Yo soy el gringo nuevo in ciudad de Chicago.
August 7, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Online Spanish courses?

I thought this would have been asked, but I'm not seeing that it has been recently.

This one's easy: What are the best free online resources for learning practical Spanish?

More if you care: I just moved into Pilsen in Chicago. Even though I'm from Texas this is far more immersion than I've experienced since traveling to Guatemala(I was like 10) for the purpose of immersion learning. I'm already, well, sub-decent at Spanish. I can read it fairly well understand it spoken less well and speak it very poorly. I figure this is an excellent opportunity to make my Spanish passable. I know speaking it is ultimately the best way, but I'd like to get going myself before I bust out half-guessed small talk on the old man at the bus stop.
posted by cmoj to Education (10 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
You might find the Coffee Break Spanish podcast useful.

posted by blueberry at 2:29 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

The BBC has free languages tutorials, including Spanish. I believe they e-mail you an assignment each week.
posted by 6:1 at 2:31 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My library subscribes to Mango Languages, as part of their package of database/online resource offerings. Mango offers a a surprisingly extensive series of online language courses, including (no surprise) Spanish.

It doesn't look like the Chicago Public Library has Mango, but per your profile, your hometown's public library (which happens to also have been my hometown, some years ago) does. So if you held onto your library card—or have family or friends back in the Home of Happiness with library cards—you might access Mango that way.
posted by mumkin at 2:37 PM on August 7, 2010

The United States Foreign Service Institute Spanish courses (audio and text materials) are available here. It looks like MIT has some Spanish courses in their Open Courseware catalog. Also, the old classic video series Destinos is available here, but you may be beyond that if you have an understanding of basic Spanish.
posted by nobodyyouknow at 2:43 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

However you do this, write down/type what you learn everyday and make flash cards. I do this in Poland and I'm getting kind of good at Polish, shockingly so - I knew the word for "trout" the other day because I'd seen it in the supermarket over a year ago, put it into my flash cards, and it had just come up in the review a few weeks before. I use this free program.
posted by mdonley at 2:58 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I found studyspanish.com to be immensely helpful when studying Spanish in university. The verb conjugation drills and grammar explanations are really useful.
posted by kaudio at 8:15 PM on August 7, 2010

Livemocha is a great site. I'm learning Spanish there. Also a great way to form online relationships with native speakers to help you out.
posted by white_devil at 11:12 PM on August 7, 2010

Do you have cable? Watch Spanish-language TV. If you have a low tolerance for the telenovelas, which are hilarious but impossible to get into halfway, watch the evening news.

Also, if you have Netflix, rent Spanish-language movies and turn the Spanish subtitles on (as a hearing-impaired Spanish-speaker might). You can do this with U.S. movies that have Spanish-language overdubs. This way you hear native pronunciation and reinforcement in writing.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 AM on August 8, 2010

you can also get spanish language books on tape/cd from the public library - my spanish professors in university told us novels are the next best way (besides talking to people) to get useful language because the dialogue is full of modern, natural language.

also seconding watching movies with spanish language dubs. action movies are great because the dialogue is sparse, easy to understand and up-to-date. The Transporter and The Fifth Element are a couple of my favorites in Spanish because they're witty, not overly verbose, and pretty well voiced. For talkier stuff, try Rick Linklater's Waking Life or the anime Paprika.

note the spanish subtitles will usually not match the dubs, but at least you'll get to recognize a couple different ways to say stuff. another possibility is getting books on cd in spanish, and then getting the matching text (also in spanish), so you can follow along as you listen. this is easier to do, ironically, if you're ok with getting mass-market english-language bestsellers translated into spanish. for some reason, spanish-origen books are crazy expensive or hard to find (at least for me).
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:08 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Livemocha seems to be the easiest, freest, and most user friendly option. I'm surprised at how much vocabulary I already know, but I'm early in the lessons, and it's definitely helping iron out my grammar.
posted by cmoj at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2010

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