This year, I’ve made it my goal to learn Spanish and am excited to share my progress! I decided to go with the app Duolingo. Duolingo turns language learning into a game and simplifies skills into bite-sized chunks.
I wanted to actually learn Spanish, not simply feel good about “finishing the Duolingo tree.” On mobile, before I clicked on tiles, I forced myself to translate the options in my head. (On the desktop version, Duo gives you the option to free-type which makes it a lot harder to “cheat”)
Duolingo gets a lot of flack for a variety of reasons. Duo won’t make you fluent by spending 5 minutes a day on Spanish. I know Duolingo won’t make me fluent at all (or anywhere near fluent), but it’s been a great starting point for learning vocabulary, especially since it’s free. I am supplementing with a variety of resources and am practicing speaking with iTalki and a bilingual friend.
I recently finished checkpoint two and wanted to solidify what I’ve learned. I still mix words up sometimes, but can overall follow along to a basic story. As I began searching the internet for resources, a lot of them were a little too difficult. I wanted to watch videos and read stories where I could comprehend most of the story. Duolingo has a podcast which is great for intermediate Spanish learners, but I didn’t feel I was quite that level yet.
Here are the resources I’ve used for myself. I hope to build and expand this list as I progress and learn.
Disclaimer: Some of the following links are affiliate links. I make a small commission from some of the links on this site. You can read my full disclosure here.
Getting the Most From Duolingo
1. It’s easy to look at the bubbles and guess the answer. Force yourself to try to translate without them. When possible, I try to do lessons on my computer. They have a “hard” mode which makes you type in the answers.
2. Take advantage of Duolingo’s “tips” before each lesson. They’re a lifesaver.
3. When clicking on a skill, you will see a key. You can skip through that level for each skill. I did this a few times in the beginning stages, but if I feel I have to think too hard even if I get the answer right, I do the lessons instead of skipping them.
4. Keep reading Duolingo’s stories. Repeat each phrase out loud. Get used to the order of words.
5. It’s super easy to want to move on to the next skills and to breeze through the current ones. (I’m guilty of this.) Try to get each previous skill to level two before continuing.
What To Do After Finishing Checkpoint 2 of Duolingo Spanish
This channel is AMAZING. Their videos feature simple stories and SLOW Spanish in a less degrading way than say, a 21-year-old watching Peppa Pig. 😉 (They’re also appropriate for any age range though.) After finishing checkpoint two of Duolingo, I was able to decently follow along with the storyline. Their website also has free comprehension quizzes.
Type in any word in English or Spanish and you’ll find the translation, example sentences, pronunciation, and conjugation.
This site has a variety of verb conjugation charts, games, and more for beginners.
Italki has a variety of helpful native speakers and teachers that you can chat with. Duolingo lacks greatly in pronunciation and speaking, so supplementing this is a must.
BaseLang’s Sounds of Spanish videos (and the freebie bonus) helped me SO MUCH with pronunciation. Seriously – this is a MUST to nail your pronunciation.
My library has a wide range of Spanish children’s books. (YouTube also has them too, which are read aloud. These are easy, convenient, and great for listening/pronunciation.) A few of my favorites are:
- Olivia by Ian Falconer (YouTube video)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (YouTube video)
- Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems (Mi Amigo Está Triste was probably the easiest to follow)
The channel Read Tia Carla reads the books to you, which I’ve enjoyed.
Learn in Color
I’ve created some free, simple booklets meant for kids, but work for any age. 🙂
Hulu has a small handful of shows in Spanish. I think Disney+ and all Netflix original shows have a Spanish version. My listening skills are still weak and I needed subtitles, but I’ve watched a few shows in Spanish. I’ve watched “Mulan” and “The Prince of Egypt” in Spanish. I enjoyed them both since I’m very familiar with the English version, but I don’t think I would’ve been able to follow along without knowing the story.
Edited to add: When I got about halfway through to the level 3 checkpoint, I began watching Disney Junior shows on Disney+. A lot of the vocabulary is repetitive and was good for solidifying new words. My favorites have been Doc McStuffins and Handy Manny. The English subtitles (no Spanish subtitles) helped my listening.
Here are a few shows that seem to match the vocabulary level of checkpoint 2 of Duolingo:
- Olivia (TV series)
- Peppa Pig (TV series – this seems to be a popular show. I personally am not a Peppa fan but others have found this helpful)
- Arthur (TV series)
- Spirit (TV series on Netflix – some episodes were easier to follow along with more than others, but I love horses and enjoyed this series)
- Leap (I watched this kid’s movie on Netflix. I had never seen it before. I understood the majority of the story, especially in the first half, and a LOT of the vocabulary was covered in Duo.)
Random YouTube Videos and Channels I’ve Enjoyed:
A few of my favorites I was able to understand:
Un elefante va a la ciudad – An elephant goes to the city (this channel has other videos!)
“Zapatos” – I was MUY FELIZ I was able to understand this inspirational (and cheesy) video. It’s a short inspirational story about a pair of shoes.
Read Tia Carla – She narrates a lot of children’s books in Spanish
Kid Time Story Time – A ton of short, great bilingual books
Lirica: Learn Languages with Music – Translates popular Spanish songs and has Spanish and English lyrics. Fun channel and is most helpful when you try speaking the words out loud.