Learning even a little bit of Spanish before your trip will help you get closer to the culture and enjoy your time much more! Here are 10 free tools to help you learn Spanish for your vacation or trip of a lifetime.
“Not knowing another language is not knowing anything about your own.”
For us, this is more true each day we learn another word of Spanish. Every new phrase makes us think more about how and why we say certain things in our native tongue. This opens our eyes more to what’s out there in the world, and that’s one of the reasons we keep traveling!
Duolingo is a new player in the language arena that has taken off in the past year! They have a free app for your iPhone, Android, or Windows smartphone. You can also create an account and continue your lessons on their website.
2. DictBox – Offline Translator Dictionary
When we’re traveling, it’s crucial to have an offline dictionary on our smartphone because we rarely have a cell phone plan in foreign countries. This app downloads the entire dictionary up front (but it’s still less than 100 MB) so you can translate Spanish words without an internet or cell phone connnection.
3. Google Translate App
This app is an amazing 2-way translator! When I speak English, the app recognizes my words, translates it into Spanish, and speaks the Spanish words. Then, someone can speak Spanish and it’ll reverse the process and speak English out to me.
That’s amazing! Imagine trying to explain that to someone 20 years ago – they would have thought you were nuts!
The app will also translate words, phrases, text from a picture, and tons more. It is easy to use and has a smooth interface. It does require an internet connection, but probably doesn’t use much data. Best of all, it’s free! Their website is snappy too.
From the makers of the super-popular beginner-Spanish podcast Coffee Break Spanish, the Show Time Spanish podcast is a good intermediate podcast that focuses on helping you to advance your Spanish to the next level. It has a helpful organization of Spanish-only segments, grammar explanations in English, a telenovela that’s all in Spanish, and some questions to help you think harder about the lesson.
The BBC put together this beginner’s Spanish course that is really helpful to get accustomed to listening to spoken Spanish. It’s an engaging 22-episode suspense story, with some interactive activities and explanations. Image credit: BBC.
Great resource for information on Spanish grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
Anki is one of the most popular flashcard tools out there that uses Spaced Repetition Software (SRS). If you love flashcards, then this is the perfect tool for you!
This telenovela from the 90’s was designed specifically for language students. It’s a little corny, but has 52 half-hour lessons to help you with Spanish listening.
Newspapers are a good intermediate learning tool because they are written with simple vocabulary, yet are full of idioms and common phrases and local lingo. La Nación is a popular newspaper in Costa Rica.
10. Children’s Books
What could be better for learning beginning-intermediate Spanish than a book completely in Spanish, with beginner vocabulary, and lots of pictures? Children’s Book Forever has some free books to download in Spanish and other languages
Good luck exploring the world of languages! Be sure to start a few months before your trip!
Leave a comment to let us know how it’s going!