Habla Español Con Tech

Since I'm in the public relations business, it makes good business sense to brush up on my Spanish. After all, Latinos are a fast-growing population here and many of my prospective clients serve this community.

But first, a confession, “brush up” is inaccurate as that implies my language skills simply need refreshing. Alas, I’ve got un largo viaje ahead.

Thanks to technology, I can turn to a number of iTunes podcasts, iPhone apps and Websites to guide me as I learn. The advantages of tech-study appeal because I can do it in the comfort of my home and at low or minimum cost. Care to join me as I immerse?

iTunes Podcasts
More than two dozen podcasts, priced at free to $19.95, are offered. My favorite is Coffee Break Spanish distributed by Radio Lingua Network. Instructor Mark and his student Kara, are native Scots, so their conversations have an interesting twist. According to their site, Coffee Break Spanish “brings language-learning with your latte. Aimed at total beginners, it will help you get to grips with the Spanish language.”

Another podcast, SpanishDict.com “guides you step-by-step to speaking and understanding Spanish. Each lesson uses images and charts to visually introduce new vocabulary and concepts."

iPhone Apps
Spanish! is a $0.99 app that offers “A learning tool similar to flashcards, but with audio and an intelligent progress tracking system that helps you learn faster. After you 'flip' to the answer, you pick if you were Right or Wrong."

iSpeak Spanish is priced at $1.99 and bills itself as "the best selling translation solution on the App Store."

Spanish Anywhere is pricier at $9.99, but I've enjoyed this app since I purchased it several years ago. Its description touts, "Learn and communicate in Spanish anytime. It's perfect for travelers, students, business people, and anyone who wants to speak, read, study, pronounce, or translate Spanish."

Many Spanish language websites claim they are free, but often there is a subscription service attached. That's why I like About.com's Spanish for beginners despite an abundance of ads on its site. Here's their commercial, "This series of lessons is designed to help beginning Spanish students or any one else learning the language with the fundamentals needed for further learning and study. It requires no supplementary material other than perhaps a dictionary for reinforcing vocabulary."

At Studyspanish.com, the Chicago link points you to several brick-and-mortar schools, including two I've attended. And although I’m currently focusing on home-based study on my tech toys, I recommend both places.

Dígame is located at 2504 N. California in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. According to its web site, "Dígame Language Instruction is a private, student-focused language learning center offering Spanish, French and German classes for adults. Our recipe for success combines a friendly, safe atmosphere with serious learning goals." Call 773-235-1499 or write to: info@digamechicago.net.

Instituto Cervantes de Chicago is downtown at 31 W. Ohio St. between State and Dearborn Streets. It's a worldwide non-profit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991 and the largest organization in the world concerned with the teaching of Spanish. Call 312-335-1996 or write to chicago@cervantes1.org for information.

Now that I've got you interested in the language, you might also want to combine vocabulary with footwork. Check out Flamenco Chicago at 2914 W. Belmont. It's owned by my friend, Rosetta Magdalen and "offers a fun, but serious, learning environment with the Chicago area's greatest number of flamenco dance classes under one roof."

Rosetta adds "You will meet a friendly, welcoming, and very interesting group of students here, ranging in age from teens through 60s, with most students in their 20s and 30s. Class sizes are limited to ensure supportive, personal attention to each student.” To begin, contact rosetta@flamencochicago.com

Usted es muy agradable por estos consejos.

I think.