More Cheap & Useful Resources for Learning Spanish

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Our first post on Cheap & Useful Resources for Learning Spanish was written before we came to South America and since then we have learned a lot. Our approach to language learning has changed considerably, and we have discovered many more useful resources.

Language Hacking Guide

Our first Spanish resources post recommended Benny’s Fluent in 3 Months blog, and since then he has released the very useful Language Hacking Guide outlining his unconventional approach to language learning. The focus is on communicating in the language from Day 1 and it is packed with tips on exactly how to do this. The guide has become our Bible and is a huge inspiration. Many of the tips below originally came from Benny.

Singing!

When you are fed up with studying using music is a fun way to practice your pronunciation, learn new vocabulary and immerse yourself in the language and culture. We have continued our exploration of Spanish language music and our current favourites are Manu Chao and Juanes. Any more recommendations are always welcome!

A great place to start is the Bueno Entonces You Tube videos. There are a number of Spanish music videos that feature lyrics in Spanish and English, plus their unique symbol system to label different verb tenses. My favourites are Clandestino and El Rey.  

Lyrics Training is another useful site where you can sing along to the lyrics in Spanish, get English translations and play games to fill in missing words to test your listening skills.

Once you’ve gone through these you can find more videos by searching in You Tube for the name of a song + lyrics or karaoke.

Update: we have now written a detailed post about how to sing your way to Spanish fluency.

Reading

I love to read and as the key to language learning is immersing yourself in it, it makes sense for me to read in Spanish. I recently finished reading my first book in Spanish, which was much easier than I expected. I underlined some words to look up later, but mostly it was obvious from the context and not necessary to understand every word.

It helped that Vagabundeando en el Eje Del Mal (Vagabonding on the Axis of Evil) by Juan Pablo Villarino was a book I really wanted to read. It’s the true story of an Argentine guy hitchiking his way around the Middle East including Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan on a budget of $5 a day. Thanks to our porteño friend Juan (not the author!) who gave us the book as a leaving present.

I’ve also been reading the Argentine version of the Lonely Planet magazine. The key is to read things you are genuinely interested in and would usually read in English.

Project Gutenberg has nearly 300 free Spanish ebooks to download.

Google

When writing if you are unsure of a grammatical point then just type the word or phrase into Google and you’ll see if that is how it is used. Google even corrects your mistakes with the ‘Did you mean…’ feature.

Word Reference Dictionary

Our small Oxford Spanish dictionary is pretty good but for more detail and obscure words I love the Word Reference online dictionary. It’s very comprehensive and even if a word isn’t listed in the dictionary you can usually find the definition in the forum. One of the most helpful things when you are getting your head around the many Spanish verb forms is that you can search for a conjugated verb, and it’ll tell you which form of which verb it is.

Podcasts

I listen to a number of free podcasts aimed at Spanish learners including Show Time Spanish, Notes in Spanish and Voices en Español. Benny wrote a useful post on how to find podcasts aimed at native speakers, so that the language would be more natural and not slowed down for learners. By changing your country in the iTunes store to Spain (I couldn’t get Argentina to work for some reason) you can search for podcasts around areas that interest you. I searched for viaje and found some interesting travel podcasts. Yes, the material is more challenging but it’s the best way to improve and be able to understand native speakers as they actually talk.

Anki

Anki is a free programme that is basically an up to date version of flashcards. We use it to input new vocabulary we learn and spend 10-20 minutes a day testing ourselves. It uses a spaced repetition system so that the words stay fresh in your mind.

Conversation Exchange

There are many sites out there that can put you in touch with native speakers for speaking practice. We used Conversation Exchange to meet up with a local guy in Buenos Aires, and have had people contact me to talk via Skype as well. There seem to be more people on My Language Exchange, so we might try that in the future.

Couchsurfing

Although we haven’t used couchsurfing to stay with any native Spanish speakers (yet), many cities have active couchsurfing groups with lots of events you can attend to practice speaking.

Verb Trainer

There are so many Spanish verb tenses that getting your head around them all is quite a challenge. I find Verbix a useful site for checking verb conjugations and Spaleon is great for testing you in each of the main tenses.

If you are heading to Buenos Aires then have a look at our article on Ways to Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires. Uncornered Market also have some useful tips on learning foreign languages on the road.

Are you planning your travels for 2018? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

What are your favourite resources for learning Spanish? Leave a comment and share your tips.

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25 Comments (1 pingbacks)

  1. I’ve used Duolingo – http://www.duolingo.com – a lot, if someone hasn’t mentioned that, yet. It makes language learning into a fun game and it’s free, and actually kind of addictive, in a fun way. I used it to work on my Italian for a few months prior to a penpal visiting, and – combined with the necessity of having to actually speak Italian with her – by the end of three days I was actually doing pretty well!

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  2. Gracias!
    What a great list! I’ve recently taken on the challenge of teaching myself Spanish while living on an island in the Maldives. (And blogging about it of course!) I hope to gain semi-fluency prior to moving off this Island and off South America. (or so goes the plan thus far)
    This post was super helpful and my resource kit has definitely now grown! Being here on an island I don’t have access to many language learning resources (or even a bookshop for that matter). That & my internet connection is rarely solid enough for videos, podcasts, tv or radio so one of the things I’ve been doing to help build vocab and start using my ears eyes and mouth from day one is re-writing the childrens books I can get my hands on. A make shift ‘turn and learn’ book if you will! That’s been a little bit of fun. Rewriting the books in Spanish and trying to remember and recite them in Spanish as I’m reading them to children here in English!
    Again, mgracias por esta lista!

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  3. If you do want to study abroad to help learn Spanish you should consider programs in South/Central America – usually wayyy cheaper than counterparts in Spain. I spent ~$100/week for homestay and language classes and it helped me improve very quickly. You can find cheap programs in South America like mine here..

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  4. There are so many ways to experience foreign cultures. I’ve never given couch surfing a try, but I’m sure it’s fun.

    Another tool is learning languages, which opens up many doors…

    Great site!

    Reply

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