Easy Ways to Learn Spanish for Free

by Carol Selva

In the United States, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people aged five or older. No matter what your reason, learning to speak Spanish is a great idea. Taking a class, however, can be costly and time-consuming. Below are some ideas for how you can easily learn Spanish for free.

Tap Your Local Library

To get started learning Spanish, you will need access to materials. Of course, you could spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks, CDs and more at your local bookstore. The problem with doing so (aside from the cash you'll have to spend) is that you're stuck with what you get. This limits your exposure to only certain materials, and since you can't know how well you'll like it until you dive in. Your local library, on the other hand, has a myriad of free language resources at your disposal. Check to see if your local library has an online catalogue of all materials. Most libraries allow patrons to request certain materials online so that if something happens to be checked out, you can be notified when it's available. Check out various books, CDs or DVDs to see what you like best. Using the library as your source for materials allows you to use different texts and resources, which will provide variety and keep you interested.

Put Those Materials to Use

Once you've visited your local library and checked out all the necessary materials, start by reading a beginning Spanish textbook. The "Spanish for Dummies" book is a good start and actually includes an audio CD. Books will introduce you to basic vocabulary and parts of speech, but audio CDs or DVDs are essential to helping you recognize the sounds of words as well as helping you imitate the sounds and perfect your accent. Watching shows on Spanish television stations is also good for this.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you begin to build a basic vocabulary and you're familiar with speech patterns in Spanish, it's a good idea to try to get some real practice with other people. Try to find a language exchange group or another Spanish student you can meet with periodically to practice. If possible, try to speak only in Spanish to that person. Try to put yourself in situations where you might have to use your Spanish. Take a trip to a Spanish-speaking country and try to get along without using English at all. When out at Hispanic restaurants or other establishments, try to identify Spanish-speaking staff and engage them in conversation. If you're brave enough, consider visiting a Spanish-speaking church or other group and make some friends who you can practice your new language with.

About the Author

Carolina Selva is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Photo Credits

  • computer screen image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com