I’m learning Spanish.

A few weeks ago I might have said “I’m trying to learn Spanish,” but I’m on a roll and feeling determined. So now I’m actually learning Spanish.

My experience with the language has been limited and mostly mandatory. In grade school I took a Spanish class with my sister for about two weeks. It was an after-school elective and we didn’t stick with it. In high school I took two years of Spanish, learning enough to pass the tests but enjoying none of it.

Now that I’m a grownup with bills, responsibilities, and the freedom to stay up as late as I want (past 8pm), I have to find the time and motivation to learn something new. Specific goals help a lot (one day traveling to Spain is a good one), but I’m also excited simply to challenge myself to a new experience.

My resources

I’ve considered taking a real Spanish class. There’s one in my city that looks fun and interesting. Right now I’m hesitating because of money, but I plan to sign up one day.

The tools I’m using in the meantime are mostly free and accessible almost anywhere.

Duolingo website
Duolingo website. I wonder how funny some of these sentences would be to native Spanish speakers.

Duolingo is a language-learning platform with a website and mobile app. This is my favorite tool by far. The service is free — you couldn’t pay for it if you wanted to — and the community is huge. Duolingo prides itself on its research-driven approach. If you’re going to try it, I’d suggest checking out the website first, then the app. The app is wonderful and I use it daily, but it’s more of a companion. It lacks the discussion boards and detailed explanations found on the website.

Memrise website
Reviewing Basic Spanish on Memrise

Memrise is similar to Duolingo in its format and the size of its community. It does have paid “Pro” options, but I’ve gotten by very well with the free version. There are official language courses by the Memrise team, as well as an insane amount of community created content. I’ve found Memrise useful for reinforcing what I learn on Duolingo and adding some variety to my study.

Brainscape app
Brainscape’s “Speak Spanish — for Survival and Travel” on iOS

Brainscape is an “adaptive” flashcard tool. I’ve only used the app (specifically the free Travel/Survival version) but so far I really like it. I like it so much that I plan to purchase the full Spanish app for $30 when I feel I’m ready to move past the free one.

YouTube loading gif
Come on. Do you really need a screenshot of YouTube?

YouTube. This is an obvious one, but I want to mention it because at one point I overlooked how useful it could be. Not sure how to pronounce a word? You’ll find it on YouTube. Do you want to listen to some Spanish dialogue while you’re working? You’ll find plenty on YouTube! There are even channels where people spend their valuable time creating free videos to help you learn pronunciation and other concepts. One in particular that I really love is Butterfly Spanish.

I’ve also found inspiration in other people’s experiences. James Breiner’s “How to learn Spanish? One word at a time” is a nice kick in the culo, and he includes a list of resources he found helpful. My post isn’t nearly as substantial, but I’m hoping it might inspire someone to start learning — or perhaps to get motivated and start again.

Looking forward

One day I hope to revisit this post and rewrite it in Spanish. I’ll do it when my need for a translator or English-Spanish dictionary is as minimal as possible. As for when that will be, I’m not concerned. Right now I’m enjoying this journey of self-guided learning, one word at a time.