What’s the easiest way to learn something? While being entertained, of course.
Do you like puzzles and mysteries? Dramas about generations of families? Adventure? Travel? A touch of cultural education? How about hints of passion, art, romantic intrigue, cheating spouses, lovers separated by disaster, mistaken identity, archaeological cave-ins?
You can have all this excitement and learn Spanish at the same time in the most painless way possible, with Destinos. Destinos is a Spanish language telenovela (soap opera) developed specifically for the purpose of teaching Spanish.
The complex tale of a Mexican Don’s death-bed search for a missing child, Destinos has it all. Mini-lessons about specific things, such as family relationships, or numbers, and little comprehension quizzes at the conclusion of each episode give you a bit of formal instruction, which gradually becomes more complex. Two separate narrators – one talks to you in English, the other in Spanish – slowly adjust the amount of time each speaks as the story moves forward. The characters all speak Spanish, which very slowly becomes more complex. Students are often so gripped by the plot they don’t even pay attention what language is being spoken. And gradually, without really noticing how it happens, as you are sucked deeper into the story, you begin to understand more and more of what the characters say to each other. And of course, you can always hit the replay button.
I was first exposed to Destinos in a Spanish class I took in North Carolina through the University Extension program. Class quickly became the high point of my week, and I could hardly wait to find out what happened in the next episode. So I was more than delighted when I found it on the MIT OpenCourseWare website, where you can further your education at the lowest cost possible (nothing). Destinos is part of a free class (yay!) but worth far more than most. There used to be workbooks you could buy, but I believe they may be out of print now. When I took the University Extension course, I bought my workbook used, online, and resold it for almost as much as I paid for it because of the demand.
In the event that you go to the MIT site, you will see an amazing number of courses. To find Destinos under “Courses by Department,” first locate and click “Global Studies and Languages.” Then scroll down to 21F.701, Spanish I, and click that. Click on “Syllabus”, and you will see a link to Destinos. On that link page, SCROLL DOWN, to “Individual Program Descriptions,” and on the right side of the column click the little beige icon that says “VoD.” When the page with the first episode loads, click the full screen icon on the control bar, sit back and enjoy. The first episode explains how the program works and summarizes the plot without including spoilers. The story really starts in Episode 2, so if you just want the tale and not the summary, just move forward. Or make it easier for yourself, and just click my link to Destinos. You’ll see how the episodes are grouped and can pick.
You will love it!