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Learning spanish

Submitted by Druss on Mon, 2006-08-28 22:14

As I am currently well on my way to learning spanish, I thought it might be useful to document some of the resources/approaches that I am using to achieve this.

Prior to jumping into learning español (or anything else for that matter), it is useful to indulge in a little leg work. For example, it is important to know that there are different dialects of spanish that are spoken around the world. In a broad sense (IMHO anyways), these can be fundamentally divided into "Spanish spanish" and "South American spanish". I do not consider this an easy task, but if you can, try to concentrate on / obtain material pertaining solely to one of the dialects. The discrepancies in grammar and pronunciation are enough to drive one positively batty... The resources listed below are a mix of both dialects.. so bewarned and all that.

  • Audio: I recommend that you obtain the three sets of Pimsleur's learn to speak spanish course, 30 x 3 = 90 mp3s - tracks of 30 minutes each. There's also something called Learn spanish with Michael Thomas which is also decent if you can stand listening to the octogenarian retard who conducts the lessons. Audio lessons provide a foundation to:
    • familiarise yourself with the construction of sentences.. i.e. the way things work.
    • get your pronunciations right. To accomplish the latter, it is critical that you actually follow the instructions and repeat everything aloud.

    Both the audio courses I've listed are for South American spanish.

  • Video: Look through your DVD collection for movies that contain spanish audio tracks and / or spanish sub-titles. Similarly, if you're more of a *cough* "downloader", look for the same in your downloaded movies, especially in x264 rips which frequently contain multiple audio and subtitle tracks. You can also obviously just download spanish movies directly. It is worthwhile to note that "real-world" spanish is spoken at a frighteningly rapid pace. So, it will be to your advantage if you can obtain material that is also targeted at kids.. cartoons, animé etc. KISS and all that.
  • Literature: Firstly, get a hold of a simple pocket dictionary. Make sure that it is a two-way dictionary, i.e. has a section for spanish-to-english and another for english-to-spanish. If you like to listen to the audio lessons on the go, it is handy to carry a dictionary. Try and choose a dictionary that is aimed at students and preferably contains a few rudimentary verb tables. An example would be the Collins spanish school dictionary.

    Secondly, try to score a couple of grammar and exercise books for reference and practice respectively. Also, similar to the point made above regarding downloading video material aimed at kids, try to do the same here by getting your hands on stuff like comics preferably ones that tend to be .. rudimentary.

  • Internet resources:
    • BBC Spanish resource: The jump-off point for the BBC's extensive collection of material related to learning Spanish. This includes exercises, multimedia, literature, news, live feeds etc.
    • Barbara Kuczun Nelson's exercises: An excellent resource, which could qualify as a course in itself.
    • The grammar tutorial pages on are absolutely invaluable explaining the subject matter lucidly rounded off with excellent practice exercises.
    • verb conjugation trainer: One of the more tedious things when it comes to learning Spanish is the compulsory memorising of verb forms (tenses and moods). offers an online trainer to help expedite matters.
    • verb tables: provides verb tables for pretty much all verbs (and a number of other languages besides spanish). For e.g. conjugating the verb "ir" (to go) on provides the entire verb table for ir.
    • Spanish Kit Tutorials, downloadable reading material and so on. Great site!
  • Meet and travel: And last but most importantly, try talking with native spanish speakers in real life and eventually travel to a Spanish speaking region / country to really improve your command of the language.

If I've missed out on anything, please add your opinion via the comment form.