Hi, I’m Andrew Tracey, and hablo español bastante bien (“I speak Spanish rather well”), “rather well” meaning high-B2/low-C1 on the CEFR scale (depends on how good a day I’m having and if I’m hung over or sleep-deprived), for those familiar. I’ve been learning languages since I was twelve years old, Spanish for about the past nine years, I used it for three months when I lived in Spain (Zaragoza), and I’ve been writing about learning languages for the past eight years, including a bestselling book currently in its 2nd edition. And let me tell you something, the way you get to success is…
Fail. A lot.
After failing on five separate occasions to learn a language to fluency (French, German, Spanish, Swedish, and Japanese), I went from zero to conversational fluency in Spanish (2nd attempt!) in six months. I failed my way to success. I tried everything that didn’t work–textbooks, home study courses, classes in highschool and university (any of this sound familiar?)–until I found something that did. I used the rather unconventional (but fun and effective!) method of learning Spanish from popular media like movies, TV shows, songs, books, and even comics (Garfield, my favorite! yes, it’s available in Spanish!). I even wrote a whole book about it called The Telenovela Method (check it out here on Amazon), which is currently in its second edition (just came out March 2017) and the paperback was the #1 new release in the Spanish Language Instruction section on Amazon for a whole month after it premiered (see photo on left).
Ok, the Telenovela Method sounds like fun, can you show me some examples of how to do this?
Sure. I’ve got six such posts where I do this with a music video. I take the video, give you the Spanish lyrics and the English translation, and then break the whole thing down and use it to teach you a ton of Spanish. The point of these is primarily to teach you how I do this with the Telenovela Method so that you can go and do it yourself with any music video, song, movie, or TV show that you like, the Spanish that you learn from these posts is just a bonus, what I primarily want you to take away is how to do this. Here are those six posts (I’ve done five with Shakira songs and one Juanes song, there will be more in the future, please subscribe to my RSS feed or newsletter if you’re interested in being notified when they come out):
What about finding material to actually do it with? Where can I get Spanish-language videos, TV shows, music, comics, books online (preferably for free, of course!)?
Check out the following two posts:
List of Websites Where You Can Watch Spanish Videos with Spanish Subtitles or Transcripts Online – This is a list I’ve been working on for over a year now because after I put out the Telenovela Method post people have constantly been asking me where they can find Spanish-language videos with Spanish subtitles online for free, especially full-length TV shows (such as telenovelas) and movies. Well, I finally put a list together, and yes there are some places where you can even watch telenovelas (popular ones! Like Betty la Fea!) online with Spanish subtitles. Not only that but there are news sites where you can do this and a couple of sites where the community members pick videos off of YouTube and subtitle them in various languages (just one of these sites has over 2,000 such videos, all free). Between all these sites you’ve got tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of hours of Spanish-language videos with Spanish subtitles available to you online, for free. I do update the list every time I find a new site and remove any dead links, so the list itself will never become outdated.
List of Best Free Sites to Watch Spanish-Language TV Online – This is a list of my favorite websites that you can use to help you learn Spanish via watching Spanish-language TV (news, shows, telenovelas, whatever) and is one of the most popular posts on my site. Only criteria is that they must be free, I’m not going to recommend anything you have to pay for (it’s just too easy to find free stuff and therefore no one’s going to be willing to pay for it–hey, I wouldn’t, I don’t blame you). I’ve divided it up alphabetically by country. Oh, and I actually checked each one of these sites to make sure that they were working and actually had streaming video available, unlike every other list of Spanish language TV/radio station sites I’ve managed to find online (all of them had tons of links to broken sites, all of them).
You talked about how important it was to make the learning process fun, what’s that all about?
The primary reason most people fail to learn a language is that they give up and quit, and the primary reason they do that is because they simply lose motivation, get bored, and/or get discouraged. The way you prevent that is by finding as much motivation as you can and by making the whole thing as fun, interesting, and not-boring as possible. I’ve written up several posts on this:
Motivation: You Don’t Need a Shark, But You Do Need Something – I explain the importance of motivation in learning a new language and how to find it.
The Most Important Factor in Learning a Language is… – I explain why I think that fun is, essentially, the most important factor in learning a language and how to make it as fun and interesting as possible. I believe that this will, by far, do more to make you successful in your quest to learn Spanish fluently than anything else will. Seriously, read it.
Why you should use kids’ stuff: because you’re a simpleton who needs to be entertained lest you lose interest and wander off, that’s why. – I explain why I think that children’s material in Spanish–things like children’s books, TV shows, and movies–are such a fantastic resource.
Learn Spanish with comics! Do you like Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, Cathy, Foxtrot, Marmaduke, etc.? I’ve got something for you! – I found an awesome site where you can read the Spanish versions of tons of famous comic strips like Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes online for free, fantastic resource. I additionally found another free online comic in Spanish (with English translations!) you might also be interested in that I talk about here.
The Awesome Language-Learning Resource that is Children’s Books – I explain why children’s books are such a fantastic resource for learning a foreign language and then I tell you about a website where you can read nearly 200 Spanish-language children’s books online for free.
What’s the most useful post you have? Not according to you, but according to your readers.
Based on feedback I’ve gotten from readers in comments and e-mails, other language bloggers, and people on reddit where this post was submitted, that would definitely have to be this one:
What do you have that will help me learn Spanish RIGHT NOW? I want to learn some cool stuff in Spanish NOW!
No problem, I’ve actually got some really interesting stuff, I really try very hard to make sure that what I put out there in this particular theme is very reality-centered–that is, if it’s not common with native speakers, I don’t use it. Check these out:
Do you have anything about Spanish-speaking cultures and countries? That sort of stuff is fascinating.
I agree, I love learning about other cultures, peoples, and countries. The whole reason I learn a language is so I can communicate with people, that’s it, not because I want to impress anyone or anything like that. My primary goal, by far, is to be able to talk to people who speak the language. Check this out:
Top 9 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Gringo in Latin America – This is actually a guest post I did for Dave over at GoBackpacking.com, just so you know, but yes I wrote it, to be clear.
How about free online resources to learn Spanish? What do you have about that?
I have a whole email series designed for beginning Spanish students that is the product of years of work, not just in teaching myself Spanish but in teaching it to other people and teaching them how to learn it on their own using my methods. Not only do you immediately get my list of the Top 10 Free Online Resources for Learning Spanish but you’ll also receive lots of other recommended online resources in future emails. Additionally, you’ll start off with my 5-part series designed to help beginners kick-start the learning process and begin learning and speaking Spanish immediately.
What else do I get?
- Discounts on tons of language-learning products. Because I’m a well-known blogger in the Spanish/Language-learning industry, I’m constantly asked to promote this or that product to my email list and on my site. If it’s good enough and I can work out a good deal (read: discount) for my readers, I’ll do it, and you’ll hear about it immediately.
- New blog posts and articles that I write on how to learn Spanish or languages in general. Some of these will be exclusively for my email list.
- Any news or reviews about free resources that I think might help you.