Learning Spanish at home as a couple.
August 22, 2017 10:02 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are learning Spanish at home. Best programs / work books / resources / etc for each of us individually and as a couple? We are open to paid options.

Like it says, we are learning Spanish. We’re in Utah with nearby Spanish speaking populations and it’s a growing demographic. We each have minor exposure to high school Spanish (1 year for me, 3 for him.)

Unfortunately, travel and local immersion or classes are absolutely NOT an option for learning - I wish we could do otherwise. All learning options must be able to be done at home on our own schedule - with daily practice encouraged!

We can throw some money at this - but not thousands. I use a Mac, my husband runs Linux but can use a Mac too. We also have streaming services that we could use for media and subtitles (Apple TV, Xbox One). 

We’re looking for programs, websites, books, workbooks, flashcards, lifestyle tips, good Spanish TV or movies, etc.

US: We want a good mix of things we can work on separately and lessons and things we can do as a couple to keep a similar pace. Probably items suited toward doing them at the same time, speaking to/quizzing each other and doing around the house. Likely more of a classroom or lesson vibe.

HUSBAND: Wants more immersion based. He leans toward audio and repetition. He enjoyed the Pimsleur CDs in the past and got a free trial of audible for them now.

WIFE: Leans toward learning through examples (especially photos or videos of situations for context), understanding grammar rules as a basis, as well as repetition and audio. I enjoy work books and getting a good “grade” so to speak.

posted by Crystalinne to Education (10 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
One totally free resource I've used for teaching my middle-school-aged son Spanish (and for brushing up on my own) is this old BBC immersive fiction video course, Mi Vida Loca. It has immersive audio and repetition for your husband, and optional text-based vocabulary and grammar quizzes for you. Note that the site is pretty clunky because it's old archived content, but last I checked all links and videos still work. Also note that this is aimed at people looking to learn to speak Spanish in Europe, not in the Americas, so the accent and some of the idioms are European, but it covers a lot of basic Spanish vocabulary that is pretty universal across Spanish speaking countries.
posted by BlueJae at 10:40 AM on August 22, 2017

TheGreatCourses.com has a good DVD or online streaming course which teaches the Latin American Spanish that I am imagining you want. Sometimes it can be handy having full-sized videos to watch over and over as repetition does help things set in.

I found a RocketLanguages.com course quite good too, but not at it's regular price. About four times a year they offer the courses at a substantial discount so maybe sign up for their newsletter to be informed when they come up.
posted by AuroraSky at 10:55 AM on August 22, 2017

Once you have basic vocab down, I highly recommend watching shows on Telemundo. They speak relatively slowly and clearly, and the acting style makes context really east to grasp. I used to watch it with the subtitles on, then turned them off when I felt like I was grasping the nuance of idioms and didn't get so lost with verb tenses.
posted by ananci at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2017

Disney movies! Basically any movie where you can follow the plot even if you're not catching every word. The Disney movies usually have Spanish translations with Spanish captioning available, and you can check 'em out from the library.
posted by aniola at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm going to take that left turn at Albuquerque and remind you that you will need to SPEAK it a great deal, as opposed to just studying it. Try iTalki to find a free language partner to practice with via Skype.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:16 PM on August 22, 2017

I really like Duolingo.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:45 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have two suggestions :

"News in Slow Spanish" newsinslowspanish.com - Weekly news read in Spanish at a slow pace for better comprehension by learners. Comes with spanish-english vocabulary and some other complementary material. (Not free).

Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish : I think of this book as "Spanish in bulk for English Speakers". Combines what you already know (English) with linguistic rules and transformations to get bulk knowledge of Spanish.
posted by metadave at 5:04 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Rewatch an old tv show you both enjoy with the spanish audio track on. Have the english subtitles on at first, transition over to the spanish as you get better. It's not enough by itself, but it is surprisingly effective at getting you used to listening and is really, really easy to do.

Anki is a good way of doing flashcards.

I found the Schaum grammar book to be useful for German, and the spanish one gets good reviews.
posted by kjs4 at 5:18 PM on August 22, 2017

I'm a big fan of the Coffee Break Spanish series. (okay, actually the one I used was Coffee Break French, but my understanding is that they're all very good).

I'm a bit unsure on whether the level would be a fit for you, and it's probably going to teach Spanish as it's spoken in Spain rather than in the US (*handwave* about my ignorance about Spanish dialects). But I think it's worth a look.
posted by curious_yellow at 2:55 AM on August 23, 2017

I love learning languages and also love free stuff. A few suggestions:
  • Be sure to check your local library. They're very likely to have audio courses you can check out, and they may have online options. (I'm not actually very impressed by the Rosetta Stone or Mango language courses I've seen at my library, but hey - if you get free access, take a look, see what you think.)
  • Check out Destinos, a full-blown online video course for learning Spanish. (There's even a follow-up, Nuevos Destinos.) If you'd like the accompanying textbooks, you should be able to find used copies for not much money.
  • Seconding Anki for flashcards - it's a huge help for learning vocabulary and grammar.
  • Although I focus on free stuff, the Assimil stuff (book and audio) is quite good. If you'd like to buy a book, that's the one I recommend.
  • When you've learned some basics and are looking for a challenge, check out some of the RNE (Radio Nacional de España) and RTVE (Radio Televisión España) podcasts. They have all kinds of stuff, short and long, and short things about topics you enjoy can be a fun way to stretch. Respuestas de la ciencia (from RTVE) for science, Biblioteca básica for books, Bandas sonoras for movies. The Nómadas travelogues even give you a chance to hear speakers from other countries if you listen to an episode from that country - try the episodes from Bogotá, Bolivia, Chiapas, Chile, or El Salvador, for example. Also cienciaes.com has a lot of podcasts about science, with near-transcripts at their site.
¡Buena suerte!
posted by kristi at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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