This is an updated HowTo with a new title. I have moved the schools to their own sub-pages so your comments will actually be attached to the school you attended.
I have been adding language learning resources (not just Spanish) to A42.com. Still evolving but there are some pretty nice tools that are available for free to help you learn a language and even other things.
Not in the school list is nss-pmc as they used to be a school but are only doing referrals now.
Most audio courses seem to teach you how to be a tourist. That is, you learn how to register in your hotel, talk to a taxi driver and such. This is not necessarily bad as it gets you started but I have realized this also doesn't get you really understanding the language. The ones I list here seem to be more "serious".
If you are "in a hurry", something that can be downloaded is a plus. Here are a few.
Notes in Spanish
Done by a couple in Spain, this is a "friendly" way to learn. Lots of podcasts to download for free, other material available. See NotesInSpanish.com.
While I have not personally listended to this course, I did download the free sample course. It seemed good but too basic for me.
Rocket Spanish web site.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy
I downloaded their samples and was happy with the content. There are now two courses and I purchased Level Dos and am very happy with it. You can buy these courses on CDs but the downloadable versions are substantially cheaper.
Learning Spanish Like Crazy website.
This course is not available for download but I found it very good and very different. It is by Michel Thomas (http://www.michelthomas.com). I had seen it ages ago but it had too many "marketing words" in the description to believe. Well, I have now heard two of the three Spanish courses (and have the third on order) and I am now a believer. You can order Spanish With Michel Thomas (Deluxe Language Courses with Michel Thomas)
His approach says "no books, no notes, no homework" and he tells you it is his job to make you learn not your job. His classes were only taught in person (about $20,000 for 8 hours of classroom time) but you can now get CDs.
The three classes are:
- Spanish -- 8 hours of him with two students. He assumes you know nothing and takes you thru being able to use most verb forms. There is little vocabulary taught here other than giving you some patterns to convert about 2000 English words into Spanish.
- Advanced Spanish -- 4 hours of him with two students. In this class he teaches you every possible verb form including irregular verbs. When English makes no sense (do you understand the subjunctive in English?) he first helps you understand the English.
- Spanish Vocabulary Builder -- I bought it and was impressed. It is fast-paced and filled in a lot of blanks.
The first class I heard was Advanced Spanish. The fact that the students used pronouns correctly inspired me to listen to the first class. He taught two rules--if there is more than one pronoun, the personal one comes first and that if the other pronoun is la or lo then the personal pronoun will be se, not le or les. Beyond that, learning "just happened".
Even if you are "good" in Spanish I recommend the Advanced Spanish class. It just fills in so many blanks--in both Spanish and English--that it is a good time investment.
Books in Spanish are another good way to learn the language. Not a substitute for listening and speaking but a good way to expand your vocabulary. Powell's is a huge bookstore (ok, a set of them) in Portland, Oregon. They have a decent assortment of books in Spanish, offer used books as well as new and will ship anywhere.
Grandes Biografiás is a series of small, relatively inexpensive books about famous people. They are published by Edimat Libros in Spain.
I have only read the one on Che Guevara (and, if you want to read a serious account of Che's life, Ernesto Guevara, también conocide como el Che is a far superior book). The charm of these books is that they are easy reads. The chapters are very short, there are photos and so many of the concepts are easy to understand. For example, here is a semi-random paragraph from this book.
Pero entre los dos personajes se da una base de identifición fundimental y, sobre todo, la cuestión de que la conveniencia les llevaba, desde posiciones doctrinales encontradas, a una identidad de interes y tácticas.
Spanish Childrens Books is another interesting option. The also have the advantage that you can share them with kids in a Spanish speaking country.
Another easy search on Powells is for Spanish Language Books in general. There are almost 27,000 matches.
Oxford Color Spanish Dictionary Plus. While I have many dictionaries, I found the Oxford Color Spanish Dictionary to be a good compromise between size and content. I have used the second edition and am very pleased with it. The word "color" initially put me off but it just means the words are in blue. It makes it much easier to spot the words on the page.
For those who want some on-line learning, the BBC has some great stuff. Check out the BBC Spanish pages.