A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Spanish Online for Free
Inside: Teach yourself Spanish, with these free online Spanish resources.
This is the list I wish I’d had as a new teacher, or as a Spanish learner myself! Here I’ve collected my favorite online Spanish resources, and all are free (though some may have paid upgrade options). These are great for supplementing in the classroom or practicing at home.
Teach Yourself Spanish: Online Interactive Lessons
1. DuoLingo is unparalleled as far as free lessons go. You can use it online, although it’s most convenient as an app. Take a placement test and move through lessons at your own pace. You can practice speaking, listening, and reading, and even have “chat” with native speakers. It’s great for teachers, who can get weekly progress reports of their students.
DuoLingo can be a little frustrating because it can be picky about small errors, but it seems to be improving. There is also a new stories feature, that seems to be more in line with comprehensible input!
2. Fluencia Similar to DuoLingo, this site/app takes you through bite-sized lessons that include listening, speaking, and reading.
3. FSI I haven’t personally used this site, but it came strongly recommend here. Put out Foreign Service Institute to train foreign workers and officials, it includes an online textbook and audio lessons.
4. Coffee Break Spanish Some of the features are paid, but you can access free podcasts.
5. Busuu The free version is a bit limited, but gives self-paced interactive lessons and connects you to native speakers as well.
Learn Spanish Online with Videos
1. Mi Vida Loca This series is one the best online Spanish resources! Created for absolute beginners, you get an immersive adventure set in Spain, with lessons along the way. There’s a tad more English than I’d like, but it’s still great. I created a series of games and links to accompany each episode, as well as a free packet to accompany the first 5 episodes.
2. Extra Extra en español exposes learners to Spanish, in the context of a sitcom-like setting (similiar to the show Friends), through 13 episodes. The show is really funny, and though most teachers don’t have any problem showing it, the romance scenes are super exaggerated (awkward? weird?) Parents/teachers might want to preview. Here’s the first episode:
3. Destinos So Destinos is a bit dated. If you can get past that, it’s a great resource! 52 episodes follow a lawyer around the world as she tries to solve a mystery. They’re a great way to get immersed in Spanish in the context of a telenova, with culture thrown in too. See episode 1 here:
4. Video Ele is a series of videos that introduce different themes and strutures, with some culture thrown in. My students find them a teensy boring out of context, but for a motivated learner or to show a specific topic in class, they’re great! Here’s an example:
6. ¿Eres tú, María? A mystery series set in Madrid, for Spanish learners who have been studying for a few months already.
Teach Yourself Spanish with Authentic Listening
1. Spanish Proficiency Exercises All are video recordings of native speakers from different countries, and are organized by proficiency tasks and levels (score!).
2. Spanish Listening This is another gold mine of native speakers, with videos divided by topic and level. There are also activities to go with each recording.
3. Radio Ambulante Produced by NPR, this podcast contains Latin American stories and is best suited for intermediate to advanced learners.
4. Lyrics Training An online fill-in-the-blank activity for listening to music in Spanish.
5. Ver-Taal Authentic commericals, trailers, newscasts, and more in Spanish, with comprehension activities as well.
6. Learn Spanish Podcasts Very cool site for learning Spanish through comprehensible podcasts (not for absolute beginners), with transcripts included.
Online Spanish Resources: Reading Practice
1. BBC Mundo World news in Spanish.
3. ESPN in Spanish
4. Newsela This is a great resource for news articles. The best thing is that you can choose grade levels to simplify the reading if desired.
Spanish Grammar Resources
1. Study Spanish This website has most Spanish grammar topics broken down into lessons. The explanations are clear with examples, and there are a variety of ways to practie.
2. Spanish Language & Culture Lots of grammar activities and in-context practice, with some listening and song activities thrown in.
3. 121 Spanish Is a well-organized site, with video as well as grammar activities.
4. Señor Jordan A Spanish teacher, Señor Jordan has a series of YouTube videos explaining various Spanish structures, with some songs as well. Since I don’t do much grammar in class, this is a great online Spanish resource that my students can do at home. He also now teaches using comprehensible input, and is beginning to create storytelling videos that teach grammar as a pop-up. Here’s an example:
What sites did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
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