Vivian has already studied some Spanish and practiced it on vacations in Puerto Vallarta. She wants to improve her Spanish before her next vacation. George just graduated from college with two years of Spanish on his transcript. He is job-hunting but in today’s economy he doesn’t know how soon he will find a job. He wants to keep working on his Spanish while he has the time, but he doesn’t want to spend anything. I moved to Mexico a few years ago and needed to improve my intermediate-level comprehension of the spoken language.
What is your level of Spanish like? If it is anything like Vivian’s George’s, or mine, you may be uncertain how to continue learning Spanish from here.
There are well-known audio courses, such as Pimsleur Spanish and Rocket Spanish, and there are the multi-media computer courses such as Rosetta Stone Spanish and Fluenz Spanish. There may be continuing education courses at a college or university near you.
But once you get beyond being a beginner, it can be confusing to know what to do next. You don’t want to waste your time, but you don’t want to tackle something that is way over your head either. Let’s consider those four courses: Pimsleur, Rocket, Rosetta Stone, and Fluenz. Each has its pros and cons, and here is a comparison chart I made that includes them all. Since I did that, Fluenz has added more levels and so has Rocket.
Local continuing education courses are typically not the ideal for the intermediate Spanish learner. Besides the scheduling challenges and the time wasted in transportation, they too are unlikely to exactly suit your level of Spanish proficiency. This is because you will be at a different level than the other students — better at some things, worse at others — and so the class time itself will only sometimes teach you what you want to learn. Another option would be language exchange with someone wanting to improve their English.
So what should you do? If you already know some Spanish and want to learn more, you could study Spanish online. There are several advantages to this:
- All you need is a computer with online access… or the use of one.
- You can suit your own schedule.
- It’s either free or inexpensive.
- You can pick and choose from many, many websites.
In fact, there are so many websites that it can be rather time-consuming to discover the best way to study Spanish online. Not only are there so many websites, but many of them are aimed at teaching you the grammar more than getting you at home in conversation. The best ones present you with interesting short lessons and allow you to try out several until you find your right level. The lessons should include some vocabulary and grammar, but not a painful amount.
If you just do a lesson, though, you won’t remember much a day or two later. Research shows that we all quickly forget things unless we go over them again. That’s where my “secret weapon” comes in. I have found computer flashcard programs to be just the ticket for putting more Spanish into long-term memory. Like the online Spanish courses, some of these flashcard programs are free, and some cost a little. I review several on this blog. Once you develop the habit of running the program most days, your Spanish will steadily improve.
Filed under: Learn Spanish