One of the most important aspects of a culture is language. Here are some of the best resources to learn Spanish. Language is meant to be used, so take advantage of any option that lets you actively converse with native speakers. Much of this guide is also useful for learning other languages as well.
Mango Languages: A language learning service that is free with your library card. Explore more than 70 foreign languages, American Sign Language and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and resources to gain practical, real-world conversation skills.
Duolingo: The world’s most downloaded education app! This is the one I often use because it offers a great variety of exercises to practice grammar and vocabulary. If you’re feeling competitive, it includes a weekly leaderboard to test yourself against other users.
Spanishdict.com: One of the best online reference sources for Spanish diction and grammar. It is a much better alternative to using Google Translate. I use it extensively for verb conjugation charts and grammar guides. It also has an extensive list of exercises that incorporate video, listening and grammar practice.
Spanish Language Materials: We have an extensive collection of items in Spanish for children, teens and adults. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend the Elephant & Piggie series by best-selling children’s author Mo Williams. If you want something more advanced, we have the entire Harry Potter series in Spanish as well. For a real challenge, we have copies of Don Quixote.
Kanopy: – A streaming service that offers the best of arthouse and foreign films that are just a click away with your library card. This is a great source of notable films in Spanish, such as Buitiful, Neruda, Arrugas. Note: Not all of these films are suitable for the whole family, but Kanopy includes an option called KanopyKids which is suited for younger viewers.
HelloTalk: An app that allows you to converse with native speakers in your target language. Besides text chat, you can also make corrections and send audio clips.
Meetup: This app is a great way to find local groups for conversation practice. There are several groups in the Will, DuPage and Cook County area.
Italki: An online language learning platform that connects language learners and teachers through video chat. Rates and class structure are set by the teacher, but most generally offer a short introduction class to assess your learning level and to see if you are a good fit.
Duolingo Podcast: Duolingo also has a podcast! It offers stories in intermediate Spanish with an English speaker chiming in for context. I just finished their six-part series El Gran Robo that covers a sensational bank robbery that happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2006. It even includes interviews with journalists, police officers and the robbers themselves who took part in the heist.
Coffee Break Spanish: A grammar and vocabulary-based podcast. It has won several podcasting awards, including iTunes Best of 2013.