Learning Spanish is a big task. To get to a point where you can communicate takes time, energy and motivation. Here are 5 tips for learning Spanish that may make things easier for you. Keep these in mind as you work toward your Spanish fluency goals.
5 tips for learning Spanish
Tip #1. Grammar lessons are finite
It is true that when learning Spanish, or any other language, it is important to know the grammar rules. Grammar is a tool that helps you build stronger connections about the language, so you don’t have to learn it in the same tedious way you did as a child, with no grammar reference.
That said, just because you know the grammar, doesn’t mean you are fluent in Spanish. It is important to be familiar with basic grammar to help build connections, and then set about using it in a real situation or practice.
You should consider that all the grammar you do need to know for basic communication can be boiled down to a finite number of lessons, and after you’ve learned these lessons, it’s all about practice.
Tip #2. Don’t be afraid of being wrong; get over the embarrassment
Most of us are uncomfortable with being wrong. We don’t like it. But if you are ever going to progress in learning a foreign language, you are going to be wrong. Get used to it. And the quicker the better.
Unfortunately this is a natural but necessary part of learning a language. Don’t let the idea that you don’t speak Spanish “well enough” or you make too many errors, stop you from getting out there and putting it to use.
And if you are mortified of what people will think of you, take a moment to stop and think, ‘who cares’? And ‘is it really that bad’? Are you yourself really that critical of other people you have heard trying to learn your language? Or instead in some way do you value their effort and appreciate their vulnerability?
So do your best to get over the barrier of embarrassment and throw yourself into practicing Spanish. And even consider this benefit: when someone corrects you on the spot with an error you’ve made, it is much more likely that the next time you won’t do it again.
Tip #3. Practice Spanish immersion as much as you can
There is a lot of talk about immersing yourself in a language, and most of the time we think of physical immersion (as in moving yourself to another country). However, keep in mind that even physical immersion doesn’t always work, as we noted in our previous post, and there are still plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the Spanish language without setting foot on a plane.
The first one, being right inside your own head. Have you ever noticed you talk to yourself silently, running through scenarios and imaginary conversations all the time? Start doing them in Spanish.
And aside from that, you can get creative by using the Internet to read newspapers, to see movies, to listen to music or the radio … all in Spanish, without ever leaving your house. (For more ideas see our post on free ways to practice your Spanish here or our list of popular Spanish songs here)
Lastly, don’t forget that people are traveling more than ever now, so in your city surely there are groups for language exchanges (for more read this post here) where you can practice with native speakers.
Tip #4. Stop seeing the learning process as an obligation
As with any other thing, learning Spanish will be more effective if you feel motivated to learn it, and the best way to stay motivated is to really believe in what you’re doing.
Do you want to travel to a Spanish-speaking country? Do you have Spanish friends and you want to communicate better with them? Would you like to know a culture more deeply? Are you interested in literature or Spanish music? Or do you simply love the way the language sounds?
Reflect on why you you want to learn it and stop seeing the learning as an obligation. Look at it instead as an choice and try to enjoy it. Find a method that keeps you motivated and in difficult moments, remind yourself why you wanted to learn it.
Tip #5. Have patience and stay consistent
Although some Spanish programs promise miraculous methods that assure you mastery of a language in record time, realistically, you’ll have to consider that learning a language is always question of dedication and time. The smartest person in the word cannot learn the language overnight, or even in 10 days.
Consider learning a language is like loosing weight. Within the the first or second day, you barely notice anything. That’s why they say not to weigh yourself everyday, because you’ll be disappointed. But if you keep with your diet and exercise plan and you persevere, within time you will begin to see results. The weight comes off little by little, almost imperceptibly day-to-day, until you can finally look back and realize you’ve lost 5 pounds.
And so it goes with learning a language. If you keep at it, it slowly starts to take form. One day you notice you are speaking with more ease, you successfully complete your first telephone conversation in Spanish, or you’re starting to be able to work around words you don’t know with alternative words you do. It seems only when you look back, you notice the real progress. Pay attention to this. Celebrate the small victories and continue on the path.
We hope these 5 tips will help you keep up with your Spanish. Learning Spanish and being able to communicate is a labor worth enduring, both in the sense of accomplishment as well as the opportunities it opens up, for on the other side there are often wonderful and surprising benefits you may not have even thought of yet 🙂
Hayley & Maider
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