General tips to practice Spanish

General tips to practice Spanish

How can I practice my Spanish online? How can I improve my Spanish? Where can I find free exercises and free materials to learn? How can I get to know more about Spain and Latin American countries? How can I practice listening and reading?

If you are trying to learn Spanish, here’s a list with some tips and resources to improve your skills and practice:

 «Websites and blogs to help you learn Spanish:

o   Diccionario de partículas discursivas del español (DPDE), un diccionario de marcadores discursivos (o conectores), para registros coloquiales y formales., ue incluye ejemplos, traducción a otros idiomas, reglas de uso, etc.
 o   Aprende español, a great website with news, music, listening exercises, and recommendations… Everything you need to practice your skills in Spanish.
o   Profe de ELE, a grea blog, both for students and for teachers.
o   Red Molinos, a great website with lots of useful links, reading texts and vocabulary tips to learn Spanish.

«Free online exercises:

o   Ver-Taal, a very complete site where you will find grammar, spelling and vocabulary exercises, as well as listening activities, to learn French, Dutch, English and, of course, Spanish.
o   Espagnol facile, un siteweb avec des exercises gratuits, espécialement faits pour les francophones.  «Free online diccionaries:

o   Wordreference, the best online dictionary.
o   Linguee, a different dictionary. It let you find any word but inserted in a context. It might be very useful of you are translating.
o   DRAE, the best monolingual dictionary in Spanish. Tiene la garantía y el rigor de la Real Academia Española, la mayor institución lingüística en el mundo hispano. Eso sí, no recoge palabras muy coloquiales o de reciente creación.
o   Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas, para dudas de la lengua.
o   Forvo, a pronounciation dictionary that works also as social network, where everybody can participate. It may be interesting not only to learn how to pronounce words in Spanish, but also to compare pronounciations within the Spanish speaking world.

  «El español coloquial:

o    Coloquial.es, an online project that intends to make an approach to colloquial Spanish. It includes a slang dictionary, a dictionary of gestures, and a very complete explanation of what the syntax of colloquial Spanish is like.

o    Algunas ideas para conocer el español coloquial son:

  • Ver webseries, que podemos encontrar en blip.tv o en portales como Vimeo o Youtube.
  • Series españolas o telenovelas (soap operas).
  • Hablar con españoles

 « Libraries and bookstores:

If you are looking for books to learn Spanish, you can go to your neighbor’s library, or, if you live in a big city (Munich, Varsaw, Paris, Toulouse, Rome), you can go to the Instituto Cervantes’ library. It’s free! If this doesn’t work, there’s always Amazon.

 «Listening and podcast:

Podcasts are one of the biggest revolutions of today’s language learning. Thanks to the Internet, we can access podcasts from all the radios in the world. We can easily find podcasts from Spain or any other country.

First, what’s a podcast?
A podcast is a sort of radio program or radio broadcast (for example, Ted Talks, PodCinema, Hoy empieza todo…). For example, the BBC has different channels; every channel has many broadcasts or “chapters”. Of course, you can listen to them directly by turning your radio on. But let’s say that you listen to the BBC News every morning, but today you missed it. No problem! Just go to the program’s site on the Internet and you will find a complete list with the latest chapters. Look for the one you missed and that’s it. That’s a podcast, and the great thing of it is that you can listen to any podcast of any radio on the world, at any moment, and free!

Moreover, many people, companies, blogs, have created their own audios that they share on the Internet as a podcast. Many of them have an excellent quality, so it is not just limited to public radios.
In other words, there are podcasts on the Internet; and within every podcast you can find different “chapters”.  

How can we get podcasts?

There are many options, so let’s take a look at them:

o   On streaming:
We can listen to them directly on streaming. To do so, we just need to look  for the podcast site (for example, let’s say TED Talks), and save them one by one to our favorites on Mozilla, Chrome or any other.  Then we would just need to go to the site and hear to the audio online. It is possible to download them one by one and play them on our computer or iPAD, of course!

o   Mobile and apps:
There are different apps that we can install for free on our smart phone, iPhone, tablet or iPad. In my opinion, the best of all isPodcast Addict. It’s easy to download and install and it lets you search for podcasts in any language by setting a language filter. It lets you subscribe to any podcast and it gets automatically updated to show you the latest emissions of your favorite podcasts, which you can download really easily and fast at any moment.

o   On our PC or Mac:
You can also subscribe to any podcast by using a free application that you can download from the Internet at any moment. There are two platforms that you can use for this purpose: Juice (a good free software platform, although it’s has un ugly interface), and of course, iTunes (free to download and use, with a nice interface and the advantage that is can also be used as a music player and store). You can download Juice from here; to download iTunes, click here.

 o   To read and to listen:
If you are tired of having so many accounts and platforms, maybe you should take a look at Netvibes. Netvibes is an online platform (with a free version and a premium version), that works as an “aggregator”. This means it lets you subscribe to any blog on the Internet by using the blog’s feed URL. It is similar to Google Reader, but much better. No need to download anything; just sign up and get a password. And, of course, you can use it for blogs, newspapers, video platforms and podcasts!

Down below you will find some podcast suggestions in Spanish!

  «Blogs to read:

Reading blogs of any subject can help you improve substantially your reading skill, and, at the same time, it’s a very interesting occupation! Down below you will find a list of the best blogs to read in Spanish. A great way to read all the new posts that are published on a blog is by subscribing to the blog. To do so, there are different applications and platforms that work as “aggregators”, that is, is a place that holds and updates all the new contents automatically, according to your priorities.

 Here are a few suggestion of applications that you can use:

o   Netvibes (an online free application), probably the best of all.
o   Google Reader
o   Feed Reader (an excellent platform; it is totally; you have to download it to your computer; it has an ugly interface, but it’s excellent).

 «Some musts:

o   Instituto Cervantes., the official website, available both in Spanish and English
o   DELE, a IC section where you will find all about the DELE exams (how to register, what it is about, examination centers and more). Available in Spanish and English.
o   TODOELE, a site for ELE teachers, but good for students too.
o   Others…

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