There is a wealth of free Spanish lessons now available on the Web, in fact, you might even call it an avalanche – and it´s become nearly overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong: I think it is a great development, and as technology continues to progress, we can count on seeing new methods of virtual teaching that will help you learn Spanish faster than ever (more about that later), but for now – and despite Google´s best efforts to organize the world’s information – it´s still a jungle out there, and you almost need a machete to slash through the thickets to get to your destination.
Now, first a disclaimer: most Spanish lessons you find on the web are not part of a comprehensive curriculum. In other words, they don’t provide the silver bullet that will help you learn Spanish from A to Z, but they will provide you with a lot of material to help you reinforce what you are already learning in class:; additionally, they will help keep you entertained and hence, motivated. If you want a Spanish program with a dedicated teacher, and regular evaluations, you will probably have to pay for it.
But as far as free resources go, one of my favorites is the BBC page http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/. They have a brilliant video drama that basic level learners can complete over 12 weeks. The website also comes choc-a-block with audios, games and quizzes, which allow learners to work different skill levels. Well done, BBC! Visit the page if you haven´t already.
Another great – and relatively new – resource is the “Butterfly Spanish” channel on Youtube. The concept isn’t new: a Spanish speaker standing in front of a white board imparting a lesson, but thanks to the charisma of the host/teacher Anna, the lessons are a pleasure to watch and the material is easy to learn. The “Butterfly Spanish” people are posting with frequency these days and the lessons are downright useful, covering the basics of Spanish grammar and teaching useful expressions that basic learners can apply right away. Anna, you are a charm, and a very talented instructor. Thumbs up!
Lastly, I’d like to pitch our own Youtube channel which also offers free video lessons. These are the videos that you find here on our blog, but the channel has a more complete catalogue and they are presented by category. Our goal with these videos was never to provide a chronological path where students could learn Spanish from start to finish, but rather Spanish videos where students can practice listening to Spanish at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels (mostly basic), and hopefully have a chuckle or two while they learn. Many of the videos are subtitled and they all include a script in the comments section. Language is kept simple and slang is non-existent. These videos have evolved over time and include everything from learning Spanish using cognates, to Spanish vocabulary for health sector workers.
Our hope in the future is to continue to add to these videos, but include a series of verbal drills and written exercises, so students can both practice what they have learned, as well as received scored feedback.
What does the future hold for free online Spanish lessons? It´s tough to predict, but my own guess is that within 10 years holograms will be a big part of the online language teaching horizon. These will be both “live” ( an online Spanish teacher projects to your location) and “non-live” where produced lessons will include a teacher who projects to where you are in order to “deliver” the class. Sound like science fiction to you? Well, so did a Skype video call 15 years ago.