12 Inexpensive Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

12 Inexpensive Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

I’m scheduled to take a trip-of-a-lifetime cruise  this year and am intent on finding inexpensive ways to learn a foreign language before I go. My goal is to learn as much Spanish as possible beforehand sailing around South America – and to continue to learn more afterwards.

Being a thrifty student, I want to stick to free or low-cost Spanish language training and forego expensive classes.

If you’re trying to learn a new language on the cheap, too, here are some things to try:

  1. Books (from the library and new/used on amazon.com)
  2. CDs (from the library and new/used on amazon.com)
  3. Kid’s “learn Spanish” videos (free from the library) — don’t laugh! If you know nothing, these are great.
  4. Songs on CD (stumbled across a “learn Spanish from music” CD at the thrift store for $2.99). The alphabet song worked to learn ABCs; why not learn Spanish by singing songs like “La Bamba”?
  5. Spanish-speaking meetup groups (there’s a local one run by a person who gives Spanish classes and offers tutoring, but I haven’t attended a get-together yet). She charges a very small fee (about $2) to attend the coffee, lunch and other meetings — and there are various conversation sessions for beginners and advanced students. Join other people whose goal is to accomplish the same thing you want to do!
  6. Spanish word-a-day calendar (bought two different ones — one for home and one for work) — best to buy 1/2 price after Christmas
  7. Spanish phrase-a-day calendar — best to buy 1/2 price after Christmas
  8. Online lists of top 100, 400 or 1000 most common Spanish words
  9. Online lists of words that are the same or similar (cognates) in both English and Spanish; once you find this, you’ll realize you already know a LOT of words (except you don’t know how to pronounce them correctly… but you can Google that)
  10. Free online flash cards and quizzes  — lots of choices there
  11. Free online language training
  12. Free email-a-day language training, where you receive a different word to learn every day. Some sites send daily emails and give you tips on ways to memorize words! For example, bañar means ‘to bathe’ and to remember it, imagine Antonio BANderas bathing in the bath, playing his BANJO!

I bought two sets of CDs with related books on Amazon, using the theory that each set of CDs would teach me different things, even if they were both geared for beginners. And they have!

Have always been a fan of the Dummies series of books, so one set of the CDs and books is Spanish for Dummies.

I play the “learning Spanish” CDs in the car going to and from work every day, and am happy to report that the “light bulb” keeps going on more and more, as I get grammar tips and vocabulary words from them. Doing that and using online flash cards and quizzes to reinforce what is on the CDs, as well as learning from the calendars and books, really seems to be working!

Will let you know for certain how everything turns out after the trip! Hasta luego!

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4 Responses to 12 Inexpensive Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

  1. You’ve got some good ideas I’m going to steal! Thanks! I’ve always lived in Arizona and Southern California so I had some minimal Spanish ingrained. I had also had 2 years Spanish in grade school 1000 years ago and another two years 2000 – 2002 when I went the university as a senior. So for me a lot of it wasn’t learning Spanish it was dredging it up. Before I went to Merida Mexico for 6 weeks and then Guatemala for 2 month last year, I started watching Spanish speaking movies on Netflix with English subtitles. That was fun!. It got so where I could tell if the subtitles had left a lot out and vastly increased my vocabulary of swear words!

    When I arrived in Merida I found an uber driver that I hit it off well with and used him exclusively. His English was as rough as my Spanish so we played a game. I had to speak in Spanish and he had to speak in English. We would correct each others pronunciation grammar and incorrect words. If we were completely stumped we pull up the translation app on our phone. once I had found the translation for what I was trying to say, I had to read it to him in Spanish, again with corrections, and vice a versa. by the time I left, we were both doing a lot better. Enough so that when I took he and his wife to dinner, I was actually able to have a conversation with her entirely in Spanish while he was still outside parking the car!

    I will be doing a lot of traveling in Spanish speaking countries in the next few years so I’m trying not to forget what I’ve learned by talking to myself in Spanish frequently and continuing to watch Spanish-speaking movies now and then. One of the biggest problems I had though, is when searching for the right word in Spanish I kept coming up with the right word in German from my 4 years of German in high school.

    I need to reawaken my German too, because I will be traveling in Europe most of the summer and fall this year. Between many Europeans speaking English, my Spanish (which will get me a close enough understanding of Italian) and the German giving me hints to Dutch and Scandinavian languages, I should do okay.

    I look forward to hearing about your Around the World trip!

    • blogqueendiane says:

      Wow – great ideas for learning Spanish – and thanks for telling the Uber driver story! I started as a French major in college and have been taking it since 5th grade, so sometimes it makes it harder to learn Spanish (because you automatically start to speak French when you go into “foreign language” mindset) but sometimes it makes it much easier, since many words are the same or very close in French and Spanish. Am hoping the French/Spanish will help with Italian next trip to Italy.

  2. Carolann says:

    Well, you’ve got some excellent advice here Diane! I’ve tried learning French in the past and when you don’t use it, you lose it lol. Thanks for sharing.

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