Good Resources for Learning Spanish

These are resources that I recommend for learning Spanish. This is a tiny sample of what is available. I have only included things I’ve used and really like. Many are free. You can learn so much without spending a cent. But, if you like something, you can consider purchasing bonus materials, pro memberships, etc. as a way to say "thank you for the great resource" as well as to get even more out of the resource.

Learning a Language in General

Fluent Forever and Anki Flashcards

I wish I'd read this book before I started learning Spanish, but, it's never too late to start using these techniques. Gabriel Wyner teaches you how to learn a language by thinking only in the target language, i.e., without translating to and from English. He describes how he uses Anki flashcards to do this. Some of the resources below, which I still use and like, do use translation, but there are also some good resources for learning without translating. In particular, items in the Listening Practice section.

Audio Lessons

Language Transfer

Wonderful free audio 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. It is an innovative and entertaining learning method. Highly recommended and worth repeating several times. Here's a link to the Complete Spanish Course.

Pimsleur

The Pimsleur audio lessons are excellent for practicing speaking and listening and learning vocabulary and grammar. Pimsleur Latin American Spanish has four levels, each with thirty 30-minute lessons. Pimsleur lessons are expensive to buy, but were available through my local library for free. 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 or taking a walk. 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. Since I am mostly a visual learner, for me it was best to use Pimsleur along with other Spanish-learning resources. (Yay, just discovered that there is now a 5th level!)

Online Spanish Lessons and Practice

Duolingo

I think it works best to use Duolingo together with other sources for learning Spanish, but it's a great supplement. If you already know some Spanish you can test out of the beginning levels. Duolingo is free. There are no ads on the web version. You can become a Plus member to remove ads from the phone app version.

LingQ

This is a great tool. Incredible reading and listening practice. As you read/listen you can mark vocabulary and phrases you want to practice later. Watch the videos on their Help Page to get an idea how it all works. Excellent for any level, beginning to advanced. You can't save much vocabulary with the Free version but for $9 or $10 a month, the Premium version is fantastic and, for me, worth the price.

StudySpanish.com

Good lessons explaining grammar, etc., and some good practice exercises. You don't have to login to study or do the exercises.

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. No login required.

Vocabulary Learning

Memrise

Memrise is free and addictive. As you are able to translate a word without error, the word will come up less frequently for review. This is called spaced repetition. My favorite thing about Memrise is how easily you can add and share your own mnemonics, called 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. Their catalog is disorganized and it takes patience to find the right course. I recommend that you check out First 5000 Words of Spanish. It was created by one of the founders of Memrise. He wasn't maintaining it so he let me take over. I've been able to disambiguate hundreds of pairs of synonyms and am actively maintaining the course. Problems can be reported through the course forum. Even though a number of people still do this course, it is no longer listed in Memrise's course list. The course was created before Memrise had a cellphone app. Because of the lesson sizes, it doesn't work well as a cellphone app, but it still works fine in a computer web page.

Lingvist

When you first start with Lingvist, you do a brief test to determine your level. Lingvist gives you vocabulary practice by letting you fill in a word in a sentence, so you always see words in context. Lingvist uses spaced repetition, just as Memrise does. In addition to vocabulary practice, there are some fun Challenges. You can go a long way with the free version so I'd suggest you start with that.

LingQ

LingQ is much more than vocabulary learning but vocabulary learning is a huge component of LingQ. See more about LingQ in previous section.

Listening Practice

The biggest challenge for me is to understand Spanish spoken at a normal speed by native speakers. The following 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 or while walking.) The items listed below are most appropriate for advanced beginners or intermediate students. For most of these the audio is free and, if you wish, you can pay for additional materials such as transcripts, worksheets, etc. As mentioned above, it's great to buy these materials if you can for what they offer as well as a way to say thanks. But the free stuff alone is amazing.

Notes in Spanish

Delightful Ben and Marina hold natural conversations about various topics and for all levels. The free recordings are available on their website and also as a podcast. Ben and Marina also have some great videos on YouTube.

Unlimited Spanish

Oscar has more than 100 free audio recordings available as a podcast or on his website. Oscar speaks so clearly and his topics are interesting and educational. Perfect for intermediate level learners like me. As Oscar explains (in very clear Spanish), the way we learned our native language was by listening to it many many hours. We pick up the grammar and vocabulary and patterns of the language this way. Oscar gives us many hours of enjoyable listening. He's still adding new podcasts every week. You can also read and listen to Oscar's lessons via LingQ, listed above. Just search for Unlimited Spanish on the LingQ site.

Doorway to Mexico

Audio recordings of fun and interesting scripted conversations are available free on the website or as a podcast.

Spanish 360 with Fabiana

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 southern accents.

Basic Spanish with Claudia Fernandez

These free audio lessons are available via iTunes podcast 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 as podcasts under the 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 as a podcast.

PodClub - Alicia: A Mi Aire

Alicia talks in Spanish about various topics. Her recordings are available for free on her website or as a podcast. I especially like to listen to Alicia as lessons on LingQ.

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

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 don't have to set up an account if you don't want to. Just click Maybe Later when they suggest you create one. 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 Hermosa Del Mundo, by Joaquín Sabina

Me Llamas, by José Luis Perales (learn the verb estrenar!)

Me Voy, by Julieta Venegas (learn the verb endulzar!)

Bailando, by Enrique Iglesias

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 getting better and better and it is 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.