Hola c?mo est?s?
Learning a new language is an intense and exciting endeavor. It opens the door to so many new opportunities. About 442 million people are native Spanish speakers, making it the second most widely spoken language. (First is Chinese.)
When you travel to a Spanish-speaking country and can speak their language, the locals treat you differently. You’re no longer just another tourist gawking at the sights to see.
You’re someone that can interact with the locals and learn about their culture. You can go deeper and have a richer experience.
You may have studied a little in school but feel you can’t use the language well. You may be wondering how to learn Spanish now.
Keep reading to find out!
How To Learn Spanish
Spanish is not particularly difficult for English speakers to learn. It still takes a lot of work, of course.
But there are no complicated tones to learn like in Chinese. Tones are different pitches of the same sound that mean something different.
And there are no complicated cases like in many Germanic languages. A cat is always a cat regardless of how you are interacting with it.
There’s not even any complicated pronunciation like in English. Every letter has one sound and it always makes that sound. So once you learn the pronunciation you can read anything you see!
There are several basic building blocks you need to master Spanish. These are:
- Listening skills
- Speaking skills
Once you get a good start in each of these categories, you’re well on your way to speaking Spanish.
But you may have studied all this in high school. You think that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Maybe not, but it’s not impossible. Below you’ll find 11 tips on how to learn Spanish effectively and quickly.
1. Find a Passion
If you’ve ever tried to learn a language before, you know that it’s not a walk in the park. You’re going to have to put in some effort. Eventually, you may decide that it’s too hard and give up…again.
Learning a language is difficult. If you don’t have a solid reason for learning it is really easy to give up.
So find yourself a passion. Give yourself a reason to learn and you’ll feel more dedicated to keeping up with your lessons. This is a great trick for how to learn Spanish.
Your reason can be anything under the sun that is motivating to you. You might want to take a trip to Mexico or South America. You might want to speak to your grandparents in their native tongue.
Maybe your love interest is a native speaker and you want to learn. Maybe you want to study Spanish art or literature.
Whatever it is that will motivate you, find it and keep that in mind. You’re not limited to one passion, either. In fact, the more passions you have, the more motivation you’ll feel to keep going when it gets rough.
This is a crucial part of how to learn Spanish. Once you get your motivation locked in, the rest is easy.
2. Take a Self-Study Course
Now it’s time to put your head down and get to work. Before you can start practicing and applying what you’ve learned, you’ve got to learn it.
Find a good textbook or course to get started with. The Internet is full of great resources like My Daily Spanish where you can find E-Books, books, newsletters, and more on how to learn Spanish.
Once you find material that will work for you, set aside time each day to work on it. If you think best in the morning, an hour before you go to work can be a perfect time. If you’re more of a night owl, an hour before you go to bed may be better for you.
It doesn’t matter so much when it is, as long as you do it consistently.
3. Build Your Vocabulary
The Spanish language has approximately 150,000 official words. Before you throw in the towel, let’s think about that for a moment.
Have you ever wondered how many words you know? There are various estimates, of course, but most complete English dictionaries hover around 230,000 words. Do you know them all? Probably not.
Almost 88% of spoken Spanish is made up of just 1,000 words. Thus, all you have to do is learn the 1,000 most common words and you’ll have what you need to speak Spanish.
Dedicate yourself to learning 10 words a day and you’ll have learned them all in only 100 days.
4. Download Some Apps
You know how you tend to pull out your phone and fiddle around while you wait in line at the grocery store? Why not put a language-learning app on your phone and fiddle with that? You can learn without taking time out of your day specifically for learning Spanish.
There are lots of options out there. Some are free and some start out free and you can pay for more lessons if you like it. Download a few and see which ones you like.
5. Listen to Spanish Music
A fantastic way to develop your listening skills is to listen to Spanish music. The beat will help you remember the words. Plus, the flow of the music will help you learn the cadence of the language.
Once you’ve learned enough words, you may find you have a hard time understanding those words. That’s because until your ear learns to differentiate words they all tend to run together.
Listening to music helps your ear to start finding the breaks between words. The great thing is that it takes almost no effort. Listen to it in the car on the way to work or while you’re working out or cleaning the kitchen.
6. Watch Movies in Spanish
Watching movies in Spanish is another great way to work on your ear. You’re going to sit down and watch a movie anyways. Why not change the spoken language to Spanish and put on English subtitles?
You’ll still know what’s going on and you’ll get some great language practice in with little effort.
7. Learn the Cognates
One way to ‘cheat’ and learn a ton of vocabulary is to learn the cognates. There are a ton of words that have the same or similar spellings in both Spanish and English.
For example, many words that end in -tion in English you can simply change to end in -cion. Say the word with Spanish pronunciation and voila! You’re speaking Spanish. So, conservation = conservaci?n.
Pay particular attention to the false cognates. Otherwise, you could end up saying that you’re pregnant (embarazada) when you mean to say you’re embarrassed!
8. Read Aloud to Yourself
Are you wondering how to learn Spanish pronunciation? An excellent way to work on your pronunciation is to read aloud to yourself. The muscles in your mouth and throat need to move differently to accommodate different sounds.
This is why most people who learn a language as an adult have a heavy accent. It is difficult to train the muscles once they are older.
In order to practice, without having to concentrate on what you’re saying, read aloud to yourself. That way you can focus more on how you’re saying it.
Listen to yourself closely, do you sound like what you hear from native speakers? Imitate it to the best of your ability. You may never fully lose your accent, but you can get rid of the glaring tourist one.
9. Start Talking
You will never master a language until you start using it. Foreign words are, well, foreign until they become familiar.
You don’t necessarily have to be talking to anyone to practice. Dialogue with yourself in the shower, or in the car on the way to work.
Find ways to incorporate language practice into your daily routine. That is how to learn Spanish the effective way.
10. Talk to Native Speakers
You don’t have to talk to anyone to practice, but it sure is a lot more fun. Once you get a working knowledge (you don’t have to be fluent by any means) find people to chat with.
There may be events or classes in your community offered in Spanish. Sign up for one. Make friends with native Spanish speakers. Practice speaking with them.
You’ll learn a whole lot more than just Spanish when you talk to people from different backgrounds.
11. Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Have fun with your language learning journey! You have to relax and realize that you’re going to make mistakes, but don’t let that stop you.
If you say a word wrong, your conversation partner may laugh. But that’s because your mistake was funny, not because they’re laughing at you.
Laugh with them and ask what you said wrong. You’ve just learned something new and probably won’t make that mistake again. Be humble and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Do you want to know how to learn Spanish? Dive in and go for it. That’s how you’ll learn.
Now that you know how to learn Spanish, get out there and do it! You won’t regret the time you put into something as awesome as learning a language.
Once you can be conversational, reward yourself with a trip to a Spanish-speaking country. Be sure to chat with the locals and learn about the world from their perspective. You’d be surprised what you didn’t know.
For more great self-enrichment ideas, check out our lifestyle blog. There’s so much to enjoy in the world, get out and enjoy it!