have several intercambios a week where we spend half the time speaking English and half the time speaking Spanish. Above everything else I’ve done, this has been the biggest help to my confidence. I put an advert in the local online free ads and was swamped with replies.
Learning a language takes time and patience. Just keep going, you will get there. If something is getting boring or isn’t working for you don’t be afraid to change it and find something else. These links work for me but I do find myself going through phases which keeps it interesting and keeps me motivated. Also try getting into your hobbies in Spanish; I’ve been getting into Spanish photography blogs. If you are interested in what you are reading you will get more out of it. There is no right way or definitive list find what works for you and hopefully some of the above will help. If you have got any to add to the list get them in the comment section below. Keep learning...if I can do it, so can you.