¡Hola amigos! I have always loved the Spanish language, but since studying it at school I haven’t really put it into practice. It doesn’t help that I’m now living in Australia, which is about as far from a Spanish-speaking country as you can get.
As I’m approaching the big 3-0 (only six months of my beloved twenties left…), I have been trying to tick off a few life goals; one of which is to be fluent in Spanish. To help me stay motivated, I am planning on travelling to Spain for 3-6 months next year (maybe longer, who knows!), which is very exciting. I will be attending immersive Spanish lessons when I’m there (any school recommendations in Sevilla would be much appreciated!), but I want to arrive being able to at least hold a decent conversation.
So, I have researched a whole range of online Spanish learning resources and settled on a few, which I will be reviewing over the course of the next six months: SpanishPod101, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo.
I have been using each of these tools for about two months now, so below are my first impressions.
Duolingo for Spanish
Duolingo is such a fantastic idea and is a great way to introduce people to new languages. It’s actually more like a game (and a very addictive one at that!). I am about halfway through the Spanish course and am finding that my vocabulary recognition is good, but I have no knowledge of grammar from it.
Since getting Rosetta Stone and SpanishPod101, I have just been using Duolingo on and off while I’m waiting for the bus.
Rosetta Stone Language Learning Suite Version 3
This is the latest addition to my language learning arsenal and by far the most expensive. However, I am really enjoying it so far, and it is certainly a step up from Duolingo. The way Rosetta Stone teaches language is through the full immersion method. In other words, there are absolutely no English translations. The sceptic in me believes this is simply a smart business move to cut down costs of translating into multiple languages, thus appealing to a global audience. Anyway…
A definite negative for me is that without the translations you have to work out what a sentence means; this is relatively easy in the first few lessons, but it gets increasingly difficult when more complex grammar comes into play. I have been learning languages for a while so I’m largely familiar with the way the grammar works, but for someone completely new to learning a foreign language, it would probably be very difficult.
However, I would like to get to the end of the course to be able to give a full review on how this method works.
One unique feature of Rosetta Stone, and most likely what justifies its high price point, is its advanced voice recognition system. While it can’t replace speaking to a native, it is a good chance to perfect your speaking skills.
Spanish Pod 101
I don’t know if it’s the chirpy voices of the presenters or the cheesy intro music to each of the podcasts, but I simply LOVE SpanishPod101. I purchased a basic 3-month subscription for less than $25, which is a bargain. What’s great about SpanishPod101 is that you can link it up to your iTunes and listen to one of their thousands of podcasts on the go. It really breaks down topics into easy-to-digest chunks, giving you a much deeper insight into particular phrases, grammar and cultural aspects that you simply don’t get anywhere else that I have found. There’s no listen and repeat going on here.
I have mostly used the podcasts so far, but they do also have lots of video tutorials, as well as PDF downloads and cheat sheets. It would take years to get through all the content they have on the site — so it really is a great resource.
That’s it from me for now, but I’ll be posting updates on how these tools (and my Spanish) is going over the next few months. If you have any recommendations or experiences, please share in the comments below 🙂 ¡Hasta luego!