Resources for students

Try YouTube.  Or movies.  Or songs.
  Por ejemplo: 

 Y claro, hay mucho más.  Busca, experimenta, escucha...

Suggestions from students:

Listen to Slow News in Spanish – free first 6 months, then pay.  Grammar emphasis.

Duolingo – free (or pay for no ads)

Mango – through JCLS, free

Total Spanish Michel Thomas– on CDs

Learn Bot 

Pimsleur - free in library, on CD or online. All audio.  I love being able to listen to conversations as I take a walk. 

Read!  Reading is one of the best ways to acquire the language.  You have time to think about vocabulary and grammar, you can see how people actually speak and write.  Find stories written at your level and enjoy!  Some books are offered in bilingual versions. Some come with CD's or other audio options. See suggestions below.  The library is your friend!  Ask about their suggestions.

Watch videos and movies!  Rewind sections that you want to hear more.  Put on subtitles.

Dictionaries and Translation Apps
There are some that act like traditional dictionaries.  Others offer a forum for discussion.  Some are designed to listen-- they are great for translating basic conversations.  
All have their strengths and weaknesses; handle with care.

Google Translate - it's getting better

DeepL - can translate sentences, and even poetry!

is an excellent dictionary.  It gives complete definitions, but even better, it offers a forum where people comment and help each other with specific translations and ways to use words and phrases.  My favorite dictionary, online or off.

Spanish Institute of Puebla  has many good resources, including articles to read in Spanish.  They also offer Spanish lessons in the beautiful city of Puebla, México.

Span¡sh D!ct appears interesting and has video lessons, as well as dictionary help. And it's free.

Spanish Word of the Day comes with a variety of words at different levels, from Advanced to Basic.  It also presents some cognates, words that are similar in the two languages, and links to current news in Spanish-speaking countries.

Fluent U
Lots of things are available free on this site -- in many languages.  They will also send you periodic readings, interesting news, and other good stuff, also free.  Of course, you can pay for further access.

I will teach you a language: By someone who speaks eight languages.  He has a lot of good ideas.  This one is about listening and makes sense to me. 

Listas de palabras útiles
1.  Características personales de la gente (en inglés -- ¿cuáles sabes en español?)
  • moral
  • compassionate
  • passionate
  • open
  • tolerant
  • kind
  • gentle
  • trustworthy
  • funny
  • approachable
  • easy-going
  • confident
  • creative
  • fun
  • attractive
  • hard-working
  • honest
  • understanding
  • sincere
  • dependable
  • wise
  • thoughtful
  • reliable
  • earnest
  • humorous
  • responsible
  • witty
  • tactful
  • enthusiastic
  • polite
  • ambitious
  • perceptive
  • supportive
  • observant
  • punctual
  • independent
  • frank
  • modest
  • practical
  • calm
  • outgoing
  • persuasive
  • talkative
  • bold

Reading for language acquisition
Reading material that is comprehensible to you is one of the best ways to acquire language.  Find something, read a page, and if there are fewer than 5 words you can't understand or figure out from context, go ahead and continue reading.  If there are more than 5, look for something else to read.
   Library, especially the children's section.  Find books you enjoy, that have good illustrations, that you can mostly figure out, and read them again and again.  Amazing what you can pick up.  You do NOT have to understand each and every word.  You will figure it out!
  Magazines: People en español, Reader's Digest (called Selecciones en español), ... look around.
Locally, try Caminos.  Find it at Shop n Kart and elsewhere.
   Books:  Blaine Ray and other TPRS teachers have written short, comprehensible novels for beginning and intermediate students.  Check their websites: especially TPRS Books and a similar website, Fluency Matters.  Also TPRS Publishing, Command Performance, and more.
Spanish Novels written for beginning and intermediate students. There are many more available at the above websites.  Look around!

 Some are available in CD or MP3 format.  Some are also available in French, English, German or Russian.

***NOTE:  A few novels have been published in both past and present tenses. I've marked them below.  They are Nuevo Houdini, Piratas del Caribe, Robo en la Noche, and Los Baker van al Perú.  And there may be more.

