Can you recommend your favorite resources for learning Spanish?
November 18, 2016 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm a complete beginner and will not be able to take in-person classes. Your favorite books, web resources, tips and tricks would be most helpful!
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah to Education (17 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Start by doing the entire Duolingo course.
posted by zadcat at 8:59 AM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Totally Duolingo. I completed that program with no prior Spanish knowledge and then signed up for in-person beginner classes and the teachers were amazed I'd learned my Spanish from Duolingo/told me I was in the wrong class and needed to register for a more advanced class. It put me into about the upper intermediate level of Spanish classes by the time I finally felt like my knowledge was being somewhat challenged.

I complemented it with the Coffee Break Spanish podcasts, which are quite good. I now speak and understand Spanish reasonably well.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:14 AM on November 18, 2016

Duolingo! I'm awful at learning languages and I'm surprised how much I'm learning, even with my erratic studying.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:20 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep, Duolingo. It covers written and spoken language in numerous ways, and it can accommodate anywhere from 30 seconds to hours of time depending on what you've got available. In several of the courses, including Spanish, they just introduced chatbots that simulate texting.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:52 AM on November 18, 2016

Duolingo. But you have to do it every day. I aim for two units a day (it takes about five minutes). Make sure you set up reminders on your phone so you don't forget.
posted by Brittanie at 11:15 AM on November 18, 2016

News in Slow Spanish is good for listening practice. It's a paid-subscription podcast with transcripts and other resources.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:21 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

FSI Spanish Basic

It's especially good early on at conveying how the sound system and spelling work together. Do a 1/2 hour set of its oral drills a day to train your mouth and your mind!
posted by bertran at 12:11 PM on November 18, 2016

Another vote for Duolingo. It's great!
posted by SisterHavana at 12:16 PM on November 18, 2016

posted by veery at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Destinos! posted by veery

+1 for Destinos. I just started watching it and it's becoming a bit addicting. I need to know more about Fernando's secret!

I also try to watch Spanish TV series on Netflix with Spanish subtitles. I wouldn't start that until finishing the Duolingo program, though.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:29 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been learning Spanish through a combination of methods. In Spain last spring some locals complimented me on it, saying all I needed was more vocabulary. Here are my best tips from learning.

Pronunciation is crucial. It doesn't help one to know a word if one can't pronounce it in a recognizable form. I acquired my pronunciation skills and accent through osmosis, so I can't comment on any online / app tool for this.

The flip side is recognizing an unfamiliar pronunciation. It's all about not focusing on the word one doesn't understand, but using context to figure it out, or get a clue, or fake it. For me, not focusing was very difficult. No tools for this that I know of except be fearless and don't give up.

The transition from learning to conversation can be difficult at first. My brain would lock up on words and phrases I knew well. Then I found Learning Spanish Like Crazy (LSLC). In all other audio courses I examined, the instructor says something, then the student repeats. LSLC turns language learning upside down. Lessons do use hear-repeat, until the end of the lesson. Then the instructor asks a question, followed by a several second silence for one to respond before the correct answer is given. Course guidelines say to repeat each lesson until one can respond to the end of lesson questions correctly 80% of the time.

Next step is a Skype based language exchange. The sites offer matches to native speakers of language A who are learning language B with native B speakers learning A. The one I used shut down, so google 'language exchange'.

Better than Skype but much harder to find requires 2 things. First is a cooperative friend who speaks the language much better than you. Second is a friend who is able and willing to have a conversation at your level, and, as long as he can understand enough of what you're saying to make a meaningful response to do so. All but one friend with whom I've tried this switched to English to correct my mistakes instead of responding.

My other best tips are part of Duolingo.
posted by Homer42 at 9:46 PM on November 18, 2016

As well as Duolingo, I have downloaded a book of Spanish short stories for beginners to my Kindle. You can look up unfamiliar words just by having a Spanish dictionary on there and long pressing them. Also doing similar with reading websites in Spanish.
posted by intensitymultiply at 12:15 AM on November 19, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I'm now using Duolingo and watching Destinos! Wish me luck 😀
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:20 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I recommend this grammar book, Spanish for Dummies, Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish, and when you're a bit further along, this book is fantastic.
posted by saul wright at 6:46 AM on November 19, 2016

Another vote for Duolingo, and then after you feel like you're making good progress, I've gotten a lot of extra traction reading an article a day on Spanish-language Wikipedia, usually about something that I know a little about so that I have a good chance of getting unfamiliar words by context.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 12:35 PM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mi Vida Loca by the BBC is a fun flash based interactive story that assumes you start with no Spanish.

Also, yep, Duolingo.
posted by freethefeet at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2016

Memrise is good for building vocabulary
posted by neutralmojo at 8:18 AM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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