Good Resources for Learning Spanish

These are resources that I've used and recommend for learning Spanish. They're mostly free. This is a tiny sample of what is available. I have only included things I’ve used and really like.

Audio Lessons

Language Transfer

Wonderful free course for beginners and beyond. I wish I'd discovered this earlier in my Spanish studies, but I've learned much going through it as an intermediate learner. Creative and innovative learning method. Highly recommended. Here's a link to their Complete Spanish Course on YouTube.

Pimsleur

The Pimsleur audio lessons are excellent for practicing speaking and listening and learning vocabulary and grammar. I think it is best to use Pimsleur along with other Spanish-learning resources. Pimsleur Latin American Spanish has four levels, each with thirty 30-minute lessons. (Level 4 didn't add much new material.) Pimsleur lessons are expensive to buy, but were available through my local library. I eventually worked through all the levels, then went through the upper levels again and again. Repeat lessons are great to do while cleaning house. They are not tedious and boring like other audio lessons I've used. Here is the User's Guide which explains how the lessons work. The Pimsleur lessons include optional reading practice, along with a reading booklet. If a booklet is missing you can get the PDF files here under Latin American Spanish.

Online Spanish Lessons and Practice

Duolingo

I love Duolingo. Start at the beginning and work through the lessons. I think it works best to use Duolingo together with other sources for learning Spanish, but it's a great supplement. If the beginning levels are too easy, you can test out and then go on to the next level. Normal lessons are not timed. Take all the time you need. But, whenever you want, you can do beat the clock exercises to practice thinking fast. And you can learn even more by translating real-world articles. Here's an entertaining TED talk by Luis Von Ahn, the Carnegie Mellon Computer Science professor who started Duolingo: Duolingo: the next chapter in human computation.

StudySpanish.com

Good lessons and exercises under Free Spanish Tutorials.

SpanishDict.com: Spanish Grammar

Lessons and practice exercises, organized by topic. If something is causing you grief (por vs. para!) you'll probably find help here.

Conjuguemos Spanish Verb Conjugation Activities

Choose a verb tense and let Conjuguemos drill you.

Vocabulary Learning

Memrise

Memrise is free, addictive, and is excellent for learning vocabulary. As you are able to translate a word without error, the word will come up less and less frequently for review. This is called spaced repetition and is based on scientific principles developed by memory specialists. My favorite thing about Memrise is how easily you can add and share your own mnemonics. Memrise calls these mems. I've had great fun coming up with mems for hard-to-remember words. You can create your own course(s) or you can choose from hundreds of Spanish courses, some better than others. Unfortunately, their catalog is disorganized and it takes patience to find the right course. Here are some I recommend:

First 5000 Words of Spanish: The course was created by one of the founders of Memrise. He wasn't maintaining it so he let me help with the course. I've been able to disambiguate hundreds of pairs of synonyms and am actively maintaining the course. If you see problems you can let me know about them through the course forum.

1500 Word Spanish Intro: If 5000 seems overwhelming you might try this one. It has a problem with synonyms that need to be disambiguated but it does have a good vocabulary list. (There is some repetition among the courses listed here. If you don't want a word to show up in more than one course or if it's a word you don't want to learn at all, you have option to ignore it.)

100 Verbs: Verbs no Spanish speaker can be without. A good place to start if long lists are overwhelming.

Conjuguemos Spanish Vocabulary

Pick a category and Conjuguemos will drill you on words in that category.

Listening Practice

The biggest challenge for me is to understand Spanish spoken at a normal speed by native speakers. These resources have given me enjoyable practice. I like to listen to them repeatedly, over time, and understand them better each time. (They are great to listen to at night to fall asleep by.) The podcasts, etc. listed below are most appropriate for advanced beginners or intermediate students. The web is full of podcasts, etc., not listed, for people at the beginning and more advanced levels.

Notes in Spanish

Ben and Marina hold natural conversations about various topics. In some (especially the Beginning podcasts) they look back at what they said and do some analysis in English. The audio is free. Ben and Marina also have videos on YouTube. In some they speak first in Spanish and then do analysis in English.

Spanish 360 with Fabiana

For intermediate learners, lively Spanish teacher Fabiana and two of her students have conversations in Spanish, often about confusing aspects of the Spanish language. Many of the recordings are free and available via podcast through iTunes, etc. They are not too hard to understand. Especially her students who have delightful Texas accents.

Basic Spanish with Claudia Fernandez

These free audio lessons are available via iTunes U at the above link. Excellent for beginning and intermediate learners.

Spanish 201 with Rafael Ocasio

The above link only brings up the first level, but there are six levels. They are available free through iTunes U under title Spanish 201. These recordings seem to be extra assignments/practice for intermediate Spanish classes taught by Rafael Ocasio. Great listening practice while learning more about Spanish grammar.

Spanish Listening

Free site (doesn't even require an account) where you can listen to spanish speakers from around the world at your chosen level. Includes a transcript.

En Rumbo: Intermediate Spanish, The Open University

Here are 14 short tracks where you get a chance to listen to many native Spanish speakers from all over the world. These are also available through iTunes U.

Spanish Proficiency Exercises

Great practice listening to native speakers.

Extra en Español

Amusing YouTube videos for advanced beginners. Watch the episodes in order for a light-hearted Spanish soap opera.

Books

The first three are all good for learning the basics and more.

¿Que Tal? An Introductory Course

My friend Zina gave me her old college textbook, a first edition (1983) and I liked it. Hope this 7th edition is as good. Inexpensive if bought used. Here are some free online resources for the 7th edition: Answer Key and Grammar Tutorials and Textbook Audio.

Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish

This was written a few decades ago. You might not like that the exercises talk about sending telegrams instead of texts, but it teaches Spanish well and I don't think the basics have changed.

Practice Makes Perfect: Basic Spanish

This is a workbook. Lots of exercises with answers. Best if used together with another book that explains the grammar more fully.

Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar

Another good workbook. Best for after you have the basics down.

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish

Probably best for advanced intermediate learners. Enjoyable and enlightening.

Music Fun

Lyrics Training

Learn Spanish and practice listening while singing along and memorizing lyrics. A video is displayed with lyrics below. You fill in lyrics you understand or hit the tab key to continue past lyrics you don't understand. You can choose a language (Spanish!) and try some of their suggestions or search for singers or songs you know. Here are some I like:

Limón y Sal, by Julieta Venegas

La Canción Mas Hermoso Del Mundo, by Joaquín Sabina

Me Llamas, by José Luis Perales

Me Voy, by Julieta Venegas

Translators, Dictionaries, Sentence Makers

Google Translate

It's worthwhile to learn how to use Google translate. (E.g., notice double arrows for switching back and forth between languages.) It isn't always accurate so don't trust it. But it's a place to start.

SpanishDict.com

Good for dictionary (various sources) and also conjugations and word discussions.

Linguee

Enter a Spanish word or phrase and get numerous examples of the word or phrase used in sentence, along with a translation.

123 Teach Me: Spanish Sentence Maker

Same as above.

Translation in Context

Same as above.