9 of the Best Resources for Learning Spanish Online

Finding credible resources for language learning can be difficult and time-consuming, but don't worry...I'm here to help! Welcome to a new blog series called 9 Best Resources. Every month, I'll bring you trusted and reliable apps, courses, books and more.

The series kicks off with one of the most popular languages among learners everywhere: Español!

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14 Quick Tech-Fuelled Ideas for Starting to Learn a New Language

In today's guest post, I've got a submission from Suzy St George, a regular writer for Take Lessons. She originally contacted me after reading my Duolingo review and went on to write this post offering a pretty good overview of language learning resources. 

Over to Suzy:

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who took a full two years of Spanish classes in high school, along with an additional semester in college, coasting by and memorizing vocabulary words just to earn an A on the final. After all, I’d never really need to know how to describe my clothing in Spanish, right?

Many years later, I found myself living in San Diego, surrounded by Spanish speakers. And when I started working for Take Lessons, one of the lesson categories I was tasked to write blog content for — to my surprise — was Spanish. As I planned out my blog content, I was embarrassed to realize I remembered close to nothing from my studies.

Luckily I found a huge bunch of easy and fun options out there for students as I researched the state of language learning today. From websites to plugins for your browser, these tech-fuelled language learning options stood out to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you’ve tried them!

Social networks

Most millennials are well-versed in social networks like Facebook. But did you know using social networking sites can help you learn a new language? I’ve poked around in a few of the ones specific to language-learners, and it’s such a great way to learn with the help of others. These networks can clue you in on local dialects and colloquialisms (slang), and most importantly, keep you interested thanks to burgeoning friendships with others trying to learn your language as well.

Here are some websites and forums to check out:

iTalki

You know iTalki as a tutor directory but it also features an online forum for those looking to discover new cultures and languages.

Livemocha

Livemocha was actually purchased by Rosetta Stone in 2013, so they’re sanctioned by a big name. Their philosophy is delivering an experience that helps with conversational fluency, so it’s a great option if you want to brush up on your casual speaking skills. Beyond its community of teachers, language learners, and native speakers, Livemocha also offers live virtual classes, tutorial videos, with a built-in Facebook-style networking page where you can chat with others to help you achieve fluency.

Apps and Websites

Apps and websites offer an easy – and often free or low cost – way of integrating a new language into your daily life. I always have my phone on me, so I’ve found these apps to be super helpful for killing time on public transportation, on my lunch break, or just hanging out at home. No matter your learning style, you can bet there is an app for that.

Babbel

Free for iOS and Android, Babbel covers 11 languages. It offers tricks to help you remember words, as well as interactive games to play. As you learn, Babbel remember your progression, making games more challenging with fewer English-based clues and more complex paragraphs.

Busuu

Similar to Babbel, Busuu adds a bit of gamification to the language-learning process with “busuu-berry” awards as you progress. Another plus: users can submit writing exercises to others for review, helping you improve your vocabulary in context.

Duolingo

This is actually one of my favorites, and I looked into it further after one of our Spanish tutors recommended it to me. Of course, you’ll want to compare it against your own language-learning goals, as many (including Kerstin!) have argued that it relies too heavily on memorizing vocab, while ignoring the very basics of grammar. I agree with the review – games like these are not the best route if total comprehension is your goal – but for me, it does the trick as a fun activity to keep me on my toes. As they say on the Internet, YMMV!  

Anki

Japanese for "memorizing," Anki is a free flashcard-style program. It displays a word, phrase, image, or sound for you to repeat, interpret, connect with, and commit to memory. Make your own deck, or choose from one of many available shared decks and start learning in a snap.

TakeLessons

TakeLessons is a nice alternative to italki. Not every student’s language-learning goal is the same, so the site will help you find the perfect fit for your needs.

Foreign Services Institute

This site offers a huge library of free professional materials for studying, and is a great resource for lesser-studied languages.

Memrise

This is a great language learning websites for visual learners, and is a fantastic supplement to working with a tutor. Web or app-based, this flashcard style program is a fun way to aid language memorization through competition. Points and reputation are boosted as you learn and complete activities.

Games

Who doesn’t love games? If you want to use your time efficiently, ignore the Candy Crush notifications and check out one of the popular language games instead. Playing games in a text or audio language other than your own engages you in the learning process, helping you recognize and understand words over time with the help of repetition. Want more than your average solo game? Look for MMO (massively multiplayer online) games, which often cross multiple linguistic boundaries to help you better learn languages on-the-fly.

Que Onda Spanish

I’m pretty sure I spent at least 30 minutes playing “Whack-a-Word” alone when I first found this website! Once you complete a course, based on the level you’ve chosen you can then play several different games. They’re all very simple but also pretty fun! For other language learners, there are also related sites (and yes, games) for learning Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and more.

Die Himmelsscheibe von Nebra

Check out Kerstin's review of this German language learning game, taking you through a crime-fuelled story on your iPad or iPhone.

Google Chrome plugins

Plugins, tools you can download and add to your internet browser to do various tasks, can help language learners a ton. For example, you can use a translating plugin to ease your way into new languages by helping you translate all or part of your online reading.

Language Immersion for Chrome

I use this one often when I’m browsing other blogs written in Spanish, and it’s super helpful. This plugin translates random words on websites in the language you are learning, with the ability to add more or less translation assistance based on settings.

Instant Translate

Another option for a translating plugin, you can use this tool to translate any word in a window without moving away from the page.

Lingua.ly

This plugin translates, but also goes a step further and saves words you don’t understand so you can review them later.

What Are Your Must-Have Online Resources?

I would love to find out more about what you are using to learn a language right now. Which apps can't you live without? What's the best website?

Share your ideas in the comments below!

French Collection: Great websites for French beginners

oday, I completed the final lesson of my French Taster Course at Waterstones book shop in Lancaster. What a beautiful shop - two floors of wooden shelves and interesting books, and lots of nooks and armchairs to get lost in a book. My students were great - a really smart and friendly group, and I think we had some nice afternoons.

And dear ladies: I have collected some links and resources, so you don't forget everything straight away. Here we go:

  • Web Pages: The French Tutorial
    A no-nonsense online tutorial covering all the basics of French grammar. The chapter structure and mini quizzes are particularly useful.

 

  • Interactive: Prémière Classe
    TV5Monde is a French television channel, and its website offers this great beginners series called Prémière Classe. The page contains interactive sections and videos to practice with and you can choose your menu language too.
     
  • Course: French Grammar for Beginners
    If the way your tutor explained things to you made sense this far, why not get her on your screen whenever you need a reminder? That's right, I'm available as a course! French Grammar for Beginners is my award-nominated series of French tutorial videos. Guest starring Abi the cat.
     
  • Podcast: L'affaire du Coffret
    This is a little podcast, free and well-written, with an engaging storyline. I found myself wanting to follow it along. The French audio is original and great for practice and it's narrated by a Brit in Paris.
     
  • log: Frenchcrazy
    John from America is crazy about French and he has set up this blog about the language, with great contributions like translated songs, vocab lists and experiences in France.
     
  • Tool: Bon Patron
    Bon Patron is your French autocorrect tool. If you want to practice your writing skills, type some sentences in there and it will help you with any spelling or grammar errors it can find. Sounds perfect.
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And I've got more!

Check out all the resources above, and of course big momma BBC first of all. They are great! But they're not the only ones out there and I've got an ever-growing collection of resources available on my Pinterest board "Learning French".