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Learn Spanish - FIRST THINGS FIRST ...


Before we get down to the content, there a few tools and gadgets you'll find helpful.  Take a little time to explore these and register if necessary.  (Remember, they are all free and are only mentioned here because they are useful, tried and tested).



Take a test


First of all, unless you know yourself to be a total beginner, it would be a good idea to begin with a diagnositc assessment - to find out what your level is and what you most need to improve. 


BBC languages

You can find one here - on BBC languages

And a quite a few more here


One way to see if this language is for you is to try a 'demo' lesson...


Mango Languages isn't a free course - but you can try out Lesson 1 for free.  This lesson will give you lots and lots of practice of some very basic and useful phrases so it's well worth doing - but this website is all about learning for free so if you finish the demo unit, make sure you check out what else is around for free before deciding you would like to sign up for the paid units.



Mango Languages - Lessons


Getting set up - Desktop Tools


Now get yourself set up for regular study of this language - but 'little and often' is really the only way to get there.

First, download your free audio flashcards from BYKI (Before You Know It).

These are cards are fantastic for mastering basic vocabulary and the audio is excellent, providing all the repetition that you need to help words 'stick'.  The only fiddly part is realising how to change the word list that you are practising.  The link is small and right at the top of the page.  Click on it and select 'change list' when you are ready to move on.


 Flashcards are great - especially brilliantly designed tools such as the 'Quizlet' website which I'll mention later, but if you lack the self-discipline to make yourself sit down and work through your vocabulary, 'Popling' can do this bit for you.



Sign up for free, download the application then search other people's flashcards or - much better still - make your own.  Your vocabulary will then pop up in the corner of your computer screen every now and then, as you work on other things.  You'll find yourself memorising words and expressions without even trying.

 Adding Accents

 If you are going to be studying on your computer, writing online or wordprocessing, you're going to come across the problem of adding the right accents to your writing.  There are various ways you can add accents when typing - keyboard shortcuts etc etc.  But these are fiddly and I always forget them.  But this tool makes it all very easy.  Just got to Typeit.com, type in what you want to say and then cut and paste the finished text into your document or programme.  Simples.



But how do you pronounce it?

When studying by yourself, pronunciation can sometimes be a bit of a problem.

Here's a great tool that can help you out: Audiopal.com

You also get a choice whether to hear the word/phrase spoken by a man or a woman. If there are accents in the languag you want to be pronounced, don't forget to use 'Typeit.com' (see above) to help.


Another way you can set yourself to make the most of your learning opportunities is to customise the layout of your computer desktop.  One way you can do this is to got to iGoogle and, if you don't have a Google account already, sign up for one (it's free and very useful). 

You should find a link that says 'Add Stuff'  If you search using the term 'Spanish' you'll find various bits and pieces - but I would recommend setting up a  'Word of the Day' gadget or two - like the one shown here.  The best ones will give you a recording of the word and embed it into a context.

Below and to the left you'll see some examples of the sort of 'widgits' available - some useful study tools, some provide a little Spanish-flavoured distraction.


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