Pobre Ana, Blaine Ray           ISBN 0-929-724-47-X                               The first of 5 popular novels that exists in Spanish for first year        students. It has a vocabulary of only 300 words.                             Ana is a 15-year old California girl who leads a tough life. She has problems with her family and friends. She has an opportunity to live in Mexico for a few months. Her time spent in Mexico changes Ana's outlook on life for the better. When they read Pobre Ana, beginning students discover that they have actually learned a significant amount of Spanish.  

To listen to this story, try this link:

It is also available on CD from TPRS BOOKS and on Amazon.

Patricia va a California, Blaine Ray          ISBN 0-929-724-50-X                     The second easiest novel in the series. For 1st- or 2nd-year students.        Patricia is a 15-year old Guatemalan girl who visits the United States as an exchange student. She lives with a nice family in California. In school she is treated badly by a girl named Debbie. Later Patricia finds Debbie in a dangerous situation and helps her. This experience changes Debbie for the better and affects both girls profoundly. 

 Casi se muere. Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray.  ISBN 0-929-724-43-7 The third novel in the series for beginning students.  400 unique words.  An engaging story with a touch of romance about an American girl going to school in Chile, and two Chilean boys, a nice one and a mean one.

El viaje de su vida, Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray   ISBN 0-929-724-49-6       The 4th novel in the easiest series of Spanish novels. For 1st- or 2nd-year students.                                                        Sixteen-year-old Carlos Ayala of Cincinnati, Ohio goes on a cruise with his family from the U.S. to the Yucatan. He is the only witness to the theft of an object of great monetary, cultural and personal value. The thief tries to kill him, but . .

 Pobre Ana bailó tango , Patricia Verano, Veronica Moscoso, & Blaine Ray                                       ISBN 1-933814-98-5                              The fifth book in the Pobre Ana series of five. Written in the past tense. Appropriate for late 1st-year or early 2nd-year students.                 Ana, the main character in this story, is the same one from Pobre Ana. In this story the school gives her the opportunity to travel again, this time to Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has two main goals-- to keep improving her Spanish and to learn to dance the tango. In the process, she makes friends, buys special tango shoes, meets a very handsome tango teacher and, most importantly, learns about Argentine culture.

Agentes secretos y el mural de Picasso, Mira Canion           ISBN 978-0-9836958-0-2                                                                     An easy Spanish reader containing just 100 vocabulary words.          Pablo Picasso's mural Guérnica is on display at the 1937 International Exposition. Both sides of the Spanish Civil War quickly realize that the painting contains clues to the whereabouts of the supernatural Spear of Destiny. Its occult power can change the outcome of the Civil War, just as it has done in other battles throughout history. As Paula's imagination begins to decipher the hidden symbols, Francisco Franco's secret agents are not far behind her. They are ready to capture the Spear at the most opportune moment, convinced that impulsive Paula will betray her quest for the Spear.

Piratas del caribe y el mapa secreto, Mira Canion ISBN 978-1-934958-21-6           Novice-low reader for beginning students.
         Adventure, suspense and deception abound in this novel based on historical fiction. Set in the 1600's, this engaging plot commandeers the reader through a pirate's quest for a secret map and leaves him/her with rich treasures of crucial vocabulary and enhanced language skills. (NEW!: Two versions (past & present) under 1 cover.)

Esperanza, Carol Gaab, ISBN 978-1-935575-29-0                            Novice-low reader for beginning students.                                           This novel is based on the chilling true story of a young family caught in the middle of political corruption and unspeakable violence during Guatemala's 36-year civil war. Tired of watching city workers endure countless human and civil rights violations, Alberto organizes a union. When he and his co-workers organize a strike, Alberto and his family find themselves on the government's "extermination" list. The violent situation leaves Alberto separated from his family and forces them all to flee for their lives. Will their will to survive be enough to help them escape and reunite? And if so, will they ever find another place they can call home?

