December 13, 2011
Free online Spanish lessons are a good idea for anyone who intends to travel or work in the new global marketplace. Although free online lessons are not quite as thorough or effective as formal instruction, they are more than adequate for people who want to develop a solid understanding of casual spoken Spanish. Online lessons are ideal for those who have busy work schedules and family lives or who do not have the money or resources to attend formal classes. Fluency in Spanish can also be an invaluable tool for those who do not intend to work or travel internationally: owners of small businesses will see an obvious benefit in being able to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking employees and clientele. Fans of foreign literature and cinema will now be able to enjoy movies and books in Spanish without the use of translations and subtitles. Even an expert translation will not always perfectly capture the meaning and nuance of what is intended by the original text. Being able to understand Spanish texts and speech without needing a “middleman” translation will prevent any misunderstandings or loss of intent.
How Do the Lessons Work?
Most online Spanish lessons are separated into beginner, intermediate and expert levels. One can start at the very beginning or jump in at the appropriate level if he or she already knows some Spanish. The lessons look a lot like typical Spanish textbooks that are used in school classrooms. There are lists of vocabulary terms that can be memorized and quizzes that enable students to see how well they are retaining the new words. There are lists of common phrases that are written out wholly (alongside their meanings in English), the way they are used in general speech. There may be links next to these words and phrases that can be clicked to play audio of someone pronouncing the Spanish terms properly. Some of these websites also offer free downloads of phrases and vocabulary so they can be rehearsed in the car or when the student is otherwise away from his or her computer. Resources of this nature are very limited, though, and one should not expect to find a full books-on-tape style course online at no cost. While the websites are free to use, many of them require students to register with a username and password, and they may charge small fees for bonus materials or extremely advanced levels.
How Do Free Online Spanish Lessons Compare to Classroom Lessons?
Obviously, lessons that are received in a traditional classroom setting are more effective than lessons that are taken at one’s own leisure without instruction because repetition and consistency are vital to language retention. People who choose to study Spanish at home via a website must be motivated enough to study every single day and be honest when grading their own quizzes. Additional research may be necessary to clarify complicated concepts; it may be tempting to gloss over things that are not easily understood, but that is not conducive to gaining any degree of Spanish fluency. The ability to discuss confusing concepts with a qualified teacher is not provided by free online lessons, but that is the trade-off for learning at home for free. Unlike classroom learning, studying at home can be enjoyable and stress-free, since there is no threat of a bad grade or overwhelming homework assignments. A major perk of taking lessons at home is that the student does not have to worry about attendance or travel in order to learn. The student can work at his or her own pace without being subjected to the annoyances of a large class full of other people dealing with their own learning challenges.
What are the Long-Term Benefits of Learning Spanish?
Surprisingly, many people who have studied a foreign language claim that doing so has helped them to communicate more clearly in English! Learning to identify nouns, verbs and other parts of speech in Spanish makes it easier to distinguish them in English. Since sentences are structured differently in Spanish than in English, students are forced to pay close attention to how they are building sentences and which words sufficiently convey whatever is being communicated. Unfortunately, Spanish is a “use it or lose it” skill set, which means that unless it is spoken or practiced daily, the student will fail to retain his or her hard-earned knowledge as time goes by. To this end, free online Spanish lessons are also a great tool for people who have formally studied Spanish and would like to have a way of keeping their knowledge base active after completing a course or during an extended time away from classes.