The 7 Best Spanish Software
7. Rosetta Stone
6. Rocket Spanish Level 1
5. Smigin for Everyday Conversation
4. Practice Makes Perfect Basic Spanish
3. Ouino 5-in-1 Complete Collection
2. Living Language Complete
1. Fluenz Version 3
Getting Started With Spanish Software
If you haven't yet started language learning by way of computer software, well, welcome to the future. Gone are the days of sitting through boring grammatical lectures and forcing yourself to remember hablo, hablas, habla, hablamos, and so on by sheer force of will. Instead, Spanish software is built on the principle that learning a language should be fun and interactive, which will not only help you learn but also keep you from giving up out of tedium. You can expect games, videos, challenges, animations, speech recognition, and much more, all created to keep you engaged and focused — an important requirement for learning.
Of course, there's more going on under the surface; just playing games and repeating random phrases now and then probably wouldn't make you fluent. A quality piece of language learning software should harness methodology built upon the principles of second language acquisition and language education, two ever-evolving subfields of linguistics. Rosetta Stone, for example, uses what they call "Dynamic Immersion," which attempts to recreate for users an experience that is similar to how children learn a language. Users build meanings from input in the form of pictures and text, much as a child would, instead of undergoing explicit grammatical instruction. Such a methodology attempts to take advantage of the way your brain is already wired to learn a language and can ensure that your Spanish is tied to real-world meaning and context from the start.
Rosetta Stone's methods are not your only choice. Just as there are various theories about how we learn languages, there are various types of Spanish software, each with its own methodology and user experience. To select the one that will work best for you, you'll want to consider a few factors. First, do you have a lot of time to invest or are you looking for conversational skills quickly? Do you prefer lots of pictures and videos, or does audio capture your focus? What about explanations — do you expect highly detailed help, or are intuition and deduction more your style? Finally, will you enjoy using speech recognition? Think about these questions as you select your Spanish software. Look for the versions that match your expectations, and you'll have the fastest and most enjoyable learning experience.
Tips For Accelerated Language Learning
No matter how much fun your Spanish software is, you're going to have to put some effort into learning español. The key, however, is to work smarter, not harder. You want the energy you invest in your language study to pay off as much as possible, since you probably don't have unlimited time and attention. Fortunately, scholars and polyglots have a few tried-and-true tips that'll help give your studying a boost.
Perhaps the most important is to commit and spend some time on your Spanish software every single day. Not every other Tuesday, not on the weekends if you feel like it, not whenever you have a few minutes between meetings. Every day. Why? Because the only way you're going to remember new words while not forgetting the old ones is through constant repetition. This sounds strict, but you can make it fun — you could reward yourself when you hit X number of consecutive days or set up a challenge against a friend.
You should also aim for as much immersion as you can possibly manage. Spanish software is your starting point, but thanks to the number of resources on the internet, you should have plenty of materials with which to surround yourself. These include movies, TV shows, newspapers, magazines, podcasts, books, music, and so much more. And if you aren't at the level to understand, say, "Cien años de soledad," there are still plenty of resources to try, including cartoons, graphic novels, and graded readers.
And then there's probably the most difficult task: speaking. Sometimes language learners wait to start speaking practice, because they want to ensure they're good enough. But successful language learning requires accepting that you're going to make some errors. Think about learning to play an instrument. Did Jimmy Page pick up his guitar for the first time ever and blaze through the solo in Stairway to Heaven? No, because learning to do something new requires practice, which inevitably entails making a few mistakes. Most people who speak more than one language understand this, and anyway, any embarrassment you feel is probably much worse in your head. Cold comfort, perhaps, but true nonetheless.
A Few Facts About Spanish
Even though English is considered to be the world's common tongue, Spanish is generally estimated to have more native speakers, at 570 million to English's 400 million. The number of Spanish speakers expands to around 661 million when taking into account those for whom Spanish is not their first language. The number of people learning this language is nothing to sneeze at, either. Approximately 21 million people are estimated to be pursuing Spanish language education, so as a learner, you have plenty of company.
Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries, including Equatorial Guinea and Paraguay, and can trace the majority of its vocabulary back to Latin. As you may know, this connection makes it one of the Romance languages; specifically, it falls into the Iberian Romance group that also includes Portuguese and Galician. Although these languages can certainly sound romantic in the sense of "passionate," the name actually refers to their connection with the Roman vernacular, as distinguished from proper Latin. But, to be fair, the word "romance" (in the context of love or affection) shares the same origin, thanks to popular tales from medieval literature with these themes, also composed in the Roman vernacular.
As with the other Romance languages, Spanish today offers speakers access to a wide and exciting cultural world that includes literature, music, traditions, dance, cuisine, and more, from all parts of the globe. Your newfound Spanish skills could lead you to dancing the tango like an Argentinian, studying the folk tales of México, or simply singing some new songs at karaoke. Whether you're learning for business or pleasure, then, you're sure to be enriched in ways you didn't expect.