How to Spanish
How to Spanish has a Mexican focus, and that matters because Spanish is different in different countries, just as English is different. I remember that Churchill said that Britain and the U.S. were “two countries divided by a common language”, and it is much the same with Spanish. Spanish as spoken in Spain has some vocabulary differences, and some significant differences in pronunciation. And within Latin America, Mexican Spanish and Argentinian Spanish are different as well. From what I have learned so far, people will understand you no matter which variant you speak, and I have not yet encountered anything as (ahem) interesting as the phrase “to knock someone up”. I’m told that in England this only means to visit and knock on their door, while in the U.S. it is slang for getting someone pregnant.
This started out as an audio podcast, but not a free one. You have to join their Patreon to get access there, though it also includes PDF downloads of the transcripts. But when they added the YouTube channel, that is free and open to anyone. The episodes are all in Spanish, so this would be good for practicing listening, but probably not for complete beginners. You would probably need to get to the A2 level in the CEFR before this would help you.
Spanishpod101.com is a site I was doubtful about when I first started, in large part because of the relentless sales pitches. But I have warmed to the site since, and even upgraded my membership. The YouTube channel is completely free, though if you subscribe they will send you endless notifications of sales pitches. But just because they put them there does not mean you have to listen to any of them.
The channel has a number of different series. One of the most interesting is hosted by two young men from Mexico, Efrain and Diego, and of course they focus on Mexican Spanish and culture. They do at least one video per week, normally of around a half-hour, and it incorporates some test questions if you are tuned in to the live broadcast. Then there is the sporadic series by Victor Trejo, also from Mexico, that is a little more systematic about the grammar. There is also a series featuring Rosa, who is Spanish, and her series mostly focuses on vocabulary, teaching you words and phrases in Spanish. Brenda Romaniello, who we previously mentioned for her Hola Spanish series, also appears on this channel. And these are just the currently active video series as I have encountered them in the last 5 months or so. There is also the archive of earlier series, such as the Weekly Mexican Spanish Words with Alex, the Introduction to Spanish series, and the Spanish in Three Minutes series, which is very much a beginners look, and with short videos you can make a quick beginning.
There is more to Spanishpod101.com than just the YouTube channel, but we’ll leave that for another time. Suffice it to say, there is a great wealth of material here, and just the free YouTube videos alone are a great resource.
Dreaming Spanish is a channel that has within it multiple series at different levels:
The videos are all in Spanish, but if you view ones appropriate for your level they are a great way to practice your listening comprehension. They base their approach on the Automatic Language Growth idea of Dr. J. Marvin Brown, which says that the best way to become fluent is not to study grammar, but to listen and absorb the language. And a second influence is Stephen Krashen’s Comprehensible Input theory:
Comprehensible input is language input that can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and structures in it. It is described as one level above that of the learners if it can only just be understood. According to Krashen’s theory of language acquisition, giving learners this kind of input helps them acquire language naturally, rather than learn it consciously.https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/comprehensible-input
For example, the beginner series is hosted by a man who illustrates everything he says (in Spanish) by drawing little stick figures. It does help you to follow what he is saying. Then I watched one of the advanced series videos that showed a woman making Chiles Rellenos in her kitchen. She was talking very fast, so I could not really follow her, but I could recognize some words and phrases.
There is a lot of material here, over 500 videos total, the majority beginner level, but also a good number of Intermediate and Advanced. And they are releasing new videos every week.
Why Not Spanish?
This channel has a format you see frequently in both YouTube and podcasts where there is a native Spanish speaker and a student learning Spanish. Often they are a couple, which is the case here. The YouTube videos are mostly a way of publicizing the courses they sell, but then that is true of many of these YouTube channels. Most of the videos are fairly short, and of late it looks like a number of them revolve around the move of Cody (the student) and Maria (the teacher) to Colombia. This is not one of my top channels, but it may appeal more to others. I think right now it is too advanced for me.
Spanish After Hours
Spanish After Hours is a recent arrival on YouTube, but the host, Laura, has done about 30 videos in 5 months, so that is not bad. I learned about her channel when she was a guest on the Dreaming Spanish channel, and decided to subscribe. Her channel is at the Intermediate level, which is a little above where I am now (I’m still a Beginner), but it is a little easier because her videos all have English captioning. It is just enough to be a challenge without being frustrating.
Spanishland School is a channel I have found particularly helpful for working on my listening comprehension. The host, Andrea Alger, is from Colombia, and is full of energy. What helps is that there are subtitles in Spanish, and also she sometimes gives the English translation for what she is saying. The videos are short, mostly no more than 10 minutes, and come out about once a week on average. And with the archive going back 3 years there is a lot of content here.
Spanish with Paul
Spanish with Paul is not what you would call systematic. There is not really much discussion of grammar, and you don’t learn all of the verb conjugations, but what it does do is get you up and speaking fairly quickly. He shows you how to quickly build vocabulary by looking for Spanish words that are similar to English words. For example, words that end in “ect” in English are frequently the same except that they end in “ecto” in Spanish. For example, correct = correcto, perfect = perfecto, and so on. And in the Mini- course videos, which are longer at 30+ mins. he shows you how to say common phrases. If I was planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country that would happen in three months, I would definitely put more effort into these videos for the quick payoff. However, for someone who wants to actually achieve mastery of the language I would expect to spend some years using other tools.
Paul is British but lives in Mexico, and like many of these YouTubers he has courses he sells, and these videos are primarily marketing for his courses. And I don’t see any evidence that he has added any videos in the last year or so, though he is actively promoting his courses. I don’t know anything about his courses, but if you like his approach you may want to try them. I am not opposed to paying for courses, as I mentioned when I bought a course from Coffee Break Spanish, and I use several paid apps and Web sites as well. But that is for places I want to visit daily, and while I enjoy some of what Paul does, it is more an occasional thing for me, not a daily driver.