I’m taking Spanish Lessons through italki

During my first visit to Mexico in 2007 I decided that I wanted to learn Spanish. I began studying and have made quite a bit of progress. My other blog posts about learning Spanish are here. But I am still not where I would like to be. My goal is to be able to understand most conversational Spanish and to be able to talk quickly and to be well understood.

My favorite motivational blog and web site is Beny Lewis' Fluent in Three Months. He makes the case that the most important thing you can do in learning a language  is to just start speaking it.

He also pointed me to italki a web site that offers native speaking language teachers and language lessons at very reasonable prices. You can find a teacher who is a native speaker from almost any country.  I had an  introductory lesson Tuesday for $1 with Carla from Bolivia. I am going to have my first real lesson tomorrow. So far it seems to be working very well. I am excited!


In the interest of full disclosure if you use an italki link form this blog I should get some free credits for lessons.

On italki you can also find people who  have signed to be language partners. I haven't tried that yet but I think I might.

Spanish Learning resources that I use and Like

Before our current trip to Mexico the last time I was in Mexico was in January of 2007. I wasn't posting pictures to my blog back then but if you would like to read about the trip the posts start here. On that trip I spoke zero Spanish. I relied on Duke. He is a fluent Spanish speaker. The trip was so much fun that I resolved to start learning Spanish. I started to work on learning in fits and starts. I've made quite a bit of progress in my Spanish learning and I am excited about the opportunity this trip provides for me to actually use and improve my Spanish.

I plan to use my blog posts to chronicle my progress and my experience trying to use the Spanish I have learned. Duke and I crossed the border yesterday and today was the first day I have been out of the car and able to try speaking Spanish. I've spoken to a few waiters and made small take with people in elevators. I'm understanding quite a bit and surprisingly people understand me when I say things like hace calor (it's hot) 🙂 In any case I am having fun

If you are interested here are some of the resources I have used to learn some Spanish on my own, (or I should say with help from Duke.)

Coffee Break Spanish and Showtime Spanish from the radio Lingua Network. I have found these podcasts to be fantastically useful. Coffee Break Spanish consists of 80 lessons of 15-20 minutes each starting at the very beginning.

Showtime Spanish is for improving  listening skills. I can definitely tell that I am improving when I compare how much I understood a few years ago and how much I understand now. I've even managed  to learn two jokes that I can tell in Spanish.

There is premium content available for these podcasts but so far I have not purchased it.

Fluid in Three Months is a blog written by Benny Lewis which I find really inspiring and interesting. Benny made me realize that I have to actually speak Spanish in order to learn to speak Spanish. I purchased his language hacking guide and like it. He also made realize there is no point in worrying about sounding foolish. So I am just diving in.

Lang-8 is a web site where you can write in your target language and have native speakers of the language correct your writing. I think you have to be a member to see my Spanish journal but if you sign up my user name is MarionV.

Flashcards Deluxe is a great flashcard program that I use on my iPod Touch but of course you can use it on a smart phone too. I set it to repeat the words that I am having problems with. I created some of my own decks and I also downloaded some public decks that are available.

When I have grammar questions I usually find the answers in The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice .

When I first started learning I worked my way through the exercises in Madrigal's magic Key to Spanish. I liked it a lot. The only down side was that it doesn't teach the familiar forms of the verbs but it does make learning easy.

Duke and I joined the Reno Newcomers Club Spanish group which has been very helpful.

We are  in Vera Cruz tonight and will be here tomorrow night too. I'll write a post more about our travels and what we are seeing tomorrow. This is the view from our hotel room overlooking the main square.

Road trip 2011 017






Learning to speak Spanish – The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis

Duke and I spent two weeks traveling in Mexico in 2007. Duke is fluent in Spanish and his ability to really communicate made our trip so much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. Ever since then I have been working on learning Spanish. I want to speak Spanish fluently.

I've worked my way  through Madrigal's Magical Key to Spanish by Margaret Madrigal, I'm listening to and practicing with the Coffee Break Spanish and Showtime Spanish Podcasts produced by the Radio Lingua Network. I downloaded the Flashcards Deluxe app to my iPod Touch. I've set it to use a spaced repetition system and I've created several decks of Spanish flash cards that I practice with.  As I discussed in a previous post I am using Mango Languages on the Washoe County library web site and I like it a lot.

In spite of studying a lot for three years I still don't really speak Spanish. It is just like the four years of French I studied in high school. Even though I know a lot of the language I can not really speak it or communicate in it.

LHGRecently I bought The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis. It is an ebook and included interviews, worksheets and translations.  To quote Benny's web site:

"The Language Hacking Guide explains exactly what you need to do to speak a language quickly. Rather than read through the guide to find out my one major ‘secret’, I can tell you right now. You need to speak the language from day one."

I think I really knew that the only way to speak and understand Spanish is to start speaking it. But that is really hard for me.  I don't like to appear foolish. I like to be right and I am very bad at asking for help or asking to be corrected. I am definitely not an extrovert.

The Language Hacking Guide convinced me. Benny's positive enthusiastic style and advice got me over the hump. 

Part one of The Language Hacking Guide is about Mentality. Benny says that although a goal like - I want ot learn to speak and understand Spanish is fine you really have ot have short term aims. So that is what I am working on. My goals so far are not really specific enough but I am speaking Spanish more with Duke and I think I am making some progress.

Benny also urges learners to have a language log to document progress and to share the struggle. So one  of my gaols will be to post regular updates on my progress here on this blog. I've added a Learning Spanish category to my category list on the left.

If you are interested in Benny's approach go to Benny's Fluent in Three Months web site. There you can sign up for his weekly language hacking tips.

If any of you reading this have any suggestions for how to learn to speak Spanish I would really appreciate your input and of course I appreciate your cheer leading. Thanks in advance.



Mango Languages

The Washoe County Library System offers a language learning tool called Mango Languages. It is an interactive languages learning system. I like it a lot, am having fun using it and I find I am retaining what I learn. The library subscribes to the program and because I have a library card I get to use it on my computer at home free. I am studying Spanish but Mango offers basic and complete courses in a long list of languages.


As I work through the course each phrase is broken down into pieces and I am drilled on the words in the phrase and then phrase as a whole. I like that I am not only listening to the language but I am seeing the words. I am a very visual learner when it comes to languages. I can also choose how much repetition I want. In my current lesson I can go through 92 slides in the entire lesson or just do 49 vocabulary slides or 7 phrasebook slides.


If your library offers Mango languages you will find it on your library web site. If you don't live in Washoe County, Nevada then on the Mango Languages home page you can put in your zip code and find a library near you that offers the service