Mexico can offer a great get-away for an aspiring writer or anyone needing to think through a project, business plan or new direction in life. You can eliminate distractions and concentrate on what your goal is. Without the cloistering, I’m certain that my book on how to learn Spanish as an adult using free online tools would have been a different and inferior book.
Some days doing the research I felt like one of those homeless people you see in the library; muttering and scribbling in my notepad, wadding up notes, then retrieving them and trying to remember when I last showered.
I can imagine that for any writer, the day they receive their first review is a portentous one. Until then, you can't be sure of what you did.
Paul Kurtzwell, author of the blog Two Expats in Mexico was unknown to me when I sent him a copy for his opinion. He told me when I emailed my request that he received two or three similar calls a week and had never endorsed a product. He was of the opinion that learning Spanish was very important to living your best life in Mexico and said for that reason only he’d take a look at the book. No promises.
He had learned Spanish a a Deputy Sheriff in Florida, where a large part of his constituency was Spanish-speaking. He was quite critical of many Spanish learning tools. I held my breath. A few week later I received an email from him (a few days after that I had the courage to read it).
"Congratulations on creating a phenomenal resource for adults who are trying to learn Spanish on their own…"
More than I had hoped for was his subsequent offer to dedicate one of his blogs to the book, which I have included here in its entirety and framed like a first dollar bill.
Learning Spanish on your Own? This Resource Can Really Help by Paul Kurzweil
If you are seriously considering moving to Mexico but you cannot speak Spanish, you might want to think about taking some steps to learn the language. Although it is possible to live in Mexico and not speak Spanish at all — a lot of expats manage it — your daily life will be much easier with some español under your belt.
It’s not easy to learn a language on your own — I know this from personal experience. I had to learn Spanish on my own out of necessity while working as a deputy Sheriff in Florida. Once I was proficient in the language, I started teaching Spanish to other law enforcement officers. If you would like to read more about my experience, check out My Journey from “D” Spanish Student to Fluency.
Over the years, I have looked at hundreds of different Spanish courses and self-learning tools. There are some really good ones out there, and some really bad ones. Oddly enough, some of the least effective happen to be some of the most popular due to aggressive advertising campaigns. I have tutored several students who spent a lot of money on such programs only to be disappointed at the results.
That being said, I recently came across a Spanish learning resource that impressed me quite a bit. I liked it so much that I decided to share the information via a post on our blog.
Ventanas Mexico: A Complete Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online by Kerry Ann Baker is an e-book written specifically with the adult self-learner on a budget in mind.
This is not another “teach yourself” Spanish book full of grammatical rules and exercises. If it was, I wouldn’t waste my time – or yours – telling you about it.
How it will benefit the adult self-learner
One of the most difficult aspects of learning Spanish on your own is wading through a sea of online sites, books, videos, applications and programs to find something that fits your needs. This can be an arduous process that takes valuable time away from actually learning the language.
The author of this interactive e-book has done all of the research for you and has created the most comprehensive breakdown of free Spanish learning sites that I have ever seen. She painstakingly reviewed hundreds of sites and chose over 60 free online learning resources that she felt would be the most beneficial to someone learning on his or her own.
For each selected resource, the guide contains the following:
screenshot of the site
type of learning (active vs passive)
skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
What the resource is useful for (e.g. reading comprehension, grammar, listening etc.)
brief description of the resource
link to the site
No matter what your skill level is in Spanish, this guide will enable you to quickly review several free sites to find one that fits your learning needs at the time.
As if that wasn’t enough
The author could have stopped right there and I would have been impressed with the book — but she didn’t.
She went so far as to create sample lesson plans for almost every skill level. The lesson plans contain links to certain portions of free resources across the web. All a student has to do is follow the lesson plan and visit the links in the order in which they appear. She also shares some very insightful and helpful tips about learning Spanish. These tips are especially useful for people who are just starting out.
Let’s Wrap This Up
If you are learning Spanish on your own — or plan to start in the near future — I would recommend buying this guide. It will save you both time and money in the long run.
I want to add that I don’t receive any of the proceeds from the sale of this item. In fact, I have never even met the author
Technical advice: You do not need a Kindle to use this resource, in fact it’s better if you don’t because it contains links to resources. You can open it through your Amazon account in a web browser and the links will open in new tabs. I read this e-book on my laptop.
So there you have it...my first and only shameless plug on my site. Do take a look at the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online" though. I am very confident you will find it valuable, and pretty confident you will find it enjoyable as well.
Read this most for some ideas on what kind of remote work you can do from Mexico. - Ventanas Mexico
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I am a partner for Ventanas Mexico, which provides resources to those exploring the idea of full- or part-time life in Mexico. including two books now (You can see it in the eyes).
"If Only I Had a Place" is a guide for aspiring expats on renting. "The Interactive Guide on Learning Spanish Free Online" is a curation of the best language sites on the web, organized into lesson plans.