In the United States, being a polyglot (a $20 word meaning “being able to speak multiple languages”) is a great skill to have, especially if you want to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
Spanish is my first choice for a second language. I took 2 years of Spanish in school, and I lived in Puerto Rico for a year. However, when I returned stateside in 1996, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to speak Spanish. I can still read and write in Spanish, but I needed to brush up on understanding and speaking Spanish. I’ve spent (too) much money on “listen and learn” Spanish to keep my skills up with being able to understand it when it’s spoken, but there was still something that made it miss the mark. Most of the “listen and learn” CDs were either mind achingly boring or there was too much English in the lessons, which made it a little difficult for me to think in Spanish. Although a Berlitz course would work, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars – I’m trying to save money.
My long-term goal is to speak at least 3 languages. After I get stronger with Spanish, I want to become fluent in French. Therefore, I need programs that can help me get to that goal without spending loads of money. I’ve found a few good programs that are free that help me with learning the language in a fun and easy way.
My favorite one is Duolingo (http://www.duolingo.com). Duolingo has a number of practical exercises and games to test your understanding as well as teach you the language. It also has a social media component that allows me to learn and play with others. For language masters, the social media component allows one to contribute content to ensure its accuracy. Duolingo can be accessed online, or it can be accessed through the FREE app for smart devices (I have it for my Kindle Fire). The best part – it’s completely, 100% FREE.
I also turn to Youtube (http://www.youtube.com) to find Spanish cartoons and broadcasts to help me with understanding the language. I also stumbled upon a few courses from schools on languages (Dallas ISD has a full Spanish course for their elementary school students), which will come in handy when I need to review the syntax and grammar.
Another great site for free lessons is BBC Languages (http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/). Aimed primarily at school-aged children, this site contains many video and interactive lessons on a particular language. I do like this site, but I have to approach it with caution, because there are slight differences between Latin American Spanish (primarily spoken in the United States) and European Spanish.
Another site that I found was Open Culture (http://www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons), which is a “one-stop shop” of free resources for learning a variety of languages. This is where I found the link to the BBC Languages site. It even has resources on learning American Sign Language!
Well, tengo que continuar con mis lecciones. Hasta lluego!