DIY Beginning Spanish

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Note: This page is still under development! Keep checking back for new info.

Starting a Language

Congratulations on taking your first steps towards learning Spanish! Learning a language has all sorts of benefits, even at the beginning stages. A few examples? Language-learning helps you relate to and build respect for others, it teaches you about other places and peoples, it gives you cognitive benefits, and it builds your communication skills (including in your native language) and confidence.

I started learning Spanish my last semester of high school. I did a lot of volunteering as a high schooler, and I had had several moments where it would have been useful to know Spanish. So I started learning! Spanish is a very useful language in the United States--in addition to it being an official language in 20 countries.

Some Language-Learning Tips

Learning a language has a lot of benefits, but the process can sometimes feel discouraging. Here are some suggestions for the journey:

  • Be consistent. It's okay if you don't know everything--the key is to keep at it and keep learning.

  • Be patient. This is a process.

  • Speak Spanish as much as possible

  • Use flashcards to memorize new vocabulary

  • Be brave. Jump in and go for it! Things like having a conversation with a native speaker can be intimidating, but the more you do those things, the faster you'll learn.

  • Check out this post on language learning for more ideas

How to Learn Spanish on Your Own

This webpage is designed to help you start learning Spanish on your own. In addition to the content posted here, however, there are a lot of other things you can do to complement--and speed up--the process of learning this new language. Try to start incorporating language-learning tools like the following:

  • The website iTalki lets you practice your new language by speaking to native speakers across the globe--and getting speaking is one of the best things you can do to learn a language. There are tutors on the site who advertise paid services. My favorite way to use the site, though, is setting up a language exchange, where you talk to someone from another country (for free!), spending half the conversation in each person’s native language. You'll learn so much--your language skills will improve, but you'll also learn a ton about other places and cultures.

  • The free video series Salsa is the best I've found for beginning Spanish learners. It is made for children, but is still a really wonderful resource adolescent and adult learners. The series was made by Georgia Public Broadcasting, and all the comprehensible, Spanish-only episodes are available for free on their website. I've created a set of worksheets for the first 10 episodes that helps you understand what's going and learn the new vocabulary. I've also created a beginning Spanish unit with 10 hour-long lessons centered around these videos--they include the worksheets as well as additional learning materials and activities.

  • The app Duolingo: This is a great free resource. In my experience, it works best when it's used as a supplement to your language learning, rather than being the only thing you use.

  • Simple songs can be a great resource for learning Spanish. I've found it easier to remember a set of words when they're set to music. I assembled this YouTube playlist with songs I use with my beginning students. It includes songs for the alphabet, numbers, the days of the week, family vocabulary, verb conjugations, and so on.

  • Books from TPRS Publishing: I've spent a lot of time looking for Spanish reading materials for my beginning students. I--along with many people--originally assumed children's books in Spanish would be the best option. Unfortunately, I've found even picture books can have a wide vocabulary and complex grammar. I eventually found TPRS Publishing. They write short novels geared at beginning learners with simple language that's comprehensible. The novels use the vocabulary and grammar that most beginners have been working on learning. I've used them in my classes, and they're a great way to build your reading skills and overall language skills. Some of the simplest of these novels are posted below.

Purchasing through these links sends a small percentage of what you pay to support this website without changing the cost to you.

  • Books from Rigby Colección PM: This is another series I like for beginning Spanish learners. These picture books are each about 15 pages long and include very, very simple language along with clear photos that illustrate the meaning. They are a good way to help learners get reading in Spanish and to build confidence that they can understand the language.

Purchasing through these links sends a small percentage of what you pay to support this website without changing the cost to you.

Learn Spanish

I'm still working on building a DIY beginning Spanish course for you. Keep checking back!

1. Learn the alphabet

Start with learning and practicing the alphabet in Spanish: This page has all the info!

2. Learn the numbers in Spanish

This page tells you how.

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