Many scholars believe the only way to learn Spanish is through immersion -- either living in a Spanish-speaking country for a time or by the exclusive use of that language in a teaching setting. These scholars criticize the "grammar translation method" of learning Spanish -- the more traditional approach of translating from one's native language and learning grammar rules. I believe both methods of learning can be useful. In the early stages immersion can be impractical, frustrating, and downright impossible for some students. So I recommend starting with the grammar translation method. This approach gives the student tools so that they can transition into the process of "self teaching" (picking up additional vocabulary, phrasing, and idioms) when the immersion stage begins.