Tuesday, September 13, 2005

podcast #13, Destinos, Textbooks, & Dictionaries

podcast #13, Destinos, Textbooks, & Dictionaries

(link to the podcast)

thanks to Jon for most of the material in this podcast!

online version
workbook I
workbook II
half.com selections

¿Cómo se dice?

Spanish - Spanish
Larousse Diccionario Educativo Estudiantil
Larousse Diccionario Educativo Juvenil
English - Spanish & Spanish - English
Larousse Student Dictionary

please email me at: learningspanish@gmail.com,

or leave your comments on this site


At 9/14/2005 2:51 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Very good podcast. Thanks a lot.
For Jon:
I found it especially interesting that you had become fluent in french during high school. I also took french for 3 years and never got to
where I could really converse. I would appreciate if you could give me some insight into how that process came about for you. I have been studying spanish for about 3 years. And I mean really working at it. Although I can read and write at a decsent level and can translate my thoughts pretty well. (latinos always understnd me) I am still translating. Thinking in spanish continues to evade me. And I am lost when the conversation goes off script. Was there some special moment when you had an epiphany? Or was it just gradual improvement?
Rich... Please your thoughts as well.

At 9/14/2005 6:31 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Steve - thanks for the positive feedback.

I would guess that being able to think in French came about because of my age and the fact that my best friend was in my class, and we would speak French to each other all the time. This would lead to learning new words constantly to be able to say what we wanted. I don't recall any epiphany, so I would say it was just gradual improvement.

I don't know what the science in this area specifically says, but I would guess that unless you moved to a Spanish-speaking country, at an adult age you're just not going to be able to develop the ability anymore to be able to think in another language. Our brains at this age just aren't plastic enough anymore to be molded in this way, unless the exposure is nearly constant.

At 9/15/2005 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I applaud you for learning French in high school. I took 2 years and I didn't learn a thing. I honestly don't know how I passed.

I believe the trick is not to find a textbook with the most words in the glossary, but a good language program with clear audio lessons that teach the most flexible and useful words as you progress in your abilities. Once you reach a higher level you might want to focus more on vocabulary. Even at a high level a glossary of 5,000 words is far too many words to try to juggle around when you don't have a very good command over the language. To have a useful arsenal of 5,000 words you would be (or close to) native fluency.

The problem I had with using Destinos was that it seemed too broad. It is a great immersion method if that is your learning preference. I prefer a program that will let me hear each word by itself first allowing me to get the pronunciation down. Then use in a few different types of sentences. Once I have that down I like to hear it in a short conversation. Then I will be ready to watch a movie with the new vocabulary. Otherwise I might end up pronouncing the word dice like diche.

At 9/15/2005 9:15 AM, Blogger Jon said...

I agree that 5000 words is a lot, and that the Destinos course is ambitious in that respect. But my problem is less the vocabulary than the grammar, especially the verb tenses, indirect objects, etc. I find the vocabulary a bit easier, especially with a background in French, and I dabbled in Latin, so that helps too. Your mileage with vocabulary may vary.

However, I think that immersion is just about the best way to go. It might not be right for everyone, and that's what these podcasts are all about. (Thanks, Rich!)

But I learned French by immersion, and that's what I find most useful about Destinos. At the very least, I do understand an awful lot (80%) of the material presented in the videotapes. Using it myself is another story, and that's where I get bogged down. That's what I'm continuing to work on.

At 9/19/2005 8:33 AM, Blogger Round The World said...

This is a nice resource, I am currently attempting learning spanish from scratch. I am going to south america in 8 months, so hopefully i'll have some basics before I go.

I will bookmark this site, excellent resourse


At 9/19/2005 2:06 PM, Blogger Steve said...

"La Tempesta"
Tonight (9/19) on Telemundo is the first episode of this new telenovela. The pictures
Make it appear to skew towards comedy.

At 9/29/2005 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rich
I have just started listening to your podcasts and find them very helpful. Lots of great ideas especially about videos,books and dictionaries. I would like to say I highly recommend an earlier series of cds on learning spanish called "Think and Talk Spanish" put out by Berlitz in association with Hyperglot Software Co. I think Berlitz probably did most of the work. What I like is that it is a type of immersion instruction. No english is ever spoken. They work especially well for people who spend a lot of time driving, which is the case for me. I biggest complaint is there never had a sequel, although they have put one out very recently. I have been listening to these tapes for 10 years. I spend, however, no other time studing Spanish. I only practice my Spanish when driving in my car. I have done almost no bookwork at all. Yet, I still have learned a great deal of Spanish just from listening to these tapes. I became inspired by my learning of Spanish to also try to learn German. Another series that I think is very good is the "Teach Yourself German (Spanish) series. They also speach very little English in their series, which I feel is very helpful. You have a great program

At 9/29/2005 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MIT uses "Destinos" and has a site for "opencourseware," which means anyone is welcome to use the syllabus and course outline, etc. http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb

Many other colleges and high schools in the US use Destinos. This makes it useful as the present standard for multimedia Spanish learning

At 3/20/2007 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Destinos - An Introduction to Spanish - is closed captioned and can be seen on many PBS and edu stations. It is also available at many libraries, though hard to get.

Destinos can also be seen online at www.learner.org (search for Destinos & register), but there are no closed captions.

www.geocities.com/line21fanatic/destinosmain contains Destinos captioning lines (a bit rough, though).

At 12/07/2008 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site, I am looking forward to listening during my commute.

On item 13, there is a typo in the address for the podcast link. The correct link is:


note the period between 13 and mp3.

Thanks again.

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