Free online resources to help you learn Spanish
When learning a language, it’s important to look for information everywhere: audio files, texts, music to name a few examples. The best way is to select different and valued sources of different types and carry on the process you started at school but in a more structured way, like a pro student. Here we go:
Listen to Podcasts
These podcasts are a great way of getting accustomed to the rhythm, tempo and intonation of Spanish speech:
Julia en la Onda: This podcast focuses on current news and also interesting debate topics.
Mexicano Slang: For those interested in Mexican Spanish and especially its more colloquial side, check out this podcast dedicated to teaching and breaking down Mexican slang.
Take advantage of Apps
There are also a lot of apps out there dedicated to helping you reach a high level of language proficiency step by step. Here are our two favorites:
Duolingo: Duolingo is extremely popular because it's so effective! This free app improves your language skills every day with games, questions and complete lessons, through which you'll strengthen your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
Memrise: Memrise is another free app. Developed with the expertise of memory scientists, memrise ensures that every new word sticks in your mind and is never forgotten. You'll be amazed how quickly you pick up new vocab with this incredible app!
BBC Spanish: Loads of great resources to facilitate your Spanish learning.
Learn Spanish on YouTube
Another way to improve your level is by using useful YouTube channels. There are hundreds of people you can follow but we are especially impressed by these five great vloggers. They find fun ways to help you learn Spanish. Pretty good, right?
And here's a brilliant song expressing frustration at discovering words can have different meanings depending on which part of the Spanish-speaking world you're in. However, instead of putting you off Spanish, this is sure to only amplify your fondness of the language and motivate you to get a stronger grasp on its regional variations: Oh, how hard it is to speak Spanish!
If watching videos is your thing, this is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the Spanish media, with debate programs, soap operas, quiz shows, TV series and much more. In Spain there are more than 20 public channels with a lot on offer. We recommend:
RTVE: public channel. On its platform you will find four more channels, each with a different focus: cartoons, sports, politics and music.
Mitele: the leading TV channel in Spain can be found here and it is called Telecinco. This is a Mediaset online platform where you can find lots of talk-shows, reality shows and more. You can watch channels such as Cuatro, FDF, Boing, Energy and Divinity.
Atresplayer: the second private TV group in Spain, known for its TV shows and political debates. You will enjoy channels like Antena 3, laSexta, and other minor channels such as Atreseries, Neox, Nova and Mega.
Paramount Channel: cinema channel. Lately, it has also started broadcasting some TV series.
13tv: traditional channel with informative programs and political debates.
Disney Channel: channel for kids with a lot of cartoons.
A classic way to learn a language due to the high quality of journalists’ writing. Reading news written in a formal and sophisticated register is a very good way of improving your level, learning some new idioms and discovering some amazing vocabulary. Usual topics like society and sports are simpler than politics, but it generally depends on your level. The most important Spanish (from Spain) newspapers (on paper or online) are:
El País: national and political breaking news.
El Mundo: topical news and society.
Públlco: social newspaper focusing on third sector and people,
eldiario.es: politics and the economy are the main topics.
ABC: traditional, one-hundred year old paper.
El Español: split from El Mundo a few months ago. It focuses on long, in-depth articles on interesting stories.
La razón: economy, enterprises and politics are the main topics.
Read Specialized Magazines
Another source we suggest for finding interesting articles is specialized magazines. Listed below are a few magazines created by organisations in which experienced teachers write about particular elements of the Spanish language. You will also find awesome interviews, analysis and tips about how to prepare for a DELE exam. These magazines are highly recommended guides to Spanish language education and the people behind it.
Revista redELE – Electronic magazine written by the Government and supporting the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language.
RutaELE – Non-profit magazine, without advertising and with no public or private financial support. You will find synonyms, antonyms, and verbs, as well as publishing rules.
SinoELE - Focusing on Chinese students of Spanish, this magazine tries to establish parameters on the teaching and cultural differences between both societies. There are also online resources and materials for classes.
Boletín ProfELE - Webinars, workshops and a lot of articles with useful information about teaching and learning Spanish and why so many people love the Spanish language.
Cuadernos Cervantes - Dedicated to teachers, students and curious people. You will find a list of content for grammar and methodology questions.
e-Aesla - Scientific magazine published by Instituto Cervantes’ website with the best research carried out by AESLA (Spanish Society for Applied Linguistics).
Encuentro - Its purpose is to make grammar easier to understand.
Learn with Spanish Bloggers
There are some people who have a special affinity with the Spanish language. They love sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world and have therefore created a great community around their blogs.
'Aprende español en México' is the work of Andrea Chávez. She talks about colloquial Spanish, typical Mexican food, recipes, grammar mistakes…everything gets a mention on this wonderful space. If you want to learn more about the Spanish spoken in North America, this is the place.
One of the most popular blogs on the internet is 'Justifica tu respuesta'. You will find inspiration from the experience of a professor who talks about pedagogy, study methods and recommends books and other material for your daily training.
For kids and teenagers, 'La educateca' has videos, audio recordings and interviews where you can find informative content.
'Gigas de tiza' is a blog with a lot of specializations. Online resources to help you learn Spanish with recipes, social network and more. An extensive source to help you improve and delve deeper into the language.
Look words up in Dictionaries
Although using dictionaries to learn seems quite old fashioned, it is always a good option for some unknown words. We recommend these two:
SpanishDict: not just a free translator... the website also offers free video courses, flashcards, and other helpful resources.
RAE: Official Spanish Royal Academy of Languages Dictionary.
Reverso: Words’ definitions and quite good for polysemous words.
WordReference: Online translation dictionary which also features publicly accessible forums allowing registered users to ask questions about vocabulary and grammar.
Find useful tips on Twitter
If you just want small tips every once in a while, you can follow some users on Twitter and receive their updates on your timeline. Quite easy and perfect for orthographic corrections, uncommon words and new material.
Converse with a Tandem Partner
Last but not least, the value of meeting up regularly with a native Spanish speaker cannot be overemphasized. This is the reason we learn a new language, to be able to communicate with more people and have a more complete understanding of different parts of the world and their cultures. There is no better way to improve in a language than conversing in that language. In most cities, you can find potential tandem partners by searching ‘language tandem + the name of the city you want to meet up in’ in Facebook and joining a group dedicated to helping people find tandem partners.