Five Fantastic and Free Spanish Learning Resources

Free Spanish learning resources - don't eat your book

Don't eat your book!

 

Reaching fluency in Spanish is the primary goal of My Spanish Adventure and, no doubt thanks to all your support, I’ve noticed a big jump in my progress over the past few weeks. Looking at my recent video and comparing it to the garbled mess of the first, it’s actually quite scary to think what I’ll be like come June!

It’s right about time then that I go into a little more depth about some of the great tools and resources I’ve been using to study each day. I’m a big proponent that learning shouldn’t cost a thing. That’s why I’ve made sure that the following list only features free Spanish learning resources that can help get you started right away.

So what are you waiting for? Hopefully a few months use of these tools will help get you (if not in the pulling stakes then at least with the language) on par with Spanish master Don Juan!

Fingers crossed, trousers unbuttoned.

Ciudades para el siglo XXI

For those of you accustomed with BBC iPlayer or other stream-on-demand video services, Spain’s national station RTV also lets you stream and watch Spanish TV series and programmes at high speed and quality for nothing.

While there’s a lot to choose from it’s well worth spending part of your learning day watching RTV’s brilliant ciudades para el siglo XXI (cities for the 21st century) series.

Each episode (running at less than half an hour) takes you inside a different Spanish city and explains, in clear and simple language, the main features and parts of places like Salamanca, Madrid, Valencia and Seville. Some of the aerial and looping overhead shots they get of cathedrals, plazas and other monuments are pretty damn unreal. Not a bad, and lest-it-be-forgot, completely free, Spanish learning resource!

Want to find out more about where I’m living right now? Check out the series feature on Cáceres. It’s raining stones apparently! I’m not in it unfortunately (this one was filmed in 2003). Disappointing I know.

Kudos to Les for pointing this out. You know who you are.

Notes in Spanish Podcasts

With a motherload of Spanish podcasts available on the net it’s bloody tough knowing which ones to go with. Having started a crapload of different series myself I can tell you that one of the only ones really worth sticking with is Madrileñan couple Ben and Marina’s Notes in Spanish podcasts.

Notes in Spanish shoots at three levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and has around 30 free podcasts available in each section. It’s worth following them in sequential order as some of the “everyday Spanish” phrases they use in the beginner section were even new to an intermediate (am I tooting my own horn here?) like me!

The best thing about this series is the whole human aspect to it. Ben and Marina come across as really warm folk and engage in interesting and – perhaps most importantly of all – relevant conversations.

Check out Ben’s story about getting conned in Thailand. Kind of ridiculous yet exactly why I love this series.

Kudos to Kathryn for pointing this out. You know who you are.

Dictionary.com Spanish

My go-to Internet dictionary and thesaurus of choice, Dictionary.com, added a Spanish section to their ever-expanding site late last year. I’ve been using it, like the rabid little dog I am, almost everyday since I started my studies.

The thing I love most? Too many to suggest. As one of the prime free Spanish learning resources you’ve got great value slap bang on the homepage with the phrase of the day, word of the day and grammar tip of the day sections. Not to mention this cute travel story series (complete with transcripts) about an exchange student called Kristin Stewart (I know, I know, read it through Twilight dweebs) who falls in love in Barcelona. Not too far a cry from my own experience! Yes, I am joking when I say that.

Kudos to myself for pointing this out. I know who I am.

BBC Learn’s Mi Vida Loca

Spanish soap operas. Now there’s something that takes the meaning “vacuous shit” to a whole new level. Thank god then for the BBC’s ace free Spanish learning resource Mi Vida Loca, an interactive video series ideal for beginners and low intermediate.

I cut my teeth using this and have to say (I’m sorry if you’re half way through) it doesn’t end well for the bolshy investigative journalist Mercedes. Don’t be deterred though, tackle an episode every few days and you’ll be picking up a mountain of new stuff in no time. How good is this? It even won a BAFTA.

Kudos to the site editors at BBC.com for pointing this out. They know who they are (doubtless they read My Spanish Adventure every day too).

Skype

I’ve written about the wonders of Skype before but if you’re seriously not using it to connect with locals to try and up your Spanish level then why the hell not? Don’t be loco.

Head on over to Skype.com to download it, add me as a connection on will.peach and I’ll direct you into one of the most solid, most determined language learning communities on the net.

How’s that for one of the top free Spanish learning resources? I should really be charging for that.

Kudos to the University of Miami student advisors who pointed this out to me all those years ago. I hope these people still remember who they are!

You can also learn more about the other tips and tricks I’m using to build on my Spanish skills – as well as my study process – in each of my progress reports.

And now I’ll turn the question back to you.

What have you been using to master Spanish?

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6 Responses to Five Fantastic and Free Spanish Learning Resources

  1. Mr Grumpy - Tumbit November 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Good luck with getting to fluency Will !

    After dropping out of the UK rat race and moving to Spain 8 yrs ago I have still to acheive anywhere close to fluency (due to being inept and lazy), but my 4 year old daughter has managed to become tri-lingual in half the time I have been here. I blame the British education system.

  2. Peggy McPartland November 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Will, these are fantastic resources! Thanks for sharing!

    • Will November 28, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      @Peggy Thanks a lot! I hope you find some of them of use to you! Do you have any others to share?

  3. Jeff April 19, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    I maintain a directory of free Spanish learning resources called dado que (http://www.dadoque.com). On it I list a ton of great options besides the ones you just listed (and I hadn’t know about RTV earlier so thanks for that). There is some original content also, most importantly a pretty decent Spanish grammar guide and a full-text novel — Noche Oscura en Lima — written in Spanish especially for language students. My Spanish teacher in Guatemala used this book as I got a bit more advanced. It uses only the most common vocabulary words and there are numerous footnotes which explain some of the more interesting and/or challenging forms of grammar used in the book. It’s out of print (written back in1941!) so I got a used copy, scanned it and converted it to HTML to share with the world. Give it a read!
    Jeff recently posted..SeoTools and Netpeak Checker: Two Useful Tools for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) AnalysisMy Profile

  4. Derek May 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Hi Will,

    I’ve only just discovered your blog and you’re my latest inspiration to learn spanish. There’s so much on your site – thanks for sharing.

    Is there any way of switching the background music off as it clashes with the sound of your videos. I could go to youtube to watch them but it’ll be easier to stay on your site.

    As for resources, very similar to yours with the addittion of Visual Link Spanish which is a pc app. Its about $100 but I got it for $30 by Google searching US sites for ‘visual link spanish vouchers’. Keep trying and the vouchers reappear now and then.

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