Innovative Ways to Improve Your Spanish – Livemocha vs Babel vs StudySpanish vs StartSpanish

My mother always used to exclaim, “I wish there were 25 hours in a day!” Living in this hectic world, most of us can understand the reasoning behind this statement.

If you’re a student, you might be caught in a whirlwind routine of attending lectures, doing course work and studying like crazy – whilst trying to maintain some sort of a social life. For those who work or have families, lives are led in a constant rush between the office, piles of washing and ironing and running the kids to school and back. It’s no wonder our language classes often take a back seat.

Luckily though, there are some modern, creative and exciting ways in which you can improve your Spanish and work around (or even escape) your routine. Today we are going to compare some of the most innovative Spanish online learning web sites and then take a look at the benefits of taking the time out for a language learning trip to Spain.

 

UniSpain’s Free Spanish Study Guide

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The first method we will recommend is our own free Spanish eBook. This free Spanish Study guide has been prepared by our trained philologists and is packed with useful lessons and exercises designed to efficiently advance you from the complete beginner level to experienced beginner.

Get Free Spanish Study eBook

 

 

 

 

Learning Spanish Online

Gone are the days of buying a ten ton tape collection and a brick-like Spanish book to go with it. In the last eight years or so, with the advent of WiFi tablets and smartphones, we’ve seen sudden and drastic changes in the way we learn languages. The traditional classroom concept where a student physically attends several hours of language lessons in their home country, is fast becoming the second choice. Many Spanish learning websites now provide the same advantages as classes do, but with total time flexibility, as well as access to native speakers and reasonable prices.

 

StartSpanish

StartSpanish pride themselves on making learning Spanish fun, personable and totally flexible. Their central idea is to bring as much human interaction into the language learning process as possible and let the student chose where and when to take their lessons. Aiming to immerse the learner in the Spanish language from word go, they offer live, unlimited daily classes at any hour of the day. This is a massive plus if you have a busy schedule, since you don’t need to book in advance.

The best thing about the StartSpanish live web based classes is that there is no need to download software or order CD’s, as the virtual classrooms are available with one click of the mouse. You will need to invest in a headset with headphones or some speakers, though. This Spanish learning web also offers a fluency guarantee and if after 12 months of learning you do not feel that you have reached fluency, they will give you an extra 6 months of free study time.

Prices per month: One month costs $79 (about £62), six months $69 (about £53) and a year is $59 (about £46).

Interesting StartSpanish fact: When you book a Unispain Spanish learning trip, you’ll get a free one-month subscription to StartSpanish.

 

Livemocha

This innovative site was founded in 2007 and works almost like a social networking site. More than just an online course, Livemocha is an online community and because it boasts over 390,000 visits per day, you can interact with a huge number of other language students through their personal profiles, emails, chats and downloaded materials. Livemocha opens up an enormous scape of peer-to-peer connections that you simply could not access in a classroom situation in your home country.

This innovative website offers free membership initially, and then through the purchase of tokens, access to different kinds of leaning methods – anything from chats and material downloads to videos and tutor sessions with teachers. You can either pick and choose and pay for these various learning tools one by one (prices will vary), or you can purchase a longer term ‘Gold Key’ membership which gives you access to absolutely everything.

Prices: 12 months of Gold Key access currently costs 99.95 US Dollars (about £66), and a 1 month Gold Key access is 9.95 USD (about £7).*

Interesting Livemocha fact: Time Magazine named Livemocha as one of the 50 Best Websites in 2010!

 

Babbel

Awarded the Erasmus EuroMedia Seal of Approval in 2011, Babbel is another great site. Babbel does require the download of language learning software, but also offers a free online learning community that only requires registration on the site. Babbel comes with both beginner and advanced Spanish lessons, and you can find various learning tools and materials ranging from grammar or vocabulary exercises, to loads of fun extras like songs and videos. Although Babbel offers twelve languages in total, their Spanish resources are truly excellent and you’ll find everything from tongue twisters to verb exercises that span many different Spanish speaking countries, cultures and accents.

One of the great things about Babbel is that it is truly optimised for mobile devices, so anything you want to access on your smart phone or tablet will load quickly even on 3G – and they offer apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. As with Livemocha, you also have the added bonus of the Babbel community where you can connect with global users through chats, messages, forums and notice boards, or try your skills out with native speakers you meet online.

