Alright, so one of the most common questions that I get is “what resources should I use to learn X language”. I get this question so often that I thought it would be a smart idea to make a short series of blog posts where I talk about which resources I’d use if I had to go back in time and learn specific languages. These posts will probably end up looking very similar because a lot of the resources will overlap as I use a lot of the same resources for multiple languages. A lot of the things that I use can be found in libraries in North America (Specifically Canada). That’s where I used to get most of my resources. I didn’t really start buying language related stuff until about 2013. There’s no way for me to predict where my readers will be coming from, so I’m just going to leave Amazon links because I feel like they would probably reach the most people. I honestly wanted to avoid filling these posts with links, but I couldn’t think of a better and more convenient way to allow my readers to access them more directly. If you guys feel like the links take away from the post itself, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to change it up for the next post. Anyway, the only things that I will be mentioning in these posts will be resources that I have personally used myself for the specific language. These probably won’t end up being that long because I’ll only be talking about resources.
Alright, so today’s language will be Spanish because it’s the language that most people ask me about. I had no idea what I was doing when I was learning Spanish because it’s a language that I learned at the beginning of my long journey with languages, so I ended up going through a loooooot of different resources. I’m only going to mention the resources that I liked or found useful here.
If you’ve read any of my other posts then, you’ve heard me mention Lingq. I’m going to copy and paste the explanation of what Lingq is and how it works from my other post because it shouldn’t really change depending on the language that you’re using it to learn.
Lingq is a great website that I personally use myself when I learn different languages. This is how Lingq works. They have dialogues that you read and listen to at the same time. When you first start, all the words you don’t know will be highlighted in light blue. If you struggle with a certain word, then you can turn it into a “Lingq” which will means that the word will now be highlighted in yellow instead of light blue and the site will compile all of your “Lingqs” and show them to you as flashcards to help you memorize them. Once you’ve learned a word, you can hover over it and click “known”. All known words stop being highlighted and just look like normal text. Lingq has a free Version and a paid version. You can chose which version suits you best. Obviously the paid version comes with more features though. I personally like Lingq because it allows me to get a lot of input and I can also measure my progress using the known word counter they have, and also by how less and less of the words in the dialogues are highlighted over time. Another cool feature about Lingq is that you can book time with tutors who will help you improve your abilities further. I haven’t used this feature yet, but I’m planning to use it in the near future.
Another thing I liked about Lingq for Spanish specifically is the fact that they had content from Spain which was the accent that I was trying to learn at the time that I used Lingq to improve my Spanish. They honesty have a looooot of content in a few different accents, so I’d highly recommend this site if you’re learning Spanish.
This website is free and allows you to find language exchange partners from all over the world. You can talk online or you can actually meet up in person. It’s your choice. It’s a wonderful site and I’ve used it for every single language I’ve ever learned. You DO have to be careful at times because some people are NOT on the site to learn languages if you catch my drift *Winks*. I guess that goes with all websites that are meant to be used to meet people. Most people ARE interested in exchanging languages, but just watch out for creepy people and you should be alright. I’ve personally made a lot of cool friends on this website and stayed in contact with them for years. It’s a great way to be able to practice languages without even having to leave your living room. You could even learn in your pyjamas if you wanted to. Who would turn that down? I really liked using it for Spanish because they allowed me to chose what country or even which city the people I was searching for searching for were from. That’s great if you want to chose an accent of Spanish from a specific region and stick to it!
Assimil SpanishAssimil Spanish is a resource that I really wish I’d stumbled upon way earlier. I feel like it would’ve made a huge difference. The Assimil Spanish book is in Castilian Spanish, so be aware of that if you’re goal is to learn Latin American Spanish. People should still be able to understand you. Although there are lots of words that exist in Spain and not in other countries, you shouldn’t have much of a problem making yourself understood or understanding people from outside of Spain. I personally don’t normally have any issues with any of that.
The Spanish course has 100 lessons. You’re supposed to do one lesson a day with the 7th lesson being a review lesson. I’m not exactly sure how Assimil books are meant to be used because I have my own method for going through Assimil books and have never really looked into their actual method. I do seven lessons a day instead of one because they’re short. If you get the Assimil Spanish course, MAKE SURE you get the audio because that’s the most important part. It will aid in the acquisition of pronunciation and will allow you ears and brain to get use to hearing the language which is very important. I literally will NOT use any Assimil course if I can’t find the audio to go a long with it. The course claims to get you to about a B2 level in the language. I’m honestly not sure because I could already speak Spanish when I started using the book, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised because the content is rich and good. I learned a lot despite the the fact that I’d started learning Spanish years before using this book.
Once you complete the first Spanish book, you can move onto their Perfectionnement Espagnol book. You need to have a high level of French to use this book. I started using it, but didn’t get to far because my French wasn’t good enough. This course claims that it can get you to a C1 level. I’ll get back to you guys on that when my French is good enough for me to go through the book.
