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Resources for Learning Spanish

posted Oct 9, 2011, 4:06 PM by Paul Gareau   [ updated Oct 10, 2011, 3:21 PM ]
Here are a few lessons, websites and podcasts I've found helpful:

This website is awesome. I'd recommend starting here with the pronunciation lessons. DON'T underestimate the importance of pronunciation! I've met people in Latin America who have spent MONTHS studying Spanish and still don't even try to get the pronunciation right. If you aren't pronouncing the words correctly, you're not speaking Spanish. An accent, on the other hand, is something different, and I'd say not to worry too much about that. I strongly recommend learning pronunciation FIRST before moving on to anything else. This website also offers free lessons in grammar, vocabulary and verb drills.

This is another excellent website. It covers almost every topic imaginable from basic to advanced Spanish. I find myself on this site fairly frequently when I have a question about grammar. This is a great next step after you have your pronunciation down.

Spanish-English Cognates
A cognate is a word that is the same or similar between two languages. For example, most words that end in "al", "or" or "sion/cion" are the same or similar in both English or Spanish. Why not learn as many as you can from the start and make your job easier? There are many websites with Spanish-English Cognate lists, including:
  • has an excellent list of Spanish English cognates, organized by the "rules" the cognates follow 
  • has a small list of cognate "rules" with a few examples of each
  • There are good PDF lists here and here
Most Common Words
OK, so you have a pretty good handle on the cognates and want to keep building your vocabulary - but there are so many words, where do you start? Luckily there are lists of the most common Spanish words on the web, here are a few:
  • has a list of the 175 most commonly used words, also available as a PDF
  • has a list of the 1000 most commonly used words with audio, which is a great start towards a conversational vocabulary
  • has flashcards for the top 1000 words, possibly taken from the wordsgalore list
  • has lists of words ordered by how often they appeared in TV subtitles, but without definitions
Listening to Spanish
Now you have a good sense of pronunciation, grammar and a decent vocabulary. The next step is to listen to as much Spanish as possible. My favorite way to do this is a website called, which is exactly what you would guess - the news, read slowly and clearly, in Spanish! You can either subscribe to their podcast, or download individual files from their site. Each audio file has an accompanying lesson on the website.

Buena suerte!