I was happy to receive an email from Paralee Whitmire, who had come across my website and wanted to let me know about the lessons for learning Spanish and English that she has created at Spanishdict.com/learn. So I just went and took a look. In a nutshell, the website has a bunch of useful tools including her lessons.
I started with the homepage of the whole site. There are two boxes you can use for translating individual words and sentences. There is a section labeled "learn Spanish for free." That must be Paralee’s part, I thought. The bottom row here offers you a Spanish word of the day and there are some widgets you can install and a blog.
You can click on this image of the homepage to go to the website; it will open in a new tab or window.
I like the way that top line works as a translator. You can just start typing in any word in English or Spanish, without indicating which language you want translated. Here, I chose the word hotel, and you can see how I could next click on the word I wanted translated:
This setup makes it quicker to use and thus more likely that we will use it!
Next, I went to the upper right corner of the page and registered for the site. That’s free. The screen immediately opened into the lessons section. To give you the idea, here is the list of beginners’ lessons:
I decided to take a look at lesson 1.6, and here you see Paralee Whitmire doing a nice job of explaining the verb gustar.
I went on to the next list:
I’ve been working on improving my mastery of past tenses, so I started up Lesson 2.6. There was a video to watch, in which Paralee Whitmire explained the preterit tense. Here’s one sample screenshot from the video:
Now there are different philosophies about how to learn a foreign language, and I greatly prefer the approach of learning new things in context rather than by studying grammar. There is also research evidence that contextual method learning sticks in our brains better.
Spanishdict partly does that, as in the screenshot, but it also uses traditional verb conjugation charts. There were places where the emphasis on how to create verb forms — explaining the building blocks of the language – was not my cup of tea. To be told that to use an –ar verb in the preterit you drop the ar and add certain other endings is something I want to know *after* I have practiced a conversation and have it down pat.
So our philosophies diverged here. I think Rocket Spanish and Fluenz Spanish do a better job with teaching in context – those links take you to my reviews – BUT hey, Spanishdict is a website where you can start to learn Spanish free online, and those two are programs you purchase. And I DID learn a couple of things about the preterit from watching the video and doing the subsequent flashcards and other exercises. Each lesson is set up so you earn points by doing the different things.
Given this difference in approaches to learning, my final assessment is that this website is very nice for the dictionary, the word of the day, the lessons, and perhaps the forums which I didn’t spend much time in… but the lessons are best in my eyes if you want to review grammar. OR if you are someone who likes to learn the grammar right away. A woman asked me the other day what program I would recommend for her. She said that she really likes to learn grammar as she goes. For her this would be a good place to explore. Would it be for you? It will cost you nothing to try it out. And if you do, come back here and add a comment about your experiences!
Filed under: Learn Spanish Online Free