When I lived in New York, I tried to teach myself Spanish by reading Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries in Spanish, comparing it paragraph by paragraph to the English translation with the aid of a Spanish-English dictionary. This was not the most useful exercise ever - but it did help me a tiny bit with reading comprehension.
Now, I am forced to learn Spanish, due to the awful ESPN and ABC coverage of World Cup soccer (it's not just me - this awfulness was also highlighted by my friend Sat
). Univision is great - the game's over, and I'm watching the news in Spanish now.
My goal for the summer - for every hour of English TV I watch, I have to watch a half hour of Univision. This will both cut my amount of English TV viewing and expose me to more conversational Spanish.
Call it Spanish lessons for the broke student. It works. I learned German as a child much faster than I would have otherwise thanks to German language TV.
In today's US, Spanish is the second language, and I find it shameful that I don't speak it. After all, I speak both official Canadian languages - I'm linguistically discriminating against our neighbor to the south. Besides, it's somewhat hard to become a South America revolutionary if you don't speak Spanish...