Prices: Babbel’s UK prices start at £8.95 per month, but you can also go for a very reasonable £17.85 charged every three months, or a full £29.70 for a six month period.*

Interesting Babbel fact: A staggering 4 million people from over 200 countries have joined Babbel so far!

 

StudySpanish

StudySpanish.com use an interesting method they call guided imitation, which is a two-part learning process. It consists of first feeding the student very small pieces of information at a time (the aim is to make it as easy as possible for the learner to digest and remember the language) and secondly, all the Spanish that is used, is “real”. In other words, the Spanish you’ll find at StudySpanish is exactly like the language you’d find spoken by natives in Spanish-speaking countries.

The site promises that if you stick to their Premium Membership program for half an hour each day, during a 3-6 month period, you are guaranteed to pick up Spanish. You can sign up for free online access only, whilst the Premium program works through mp3′s (or CD’s if you prefer) that you can order or download. You automatically get free and full online access when you purchase the Premium Membership.

Prices: The prices for Premium Membership are $14.95 for one month (about £10), or $49.95 for six months (about £33). The complete conversation course is $175 (about £116)*.

Interesting StudySpanish fact: What’s especially unique about StudySpanish is their idiom generator. Spanish has many colourful sayings, and some of them will have you laughing out loud!

 

These were just a few examples of popular and effective Spanish online learning sites, but there are many other excellent online communities, courses and resources that you may wish to check out! Why not take a look at some of these sites: Busuu.com, Online-Spanish-Course.com, LingQ.com, MangoLanguages.com, Natively.com or SpanishDict.com

 

 

Learning Spanish in Spain

Now say you’ve spent some time learning Spanish at home, online, in classes, etc. Inevitably, it would be great to test your skills by traveling abroad to a Spanish speaking country. Luckily taking some time out to travel to Spain and absorb the culture and the local accent, no longer costs a great deal. In these flat economic times, it’s all good news for language students looking for cheap flights and accommodation – especially when booking a few months ahead. Leaving your daily routine behind in order to concentrate on improving your Spanish language skills can be a glorious time in any Spanish student’s hard-earned journey to conquer this new language.

Because most employers now consider a second language or time spent abroad as something very beneficial and character building, a Spanish learning trip to Spain can also be ideal if you want to improve your CV. Spain is, por supuesto, where the Spanish language comes from originally, but you don’t have to limit yourself to Castillian Spanish with its clearly enunciated syllables. You can also chose from the widest of variety of regional accents. Why not consider the softly lilting tones of the Canary Islands, the dropped consonants and passion of Andaluz Spanish or the closed vowels reminiscent of Portuguese up in the north west of Spain?

Travelling to Spain for a language course can be thrilling because you’ll not only be receiving tuition and support all the way through your time here, but also diving right into the language. Through listening to natives, conversing with people in supermarkets, bars, newsagents or the beach and reading Spanish newspapers or watching the popular chat shows or soaps on TV. Not to mention ordering and tasting wonderful Spanish foods and drinks. And while you’re here, why not make the most of your learning time and join a flamenco, sevillana or salsa class in the evenings for a great socialising opportunity and tons of fun?

In UniSpain we work with more than 40 different language schools and universities all over Spain and will be very happy to help you find the right language course for you.
Please take a look at our website for more information about the different courses we offer. And as mentioned above you will get a one month free online course at StartSpanish when you book a language course through UniSpain and we also offer an additional discount on all course fees of 5 to 10%.

For more information take a look at our UniSpain Website or if you are interested in receiving special exclusive offers for Spanish courses in Spain by email you can Sign up HERE.

 

 

In conclusion…

All in all, when we embark on our journey to study Spanish, we cannot totally escape the lists of irregular verbs or learning prepositions! But through using the internet and technology to our advantage and knowing that real Spain is only a short plane ride away, we can give our learning routine a much needed lift. Let us know about your experiences with learning Spanish online or what your Spanish language learning trip was like – we’d love to hear from you. ¡Hasta la próxima!

 

(*Prices and exchange rates may vary. The figures quoted are from March 2013.)

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