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A couple of beginners

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:32 pm
by juman
So me and my wife want to learn a new language (Spanish) where we have zero knowledge at the moment. I have previously experimented a bit to learn French with Anki, audiocourses etc but haven't really got any ideas on how to approach this so that we can learn together. Any ideas on approaches we can do together?

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:33 pm
by rdearman
I haven't learned Spanish, so I cannot give you specific resources to use. But perhaps a general guideline?

First check for available resources here: ... 19&t=5377/

Then I would recommend you and your wife start watching a lot of TV together, every day. The TV shows should all be in Spanish and at the beginning you can start with sub-titles, but you should try to wean yourself off those as much as possible. Try to work out between you what they are saying, lots of words will be repeats, so you can start to get a handle on them.

At the same time you should both start studying some coursebooks. Label everything in your house with a post-it note in Spanish. What is the Spanish word for sofa? Write it down, up it on the sofa, same with doors, windows, oven, etc. Quiz each other constantly, "What is the word for car?" Truck? Chair?, etc. Practice the dialogues in your course books together, each playing a part. Lots of course books have dialogues, use them.

Start a book club together. Both of you reading a novel, give each other a summary of the book as you are reading. Or, read to each other !

Learn stock phrases together and use them on each other:
  • How do you say in Spanish ...
  • What time is it?

Play games, like Scrabble, or other word games in Spanish with each other.

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:33 pm
by Le Baron
I second rdearman, though I don't know if watching Spanish TV that early on is likely to propel learners or give them a fright. Probably something more like 'Easy Spanish'...which is not that easy for complete beginners and gets progressively harder as you get better.

It's always good to have a study partner when going through a course so you get to interact immediately and both progress as you move through the course(s). It's less intimidating than having to perform in front of a seasoned speaker, though you might not catch your mistakes as early.

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:54 pm
by smallwhite
If we know your language background better, we can give you more customised advice and discuss things with you better knowing where you're coming from. Would you like to fill out your language profile?

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:03 am
by Kraut
"Easy Spanish Conversations" (this is Mexican Spanish) can be done by a couple

--together: listen/watch and translate/learn the Spanish subs with the "Easysubs" add-on
-- switch off audio and read the scenes with subtitiles yourselves
-- now switch off audio and subtitles and do all of it yourselves, haha

Easy Spanish Conversations

Spanish Table Setting ... 6K&index=6

Earth Day in Spanish ... 6K&index=4

Use "Easysubs" add-on with Firefox, it translates the subs into English

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:00 pm
by Pikaia
Personally I would save TV/movies for native speakers until later, unless you want to watch with English subtitles, making it entertainment and cultural exposure rather than language learning. (I’ve tried it w/o English subs, and unless I’ve previously watched with subtitles and already “know” the dialogue, I get frustrated.)

I’ll suggest free and inexpensive stuff. I’m in the US, and I can’t comment on availability of any of this outside the US. Don’t try to use everything! Just pick a few things to mess around with. See what clicks.

My suggestions start with audio, because it is so easy for English phonetics to interfere if you dive in with a lot of written language first. Note that you and your wife may want to do audio learning work separately and then review together after. My kids and I found it annoying to work with the same audio at the same time, until we were advanced enough to just listen to an interview, story (Duolingo Spanish podcasts!), etc.

1. Pimsleur, either from library (hard copies or Overdrive) or via a subscription. The subscription is $15/month for the basic level; you can opt out of the $20 premium level. Pimsleur really is excellent for pronunciation. Latin American and Castilian are available, though Castilian does not go quite as far.

There are lots of other popular audio programs. The often-mentioned freebie is Language Transfer. Paul Noble moves a bit fast, but is often quite inexpensive on Audible. Your library might have Michel Thomas. Assimil is popular here too.

2. Podcasts: my favorite beginner ones are Coffee Break Spanish, Lightspeed Spanish, and Notes in Spanish. All of them have beginner series/seasons. Spanish Obsessed comes in 4th for me. I always listen to podcasts during my long morning walk. If you don’t have unlimited data and/or need to conserve cell phone battery, download episodes for offline listening. The podcasts themselves are free to listen to. I do not bother buying the accompanying written materials.

3. Video:
If you can stand it, Salsa Spanish from PBS (Georgia Public Broadcasting) can be watched free online. No English, but completely comprehensible. But don’t bother unless you are weird like me and have a high tolerance for programs like Sesame Street. Or maybe conscript a small child as a co-learner, LOL.

Dreaming Spanish website or YouTube channel:
Website can be sorted by level. Some of them are really funny. All worthwhile!

Buena Gente video series for learners ... ena-gente/

Destinos on soap opera created for learners, originally aired on PBS

Extr@ in Spanish with Spanish subtitles: search YouTube. Different channels have different subtitles, so poke around to find one you like. Also the series is available in English and there are transcripts available online too.

4.Music (with words): lots of Spanish teachers blog about the songs they use in their middle and high school Spanish classrooms. Make playlists of the ones that appeal to you. If you like pop, Jesse & Joy, Alvaro Soler, Chayanne, Enrique Iglesias (❤️ 8-) ), and Calle 13 are favorites in our house. And if you don’t already subscribe to a streaming music service, do it! We’ve used them all. At the moment we have YouTube Music, because it is bundled with the no-commercials YouTube plan. But before that we were very happy with a Spotify family plan.

5. Printed stuff: Read reviews on Amazon, pick one or two that sound appealing! Check prices used and/or for older editions.

Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish
Can take you quite far, but you’ll need to get audio exposure elsewhere. Some people also love her smaller book: See It & Say It in Spanish.

Practice Makes Perfect workbooks

Spanish Now! Level 1 (Barron’s, and sequel)

Easy Spanish Reader w/online audio (McGraw Hill)
This one is an excellent resource with three sections of increasing challenge. Use the online audio!

McGraw Hill Beginning Spanish Grammar (and sequels)

6. Reference material

501 Spanish Verbs by Kendris (Barron’s)

A paper dictionary can be optional if you prefer online dictionaries, but I love books. My current favorite dictionary is Collins Spanish Concise Dictionary 6th Ed. I also have the ubiquitous little Merriam Webster Spanish-English dictionary. (Typically there are half a dozen copies on the shelf at my used bookstore.)

7. Textbook: I’m conflicted about recommending a traditional textbook. I use a couple different textbooks, but I enjoy being bookish like that. It’s not necessarily a good thing, to be honest. ;)

The text that accompanies the Destinos series is quite good, and not terribly traditional, but you need the workbook and audio component too. The audio component can sometimes be found posted online, but buying your own hard copies may not be an option.

8. Online/Apps I’m also conflicted about online learning programs. Duolingo can be a good tool, in conjunction with other stuff. The desktop version has more features than the mobile version Your library might have Mango. Neither are bad, and they provide writing (typing) practice that might be lacking in other materials. But those kinds of things probably shouldn’t be your main focus. Also, just say no to Rosetta Stone. ;)

Re: A couple of beginners

Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:53 pm
by Steve
Depending on your individual differences and paces of learning, choosing some activities to do together and some activities to do separately might be helpful for marital harmony.