I’ve heard over and over that living in a Spanish-speaking country is one of the best ways to learn the language. Well, that’s all fine and good, except perhaps like some of you, I lack the funds right now to travel however much I would LOVE to go. So, how to immerse yourself in the language? Let’s go on a little trip.
First stop will be music/educational CDs and podcasts. I use these in two ways – active and inactive. Sometimes I sit with my children as we listen and talk about what’s going on and other times I just have it on in the background as we’re doing quiet things such as putting together puzzles or working on a craft. We also listen to them in the car which is great because your kids are pretty much a captive audience.
Some of our favorite CDs & Podcasts:
For the kids:
- Professor Pocket
- Play & Learn Spanish
- We Are Little Amigos
- Teach Me Spanish series
- José-Luis Orozco
- Cody’s Cuentos
For the adults:
Our second stop will be DVDs, TV shows and online videos. Some of you probably have quite a few DVDs already and most likely many of them have a Spanish-language track. Then there is the SAP (second audio program) option on your television. Usually you can access this option on your remote. For ours it’s the MTS button. I have found that several children shows on PBS have a Spanish-language track. Another alternative are online videos. I have some listed here: http://delicious.com/Karen427/Spanish+online_video.
Using the language interactively will be our final stop. Join a Spanish conversation group in town. A good place to start is meetup.com. There truly isn’t anything that will improve your language skills more than conversing with someone. You could also try to find a Spanish-language playgroup for your child. If there isn’t one, you could start one yourself.
If joining a group isn’t for you, then perhaps setting up an intercambio either in person or online suits you better. For half the time you and your partner could practice English and then Spanish for the other half. There are numerous web sites for this such as SharedTalk.com, Palabea.net, iTalki.com and more. Skype, which is available free, is the most common tool for these exchanges. So, even though you may not have the funds to travel abroad, you can still immerse yourself in the language right at home. ¡Suerte!
Karen has lots more tips and resources for learners and teachers of Spanish, on her blog, Teaching and Learning Spanish!