Frank Smith once said: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” While Charles the Great has been quoted as saying: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
These are very illustrative of the power of speaking more than one language. It opens up a whole different world, allowing you to perceive your surroundings differently and even think in ways you would not have been able to otherwise.
All languages are difficult to learn, although some are more difficult than others. Thankfully, for English speakers, Spanish is one of the easiest of the roughly 6,500 different tongues in the world.
It is even more fortunate that living in the 21st century makes everything easier and more convenient. We can use social media to communicate with loved ones, or use sites like Amazon to have goods delivered in 24 hours.
The Internet also makes it easier than ever for us to learn a new language, opening up a wealth of different tools that we can use to boost our language learning.
It can be really frustrating lugging a heavy dictionary around with you. It weighs your bag down, crushes the other things in your bag, and it’s the first thing to get damaged if something leaks in there.
Big bilingual dictionaries can be difficult to use too, flicking through the pages can take a while when you’re trying to find the right word, especially if you’re unsure of the spelling.
Thankfully, WordMagic has developed a comprehensive English to Spanish dictionary that’s available for Windows, Mac, and smartphones. There is even a free version you can use that lets you search for words instead of flicking through pages.
The Duolingo owl became an internet sensation when it became a meme. However, the app has been around for much longer, having launched in 2011. It offers language learning in bite-sized chunks via its mobile apps, helping with vocabulary and grammar.
It supports 35 different languages, from popular options like French and German to niche languages like Klingon, Navajo, and Esperanto. Its most popular option is Spanish, with more than 26 million learners using its platform.
It is useful to absolute beginners and those that have already learned some Spanish, with the option to pass tests to skip the beginner lessons.
Once you have been able to develop some knowledge of Spanish, developing your understanding of grammar and extending your vocabulary, it’s time to practice having conversations.
There are many options to do this online, with many groups on social networks bringing people together informally. In these cases, you will often have to help someone learn English at the same time.
There are also online services that provide language exchange to users by providing a closed platform to find people and then chat. Tandem is a great example of this, with an easy to use app, several languages and professional teachers for when you want to take your learning to the next level.
Learning about current events in Spanish can be a great way to help you pick up the language. BBC Mundo is the BBC’s Spanish language service, offering content through its app and website.
While you may not be able to understand everything, you can use it to practice the words and phrases that you do know. Try to infer from context for the sections you don’t understand, and write down any new words. You can then look them up in your digital dictionary later.
Flashcards can be a great way to practice new words, except like physical dictionaries, they can be annoying to carry around all the time. This is where Quizlet comes in, giving you the ability to make digital flashcards that are contained within the app.
You can create your own or use sets that have been created by others. If you’re learning Spanish with friends, you can even share your cards with each other so you can practice the same words and then test each other on them later.