El nuevo Houdini, Carol Gaab, ISBN 978-1-935575-14-6    (past and present - turn the book over)                        Novice-low reader for beginning students.                                    Brandon Brown is dying to drive his father's 1956 T-bird while his parents are on vacation. Will he fool his parents and drive the car without them knowing, and win the girl of his dreams in the process? (NEW!: Two versions (past & present) under 1 cover.)

Robo en la noche, Kristy Placido ISBN 978-1-934958-57-5               Novice-mid reader for beginning students.                                            Fifteen-year-old Makenna Parker had reservations about her father's new job in Costa Rica, but little did she know that missing her home and her friends would be the least of her worries. She finds herself in the middle of an illegal bird-trading scheme, and it's a race against time for her father to save her and the treasured macaws(NEW!: Two versions (past & present) under 1 cover.)

Noches misteriosas en Granada, Kristy Placido ISBN 978-1-935575-28-3       Novice-low reader for beginning students                  Kevin used to have the perfect life. Now, dumped by his popular girlfriend, Kevin leaves for a summer in Spain with his best friend, and his life seems anything but perfect. Taking classes he can't understand, living with a very odd host-family, trying to get the attention of a girl with whom he has no chance, and dealing with a guy who has a dark side and who seems to be out to get him, Kevin escapes into a book and enters a world of long-ago adventures. As the boundaries between his two worlds begin to blur, Kevin discovers that nothing is as it appears . . . especially at night!

Rebeldes de Tejas, Mira Canion ISBN 978-1-934958-56-8                             A Novice-high reader for Level one/two students written in past tense. Fewer than 350 unique words.
               When Mexican dictator, Santa Anna, discovers that thousands of U.S. citizens have spilled into the Mexican state of Texas and seized the Alamo, he is determined to expel or kill all of them. What will happen when Mexican Juan Seguín finds himself fighting for Texas and against his country's dictator? Will he survive the bloody battle of the Alamo and the ensuing battles that took hundreds of lives and drastically changed the face of Mexico forever?

Los Piratas del Caribe y el Tríangulo de la Bermudas, Carol Gaab & Christine Tiday,     ISBN 978-1-935575-64-1                                          Novice-mid reader based on 280 words, written in past tense.                            When Tito and his father set sail from Florida to Maryland, they have no idea that their decision to pass through the Bermuda Triangle could completely change the course of their voyage, not to mention the course of their entire lives! They soon discover that rough seas and bad weather are the least of their worries, as they become entangled in a sinister plan to control the world and subsequently become the target of Henry Morgan and his band of pirates. Will they escape from the Triangle and from the pirates, and save their new friend, Carlos, in the process?

More first year novels

L1 Educators novel sample package for $25.00:       Includes Felipe Alou: Desde los valles a las montañas; El nuevo Houdini; Esperanza; Noches misteriosas en Granada; Pirates del Caribe y el mapa secreto; Piratas del Caribe y el Triángulo de las Bermudas; Robo en la noche. (Intended for educators only. Must ship to a school address.)

Each of the above novels is available individually from the same site for $6.00 each.  Many of these items are also available in French, English, or CD or MP3 format. Some of these novels are available in two versions, present and past tense, some under the same cover.  Explore the site.

Second year novels
 ISBN 978-1-935575-51-1   L2 Educators Spanish novel sample package for $15.00.  Includes Problemas en Paraíso, Los Baker van a Perú, La maldición de la cabeza reducida & Rebeldes de Tejas.

Problemas en Paraíso. Carol Gaab. ISBN # 978-1-935575-05-4              Novice-high Reader for Advanced-beginning Spanish students.                             Victoria Andalucci and her 16-year-old son, Tyler, are enjoying a fun-filled vacation at Club Paradise in Mexico. A typical teenager, Tyler spends his days on the beach with the other teens from Club Chévere, while his mother attends a conference and explores Mexico. Her quest for adventure is definitely quenched, as she ventures out of the resort and finds herself alone and in a perilous fight for her life! Will she survive the treacherous predicament long enough for someone to save her?

