If you are learning a second language, you know that you will have days you feel like writing and days you feel like a more passive experience, like reading or listening. Each good website has a unique strength.
As I detail in my resource book, the Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online, you can find hundreds of free resources online to learn Spanish if you have the time (or my book). If you have different tools available, you can mix them up and never get bored.
Americans tend to want to learn Spanish as spoken in Mexico or Latin America since they are more likely to meet people from those countries or visit there. People from the rest of the world, especially Europe, are more likely go to Spain to learn it.
Their interest is encouraged by Spain which as a country, which takes great initiative to protect and promulgate their official language, Castilian Spanish. As torchbearers, sites based in Spain go for linguistic purity and immersion (no English on the site.)
Spanish site avoid anglicizing words, never using words like “renta” for renting or “carros” for cars for example. (My Spanish friends are appalled when I blurt out that I "rento un apartamento en Mexico." My Mexican friends raise their eyebrows when I say "Aquilo mi apartamento cada año.)
The Spanish government takes their language mission seriously enough to devote resources from their national budget to it, funding their Instituto Cervantes world-wide and maintain websites like Alba Learning, where classic Spanish literature (even erotica) is narrated.
Even though I researched over 300 sites for the book, including 80 language hack sites, I still get excited to come across these new ones, which are often suggested by Spanish language practice partners who live in Madrid, Sevilla, and Pamplona.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time on several sites that will be included in the next edition of my book and wanted give you an advance look. They are good-to-great sites and I hope you will check them out.
For more tools, check out my book, “The Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online,” on Amazon.com.
RTVE.es (intermediate and up learners) is an online news/radio/television station. Even the landing page will give you a smorgasbord of introductions worth translating. Unfortunately, without a VPN you probably can’t access the television series but you can access the radio shows and the news. The programs are classy and contemporary.
Aprenderespañol.org (beginners) offers lessons for beginners starting with the most basic pronunciation. Not a fancy site, but one to include in your toolkit if you are just starting out.
Eduteach.es/canciones (intermediate and up) - A quick look through the site’s menu would have you believe the songs are for children. Not the case. The list is of songs by popular Spanish singers such as Alejandro Sanz. Each song includes its music video with the lyrics in Spanish. If you try to sing along, you will notice how it forces you to think and pronounciate quickly.
Hablemos Español (all levels) on Youtube is a neat little find that uses a news show format. The “newscasters” cover a point and then introduce a video scene with actors demonstrating usage as skits. Make sure you go to the site with 172 videos (another site is listed by the same name with 38 videos but is for Germans).
Learning Spanish while you consider expat life is a great way to exercise your brain, and whether or not you ever make the move, studies have shown it improves mental acuity and memory.
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Kerry Baker is a partner with Ventanas Mexico and author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online" and the upcoming "If Only I Had a Place," a book on how to rent luxuriously for less in Mexico which includes a listing of rental concierges to pre-view your prospective place if you're not in Mexico.