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New to Duolingo & total beginner - English speaker learning Spanish


Installed this yesterday so extremely new to it all.

I'm now determined to learn to speak Spanish after years of putting it off, so any help or advice from people would be greatly appreciated.

I'm also going to be starting private lessons in the next 2 weeks to help with the process.

Thanks and good luck to everyone learning languages. :)

May 21, 2013



It can be a bit daunting starting out can't it?

I started learning German a few weeks from a standing start a few weeks ago so I know the feeling.

So from one beginner to another what have I found useful:

Using Duo-lingo: I try to do at least two half hour sessions a day. The first half hour session I do one lesson, and repeat it. The last half hour session I do "Practice all skills", if I have time for any sessions in between then I do another lesson. I find that this gives me a good mix of learning new stuff and revising old ground. Trust Duo-Lingo to make sure that your revise the correct stuff on "Practice all skills"

Don't just use Duo-Lingo: One bit of advice that you will see time and again on these discussion boards is not just to use one method of learning. Obviously you are getting private lessons, but also have a look at Memrise. I've been doing an introductory vocabulary course on there as well as Duo-Lingo. You don't get the same level of structure as you do with Duo-lingo, but you do learn new words fast which feeds back onto your learning here. It is a lot easier than this site, so I generally use it as a warm up to kick my brain into "German" gear before I do a lesson on this site.

Use other online materials that are available. Youtube has loads of foreign language material, some of aimed at teaching you stuff. Don't be afraid to use it. If you have Spotify, then they also have a large amount of foreign language music. You can get an instant win by listening to some Spanish music, you won't be able to understand it, but it will be a fresh new sound and help motivate you to carry on.

Grammar. Don't worry about it too much. But don't forget about it either. I've found that the BBC Talk grammar is aimed at beginner adult learners and is easy to read use and understand. The other basic grammars I've seen are useful but aimed more at school kids. My experience is that I don't really understand grammar until I've failed a few lessons on Duo-Lingo that use that concept, and then read it. If I try to learn the grammar and then do the lessons, then I just get confused.

Practice every single day. Please assume that I shouting this bit of advice in your face very loudly and repeatedly.

Set your expectations. You aren't going to be fluent in the language any time soon. I've read some sites which give the impression that you are going to be interacting easily with native speakers within three months. This is absolute rubbish, and believing them will make you think that can't learn a language because you don't feel like you are progressing. Getting over the hump on learning a language is hard enough without going into it with a pair of rose tinted glasses.

These are just my experiences. I'm sure that the more experienced learners on the site can give you better advice ... and tell you why I'm wrong :P ....


This is great. Thanks for the heads up. I've read somewhere that another good method to assist new learners, is to watch foreign cartoons (Spanish in my case). As they are aimed at children, they will speak a lot clearer and sometimes slower. I'm in Asia at the moment but flying back to the UK tomorrow. I have the app on my iPhone so will do some study on the plane and in the airport and then will hit the study hard when I return to the UK.

I also have some Spanish speaking colleagues, so I guess in a few months time, when I'm picking up various phrases and skills, I will try to engage with them in Spanish. I'm sure they will be nice to me and speak nice and slowly for me and help me out. It's worth a try.

Also I will try my best to get to some Spanish restaurants to try out my speaking skills.

I don't think you can every really fully learn a language unless you are living in that country, or a country where the language is widely spoken, due to different dialects and slang wordings used in different parts of a country but I'm here to learn a good grounding of a language to enable me to at least communicate on some level with a Spanish speaking person.

I have a lot to study to do when i get home as I need to do exams for work as well. I will do myself a timetable so I can organize my time better and ensure that I get to study both subjects along side each other.

Thanks for everyone's advice, it is really appreciated. I'm so excited to get into the study when I'm home.


Hi and welcome to Duolingo!

If you click "Top all time" tab in Discussions, you'll see the most popular general threads here. I also recommend to do the same in Spanish section of Discussions. There are discussions in every skill, too, have a look at them when you open a new skill.


Great. Thanks for the tip :)


Will do thanks. :)

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