learn-spanish-reading

7 Resources to Learn Spanish by Reading

Learning Spanish by reading is an amazing way to study the language and absorb Spanish culture.

But you might feel lost getting started with so many resources out there.

In this post, I’ll show you seven unconventional resources to learn Spanish by reading (which will, in turn, boost many other language skills).

No matter what language level you are at, these resources will keep you engaged and hungry for more Spanish text.

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7 Resources to Learn Spanish by Reading

1. Spanish Is Your Amigo

When you think of learning Spanish by reading, you might not think of YouTube—but this channel is an excellent resource for beginner and intermediate learners. 

Each lesson lasts about three to five minutes and most focus on specific Spanish grammar and vocabulary topics.

The host reads a given paragraph first—which you also follow on-screen—then breaks it down step by step. She gives the English translation but also explains why sentences in Spanish are structured a certain way.

The channel has recently started posting again after a hiatus, and this time the lessons are much longer, more involved and live-streamed.

2. FluentU

FluentU offers a unique form of reading practice. Rather than getting overwhelmed by a full-length book or longer text, you’ll get to read the interactive subtitles and transcripts for video clips from authentic Spanish media. 

As you watch, you can hover over any word in the subtitles to see its translation, part of speech and a corresponding image. FluentU Spanish Clip

By clicking on a word, you’ll also get example sentences, audio pronunciation and other videos where it’s used. This is much more efficient than stopping your reading practice to look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary or translator. 

The video clips are organized by difficulty, covering six levels from Beginner 1 to Advanced 2. You can easily find appropriate options for your level and according to your interests. 

With the program’s flashcard feature and personalized vocabulary quizzes, you won’t have any trouble reviewing the new words you learn from reading and watching the Spanish content. 

3. International Children’s Digital Library International Children's Digital Library logo

Want a library of Spanish books that you can instantly filter by length and difficulty level? Oh, and you want it to be absolutely free?

There are more than 150 free books in Spanish in this digital library. With the quick click of your mouse, you can choose between short, medium and long stories.

You can also choose age ranges, which start from three to six up to 10 to 13. To find something that fits your interests, just filter by genre. You can even specifically choose award-winning books.

Remember, just because a book is written for children does not mean it has no value to adult language learners!

Children’s books are often the best reading resource for Spanish students because the plots are relatively straightforward and the vocabulary is more basic than you might find in adult novels.

4. La Voz Bilingual NewspaperLa Voz Bilingual Newspaper

La Voz (The Voice) is a bilingual Spanish and English online newspaper covering tons of subjects.

The publication is based in California, serving the Spanish-speaking communities of the North San Francisco Bay. But many of the articles are general and will appeal to most readers.

Because this is a bilingual newspaper, it offers a unique opportunity to language learners that most traditional Spanish media outlets do not.

English and Spanish versions of articles are published side-by-side, so you have immediate access to precise, in-context translations if you’re struggling with the Spanish version.

But try not to rely too much on the English version! You might even print out an issue and read it with the English side folded or covered up until you really need it.

5. Readlang readlang logo

Readlang is a website and Chrome extension that lets you extract new grammar and vocabulary from web pages, articles, song lyrics, stories and more.

After downloading the extension, you can click on words you don’t know while browsing any website. The extension then pulls up the word’s translation.

Once you click on a word, it’s automatically saved by Readlang to your flashcard deck. When you’re ready to review them, all you have to do is go to the “Flashcards” page on the website.

What’s even better is that Readlang uses a spaced repetition algorithm to time your flashcard review intervals optimally, sending new Spanish vocabulary to your long-term memory.

6. Lingua.com lingua.com logo

Lingua.com has a vast collection of short Spanish texts organized by CEFR level (A1-B2). The focus of each text is on everyday conversation, and they were designed by actual Spanish teachers.

You can read the texts completely online, or download them as a PDF and print them to read pen-and-paper style. You can access several texts in each level for free. But if you want tons more, you can pay for the Premium version.

For example, there are currently nine free texts at the A2 level. But a Premium membership gives you access to 33 more.

Each text only takes around 2-5 minutes to read and comes with an audio version so you can listen to it, too. You can even choose whether the speaker is from Argentina, Mexico or Granada with Premium.

Finally, each text ends with a comprehension quiz. You’ll read questions about the text in Spanish and then answer them to test how much of it you understood. The quizzes are graded immediately, so you get instant feedback.

7. TV Shows and Movies with Subtitles

You might think watching a movie or TV show with Spanish subtitles is cheating, but it’s quite the opposite.

I watched the whole series of “The Sopranos” with Spanish subtitles, which allowed me to pick up a ton of new vocabulary—including plenty you do not get from a textbook.

There were a lot of sientate (sit down) and cállate (shut up) commands in there, among many other unprintable words.

If you’re advanced, watch a movie in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. If you miss some of the words from the dialogue, you can always read them from the screen!

Why You Should Learn Spanish by Reading

You can relax while reading

Nothing’s worse than feeling pressured to finish a grammar quiz in a class that’s about to end. Or working on an online test and feeling that panic set in as the clock counts down in front of your eyes.

But when you’re reading, you can sit back, relax and absorb the words in front of you. You can translate them, say them out loud and take notes. You might not even feel like you’re studying!

You’ll pick up tons of new Spanish vocabulary

One thing I was particularly surprised by when reading Spanish as an intermediate learner was how much new vocabulary I was learning. You can’t escape new words.

When you encounter an unfamiliar word while reading, you can take the time to stop everything and look it up. If you’re like me, your natural curiosity won’t let you do otherwise!

You’ll remember new Spanish words

Seeing new words visually—especially when reading in slow-mo—helps cement them in your brain. That’s one of the reasons flashcards can be so effective.

Even setting aside 10 or 15 minutes for Spanish reading every day can do wonders for your retention of new words and phrases.

Reading can solidify your pronunciation skills

Reading helps you become familiar with how words look.

And once you’ve mastered the pronunciation of each letter and letter grouping, you can speak pretty much any Spanish word you read—even those you’ve never seen or heard before.

Reading can improve your grammar

Reading in Spanish is also a great way to get familiar with how sentences are structured.

You can read at your own pace and thoroughly examine how clauses are linked and where certain nouns, verbs and adjectives go.

How to Get the Most out of Your Spanish Reading Practice

Choose something on par with your current level of Spanish

If you’re a beginner, don’t jump straight into the deep end with a long, complicated novel. You want something that will meet your specific language goals without overwhelming you or boring you.

That is partly why nontraditional reading resources are so useful.

Unlike traditional books, these resources can often be filtered for content that matches your needs and interests. And since they’re often online, you can quickly scan and search for what you want to use.

Stay focused on learning actively while reading

When you’re engrossed in a story and soaking up all that new vocabulary and grammar, it can be easy to forget to take notes.

This is especially true if you’re using unconventional materials like the ones above. This is because you’ll often be reading off your computer or phone screen and not necessarily near a notebook.learn-spanish-reading

One solution is to create a free account on Evernote, an online program that can be synced to your phone or computer.

It allows you to save notes, set reminders and even save web articles. This is the most efficient way of keeping everything you’ve learned in one place.

Use flashcards

In this digital age, there are tons of cool flashcard apps available at the touch of a button. But how do flashcards work? Well, it’s all due to that memory-boosting repetition.

Whatever resource you use, be sure to put new vocabulary words in flashcards and review them frequently.

 

So there you have it!

Learning Spanish by reading doesn’t have to be tedious or overwhelming.

Try any of these unconventional reading resources and start learning today!

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