College is an excellent opportunity to learn a foreign language. While the majority of Americans do not know a second language, intensive second language study is becoming more and more common. There are a number of important factors that are all converging to make learning a foreign language more valuable for Americans, especially young people. By learning a language in college, you position yourself for greater success and intellectual achievement.
Many colleges are adopting foreign language requirements, so learning a new language is a pragmatic concern for college students. However, for those who plan to go forward to advanced study in graduate school, it is even more important. Graduate programs in English, history, and many other fields frequently require a background of one year in a foreign language. Studying a language in your early years will make your path to graduation far smoother.
Another important reason to learn a second language has to do with studying abroad. Studying abroad is becoming far more popular among Americans. The number of students going abroad has increased steadily in each of the last ten years. Learning a language helps to make sure that you will have many different study abroad options in your junior or senior year. The language immersion experience you can get abroad will also accelerate your language studies.
Last, but certainly not least, remember that the college experience is becoming more international by the day. Odds are good you will have many people on your campus who speak a second language, including many who were raised with a language other than English. Millions of students from all around the world come to study in the United States; being able to converse with them in their native language will help you make friends and learn about the world!
Of all the different languages that you could learn, Spanish is one of the best for the college years. The number of Spanish speakers is growing very rapidly. In the U.S., more people describe their background as Hispanic and Latino than ever before, and many of these people speak Spanish at home. Being able to speak Spanish is likely to be helpful in the job market of the future. Likewise, there are great resources for learning to speak Spanish, so it is not so hard.
It is never too late to learn a language, but the younger you are, the more advantages you will have in achieving your goal. College is an exceptional chance to enjoy language learning thanks to the wonderful libraries, language labs, and fluent speakers of other languages you will be in contact with. To get started, you can always use free resources and self-paced lessons online. These will serve as a great supplement to any classes that you decide to take in Spanish.
To get started on your Spanish journey, visit the excellent learning tools below:
- Free Spanish Lessons and Resources: With a multitude of free lessons on pronunciation, grammar, verb drills, and more, StudySpanish.com is one of the most popular websites for learning Spanish.
- Duolingo Spanish: Duolingo helps learners of Spanish and other languages to develop vocabulary skills by learning from user-generated courses and engaging in practice using translation. It is a free service, and one of the most popular language learning platforms.
- Free Spanish Podcasts: Audiria provides a huge collection of free Spanish-language podcasts to help language learners perfect their pronunciation and build vocabulary. Podcasts cover twenty different important topics.
- Spanish at the Open University: This list of resources from the Open University will direct language learners to the best grammar tutorials, Spanish dictionaries, study aids, lessons, and resources for those traveling in the Spanish-speaking world.
- MIT Open Courseware for Foreign Languages: From this page, learners can access a large number of beginner and intermediate courses in Spanish, all of them originally taught at MIT. Most courses are not graded, but include reading lists, lesson plans, and assignments.
- Free Spanish Audio from Berkeley: This selection of Spanish-language audio files helps learners to conquer common pronunciation issues while expanding their understanding of Spanish consonants, vowels, and vocabulary.
- Essential Spanish Grammar Online: This comprehensive guide to Spanish grammar covers topics from beginner to advanced. Readers will find extensive coverage of 56 important topics, as well as numerous appendices for further study.
- Online Spanish Proficiency Exercises: Self-taught language learners can test themselves and develop proficiency using more than 100 different exercises. These run from "beginner" level to advanced topics for living in a Spanish-speaking country.
- Spanish Resources from CUNY Hunter College: From the Hunter College Department of Romance Languages at the Central University of New York comes a list of some of the top sites online for teaching yourself Spanish through reading and listening.
- Free Spanish Resources from the BBC: This detailed online guide from the British Broadcasting Company includes vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and much more. There are assets for teachers, students, and learners at every level.
- Spanish Language and Culture Lessons: Detailed exercises cover more than two dozen important grammatical concepts for learning the Spanish language. Elsewhere on the site, you can also learn about cultures and customs of the Spanish-speaking world.
- Yabla Spanish Immersion TV: Yabla provides authentic Spanish-language content that users can test themselves with using subtitles and listening tests. While this is a pay service, there are many free videos available to sample.
- Learn Spanish Slang: One of the most important ways to differentiate a learner from a native speaker in any language is the use of slang. This site is a comprehensive introduction to the way slang is used in many different Spanish-speaking countries.
- Prensa Escrita Spanish-Language Newspapers: Prensa Escrita is an archive of Spanish-language newspapers from around the world. Since newspapers are typically written at approximately a high school level, they can be useful for the language learner.
- Revista Trabalenguas Online Magazine: Revista Trabalenguas is an online magazine and community for those who are learning Spanish as a second language. It is presented entirely in Spanish, so it requires a moderate level of reading skill.
- El Dicccionario: This reference sheet from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne will help students to select an appropriate English-to-Spanish dictionary for their studies.
- Library Guide and Reading List for Spanish: This university library guide includes a reading list of texts that you may be able to get at your local college library as well as several internet resources for learning Spanish.
- Free Spanish Flash Cards: This site serves as a database of Spanish flashcards presented (maybe not surprisingly) in Flash. The site also has several other great assets for language learners to enjoy.
- Spanish Dictionary Online: SpanishDict is one of the most popular and comprehensive online dictionaries of the Spanish language. It also has a robust community that can help with all of your Spanish questions.
- Spanish Grammar Exercises from Trinity University: These free Spanish grammar exercises cover adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, verb forms, verb usage, and many other topics that learners sometimes find challenging.
- Spanish Language Drills from Columbia University: These twenty lessons will help learners to develop a basic foundation in verb usage and other fundamental Spanish grammar topics.
- Free Online Spanish Learning Resources: With dozens of free lessons and resources, as well as information on culture and travel, 101Languages is one of the most comprehensive sites online for Spanish self-education.