If you are walking the French route, it is not essential that you learn Spanish. However, it is very helpful to know at least Please, Thank You, Good Morning, Good Evening…
The first time I walked the Camino was April of 2013. My wife gave me a block of time with a Spanish tutor as a Christmas gift, so I was able to pickup just the very basis of the language. I was not able to carry on a conversation or really even understand most of what was going on around me. I was able to be polite and get by. I have always wanted to learn to speak Spanish but never had the time to or better yet made the time to learn it. While I was on the Camino in 2013 one of the things that I committed myself to was to learn the language. I started taking weekly Spanish classes in September of 2013. At the time I was working about 10 hours a week on Spanish. When I went back in 2014 to again walk the French route I was still not really able to have an in depth conversation but could at least communicate in a basic way in Spanish. I have continued to study Spanish every week. These days I spend about 6 hours per week in live class, either in person or on Skype. I will again return to Spain in just a little over a week. I hope to be able to spend more time talking to local residence to learn more about Spain a country I have grown to really love.
Here are some resources that may help you if you are interested in learning Spanish.
For the Camino specifically I really like the book Camino Lingo – English – Spanish Words and Phrases It was written by a pilgrim. I find it very useful.
I have used the website Italki.com since I started learning Spanish in 2013. It is a site for students and teachers of foreign languages. You can search the database for teachers that teach Spanish and then get more granular if you like and specify that the teacher be from Spain so that you are learning Castilian Spanish. That is what I did. I looked for a teacher from Spain. I have worked with the same two instructors for the 2 plus years. Maria is from Salamanca and Mario is from Guadalajara Spain. Each session is an hour long one on one. The cost is roughly $10 – $15 per hour. Which is amazingly inexpensive as my tutor charged $25.00 per hour. When I first started I literally told Maria that I knew zero Spanish. We started with the ABC’s and moved on from there. During the time I have worked with Mario he has completed his Masters degree in teaching Spanish to foreigners. It has been a great experience. I will have meed Mario in Madrid in a few weeks for dinner.
The other thing that I have done for live learning is to go to a local Spanish school. Casa de Español here in Sacramento. It has also been a great experience.
Local community collages might also be a good choice. Unfortunately in California they are so impacted that it is almost impossible to get into a class.
Online resources include:
Duolingo an online learning platform. Really good.
StudySpainish A great resource for leaning grammar
MemriseA flash Card type system with many cards built in
WordreferenceA great translator and conjugator
YoutubeFantastic resource for lessons
Quizlet.comAnother flash card program
AnkiAnother flash card system.
Lastly I have been using recorded lessons. I listen to them as I walk each day.
My favorite is a system from Michele Thomas Total Spanish: Revised (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (A Hodder Education Publication)
I have also listened to podcasts, Spanish music and anything else that I can get my hands on Spanish related.