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I'm looking for an online Spanish course

Have you taken an online Spanish course that you would recommend?

Thanks for your feedback.

Posted by
244 posts

I definitely have some thoughts on this! I have a Skype teacher through a Spanish school in Guatemala called Ixchel. They have an online curriculum, but are also flexible to student goals. My teacher and I often spend about half of the class just talking, and the other half working through a grammar and literature textbook. She's absolutely awesome, and she said the school has had had lots of increased interest in their online classes.

I also know that another Spanish school I've visited in person, Habla in Mérida, Mexico, has started doing online classes. I really loved their in-person curriculum (very arts-based and creative), so I bet the online classes would be good too. They seem to have created a very structured curriculum for online as well, and it looks like they have group and individual classes.

Posted by
3987 posts

Spanish spoken in Spain is generally Castilian Spanish, which is a different pronunciation than in South America. Eg gracias is pronounced grath-e-ath in much of Spain and gra-see-as in South America. Where you want to use it may influence where you try to find a course.

I am also about to start learning some Spanish whilst in lockdown as I only have some limited tourist language under my belt at present. Someone I know that is fluent said the purest Spanish and that which was easiest to follow was that spoken in Ecuador and the worst was Mexican, which had many dialects and was spoken quicker. I spend longer in Spain than South America, so will learn Castillian Spanish.

There are dozens of You Tube videos teaching the basics, so try a few and see what style works best for you.

Posted by
10 posts

Have a look at the BBC’s Mi Vida Loca - it’s an interactive dramatic film - quite entertaining, good music and I’ve learned quite a lot of good conversational Spanish from watching it. Adios!

Posted by
1975 posts

Thank you all for raising very good points. I want to significantly improve my Spanish before a 2021 trip to Spain.

I'll start with Youtube.

Posted by
11681 posts

I highly recommend Destinos, a college-level first year course taught by means of an interesting story (a young female Mexican-American lawyer is hired by a wealthy Mexican gentleman to track down his missing heir). I looked forward to each episode and often watched two or three in succession. You will become engrossed in Rachel's search as she travels to Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico on her quest. Each country's speakers use the local pronunciation so you are exposed to Castilian Spanish and others.

It is free to watch online from annenberg.org.

https://www.learner.org/series/destinos-an-introduction-to-spanish/

I recommend buying the accompanying text if you are serious ( it is available from Amazon and maybe from Annenberg as well). The workbook was not worth the trouble; just get the text.

Posted by
5019 posts

I'll just add that while it's true that the Spanish that's spoken in Spain differs a bit from the Spanish that's spoken in other countries, don't let that be a barrier or a discouragement. In my experience, the differences between Castilian and "New World" Spanish are small enough that they won't really matter much to you, a non-native Spanish speaker who is just trying to understand, be understood and politely fit in (either in Madrid or Mexico). I would go so far as to say that if you have reached a level where you actually notice the differences, that's a sign you've made a lot of progress. You will notice some differences eventually (the "sss" sound versus the "sth" sound in "gracias", as mentioned above, is one of the more obvious examples) but don't sweat it.

The same is true of English: from London to Glasgow to Boston to New Orleans to Jamaica to Australia, you will surely notice some differences (those differences will be most evident to native English speakers, and to some extent lost on non-native speakers), but despite those differences, the language still is mostly understandable and interchangeable.

I'm a native English speaker who never heard much/any Spanish until I decided to take Spanish in college; we studied Castilian Spanish but my teacher grew up in Mexico. I later got to practice my Spanish while working alongside a lot of Mexicans, which helped a lot (they wanted to practice English, I wanted to practice Spanish, all while doing boring, manual assembly-line labor, it worked out great). Then I traveled a lot all around Spain, Mexico and Central America, repeatedly. I can hear the differences, but for me the challenges of understanding any Spanish speaker was (and still is) a lot more rooted in the speaking style of the individual, rather then where they come from. I suspect that's going to be true for most non-native speakers. Anyone's speaking style (in any language) - and their ability to be easily understood by a non-native speaker - is the product of many factors: first their speaking speed, then how clearly they pronounce words (sometimes an indication of education level, often related to their social class).

This is something that we (native English speakers, especially monolingual ones) all need to keep in mind when we travel and are depending on non-native English speakers to use our native language. When we speak English to a foreigner, we need to slow down, minimize the use of complex grammar and slang, and most of all, speak clearly. It can take some practice but once you start doing it you make it a lot easier for non-native speakers to understand us. I recall a couple summers ago, while in Poland, we hired a driver to take us from Krakow to Auschwitz and back. We had a couple hours in the car with this man, an older Polish gent who first claimed to not speak any English. As is so often the case, he was able to understand me and carry on a conversation in English, as long as I went slowly and spoke clearly using simple English. After a while, he asked me if I was a university professor or something (I laughed) because he said my English was so good and easy to understand; he said most tourists spoke English that he could not understand but mine was better. Actually, it was just "good enough" because it was slowed a bit and kept simple, but he clearly appreciated that.

My Spanish is just OK, I consider it more-or-less fluent (though rusty and clunky), it's not perfect but good enough to be understood, whether I'm asking for directions in Spain, thanking a soldier at a highway checkpoint in Guatemala, or talking politics over a beer with a hotel owner in Baja. I appreciate them slowing down and speaking clearly for me, when we do the same it all works. Worth keeping in mind as we try to all get by in somebody else's language.

Posted by
995 posts

Lola - Thanks for the link to the online course. I've been studying Spanish on my phone through an app, but I was looking for something where I could hear more than one or two sentences at a time being said. This looks like a great place to start. Thanks!!

Posted by
915 posts

Ah Destinos, the bane of many a college Spanish student in the 1980-1990s.:)

As for learning LA or Spain Spanish, to be honest, it really doesn't make a difference. There are so many variations of Spanish in different countries that even some Spanish speakers have trouble when they go to another country. However many young South Americans have moved to Spain to further their careers and studies and are understood. Think of it as an Aussie or Brit coming to visit America-the accent and some words may be different but they are able to be understood.
Plus, I've found Spanish speakers to be the most kind and patient with non Spanish using the language. I'd say more than 3/4 of the people I meet let me use my college level Spanish and compliment me, even though I know I sound awkward.

Posted by
860 posts

If you are a member of your public library, they often have online databases in which a language-learning program is included. For example, my public library has a subscription to Mango Languages, and my academic library has a subscription to Rosetta Stone. I did French via Rosetta Stone and really liked it.

Posted by
13962 posts

Frommers sent out this offer today. I didn't check it out, but I may . . . depends on how bored I get next week.

Posted by
53 posts

If you're into podcasts, there are some channels devoted to learning a specific language. Helped me better than language learning apps especially when it comes to pronunciation.