Learning to speak Spanish has many benefits, ranging from job advancement to the ability to more easily travel in many of the world’s most interesting regions. Choosing the right Spanish course usually comes down to a couple of key factors. If you are in college or university, the choices you have will be different than if you are out of school. You will also need to identify your primary goals. If you are looking for a Spanish course that will make you a fluent speaker, you should shy from conversational courses; similarly, if you are looking only for enough skills to get around while traveling, an intense immersion course will likely be more than you want.
Spanish language programs are prolific in most areas. After English and Chinese, Spanish is the most-spoken language in the world. The availability of chances to learn to speak Spanish are understandably vast, but the choices can be overwhelming.
Most language experts recommend that to truly learn a language, one must practice it every day. A university setting is arguably the best venue for this sort of learning, as language classes are offered according to a generally strict semester- or year-long program of daily lessons and drills. For students currently enrolled in a university, choosing the best Spanish course is usually a matter of assessing one’s existing skill level, then selecting a professor with good rankings or a good reputation.
Many college-level courses are not restricted to full-time students, however. Sometimes, community members who have an interest in a particular class can enroll only for those credits, or can take offered courses on an audit-only basis. This can be an attractive option for adult learners who want a baseline Spanish course. Schools increasingly offer second language courses online, as well, in a targeted effort to attract distance or continuing education students.
Depending on your time line for learning to speak Spanish, year-long college courses might not be right for you. Many commercial language institutes offer Spanish language courses, usually in the evenings, at a variety of levels. Schedules vary for these sorts of programs, but most of the time, they are designed to be compressed versions of what one might learn in a traditional academic course. The instructors vary, too however, and can run the gamut from native speaker to basic novice. Before enrolling, be sure to ask about instructor qualifications along with course goals, and if possible, sit in on a Spanish course to be sure it is what you had in mind.
Software, CD-based, or online-only Spanish courses are also a popular option for busy students. The advantage to do-it-yourself Spanish programs is that timing is never a concern, and the schedule can be modified or accelerated as you see fit. Level and course objectives can also be self-selected. Unless you have some prior knowledge of Spanish or are completing the self-paced study with a friend, it can be hard to grasp the intricacies of the spoken language alone, however.
Your location may afford expanded options for language instruction, too, and if so, these opportunities should be explored. If you live in an area with a high density of native Spanish speakers, you may be able to find impromptu tutoring or house-based language courses at very reasonable prices. You may also be able to find conversation groups with whom to practice your speaking and listening skills. A lot of a Spanish course is what you make of it. Putting in the time and energy to find a course that works for you will ultimately lead you to the most rewarding Spanish language experience.