For supplemental audio learning
Since other people have been discussing resources they found helpful in addition to DL - I started learning conversational Spanish using the audio-only books 'Learning Spanish Like Crazy.' (Stupid name, I know.) There are downloadable exercises to go with the audio lessons, but the course is really designed to take you all the way through learning the language just using the audio books.
They use a variety of native speakers, all Latin American, and have reasonably short lessons that build nicely on each other. Starting out, it has a fair amount of instruction in English, but it starts incorporating instruction in Spanish very quickly, and shifting over to using less and less English as you go on. (So the man narrating the lessons says, "Now try to say - trata de decir - 'He closes the door.'" And then eventually stops saying 'try to say' and just says 'trata de decir'. The whole thing has that kind of smooth progression of incorporation.)
In fact the only reason I found DuoLingo was that I realized that I had gotten about halfway through the first audio book (it's about 15 hours, so that was a lot of 10-20 minute lessons) and had absolutely no idea how to spell anything. I didn't know which words had accent marks on them. I didn't know which 's' sounds were 's', 'c', or 'z', or which things were 'll' vs 'y', and I had no idea where 'h's might be at all. If I truly only wanted conversational Spanish, and never wanted to be able to read or write anything, I would have been fine, but I decided I needed to know a bit more than that - especially because it's difficult to understand the relationship between words when you don't see the spellings.
So I started using DL as a way to practice reading and writing, and liked it enough that I shifted over to using it as my primary instruction. I like that I can do exercises without speaking, since it means I can do them on the bus and subway without people hearing me: Learning Spanish Like Crazy, you learn entirely by repeating the phrases and sentences.
So, I like DL. But Learning Spanish Like Crazy does really help my listening comprehension and my ability to speak. I got a really good deal on it a few years ago and don't know how much it would cost now (you can get it through Audible.com, but probably also other sources), but if you're looking for something to improve your spoken Spanish while you're looking for a native speaker to hang out with, I strongly recommend it.
Thank you so much for this tip. Listening and speaking are low skills compared to my reading and writing skills!
I was afraid it might be. I got it from audible.com at a point where they hadn't yet broken it into separate sections, so I paid essentially about $13 each for the beginner and intermediate books - which I was aware at the time was crazy (so to speak) and lucky.
It 's still good value, I think, but that doesn't matter when the money just isn't there, as is so often the case. Well, maybe some libraries have them or can get them!
In the past I did spend money on Yabla, which I think is a great resource for language learning but there are so many great resources, I will never spend money on any resource in the future. Including free sites that features regular, conversational Spanish . . . or French.I should note that the paid service on iTalki is very inexpensive and worth it.
$13 on Audible isn't bad. Each unit is available on iTunes for $9.99. Freaking Amazon sells the entire product north of $100. I'll watch and try to re-enact a telenovela. ;-)
I need to see if Netflix carries those. Right now, I'm re-watching Ladron Que Roba a Ladron and trying not to look at the subtitles more than I can help. :) (If you haven't seen that, it's awesome. Fast-paced heist caper, with stars from all sorts of telenovelas getting parts. And it's great for me, because I'm always wondering about regional differences, because people are always saying things like, 'Well, you would think that, you're from Argentina!' and so forth.)