We suggest you start with common phrases then learn to make little substitutions. For example:
Dónde está el bus? Where is the bus?
Dónde está tu mamá? Where is your mom?
Dónde está la tienda? Where is the store?
Dónde está el banco?
Here is a link to some good starter phrases:
After you make some progress with that, you may want to systimatically learn some of the most common words. Here are a couple of links for that.
But pretty soon you will need to start to get a little grasp of what is going on with Spanish verbs or you can't express when anything happens or who did it. For years when someone tried to speak Spanish to me I'd tell them "You speak Spanish horribly" when I meant to say "I speak Spanish horribly". I guess they either got the point or took offense!
Spanish verbs are quite different from English verbs. Below are two useful introductions to the subject.
I've written a little document that tries to distill the most important aspects into a single page, below. With this cheat sheet in hand, you can go far.
My wife Sandy is a great language teacher. She kept telling me that most of what I needed to know about verbs is not so overwhelming. After taking notes for a while, I realized this could be summed up surprisingly succinctly.
So I made this tiny document which does just that! I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.
Language Learning Techniques
If you are too busy to read a bloated book about language learning strategies and techniques, this is a great book to make sure every hour you spend counts - and it's short and cheap!
The Sticky Little Ball: ... and 9 more tips for successfully learning a language (almost) all on your own
I listen to the Austin location.
Click the link below to listen to an online "radio station" we have crafted to play music that has clear lyrics and and middle of the road musical style for easy listening and learning.
Spanish Study Software Reviews
Rosetta Stone review
Rosetta has beautiful pictures carefully constructed to convey the ideas being taught. They have obviously created their own sets to create images that are perfect for the language topic at hand. Their audio is also superb in clarity and variety.
Their instance on teaching without referring to English is at times exasperating and I am lost trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do. Navigating the levels is confusing. It's time consuming to find a subject and practice it then get out. Knowing where I am in the sequence is confusing. The program is very weak at showing me areas where I've done the lessons but need to work more on them- or not. It's listening algorighims are hit or miss. Sometimes it allows pretty terrible pronounciation, other times it refuses to accept my speech even though it's excellent.
The bas version is designed to run off a Laptop and the process is a bit ponderous. There is a version that runs on my iPad, but I have to pay by the month to use it even though I've paid a lot for the desktop version.
Bottom line: I no longer use Rosetta nor do I want to. There are better options and even though I put a lot of money into it, it's not the best use of my my language learning time and energy.
Duo Lingo does a pretty good job at fixing the problems of Rosetta Stone except that it's listening algorithims are also pretty hit or miss. It makes a pretty good effort to explain scope and sequence, show me where I am, asks me to review occasionally to make sure stuff is not fading etc. It is also available online and is free. However I have been stuck in Latin America without internet at times and it does not work unless you have an internet connection. A really crummy connection is adequate though - which is important because many many places I travel have just that - a terrible internet connection. :-)
Bottom line: It's good.
This has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. It is still a platform where you can create your own study programs but they have a professionally curated Spanish program that is quite good. It exercises you in every way a program can - listening, reading, viewing videos of native speakers in context, requiring you to write and speak etc. It's strength is how well it tracks how solid your memory is of material and tailors how often to review each things you are learning to your exact needs.
Bottom line: It's good.
Verberrator review - Still the best for Verbs
Verbs are one of the hardest parts of Spanish. This is the best software we have seen to learn Spanish verbs. Unfortunately you can't buy it new any more, you will have to be lucky enough to find a used copy.
It allows you to carve out just as little or much as you want and practice listening, speaking and reading, in order or randomly. The flexibility is astounding, impossible to explain briefly, yet easy to use. As language software goes, it's pretty cheap too. Works on PCs or the Mac, not mobile platforms.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy review
This is created by the same people who made Verberrator. Their web site drives me nuts. It is so gimicky and sleazy that for years I would never even consider their product even though people had recommended it.
The product itself is not really software just flat audio files - another thing that put me off. When I finally did listen to their program I have to admit that it's about as good as an audio lesson can be. I'm really surprised how effective it is. They do a great job of pacing so that my brain has a chance to struggle to come up with things but not so long that my attention wanders or I feel hopeless. Another great feature is they push me to get accustomed to full speed Spanish. This is important because many other learning systems do slower spanish only. I do believe slower spanish is good and necessary as a learning step, but when we get out in the world and try to talk to people we have to deal with full speed Spanish and they do a nice balance of both.
A nice feature is that the text is also included in a pdf so you can give the text you are working on to your tutor and they can work with you on the same material you are studying.
No inernet connection required. Good on your phone but woks on almost any device.
Bottom Line: I use this, mostly on my phone. It's good when walking or riding in the car or bumming around on long bus rides in latin america and does not need internet. On Android I use a product calle Music Folder Player Free to play this audio because it has good features to allow me to instantly roll back / forward in selectable increments of time when I want to pause and listen to bits again.
Time Zone Calculator
It can be a little bit of a mind bender figuring out what your time is compared to the time in Nicaragua sometimes. This can help.
Books We Have On Hand
Getting books to Nicaragua is slow and expensive so we list here books that are already in place. Most of these can be had for very low prices used from Amazon.
Practical Spanish Grammar: A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd Edition
Highly focused on grammer, no distractions. We have had good success with this.
Next step, also had great results.
Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses, Second Edition
Lots of practice. We have had good success with this.
Schaum's outlines: Spanish Grammar, Sixth Edition
Learn Spanish the Fast and Fun Way
Travel oriented intro for kids.
One of the better college texts. Online content is not available to us.