Online Courses

Basic Spanish
You needn't aspire to be a U.N. interpreter to take, or use, a Basic Spanish course online. This is one of the most popular online courses because it covers the words and phrases you use to get around in any Spanish speaking environment, of which there are many. How much? How far? And, yes, where is the restroom? Phrases that will make your time in a Spanish speaking country more pleasant, or help you run a business or do a job in a part of this country where Spanish is frequently spoken.

You can pretty much choose what you want to pay for Basic Spanish courses. Some are university level and cost about what you would expect for university courses – as much as three or four hundred dollars per semester hour. Others, giving you basic words and phrases, can be found which cost nothing at all. You can find just about every price range in between.

What kind of course you choose will probably depend on your purpose. If you need Spanish for work, a more formal course may be in order. If you have Spanish customers in your business you may need something less formal, but still substantial. On the other hand, if you are vacationing in Spain or Mexico, you may well find the free courses provide you with the handful of phrases and expressions you'll need for your stay.

College level courses generally come by the semester or quarter and take several months. The less formal courses are usually broken down into ten or twelve basic lessons, which you can study in your own time.

Course material comes in a variety of ways. Some online instruction just sells books or CDs. Don't sell them short, though, CDs can be great for killing that daily commute. However, many use email, streaming video and even newsletters. Even if your course doesn't use forums or chatrooms, you can find Spanish forums and chatrooms online where you can practice your new language skills.

The BBC offers a series of free online language courses, including Spanish, at They even offer a test that will let you place yourself in the correct course. The easiest is the Spanish Steps, a beginner's guide. With Spanish Steps you get twelve lessons, centered around twelve frequent activities such as taking a taxi ride or a night on the town. The lessons are divided into games such as "Guess the Words" or "Rearrange the Conversation," then you will have activities based on vocabulary, listening or grammar and finally the chance to use what you have learned in a typical setting. At the end of each lesson, there is a challenge so you can test yourself.

Letter grading is not necessarily the standard format for Basic Spanish in these popular online courses, though that is generally used in more formal classes. You may turn in written lessens for feedback, but in some cases your grade is simply the end result of your efforts to communicate clearly.

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