Learning another language is tough – particularly as an adult. I know this first hand, from my experience of learning Spanish, for my four month trip to South America. I worked really hard at it and was motivated but found it so tough to make good progress and enjoy the process. That’s why I’m writing this post today.
What I’d like to achieve here is to help those learning Spanish to find it easier and more enjoyable. Not only that, but we are going to do it completely free, using different resources. I think a multi platform approach is the best way to make learning effective and fun. Let’s take a look and learn a like more Spanish together.
Apps & Podcasts
Duolingo – I use Duolingo on my phone on train rides to and from work to help me learn Spanish. The stages are quite fun and really short. My train ride is literally 7 mins each way, so very short. I get enough time to do one or two levels on each train ride. Clearly, I don’t make huge strides of progress each day but a little and often approach with this platform over a few months makes a huge difference and the short sessions make it easy to do. As Duolingo is a game, it’s quite fun. As it is written on your phone screen it improve your visual and audio understanding at the same time.
Coffee Break Spanish – Again, I use Coffee Break Spanish on the move and as a a podcast download to my phone. This podcast is 15-20 mins long each episode and is perfect for walking to places, when you need to be looking where you are going and not at your phone. I often listen to each episode a couple of times to let it sink in.
Michel Thomas Spanish – Michel Thomas uses an innovative technique he has developed to help people learn Spanish quicker. His podcasts can be quite good also but you may have to pay a small fee for these.
Okay, so that covers your commute to work or when you are shopping for groceries. Use these tools to fill in dead time with little learning sessions. It makes all the difference.
TV & Film
Watching Spanish language TV shows, films and documentaries is another great way to become familiar with hearing the language. The more you learn, the more you’ll begin to understand and it is very useful to hear native speakers, talking in a natural way. Here is are a bunch of links to my favorite Spanish shows with a short description of each (I will continue to add to these each week).
Narcos – The story of Colombian drug cartels war against the Colombian goverment and USA DEA (TV Series).
Locked Up – A Spanish prison drama, where a naive young woman gets wrongly imprisoned. It’s Spain’s version of Orange Is The New Black (TV Series).
El Chapo – The dramatised story of a real life Mexican drug boss on Netflix (TV Series).
Hable Con Ella – Two men share an odd friendship while they care for two women who are both in deep comas (Film).
The Skin I Live In – Antonio Banderas plays a rogue surgeon, acting like god (Film).
Open Your Eyes – This is the original, Spanish language version of Vanilla Sky with Penelope Cruz (Film).
Amores Perros – A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love (film).
Like Water For Chocolate – In a forgotten Mexico village Tita and Pedro fall in love, but their marriage is forbidden as to traditions (Film).
Blutiful – Uxbal, a career criminal, plies his trade in Barcelona’s underground sweatshops and back alleys (Film).
Una Noche – Raul dreams of escaping to Miami from Cuba. When he is accused of assault, he convinces his friend Elio to help him cross the ocean (Film).
Eva – In the year 2041, a Spannish robotics designer studies a 10-year-old girl to create an android (Film).
For further inspirations, check out our list of the best travel documentaries and films around.
Using our playlists can be a very smart way to learn Spanish. First chose a playlist, then one by one, pick out a song to learn the Spanish words and meaning to that song. Then every time you listen, it will make it easier to understand the meaning of the words. Here’s an example.
Lets say you are listening to our Chile Playlist linked here. Then you chose to learn the words to the song ‘Que Seria’ by Francisco Valenzuela. The first verse lyrics are…
Y los días van pasando y yo veo que se deshace hacia dónde va llegando este amor,
ya no somos como antes, las mañanas no son tibias, y no me haces cariño cuando duermo,
y yo busco tu mirada una señal que me muestre que esto no va a cambiar,
porque hay que dolería si tu ya no estuvieras, al despertar.
Y que sería un día sin alguien que,
te hiciera buena compañía no quiero saber.
Learn to sing these words first and then understand the meaning after. The song roughly translates as…
And the days go by and I see that it undoes to where this love is coming,
we are not as before, mornings are not warm, and you do not care about me when I sleep,
and I look for your look a sign that shows me that this is not going to change,
because it would hurt if you were not already, when you wake up.
And that would be a day without someone who,
I made you good company I do not want to know.
Then once you’ve got the jist of this song, move on to the next. I will be adding many more Spanish lanuage playlists soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
And there we have it, the Resfeber handy guide to learning Spanish. Get stuck in and enjoy it and you will see huge progress as you go.
(A backpacking & adventure travel blog with music, films & words)