This page is a work in progress. Please feel free to suggest resources that have worked for you in the comments.
Fairly recently, I decided to pick up Spanish and I have stumbled across several resources I’d like to share with you learning the Spanish language, too. Please enjoy this guide that I’ve assembled to share some of the books and language learning materials I have found to be effective.
The Spanish Language
The Spanish language, is the official language of Spain, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, and several more countries. It is a part of the Ibero-Romance family of languages along with Portuguese, Catalan, and a few others.
About 8% of the Spanish language has roots in the Arabic language, the second biggest influence on Spanish after Latin. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
So why would you want to learn Spanish? Well, that’s entirely up to you. I don’t believe that choosing languages for “practical” reasons is as effective for learning as choosing a language because you want to learn. I suggest the same for you. For me, Spanish was a language I desired to learn because I’d have the opportunity to use it regularly and I needed it for work. That alone gave me plenty of motivation to work at it. Plus, I really enjoy speaking it.
Hear the Spanish Language
So, let’s look at a few resources you can use to help learn Spanish.
How to Decide Which Spanish Language Resources to Pick
Language learning texts and resources can get real expensive real quick. So rather than going at it randomly or by trial and error (which you’ll probably have to do some of anyway), I’d like to make a suggestion first.
The ability to use and understand a language is based upon four basic abilities: reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension. Depending on what your goals are, all four may not be necessary.
Let’s say, for example, you hope to take a trip to Cabo San Lucas or Madrid in six months. What language skills will you need? Basic communication and comprehension and basic reading (street signs, etc). You probably won’t ever have to write in the language. So, in this case, you might focus on developing your speaking and listening skills. If this sounds like you, I suggest checking out the audio or audio/text resources and the online resources below.
On the other hand, maybe your goal is to read Spanish literature. In that case, learning to speak and understand the spoken language aren’t necessary and you can dedicate your energy to text. If this describes you, I suggest checking out the text and online resources below.
Ideally, you should probably develop some skill in each area, but the areas you focus on need to align with your goals regarding the language and how you plan to use it. I highly suggest picking resources based on this alone. Don’t get distracted with the temptation of shiny, new books (like me) and only buy materials you think you’ll actually use. You’ll save yourself a headache and a lot of money. Money that you can put aside for a trip to Spain or to any other Spanish speaking country!
A Few Things To Consider Before Taking on Any Language
- What is your motivation behind learning Spanish? Take a moment to write down your language learning goals. It increases the odds of you achieving them. You can also join us as part of our Clear the List goal setting linkup!
- How many hours a day are you willing to study a language? Set realistic expectations for your progress.
- How do you plan on studying Spanish? Are the methods that work for you available?
- You should setup up the Spanish language keyboard on both your computer and your phone. It will help you with spelling and make chat easier on Skype/HelloTalk/etc.
- Be accountable. I keep my blog to help me be more accountable and use AskMeEvery to keep track of my daily study.
Spanish Audio Resources
- Pimsleur // You can try a Free Lesson here: Castilian Spanish / Latin American Spanish
- Speechling // Record audio in Spanish and have it corrected by a native speaker. Read the review. Sign up using code FFDEBF and get 10% off for life.
- Librivox // get audiobooks read to you in your target language for free!
- TuneIn // Spanish Language Radio.
- Fluent in 3 Months 50+ Spanish Listening Resources // There is definitely something for everyone here.
- News in Slow Spanish
Spanish Audio & Text Resources
- Glossika // Glossika is a fantastic text and audio resource that has both Latin American Spanish and Spain Spanish materials available.
- Coffee Break Spanish or for more Intermediate/Advanced learners, try their next level podcast Showtime Spanish
Spanish Text Resources
- Lang-8 // Get your writing in your target language corrected by native speakers.
- Harry Potter in Spanish
- Why Spanish is Easy from Benny Lewis // This is a great book that takes some of the aspects of the Spanish language that may scare learners away and explains them in a clear way that eliminates any fear of the language.
- Spanish Reading Passages from Woodward Spanish
- Beginning Readers from Learn Practical Spanish Online
- Spanish News Bites
Online Resources for Spanish
- The Add1Challenge // The last few years, I’ve done the Add1Challenge for every new language I’ve studied. I’ve also participated for several of my other languages. It’s a 90-day challenge that helps you get to a 15-minute conversation in your new language as a part of a community.
- iTalki // A great site where you can find language tutors or language exchange partners.
- Speak in a Week // Another great resource from Benny Lewis that gets you speaking your target language quickly.
- FluentU // A video-based language learning system. Watch Spanish language YouTube videos while engaging with real-time and interactive subtitles.
- Drops // Interactive, visual language learning with tons of fantastic, well-curated vocabulary lists.
- Clozemaster // A fun game where you use cloze, or fill-in-the-blank, to learn new vocabulary.
- Memrise // My favorite flashcard system. Available both as a web-based app and mobile device app.
- Children’s Library
- Free Regional Television
- Tatoeba // sentences translated from any language in English.
- MIT Open Courseware // Spanish I, II, III, IV
- Learn with Oliver (formerly Antosch & Lin) // A flashcard based system with audio and a variety of exercises to help you learn your target language.
Spanish Language Video
This series as been extremely helpful for me:
- Talk Spanish // a series for Spanish beginners from BBC
- Senor Jordan // Comedic Spanish lessons on YouTube
One of the best ways to learn a language is to listen to music in the language. It not only helps with improving one’s accent, but it also can increase overall comprehension. Plus it’s fun to translate the lyrics of your favorite songs. Here are a few artists I enjoy.
- Foreign Language Music Blog – a great blog with music in various foreign languages with lyrics and their translations
Learning about the culture that is tied to the language you’re learning is so important – the more you love the culture, the more you’ll love the language and vice versa. Discovering a new culture also enriches your life, particularly if it’s one quite different than your own. I highly recommend it if you haven’t started already!
You can also check out television shows or movies. I don’t suggest cartoons or films for kids because a lot of the language is often invented and you won’t get as much from it as you might from a drama geared towards an older audience. But if cartoons are your thing, go for it!
- An Introduction to Spanish Culture on MIT Open Courseware
- Culture Smart! // A great series with introductions to various cultures around the world. For Spanish, you can get started with Spain, Mexico, Argentina, or even Cuba.
- Christmas in Mexico // History, vocabulary and a recipe.
Related but Not Specific to Spanish
A Quick Note
If you’ve been learning Spanish, I’d love to hear about your experience and some of the language learning tools you’ve found helpful. Please leave me a note in the comments! The same goes for if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to respond and I look forward to hearing from you!