Yeah, Tumblr is pretty hip. It’s so hip it doesn’t even need the letter “e.”
The logo that greets you on its uber-posh minimalist homepage is all lowercase—the hallmark of true casual coolness—and is even so bold and fresh that it ends with a period.
So what is Tumblr all about, and why should it matter to Spanish learners? Well, like Twitter, Tumblr can be used to learn Spanish—though the two platforms are quite distinct.
What is Tumblr?
Tumblr is essentially blogging without the commitment. For every one person who’s out there blogging, there are a thousand of us who have halfheartedly started a blog and dropped it one post later. Tumblr is streamlined blogging for the lazy masses.
To be fair, blogging can be time-consuming, challenging, and frankly a bit intimidating—what if you pour your heart out into cyberspace and get no response? This is especially true if you want to blog about the experience of learning Spanish. You don’t want to explain a grammar rule incorrectly and mislead people. Or maybe you just don’t want to look like a fool and have people judge you poorly because, hey, you’re still learning here!
If you love the idea of blogging but you’re not quite ready to be a full-on blogger, Tumblr is a great fit. It’s a fantastic platform to document your journey with the Spanish language, share with others and keep track of helpful language learning resources.
The Ins and Outs of Tumblr
Tumblr is most aptly described as a multimedia microblog. At first it seems like a wild, untamed hodgepodge of internet curiosities in all shapes and sizes: gifs, videos, audio, memes and original written content.
The beauty of Tumblr is its flexibility.
Users are able weave their findings from internet surfing sessions together with their own stories, commentaries, and messages. You can dedicate your Tumblog to a set niche, or you can fill it up with whatever random content caught your eye that day. My personal Tumblog is filled with National Geographic videos and other biology nerd stuff, lightly sprinkled with funny comic strips.
If LinkedIn is on the professional end of the social media spectrum, Tumblr marks the other extreme—yes, somehow it is extremely casual.
You might find yourself scratching your head from time to time, wondering if everyone here has been eating special brownies.
Once you have taken a look around and are feeling more comfortable with Tumblr’s uniquely bizarre energy, you can get started incorporating Tumblr into your Spanish learning. There are two main ways you can go about this:
- Integrate Spanish learning content into a general personal Tumblog. This is great if you already have a Tumblog up and running. Tumblr is not exactly hell-bent on being well-organized, so you should feel at ease mixing and matching content.
- Create a Spanish language niche Tumblog. This is arguably a better strategy because you can keep everything related to Spanish learning in one set place. You’ll find you are in good, albeit quirky company. Do not anticipate polite explanations of grammar complications—you’re in straightforward Tumblr territory and people speak their minds without caring if it is offensive or at all interesting to anyone else.
How to Learn Spanish with Tumblr
Tumblr keeps things laid back, so site navigation is a breeze. The way you can interact with users and move around the site is beyond simple. They’ve cut away the fluff and given us the bare necessities of social media life: a search bar, followers and hashtags.
To find the most useful content for Spanish learning, you’ll have to dig deep. Use these four great tips to start learning Spanish with Tumblr today!
1. Mix fun with serious study time
I’m probably just exaggerating about the weirdness of users. I’ll admit that there are plenty of serious Spanish language learning Tumblogs out there to follow. Take these out for a spin to get started:
Mi-palabra del día
This is great for true blue beginners. This Spanish student holds you by the hand and teaches you one basic word every day. Sometimes it’s like, dude, we get it, blanco means white, but if you are just starting out a little repetition can’t hurt!
Projects by Sarah
Again for newbies, follow Sarah to join her on her elementary school quest to master basic Spanish words. Once she had to connect the dots and color in a drawing of el sapo (the frog) but just skipped ahead without bothering to connect the dots. C’mon, Sarah, get it together. Apart from that once incident, her coloring book work is pretty high-quality. Strongly recommended as the cutest possible way you could reinforce Spanish vocabulary.
As you may have noticed, this one isn’t just about learning Spanish—it’s about learning to speak like a native from Latin America. There is a heavy bias towards Nicaraguan slang, but you’ll also get the occasional infographic about different varieties of Colombian arepas. You’ll also find many posts targeting key words, phrases, and conjugations that separate the language masters from the students. Whoever the mastermind is behind Speaking Latino, they have your best interest at heart.
The best complement for these resources is undoubtedly FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
2. Explore your interests
You know what you love. You know how you learn best. Are you happiest curling up with a mystery novel or watching a romantic comedy? Do you love to cook? It’s all out there! Here are just a few of my favorites to follow:
This division of Random House is dedicated to the publication of Spanish-language books. This is a lovely Tumblog to follow if you’re a bookworm. They will keep you abreast of exciting release dates and events and post fascinating quotes from major works – all in Spanish! As Vintage Español noted in a recent post: el mejor amante es un buen libro (the best lover is a good book).
Following this Tumblog just might save you the next time you play Trivial Pursuit or watch Jeopardy. The Spanish content is dedicated to breaking down the mechanics behind factory production, explaining historical curiosities, discussing the progression of linguistics and just trying its best to “wow” its followers with nifty information.
3. Track the best tags
You can follow people’s individual Tumblogs and you can keep track of hashtags. If you click “track this tag” after searching for a keyword, you will be notified every time someone tags a post with it. Here’s a quick list of good hashtags to get you off in the right direction. To take a shortcut to a hashtag search, type in www.tumblr.com/search/ and, after the last forward slash, plug in one of the search terms I’ve indicated below.
Aprender español: aprender-español+
Spanish Grammar: spanish-grammar+
Spanish Vocabulary: spanish-vocabulary+
Learn Spanish: learn-spanish+
Cambio climático: cambio-climático+
Derechos humanos: derechos-humanos+
Música latina: música-latina+
4. Join the party
Write your own mini-posts. Mundane shower thoughts tend to pass for dry, offbeat humor here, so don’t wait to polish your ideas and only post gold. Frustrated with a conjugation? Learned a cool Mexican slang word? Freakin’ post it already! Don’t forget to attach as many vaguely-relevant tags as possible so that other people can find your post in their searches and join your merry band of followers.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.