Learning Spanish Pt. 1

Nyx
3 min readFeb 9, 2024

Sorry about the delay this week in getting a blog published, but better late than never!

If your goal this year is to learn Spanish as a second language, I commend you. I am a Spanish learner myself and have dedicated a good part of the last five years to trying to nail down Spanish, and specifically the dialect of Andalusian/Granaino Spanish (Granada, Spain).

The central cathedral in Granada, photo by Nyx Robey.

Here are some of my favorites:

Apps & Platforms

Gamifying or using apps to learn a language can be a helpful supplement when combined with other activities like reading books, watching series, or finding groups.

Instagram/Tiktok

A great way to integrate your life better in Spanish is to follow Spanish content creators on Instagram & Tiktok. The more you’ll follow, the better your algorithm will get at finding you similar content! There are tons on learning Spanish specifically, or just following people whose native language is Spanish.

Tandem

Tandem is an app that I mention because the design of the app is really thoughtful. You can redline messages/text to correct someone else, and the intent is to have a virtual pen pal to do a language exchange.

In practice though, Tandem turns out to often be a place where people are looking to hook up/date. All that said, it is where I accidentally met my husband, so you never know — you might find people on there who are really dedicated who happen to be your soulmate.

Duolingo

Duolingo allows for exposure to a language, but doesn’t offer true practice. You will be able to understand more vocabulary and grammar, recognize words, but you may struggle with employing your usage.

To get real practice in, you need dedicated time either in a given country (best), with people who speak Spanish and are willing to practice (hit or miss), in a classroom, or with a tutor.

Learning Spanish has made travel a lot easier to manage in Spanish speaking countries. This was from a trip to Mexico, photo by Nyx Robey.

TV & Books

Pick shows and movies that are familiar so that it’s easy to pick up on the storyline.

TV — Start with watching TV in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Chose series and movies that were originally in Spanish, there are many on the various streaming platforms.

Books — For books, start with whatever your level is and start churning through what you can. Pamphlets produced by the government? Sure. Shorter kids books or simple poems. Then progress to chapter books. Consider your level and translate that to an appropriate age and find something interesting. Right now I’m reading Malala, for example.

Podcasts — I recommend Hoy Hablamos if your level is edging on intermediate, and DuoLingo if your level’s a bit lower. There’s also NPR’s Radio Ambulante. When you get a bit more advanced, listen to podcasts about subjects you like in Spanish rather than Spanish-learning podcasts.

Lastly, be persistent and patient with yourself. Focus on fluency over perfection and getting full sentences out or comprehending conversations.

Next blog we’ll focus on classes.

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Nyx

Psychology | Data Science & Viz | Social Justice | Spanish