Teach yourself: Complete Spanish
I used this book a couple years ago to improve my Spanish. I thought it was a decent course, but I didn’t end up getting that far in it. I did like what I was able to see though. Teach yourself was my go to series back when I was getting more experienced with language learning. My only complaint now is the their courses have a lot of English in them which is something I try to avoid when searching for resources.
Teach Yourself: Latin American Spanish
Once again this book was also decent, but I didn’t end up getting too far into the book. The first couple lessons had decent content and I was able to learn a bit from them. This book is in Latin American Spanish. I used it before I’d decided to stick more to Castilian Spanish.
Teach Yourself: Improve Your SpanishThis is another good course by Teach Yourself. I honestly really really liked this course and I feel like I got quiet a bit out of it. I didn’t finish the course, but I got about half way through it if I remember correctly. I felt liked a learned a lot! This book is also in Castilian Spanish for the most part although I do remember them introducing the reader to a couple other accents of Spanish throughout the course of the book. This course is meant to be used after completing Teach Yourself: Complete Spanish.
Spanishpod101 is good. They have a youtube channel and should also still have a few free podcasts on iTunes(I’m not sure about androids). They have a dialogue in each episode that they have two speakers recite. After they’ve recited the dialogue, they translate it, explain the words and then break down and explain the sentences and grammar used in the dialogue. It’s great for learning new words and getting a brief, but not too overwhelming look at Spanish grammar. They have a website where you can sign up for the full program. I’ve personally never used the full program, but it DOES exist and they have multiple levels if you sign up.
Rosetta stone is not my favourite course to use because I found that the pictures got very confusing as I got deeper into the course and a few other reasons, but I HAVE used it, and it honestly does work, so I figured that I’d mention it anyway. It’s an amazing course for learning pronunciation and the constant repetition of words does make them stick. I still remember the sentences that I learned on Rosetta Stone back before 2010. It’s very expensive compared to other courses, but one very good thing about rosetta stone is that it’s easy to use. My friend is using it to learn Spanish right now and it’s going great for him so far and he’s enjoying himself. I enjoyed learning with rosetta stone at first too!
Earworms Rapid Spanish Volumes 1,2 & 3
Earworms is great! I always use them when I start new languages (If the language is available). It was actually one of the first resources that I used when I first started learning Spanish. They use melodies, music and repetition to help you learn. The whole purpose of the course is to make the language get stuck in your head like a song and it actually works very well. I learned so much form all three volumes. I’d recommend Earworms to everyone. You won’t get fluent with their Cd’s, but I still haven’t found any other course that allows me to learn the basics as fast as I can with them. I found their Cd’s at Indigo, but I haven’t seen them there in a while, so I’ll leave the amazon links. Another cool thing is the fact that they have Latin American AND Castilian Spanish! seriously, check them out if your starting Spanish.
Youtube is a HUGE asset if you’re learning Spanish. There is sooooooooo much content available and you can even get content from specific countries. Just search for something you enjoy an watch it in Spanish. One trick I do when I’m a novice in a language is open google translate and then I type in the name of what ever I’d like to find and then I copy and paste it to Youtube. Youtube is honestly a GOLD MINE if you’re learning Spanish. Take advantage of it, they have everything from courses to learn Spanish, Spanish movies, Vloggers, tutorials, to recipes and more.
There are a quiet a few series and movies in Spanish on netflix right now. Money heist (La casa de papel) was really good and I watched it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles to learn more new words. It worked wonderfully and I picked up a lot of new words in context! There are a lot of other shows and series and they’re from different countries, so you should be able to find the accent you want. Be advised that the selection on Netflix will vary based on your country of residence and other factors. Netflix is simply a gold mine for learning languages. Take advantage of it and if you end up binge watching an entire season of a show in one day, this is the one and only time that you don’t have to feel guilty because you’re doing it to improve your Spanish!
Living language SpanishI used this book back in 2008. I noticed that they’ve recently updated the series, but I personally liked the older books more. They have a lot of phrase lists and word lists and generally have two dialogues per unit. I actually really liked using them. They also have audio CDs that go with the book which as you all know, is the most important part in my opinion. My one complaint is that there was too much English, but one thing I do like is how they introduce you to just a little bit of grammar. Not too much that you get overwhelmed, but just enough that you can use it. Good course overall and I recommend them if you can find the older version of the books.
Alright, folks, so that was the first post in the future series on resources that I’d use to learn languages if I had to go back in time. I’ve used other resources, but the ones mentioned above are the ones that came to mind the fastest and that I enjoyed the most. There are also a few other things that I know would work well for learning Spanish, but that I’ve never actually used for Spanish specifically, so I didn’t feel like I’d be being genuine if I mentioned them here. If you’re still lost and don’t know where to begin, check out my last post on the top 4 secrets to language learning!
I hope that this helps, and remember. You can do it! Good luck with your Spanish!