Newsweek recently had an article about how to Parlez for Less. They provided some great ways to learn languages without spending much money and in some cases they are free. They included some of the techniques that we've been using for years so here's a recap with some extra ideas.
Include Spanish in Your Every Day Spend a little time making labels with masking tape, on your computer making labels, or steal that label-maker from work. Then, walk around your house with a dictionary and find the words for every day objects that you don't know and creating labels to put on those objects. Each time you open the door and see "puerta" by the handle you'll be reinforcing a common word into your brain. As you master the words, take the labels down. If you want, save them in a notebook for review later and to keep track of how many words you know.
Media How did you learn English as a kid? It was a combination of from adults and from exposure to media like TV, Radio, and Books. Use that same system again to help you with Spanish. As you drive around town, spend a few minutes on your local Spanish radio stations. Try to listen to the lyrics and the announcers. They will be speaking quickly which makes it harder to understand, but helps you learn the language as it will be spoken when you encounter it later. Native speakers don't use the slow pace and practiced pronunciation your teacher uses - so you should get used to the fast pace of the DJ or the muffled contortions of the singer.
You can also get great exposure to spelling, accents, and translation by turning on the Spanish subtitles on your DVDs. If you dare, watch Spanish language DVDs - you can even turn on the English subtitles to help you if necessary. Which movie to watch? The IMBD can help. If you don't have a Spanish language station, or don't like the programming that you do get, this directory of Spanish Radio from around the world can be really helpful. It's also a great way to get used to the accent of a country prior to visiting.
Finally, get some books in Spanish from your library or a retailer that are at your reading level. Head to the kids section, pick out a book, and see how it goes. You'll be amazed at how well Dr. Seuss in Spanish can help you learn the basics.
Find a Practice Partner. This one can be easier than you think. Many times you'll have a neighbor or work associate you see on a regular basis who shares your interest in Spanish. Agree with them to try to only speak in Spanish as you share your chit chat. Discussing their new garden, weekend plans, the weather, will all help you become more conversationally capable and help keep your skills fresh. There are also websites which help you find a partner - either in person, or via email - such as MyLanguageExchange.com.
Lessons on CD, Tape, MP3 About to take a road trip? Or maybe you spend a lot of time on a plane? That's perfect time to spend listening to lessons in your favorite format. Many libraries will have CDs and tapes that you can take on loan prior to your trip, online music stores such as iTunes can also help.
That's it - some great ways to learn Spanish without spending a huge amount of energy or money. And what more could you ask for?