Thursday, August 10th 2023

Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish:

Most of us at Expat Insurance are polyglots—or people who speak many languages. Some of us don’t speak English as our native language, while others arrived in Mexico as expats and have endured the same struggle as you have.

I was fortunate enough to speak both English and Spanish fluently from childhood, but I know what it’s like to learn a new language. It’s not easy. It takes effort, and the more you put in—the more you put yourself out there—the faster you learn.

If you really want to learn Spanish, there are resources that can help you. In this article, we’ll cover some ways to learn Spanish—and we’ll throw in some helpful tips throughout too.

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Full Immersion

Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

Full immersion helps. I lived in rural Vietnam for three weeks. Afterwards, I met a man who had been living in Ho Chi Minh City for over ten years. He even had a Vietnamese wife and child. And after three weeks, I spoke better Vietnamese than him.

This is because everyone in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) speaks English. You can go years without having to learn Vietnamese. It’s the same in San Miguel de Allende—where Expat Insurance has an office, and much of our staff live and work. Some expats have lived in "San Mike" for over a decade and still speak no Spanish.

On the other hand, when I lived in Tuy Hoa, no one spoke English. That’s the key to full immersion. You just go somewhere that doesn’t speak your language and you dive right in. You’ll be surprised how fast your mind learns to pick up vocabulary and string together sentences when you don’t have any other choice.


Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

There are lots of ways to learn a second language. Some people prefer listening to a language rather than full immersion. Lydia Machova—an expert on learning languages—recommends learning a language by watching television.

For example, you can check out this website, which gives you the news at a slower pace than on television. It’s made for people who want to learn about Spanish, but also stay up to date on what’s happening in their country.

*To check out News in Slow Spanish, click here.

Pimsleur Language Method is another method that’s based around listening. Their approach doesn’t just teach you Spanish words, they teach you how to think in Spanish. It was developed by a linguistic psychologist who studied the frequency and number of repetitions needed for words to "stick".

*For a free lesson, click here. Tip: they also have a good, free eBook.

Self Study Spanish Courses


Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

Some people do better when they’re studying by themselves at their own pace. It can also be awkward learning a language in front of people. Others hate the idea of struggling to communicate in front of a person. It can be unnerving, even causing people anxiety attacks—like public speaking, but in another language. Ah!

If you’re like them, then there are some really great options for self-study if you want to learn Spanish on your own time. Here are some links that can help you learn Spanish by yourself.

– Kwiziq –

Kwiziq is a series of tests that you can take to help you improve your Spanish. The tests become personalized and more challenging over time. Also, they have a system of earning diamonds that makes the quiz fun and engaging.


– Study Spanish –

Study Spanish is a company that specializes in the Spanish language. They offer classes, but they also offer a huge database of information on grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. They have a free option, which offers a surprising amount of material. They also offer a paid option that has just about every resource you could need for learning Spanish.


– Anki –

Anki is a platform that focuses on helping you to remember. It acts like digital flashcards, and you can post whatever you want on these cards—not just text. For example, you could link pronunciation videos on a card with the text written on it to help you remember the word and how to say it.


– LingQ –

LingQ has a huge database of material, from books, news, and podcasts to food and entertainment—all in 22 different languages. The idea is to learn the new language by immersing yourself in material that you actually find interesting.


Interactive Programs

Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

– Rosetta Stone –

Rosetta Stone is one of the most recognized platforms for learning a language. It was the first program of its kind—released 31 years ago in 1992! However, today it tends to be overpriced and the results aren’t the best.


*To find Rosetta Stone alternatives, click here.

– Duolingo –

Duolingo is one of the most recognized apps for learning a language. I’ve used it; you may have too. It has broad categories designed to slowly grow your vocabulary, and you increase in difficulty in each category. There’s a free version with ads, and a paid version that’s ad-free.


*If you really want to learn Spanish without ads, but you don’t want to pay for Duolingo, click here to view open source alternatives.

– Spanish Dictionary –

Spanish Dictionary has its own interactive platform as well. It aims at teaching you Spanish through immersive conversation and listening comprehension. One benefit of Spanish Dictionary is that—unlike Duolingo—it allows you to begin at advanced levels instead of having to start from scratch (assuming you already know some of the language).


– Memrise –

Memrise is an app that lets you chat with an AI bot. First you set your Spanish level, then you set the type of conversation you want to have with the chatbot. It’ll help you get used to native accents without the awkwardness of learning with a person.


1-Hour Group Sessions

Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

On the other hand, some people work better when they’re in a group. Interacting can help you learn a language, and having someone to talk to can help you think in that language. For those people who like learning Spanish in groups, there’s this:

– Italki –

Italki is an online tutor platform that connects you with a certified tutor of your choice. You can choose from 3,799 tutors in the Spanish language. You can choose 1-on-1 sessions or group classes if you wish. They also have a community section with podcasts, exercises, and a forum.


– Spanish VIP –

Spanish VIP is a similar platform that only focuses on the Spanish language. It also has award-winning certified tutors that offer 1-on-1 sessions and group sessions. However, one thing that sets it apart is that it has its own section for teaching kids Spanish.


*To go directly to the kids section, click here.

– Lingoda –

Lingoda is also a popular tutor platform with a variety of languages that has 1-on-1 or group classes. It also offers a 7-day free trial which is pretty significant when most places only offer one free class. Plus, it has a corporate section geared toward learning Spanish for business.


*To go directly to the corporate section, click here.

– Baselang – Unlike any other platform, Baselang offers as many classes as you want for a flat rate. You can pick your skill level, and then you just dive right in. It tries to simulate full immersion by being an all-you-can-eat buffet of 1-on-1 Spanish language classes. The more classes you take, the quicker you learn. Even better, they offer a trial run for just $1!


Community Based Language Classes

Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

Your local community may have Spanish language classes for foreigners. They might even be free. Look in community boards at local tourism centers. Also, expat groups on Facebook are a great way to find out what’s going on in your city.

Library Study Sessions

Many Mexican libraries offer Spanish language classes. If you have several libraries in your area, search for “bibliotecas en [Your City] que ofrecen clases de español”. Here are some examples:

Meetup App (Spanish Language Meet-Ups)

Meetup is an application that allows you to connect with new people in your area who share similar interests. Generally, you get together for an event—in this case it would be to practice Spanish. Some locals might even offer by-donation classes through Meetup. One thing is sure though, you’ll meet some fun and interesting people.


Tips and Resources for Learning Spanish

It can be a daunting task to try and learn a new language. Learning Spanish might not be as easy as you think, but with the resources available in this article, you’ll be speaking up a storm in no time.

My advice would be to use a combination of many of these resources. You might make yourself some flashcards before binge on all-you-can-eat Baselang Spanish lessons. Or you might go full-immersion learning and join some community outreach programs to try and help you learn Spanish.

Either way, the secret is to not give up. You can’t lose at learning Spanish, you can only win. Each word you learn, each error you make are all helping you to be able to communicate with the locals—and this, above all others, will help you live a better life abroad.

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