Los Baker van a Perú. ISBN # 978-1-934958-06-3                                    Are the Baker Family’s unfortunate mishaps brought on by bad luck or by the curse of the shrunken head? Join the Bakers as they travel through Peru and experience a host of (mis)adventures that are full of fun, excitement and suspense– oh, and culture and useful language too! (NEW!: Two versions (past & present) under 1 cover.)
Total word count: 7300            Unique word count: 400
Page count: 50 (each version)

La maldición de la cabeza reducida
       Haley and Jason think they have rid themselves of the cursed shrunken head, now that they are back home from their family trip to Peru. Their relief quickly gives way to shock, as they realize that their ordeal has only just begun. Returning the head and appeasing the Jívaro tribe become a matter of life and death! Will Haley and Jason beat the odds?  (Written in past tense.  Total word count: 8700   Unique word count: 400  Page count: 58)


Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha ISBN #978-1-935575-18-4       Level 3 novel written in past tense. Total word count: 7600   Unique word count: 400.  Page count: 58

La hija del sastre, by Carrie Toth and Carol Gaab.                                    ISBN # 978-1-935575-61-0                                           Growing up in a Republican family during Franco's fascist rule of Spain, Emilia Matamoros discovers just how important keeping a secret can be! After her father, a former captain in the Republican army, goes into hiding, Emilia not only must work as a seamstress to support her family, she must work to guard a secret that will protect her father and save her family from certain death. Will her innocence be lost and will she succumb to the deceptive and violent tactics of Franco's fascist regime?
Total word count: 12,400   Unique word count: 500
Page count: 97

La guerra sucia, Nathaniel Kirby. ISBN: 978-1-934958-05-6
American Journalist and single mother Leslie Corrales travels to Argentina to investigate the suspicious disappearance of ‘Raúl,’ the son of Magdalena Casasnovas. When Leslie discovers that Raúl, along with tens of thousands of other suspected dissidents, has suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the Argentine government, she finds herself in a life-altering series of events. Will she escape with her life and with the information she needs to help the Argentine people? Total word count: 12,350   Unique word count: 600
Page count: 90

More Spanish novels!

These are all available TPRS Books.  Each one costs about $7.00.

Mi propio auto, Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray. ISBN 0-929724-74-7
       Seventeen-year old Ben Sullivan, from San Jose, CA, was determined to have his own car. He thought his parents were going to give him one for his birthday but instead they surprise him with a trip to El Salvador. Ben wanted to spend the summer with his girlfriend and friends but instead goes to El Salvador. While there he has a variety of experiences in a culture different from his own. (First in a series for 2nd-3rd year high school level. Written mostly in present tense.)

¿Dónde está Eduardo?, Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray. ISBN 0-929724-69-0
       Summer vacation is beginning for 17-year-old Carmen Rodriguez of Colorado. She is looking forward to spending a lot of time with her friends. However, her mother has promised a friend that Carmen will accompany the friend's 7-year-old son Eduardo to Costa Rica to visit his grandparents. Carmen finally gives in and decides to go. The problems start once they set foot on the airplane. One crisis follows another. (Second in a series for 2nd-3rd year high school level. Written mostly in past tense.)

El viaje perdido, Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray. ISBN 0-929724-59-3
       College students Carlos and Jaime go on a Caribbean cruise. While in Puerto Rico, they miss the boat to the next island. All their money is stolen and they are unable to reach their families in Ohio for help. On the cruiser they meet the gorgeous Puerto Rican Carmen, who takes them to visit her grandmother. As they struggle with their dilemma, the book brings to life various aspects of Puerto Rican culture. (Third in a series for 2nd-3rd year high school level. Written mostly in past tense.)

¡Viva el toro!, Lisa Ray Turner & Blaine Ray. ISBN 0-929724-28-8
       Seventeen-year old Ana Silva travels to Seville, Spain, where she lives with a Sevillian family that has three children. She goes to a typical school with one of her Spanish sisters and meets a nice, handsome boy there. Everything goes smoothly until she goes to a bullfight. The book cleverly links Spanish culture with the life of North American high school students. (Fourth in a series for 2nd-3rd year high school level. Written mostly in past tense.)

