Spanish for Beginners

Introduction

The Spanish video lessons were created for native English speakers with little or no Spanish speaking ability who relocate to Mexico. Since a large percentage of the people who fall into this category are retirees, we named the course Spanish for Retirees Living in Mexico.

Don’t let the name fool you, anyone can take the course.

Video Lessons and Exercises

Click on the lesson you want to work on.

Each lesson builds on the previous lessons, so avoid the temptation to skip around.

Lesson 1: Basic Pronunciation and Some Cognates

Lesson 2: More Pronunciation and a New Cognate Trick

Lesson 3: Making Spanish Verbs from Cognates

Lesson 4: Creating Your Own Sentences from Cognates

Lesson 5: Creating Simple Sentences with Hay

Lesson 6: Even More on Pronunciation and How to Express Location

Lesson 7: The Verb Poder

Lesson 8: Putting It All Together

Lesson 9: The Verb Tener

Lesson 10: Useful Expressions with Tener

Lesson 11: Ordering Food

Lesson 12: Desire, Ability and Obligation

Lesson 13: Going Places (Part One)

Lesson 14: Going Places (Part Two)

Lesson 15: To Be or Not to Be (Part One)

Lesson 16: To Be or Not to Be (Part Two)

Lesson 17: Expressing Possession

Lesson 18: The Verbs Saber and Conocer

Lesson 19: Direct Object Pronouns

Lesson 20: More Work With Direct Object Pronouns

Lesson 21: Spatial Relationships

Lesson 22: How Far Is It?  

Lesson 23: A Look at the Subjunctive (Part One)

Lesson 24: A Look at the Subjunctive (Part Two)

Lesson 25: A Look at the Subjunctive (Part Three)

 

About the Instructor and the Course

My name is Paul Kurtzweil, but nowadays most people know me simply as Q-Roo Paul. I’m not a native Spanish speaker but I do speak it fluently. I am self-taught and learned it while working as a deputy sheriff in Florida. There were literally tens of thousands of Spanish speakers in my jurisdiction.

I know that the term”self-taught” doesn’t exactly instill confidence in new students but it’s one of the reasons why my teaching style differs so much from that of traditional Spanish courses. Let me put your mind at ease with a little background about me.

I took Spanish in high school but I wasn’t very good at it. To say I was a strong “D” student would be giving myself too much credit. At the time, I just assumed — like many people do in my position — that I just didn’t have an aptitude for learning languages.

Fast forward a few years. I was hired as a deputy sheriff in a large county in Florida and assigned to a community with a large Spanish-speaking population made up predominantly of Mexicans. Every day that I went to work, I had difficulty communicating with residents of the community. We didn’t have many bilingual officers at the time, so I decided to once again attempt to learn Spanish — but this time I would do it on my own.

I bought a few Spanish books and started to learn some of the basics, but the process was taking too long. I didn’t have time to learn long lists of conjugations, I needed to become conversational quickly in order to be able to interview victims, witnesses and suspects.

That’s when I started to notice patterns in Spanish and — simply out of necessity — I came up with ways to create sentences quickly in my head without having to conjugate the verb each time. I started calling these plug-and-play phrases and for the first time, I was able to carry on conversations with people in real time.

Once I was able to do this, my coworkers started calling me to their calls to assist with translation. It was like being enrolled in a total immersion Spanish program and it definitely accelerated my learning curve.

Over the course of my career, I conducted thousands of work-related translations during investigations ranging from domestic violence to homicide. Although many defense attorneys attempted to challenge my translations in court because I wasn’t a native speaker, not a single challenge was ever successful.

As I worked my way up through the ranks, I found myself in the unenviable position of being the highest ranking person in the agency who could speak Spanish. That meant that I was tasked with speaking in front of groups at events organized by the Mexican Consulate and speaking about significant events on Spanish language television.

Not bad for a “D” Spanish student who thought he had no aptitude for learning the language. It turns out that my initial failure had more to do with the method of teaching than it did with my ability to learn.

Sharing the Techniques

Many years ago, I created a Spanish course for law enforcement officers teaching them the techniques that I used to become conversational early on in my career. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the course was offered to law enforcement officers across North America via an online portal. Over 3,000 law enforcement officers took the course before it was taken offline when I moved to Mexico in 2015.

Several of my neighbors and friends here in Mexico are originally from either the United States or Canada and don’t speak much Spanish. In an effort to help them out, I created a Spanish video series that teaches the same techniques — but without all of the police vocabulary.

I hope you find the lessons useful. Hasta Luego.