It’s been six months since I’ve been in South America, trying to learn Spanish. I spent two months before that on Pimsleur and Learn Spanish Like Crazy tapes. Am I fluent? Hell no, I’m not Timothy Feriss (whose blog, btw, is excellent. Though I don’t know if reading it would go against his efficiency principle of not reading news/blogs/media). But after eight months of trying to learn a language and getting schooled in my original thoughts that it would be a piece-of-cake, I’ve learned a few things about how to learn (ha) or at least racked up a lot of resources for learning Spanish. Here’s what’s helping me so far, broken up into two posts. This one is a summary list of free Spanish Resources and following will be a list of stuff or tips that I found useful.
1. Spanish Podcasts. These are for an intermediate level, listed in preference order:
- Spanishpodcast: amazing, amazing podcast featuring a Spanish conversation with explanation of the conversation afterwards. All is done in Spanish with a free transcript on the website.
- BBC Mundo Radio: for daily Spanish news: interesting and good listening practice, v.fast Spanish. There is no transcript, but BBC Mundo.com practically has the same articles online
- Latin Pulse: interesting little video segments on issues in Latin America, Spanish with English subtitles
- Voices en Español: Short little vigenettes read by Spanish speakers. Has free transcript.
- News in Slow Spanish: Great for learning new vocab, but Spanish is spoken too slowly for intermediates wishing to understand normal Spanish people. Need a subscription for the transcript.
- Learn Spanish with La Casa Rojas: No longer updated, but great Spanish conversations.
- Livemocha: most useful here is live chatting w/native speakers and writing exercises
- MyInterCambio: Where you can practice writing by posting blogs or find other speakers. It’s a small community currently, which is perfect, b/c your blogs in Spanish will be reviewed by a wonderful Sergio Garcia Tirados in great detail.
- Grammar Exercises: nice bank of grammar practice. Key to grammar is practicing or writing.
- La Casa Rojas: Beginners, rejoice! A Peruvian couple with years of experience in teaching has made a set of free videos aiming to teach Spanish in a year. Fairly useful are the alphabet/pronunciation videos.
- List of Spanish Connectors: Exhaustive list of conjuctions/prepositions/connectors. I read in another blog somewhere that these are useful to stall the conversation when your mind goes blank.
- WordReference: best dictionary ever. Use this before Google Translate. Although it’s hard, try using the Spanish definition dictionary only.
3. Books. Haven’t read many, but I’d recommend buying as many grammar practice books as possible.
- Barron’s 1001 Pitfalls in Spanish: so useful in explaining all the nuances of Spanish which most grammar books skip over.
- Alma Magazine: The most interesting Spanish magazine that I’ve encountered, along with Vanity Fair Español and perhaps National Geographic en Español.