The following novels are written for “third-year or fourth-year high school” Spanish level, but are interesting for any age.

Los ojos de Carmen. By Veronica Moscoso.   ISBN 0-929724-92-5   
       Daniel is a 16-year old American boy who wants to enter a photography contest. He travels to Ecuador where he visits his uncle's family and also explores this diverse and intriguing country. On a day trip he meets Carmen, a girl with exceptional eyes. He wants to find Carmen because he thinks he can win the contest with a picture of her. The novel is filled with cultural substance and significant facts about Ecuador.

Vida o muerte en el Cusco. By Lisa Ray Turner and Blaine Ray                  ISBN 1-60372-048-0
       High school senior Elena Garcia is vacationing in Cusco, Peru, with her mother. Everything that Elena experiences bugs her. She is just starting to get interested in some things when her mother has an accident and suddenly Elena has to deal with the aftermath. The experiences that follow have a transformative effect on Elena. The novel is loaded with cultural descriptions and references. (Written for 3rd- or 4th-year students. The level of grammar is high; the subjunctive is used in a variety of contexts.)

Language Study Programs offers a free beginning download.  Lots of flashcards, but they come with pronunciation (slow and regular), pictures, etc.  Keeps track of your progress, too.  It's kind of like a phrasebook.  If you want more, of course, you pay more.  Their parent company, Transparent Language, offers a much more complete program, but not free.  Both programs have approaches similar to mine (TPRS), (but of course, are not as much fun as learning with others and a live teacher.) (Simon and Schuster)  offers a pretty effective method of aural language learning.  I used it with Romanian and Greek in preparation for travel.  It provides conversational language in the context of conversation.  I found myself using sentences verbatim from the program in those countries, and it worked just fine.  It does prefer the formal form of address, at least in the beginning. Our local library has several languages available - including Spanish.  I downloaded them to my iPhone and wandered around listening and repeating as I took walks, gardened, cooked, etc.  They also provide reading practice, which was especially helpful in Greek.  Note:  I listened to each lesson at least 2 or 3 times, sometimes more, so be patient with yourself.

Duolingo is another online program that makes creative use of picture/word flashcards.  It's fun, but limited.  I used it for Swedish and my biggest achievement was saying Good morning and being responded to normally. (Everyone in Sweden speaks English!)

My opinion:  Any of these three above programs is better than what I have seen of Rosetta Stone (which has the best marketing but not the best language acquisition methods.)  I am not actually recommending them, only offering them as possibilities for those who wish to supplement their lessons or try another approach.

Other sites
Many songs for Día de los Muertos

Joe Hayes version of the Llorona story, well told, in English

Listening to music is another way to acquire language.  Many songs have videos and lyrics posted on line.  Here are some artists and CD's you might enjoy, but there are many!
   José Luis Orozco - sings folksongs, children's songs, and classics.
   Maná: pop/rock - my favorite song is El muelle de San Blas.
   Kallpay - Hijos del Sol, Andean music
   William Luna -Lo nuevo y lo mejor, some folksongs, some original compositions
   Eva Ayllón - classic, popular
   Grupo 5 - super popular now, started in 1973, cumbia, couldn't escape hearing them when we were in Perú - fun. 
   Los hermanos Yaipén (Hnos. Yaipén) - like Grupo 5, high energy
   Gianmarco - Entre la arena y la luna - Grammy winner, romántico
Argentina:  Fito Paez - rock singer/songwriter, Latin Grammy award winner
Colombia:  Los macondos de Columbia, merengue, cumbia, paseo    (group founded in the U.S.)
   Manu Chao (Spanish-French), hard to classify. Listen to Me gustas tú for reinforcement of this grammatical structure.
   Enrique Iglesias - popular y romántico.  Hijo de Julio Iglesias.  I like the songs Nunca te olvidaré and Alguien soy yo, among others.



  1. Hola. I remember seeing a novella once that was in present tense from front to back and in past tense if you flipped it over and read it from back to front. Do you know what novella that is?

    1. Thanks for asking, Danielle. Note changes marked above in yellow highlighting. Great idea, ¿no?