What if I told you that you can learn conversational and traditional Spanish online at a highly ranked, well known school? What if I told you that you could take all of their course offerings in Spanish language, like Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV – for free? Are you interested yet? If not, don’t worry, there’s more. What if I told you that you can take the class and learn at your own pace? Would you believe me? If not, you should.
MIT offers interested learners with the unique opportunity to take some of the same courses taught at the school, online, for free. This is offered through the MIT Open Courseware program. While there are many courses offered through MIT’s Open Courseware program, this review focuses on their Spanish language offering.
As part of the course offerings, MIT provides the full syllabus along with all assignments as a free download. The program students use during the course is called, “DESTINOS”. Destinos is a video instructional series in Spanish that uses a telenova style story to teach word recognition and comprehension in context. In addition to the 52 videos offered, Destinos provides related assignments to practice based on the video the student recently viewed. The MIT course syllabus does require that the student purchase the accompanying book, however, it is possible complete the entire course without the book. Both the MIT website, and learner.org provide excellent online resources to help the student practice their pronunciation and comprehension. Choosing to buy the book is not a bad choice either, it can be purchased for a truly reasonable price on Amazon.
This is an outstanding program that would require several pages fully describe all its component’s. With limited space, however, I will highlight some of its best features. Many of the practice assignments are set up so that you hear the correct pronunciation as your mouse glides over the word ‘” this allows you to familiarize yourself with the way the word is articulated. The videos allow the learner to select the close captioning option so that it is possible see the word, as well as hear the word. Finally, the videos do offer information about cultural differences between Spanish countries and the United States, giving the viewer the opportunity to understand another culture.
Who actually stands to gain from such a program? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the last five years have been a time of transition for many employees. These employees have been told that they need to make themselves more marketable and return to school to learn additional skills. With increased globalization, communicating in multiple languages is clearly a valuable skill. However, those who are employed often do not have the time to go learn this new skill and those who are unemployed do not have the money. This program benefits individuals in both scenarios giving the employed person the freedom to self direct and pace their learning and giving the unemployed the opportunity to acquire marketable skills without further complicating their financial situation.
Your motivated high school/early college student will also find this program useful. Are you planning to study abroad? Are you considering attending college abroad? Taking every opportunity to learn the language does make a decision easier.
How about actually speaking to people who speak Spanish? You can do that for free too! Busuu.com allows you to speak to people for free in an online language community. It serves as a sort of cultural exchange, you help someone with his or her English and they help you with your Spanish. For the technologically savvy, Secondlife.com offers a unique opportunity to interact with native Spanish speakers in a virtual world.
To get the most out of your self-directed Spanish learning course you should follow a few basic steps:
1. Clearly identify the reason you want to learn Spanish – are you looking for just a basic understanding of Spanish or do you need to be able to communicate with people daily?
2. Make a commitment, set your “school” schedule ‘” be realistic about how much time you can devote weekly to learning;
3. Set aside time for communication as part of your routine;
4. Set small, attainable goals for yourself to maintain enthusiasm for your course of study; and
5. If possible, take the course with a study partner.
Buena suerte aprender espanol !
Read my other product reviews for information on the best educational tools for your student.
VanPatten, Marks, and Teschner. “DESTINOS.” Text. McGraw Hill, 2002.
“DESTINOS.” Workbook/Study Guide I. McGraw Hill, 2002, Lecciones 1-26.