Become More Marketable: Learn Spanish

by Sarah Porter, Head Editor, INALJ California

Become More Marketable: Learn Spanish

sarahporterSadly, “No hablo Espanol. Un momento por favor” is about the extent that I can speak Spanish to library patrons. Furthermore, when I apply for jobs, many California job postings state “bilingual preferred” or even “bilingual (English/Spanish) required”. If you are in the same boat as me and would like to learn Spanish to increase your marketability or to improve your skills on the job, here is a list of language learning resources to get you started:


Software and Apps (listing prices from, brief description of features and ratings)

Berlitz Premier ($20 – $40): Premier may not be available at your local public library, but other Berlitz audiobooks may be. It’s not as well rated as the more expensive software, but gives you video, audio and text.

Duolingo (Free): Crowd-sourced language learning website. It’s highly rated and its popularity is on the rise.

Fluenz ($358 – $398): It’s like having a private language tutor. The lessons relate the grammar and syntax to their English equivalents. It is very highly rated, but pricey and not available at California public libraries.

Instant Immersion ($24.99): An affordable software, that you may available at your local public library. It seems not bad for the price. It uses natural imaging association techniques, interactive activities and quizzes. As the title suggests, this software uses the immersion method.

Learn to Speak ($9.24): Decent for the price, but only for PCs. This is another low cost software that you may be able to borrow from your local public library. The software uses the immersion method to learn language, grammar and pronunciation with games, tests, and interactive simulations.

Michel Thomas ($15-$130 depending on course) Available at some public libraries. It has decent ratings and all CDs, making it easy to learn on the go. It has a more unique system of learning through listening and speaking, but with no writing and memorizing.

Ouino ($139): This software has good ratings, but is not available in libraries. It is customizable based on your learning style and speed. It teaches beginner, intermediate, and advanced Spanish.

Pimsleur Spanish Unlimited ($598.50): Highly rated, but also very pricey. Pimsleur challenges you to retrieve and use information you have already learned rather than using rote memorization. The unlimited version may not be available at your local public library, but Pimsleur audiobooks may be.

Rosetta Stone ($299.99): This software is well rated and well known. It’s not available at your local public library due to licensing restrictions. You learn with image and word associations. It makes learning fun and intuitive, but does not focus on grammar.

Tell Me More ($488.99): Another pricey but well-rated language learning software that you will not find at your local public library. Additionally, it’s not available for Macs. It is highly customizable for different levels and different learning styles.

TV Shows and Videos

Most of what I remember from my high school Spanish classes is the silly videos such as Muzzy. Clearly, most of the Spanish that stuck with me was from repeatedly watching bizarre videos, so it seems like an effective method of learning. There are many telenovelas (Spanish soap operas). Destinos is one that may be available at your local public library.


In my last semester at San Jose State University, the School of Library and Information Science started to offer foreign language courses. I considered signing up for Spanish, but determined it would be more affordable to take a community college course or learn it with software. The immersion method of learning and practicing Spanish with peers and an instructor seems like an ideal way to learn, but that of course depends on what you put into it, and what you get out of it.

Which method of learning Spanish is the best? It depends on your learning style. Fortunately, you do not have to break the bank to try out different methods; there are some free software trials, free apps, and language CDs and DVDs available to borrow at your local public library. If you decide to spring for expensive software, there are numerous reviews online beyond my brief descriptions to help you decide. I recently came across this Reddit thread with in-depth conversations about which learning methods and software people prefer.

Good luck in learning to “habla Espanol”!

  3 comments for “Become More Marketable: Learn Spanish

  1. Alabama to Idaho Editors
    November 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you for the info and suggestions, Cirrus & Judy. Unfortunately, the local public library where I work does not have Mango, but I am moving to LA soon, and will look into it there. Judy – thank you for your suggestions. Currently I am using Rosetta Stone. It’s not bad, but it would be nice to have more diversity, and try out different language learning materials. Recently a patron suggested He said it’s more natural and conversational than a lot of language learning courses. The InfoPeople tutorial looks especially helpful for helping Spanish speaking patrons.

  2. Cirrus Gundlach
    October 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Many public libraries in my area have Mango, which you can access for free online with your library card.

  3. Judy Atterholt
    October 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Thank you, Sarah, for the information about Spanish language learning resources! I can add that the telenovela DESTINOS, which is designed specifically for the purpose of Spanish-language instruction, is available online at the Annenberg Learner site:

    I’ve not tried it out, but in noodling around a bit now, I see that InfoPeople offers a tutorial “Survival Spanish for Library Staff” that looks interesting. Here’s the link:

Comments are closed.