I received this from our of our readers, Anthony K......
I arrived in Spain 2 years ago from England. Initially I did not rush to learn Spanish but have now adjusted and tried a number of different techniques and am making good progress being at a healthy intermediate level (just enough to be dangerous!). Below is a list of resources both online and local that will benefit anyone wishing to study Spanish from Almerimar. It is far from exhaustive but hopefully it can help you on your journey. Best of luck!
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Pre recorded lessons and apps
Babbel - This is a really handy website to get you started. It will take you from beginner through to B1 level of Spanish.It has a total of 3,000 Spanish words included. The easiest way to use it is to download the app to your phone or tablet. You can then download the lessons as you go or pre download a group of listens to do anywhere. Each lesson is short and concise taking about 20 minutes. It is not suitable to do while jogging or other activities as it is very interactive with small amounts of typing and games. Prices vary but it cost me £14.50 for 3 months. A good trick is to do the free trial and then if you like it don't sign up right away wait until they send you an offer which usually involves 3 months free when you sign up for 3 months.
Duo lingo - I have not used this one a lot. It is very popular partly because unlike the others it is free. I found it very wordy and involved lots of typing and less listening which did not suit my priorities but it is worth investigating as an option.
Spanish POD 101 - I really like this one. A lot is Mexican and south American Spanish rather than purely Mainland Spanish but they make it clear if a word is only relevant to a particular area. To be honest this can be useful when you are starting as most people find the accent clearer and provides a stepping stone on your way to speaking ‘Andalusian'. This is lots of fun to listen to with 20 minute discussions you can just listen to while walking. You can then do exercises on the conversations afterwards if you want to. The lessons start off explaining everything in English and then are progressively explained in Spanish as you improve. It has some great features like flash card decks you can add words from the lesson to as you go and build on your knowledge. I signed up for premium at $11 a month for 12 months. Again do the free trial and then wait for the email with the special deals to sign up.
Rosetta Stone - You can also now get a cheaper online version of this famous program. Personally I tried it and found it incredibly slow and dull. I cant help feeling that the original creators of this type of learning have fallen behind. Many of their best ideas have been ‘borrowed’ by newer companies who have not had to bear the cost of the research. Please go ahead and do a trial with it but unless you really like to learn slowly and very thoroughly it may not be worth the £200+ price tags.
BBC Spanish - This is a free service and can take you through some very basic spanish lessons. It is a good start up before you move onto something more intensive.
News in Slow Spanish - This is exactly what it sounds like the news read and discussed in slow clear Spanish. It can be really good if you have learnt some grammar but are having trouble making the leap to actually understanding conversations. It was $34 for 6 months from memory. They do a free trial and if you don't sign up you still get the introduction and first article for free every week through the app.
You Tube - There are numerous free lessons here to look through. Of special note is Señor Jordan whose videos are great fun and very easy to follow (as well as extremely numerous) and Professor Jason who has over 5 million views so he is clearly doing something right.
Spanish Dict - This group conduct lessons but also provide online translation. It is a good back up to Google translate as it runs any text you copy into it through 3 different translation systems often coming up with slightly different interpretations. This can be helpful if the first translation leaves you baffled.
Google translate app - The new version of this app is really incredible. Download it to your phone and take it with you. You can now take a photo of a sign or sentence and it will identify it and translate it. In addition you can ask someone to speak into it and it will translate it for you or vice versa. You can copy and paste into it, type or actually write on the screen. This is a really handy free app. Bear in mind you need either wifi or to have your phone on roaming for it to work.
If you type online Spanish lessons into your browser a variety of websites come up where you can read the biographies of a variety of teachers in all different parts of the world and book lessons. Lessons start at around $5 and go all the way up to $25 for an hour. Expect to pay around $10-15 for a really good teacher with a university education. I have been using verbling which works well. You can watch a video of the teacher first, read their biography and then book a 1/2 hour lesson for around $5-6 to see if you like them. I like this system as you can hear their accent and see if you can understand them (a huge benefit before commencing a lesson). Other players in this field include nulengua and 121 spanish. Whoever you use in this way make sure they are large and reputable and only pay through their automated systems rather than to an individual. Paypal is always a good option to pay with as you have 45 days to claim the money back if you are not happy and they nearly always side with the customer in disputes.
If you are short of cash you can also trade an english lesson for a Spanish one in online chat rooms. There are of course many people around the world who are very keen to practice their english with a native speaker and in return will help you practice your Spanish. I have less experience wit this. I am told that lessons can be a lot less organised so it is up to you to guide your own learning. Google chats and other chat rooms are a good place to start if you are interested in this.
There are many stories of people learning Spanish by simply watching TV (most involve soap operas for some reason). This method is now being unflatteringly referred to as the American method. It is a good way to hear a lot of Spoken Spanish in a fun way and train your ear. You have a few options with this. You can get quite a few free shows on you tube including extr@ spanish which is a specially designed show in beginner and lower intermediate Spanish. Other options include having an areal installed to watch local TV, or using a paid service like netflix. If you can afford this (about 8 euros a month) it is really good as they have all the south american Spanish dramas that rated really well in the USA as well as a lot of local Spanish shows and movies. Start with the subtitles in Spanish and then turn them off as you advance. One trick which I learned early on is that it is so much easier to understand a lot of the South american Spanish shows than the European ones. At first I though this was a bad idea but I now realise it is a really useful stepping stone just to get you into the conversation.
Spanish Learning Schools
I have tried approaching a few local ones in El Ejido with mixed results. Most are really focused on Teaching local Spanish people English (in fact I have been offered 2 jobs so far). What is perhaps of more interest is the weekly intensives you can do in different cities all over Spain. These are generally set up for both older students and University students from English speaking countries. They test your level and then set you up in the correct class or group. Lessons generally run all through the morning (Spanish Morning time) and finish for the day at siesta time. This can be an interesting way to break up a holiday in Spain with lessons in the morning and sight seeing later.
There are 2 local groups close to Almeria city who offer this. The Almeria Spanish School and the IEA Spanish Institute. I have only contacted them by email so cannot vouch for the lessons personally but they seemed very professional and can cater for most levels at most times of the year. This gives you at least 4 hours of intensive coaching a day for a week or longer depending on what you arrange. Prices start at about 170 euros a week for 1 week and cost less if you book more weeks.
Surprisingly these are in short supply in Almerimar. The only one I have been able to locate so far is Agnes who works from the Stumble Inn. She is very good and very experienced. Perhaps others can contribute a few names locally that I have missed.
I hope this helps. Best of Luck!