I’ve always been passionate about learning languages. There’s something so satisfying about improving your skills, little by little, and discovering new cultures (I’ve been learning Chinese for a month and a half and I’m in love, okay? But that’s a subject for another day). Let’s talk about Spanish today, alright? You want to learn Spanish but you don’t know where to start? God, I feel you. There are just so. many. resources available out there, it can be a hassle to choose. I was in your shoes a couple of years ago, to be honest. So I’ve decided to share what works for me, and I hope that will help you getting started, at least a little! However, I feel like I should warn you: I am French. It’s important because my study doesn’t happen in a vacuum and I can’t ignore that it’s easier to learn Spanish from French than from say, English. But I hope this post will help you anyway!
Everyone will tell you that: you have to plan. However, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess that I’ve made MANY plannings… and then forgot entirely about them. I have ADHD, so there’s nothing I like more than spending hours creating beautiful plannings that I’ll ruthlessly forget almost instantly. BUT planning is good! So if you’re able, do it! And if you’re like me, I’ll advise you to use a tracking habit app on your phone: it’s low maintenance. I personally use Loop, but there are so many, choose the one you prefer!
Then where to start? The truth is, I’ve spent a long time trying to get started when I first decided to learn Spanish. First I used Duolinguo, of course, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t working: I was learning words, but they didn’t stick. I had to force myself every day, and that’s just not the way I like learning languages. It’s a hobby, so the whole process should be fun, you know? Then I discovered Paul Noble’s audiobook, and finally, I could get started for real.
Why it works?
- It’s perfect for people – like me – who rely on their auditive memory a lot when they learn a language ;
- It’s different from other audio courses (I’ve tried a few) because it’s slow enough to make you feel like your Spanish’s really improving, and you’ve got to actually form sentences, not only repeating them ;
- It’s not very long, and makes for a perfect starting point because of it: other audio courses sometimes are 40+ hours long, and that’s just too long for me ;
- It won’t make you fluent, of course, none of those really do, but it will help getting accustomed to the sounds and inner workings of Spanish and that’s invaluable.
- DROPS : Amazing to learn and review vocabulary, it’s free if you only use it 5 minutes a day (which is great already if you use several apps!)
- BUSUU : A full-course from A1 to B2 that I can’t recommend enough! What this app does best is making you write actual sentences (that will be corrected by the community), but it also contains vocabulary and grammar lessons. Very thorough. There’s a premium plan, but the free option is perfectly fine.
- MEMRISE : I don’t use it anymore, BUT it’s been a great help back when I started.
- ESPAÑOL AUTOMÁTICO : Just – Amazing. I love Karo SO MUCH. Also you can download all the transcriptions for free! You can find her episodes on her website but I personally use Spotify because I like having everything in the same place.
- HOY HABLAMOS + HOY HABLAMOS GRAMÁTICA : Super interesting and exhaustive. To get the transcriptions completed with worksheets you have to get a premium plan but the podcasts are free.
- RADIO AMBULANTE : MY FAVORITE. This podcast introduces us to – often heartbreaking, always fascinating – true stories from Latin America. The transcripts are available on their website.
- I strongly advice you to read ebooks because the dictionary is right there, just a click away! I’ve never found a Spanish-French dictionary that satisfied me so I’ve been using a Spanish-English one, but it’s so helpful to be able to check words without stopping your read!
- I understand the appeal of reading classics but… Let’s keep them for another day, okay? Step by step : first middle-grade and young adults books, then contemporary novels, and finally you’ll get on the road to classics! You’ll find many recommendations in this website.
My favorite books for intermediate readers (or, really : the first books I was able to read in Spanish ;) )
And that’s all for today! Now tell me : what are your favorite resources to learn new languages?