This week I'm checking out online applications that can help me learn introductory Spanish for free.
Being able to learn a language online is a nice example ofÂ the many typesÂ of solutions thatÂ today's education technologyÂ makes possible.
I want to start learning Spanish so I can help my sons use it more at home – they both take Spanish in school, and would benefit from the practice. My goal this week is to search out resources online that can help me at least get started, hopefully at no cost.
I'll take a brief look through sites that I know of or can easily find, and try them out a little. I'llÂ pick a fewÂ of these that I'll use more over the summer to help me learn and practice. I'll share my experiences here -Â what seems to work wellÂ and what doesn't, and seek feedback from my readers about their experiences.
This time last year I wrote a real brief mid week post in which I very briefly looked at theÂ topic of learning languages on line.Â I've revisited theÂ sites mentioned in that post, andÂ found one to be usefulÂ forÂ my currentÂ objective (Livemocha.com is included below under the sites I liked). Next, I performed a Google search for “learning spanish online”, which naturally produced a kazillion results, and I checked out the top 10 returned links. Here's what I found, grouped by those sites I liked, and thoseÂ that didn't readily appeal to me.
I Liked TheseÂ Sites:
- SpanishPrograms.com:Â This site takes you right into Lesson 1, a sentence building lesson. By the time I was done with this 12 minutes lesson, I knew how to create sentences such asÂ “I want to go to the hotel”, “I don't want to go to the office”, “I need to go to the store”, and a handful of other useful phrases.Â You can getÂ a handful ofÂ lessons for free on the site (one place said 7 more and one said 11, so I'm not sure). For further instruction you can sign up for a Level 1 course for $99, and get discounts on multiple lessonsÂ (although it wasn't really clear to me what the Level 1 course providesÂ – doesÂ it contain a lot that was already in the free lessons?).
- “Curso de EspaÃ±ol” (www.learn-spanish-online.de): This site was immediately useful, especially this Grammar Manual, which starts off with the fundamentals of Pronunciation and goes on from there. There are many supplemental and supporting materials on the site, such as a free Live chat room where you can practice conversation, a Help forum where you can submit questions, and stories and poems you can listen to for practice.
- StudySpanish.com: I liked the layout and information presentedÂ by this site, and students can use it for free. It is well organized, and walks you right through how to begin.
- Spanish.speak7.com: This just took me in a round-about way to SpanishPrograms.com (above).
- LiveMocha.com: You have to sign up to use this, but it's a simple and fast process.Â I took to the interface and process in my initial walk through enough to want to revisit it and try it out further. I'm not sure how much I like the “memorize, repeat, test” format, but I appreciated the LMS-like interface with information about how far you've progressed through a lesson,Â links to resume a course, and so on.
These, Not As Much:
- 123TeachMe.com: I didn't really take to this site, as it wasn't organized in the same linear, easy to follow format as some of the above sites, and this left me guessing as to how they deliver their curriculum.
- Rocket Spanish Review: I submitted my name and email address on Rocket's subsite,Â getspanishlessons.com, and was supposed getÂ an email providing Â me credentials that would enable me to access 6 days of training for free. Never got the e-mail.
- Learnspanish-online.com: No audio, not interested.
- Learnspanish.elanguageschool.net:Â This site wasÂ poorly laid out, and didn't seem to have any audi0 support. I quickly abandoned it.
- Loquella:Â I really didn't like theÂ methodologyÂ used here – the first couple of lessons areÂ a just laundry list of wordsÂ and sentencesÂ that you hear and are asked to repeat. This didn't compell me to investigate further.
- “Spanish Learning” (http://www.spanish.bz/learn-spanish.htm): At first, it was unclearÂ how to use this site, the I finally found the lessons listings in small type towards the bottom of the screen. Site seemsÂ oriented towards younger children and audio is only limitedly incorporated.
Conclusions & Next Steps
FourÂ of these sites appealed to me -Â I liked what I sawÂ atÂ SpanishPrograms, “Curso de EspaÃ±ol“,Â StudySpanish, Livemocha, and intend to work with each of them further in the coming weeks and come back here and share how I've made out. What about you? Have you used an online Spanish course, or other language learning tool? What were your experiences? Please drop a comment below and let us know!
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