10 Ways to Learn How to Think in Spanish
Learning how to think in Spanish is all about developing strong habits.
If you’re wondering why and how to think in Spanish, keep reading for an explanation of the benefits, plus 10 helpful strategies and tips!
Benefits of Thinking in Spanish
You might be wondering, why is learning Spanish such a good thing? It has a ton of benefits (which we will see in more detail later in the post), but the best thing about thinking in Spanish is fluency.
When you speak a foreign language, it’s important to achieve fluency as fast as you can, so you’ll sound more natural and be able to express your ideas in a faster and more coherent way.
By thinking in Spanish, you make all those processes much easier. That’s why it’is such a powerful practice when you’re learning a language.
10 Tips for Learning How to Think in Spanish
1. Skip the Grammar
Why would you start improving your fluency in Spanish by skipping the grammar? It sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out. When you start learning a language with grammar, it makes the learning process much slower.
Grammar is good, don’t get me wrong, but grammar is more for teachers than students or learners. When I was teaching English lessons to Spanish-speaking students I would always tell them to skip the grammar. Those who did became more fluent and were better at speaking English than those who would stop and question everything.
Yes, grammar is great and questioning things is great, but when it comes to learning languages as a beginner, grammar will only slow your process down.
PRO TIP: What’s the Spanish word for thinking? Pensar.
2. Try Not to Ask Why
This second point is connected to the first one. If you ask yourself (or the teacher) why we do something a certain way and not the way you do it in English, it will only make the process slower. Let me expand on this with an example.
Once, I was trying to teach a group of students the rules of infinitives and gerunds in English, and how you can use them as subjects (for example, saying “swimming is healthy”), and one of them was saying, “Teacher, I don’t understand why this is like that in English, because in Spanish we do it with infinitives, not with gerunds.”
Sometimes, things do not have deeper meanings, or, to answer those questions, you might have to be a professional linguist, which might be great, but completely different than simply learning how to speak a language or learning how to think in Spanish.
3. Learn by Associating
Learning by association is super important when it comes to learning how to think in Spanish. And it benefits your brain, as well.
Imagine you walk into the kitchen, and you see the things around you. You see a knife, and you think to yourself, “A knife. How do I say knife in Spanish? El cuchillo. Okay, knife is cuchillo.” That is translating in your head, which is much less effective and slower than learning by associating.
Instead, look at the knife and just say cuchillo. Eliminate the translation process. Rather than thinking “knife is cuchillo,” look at the sharp tool and give it an “extra name” (cuchillo), as opposed to an “equivalent name.”
4. Practice Speaking
There are several ways to learn how to think in Spanish, and one is by speaking. If you have nobody to speak Spanish with, just talk to yourself when you’re alone.
Thinking out loud is going to help you out with your fluency. If you combine it with the other tips I’ve given you so far, it’ll help you out with your thinking-in-Spanish process, as well.
The more you practice speaking, the easier and more relaxing it will become. Consider searching for Spanish-speaking buddies online and starting a conversation with them.
5. Watch Movies in Spanish
Another tip on how to think in Spanish is by watching movies in Spanish. It’s ideal to choose a movie that you’ve already seen in English, so you know the story. That way, you can pay attention to the Spanish dialogue, pronunciation, rhythm, and vocabulary.
Try repeating new words to expand your Spanish vocabulary further. This is an excellent way to fit Spanish into your busy schedule.
PRO TIP: Watch Latin American or Spanish movies or TV shows. If you’re a beginner,watch them first in English and afterwards in their original language.
6. Play Video Games in Spanish
This follows the same principle as the tip above it. There are amazing video games to play in Spanish, with or without dialogue.
One of the best is FIFA. If you want to learn how to think in Spanish, play some FIFA soccer matches with the commentators set in Spanish and hear how they scream when you score a goal. This will make your soccer vocabulary evolve much more.
If you’re more into sandbox games, play GTA V and turn on the Latin Radio and listen to the hilarious Spanish jokes from both DJs of the station.
7. Travel to Spanish-Speaking Countries
This is a no brainer. There are actually 21 one Spanish-speaking countries and all of them are quite different.
- Spain will surprise you with the beautiful Santiago de Compostela
- Guatemala will show you its beautiful landscapes and mysterious Mayan pyramids
- Cuba’s unique animals are a must if you visit the island
- Costa Rica will bewitch you with its beautiful beaches
- Colombia is full of nice things to do and experiment
- The world’s highest capital in Bolivia will welcome you
- Check out rainbow mountain in Peru
- Argentina and Chile are home to Patagonia
- Behold the fine art in Uruguay
The coolest part of visiting Spanish-speaking countries to travel, explore, and make friends is that every country and region speaks Spanish in a different way. Nonetheless, once you speak in Spanish and know how to think in Spanish, everyone is going to understand you, no matter what kind of Spanish you speak.
8. Stop Translating
This tip on how to think in Spanish is closely related to #3, learn by association.
How did you learn English (or your mother tongue) in the first place? You didn’t speak a language when you were born, and you weren’t hardwired to speak a specific language. You adapted and learned a language out of necessity. You started imitating your parents and everyone else around you and seeing things and giving them names.
To repeat this exercise, clear your mind and don’t use what you already know. Instead, make space for new concepts. That way, your fluency and your thought process will be much better and smoother.
9. Set Your Phone to Spanish
This is a nice addition if you want to add more Spanish into your life. Simply set your phone, email, social media accounts, and other electronic devices to Spanish.
It might be hard at first, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. Just remember not to translate.
10. Add Spanish to the Rest of Your Life
The best way to learn how to think in Spanish is to add it into as many aspects of your life as possible. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are with, you can always add Spanish to the equation.
Get comfortable with the sound of the Spanish language and practice repeating new vocabulary words and phrases. Have brief conversations with yourself. Watch TV, play video games, and listen to music in Spanish.
Don’t use it strictly when you need it, as that’s how you get rusty. To become great at something, you need to practice it every day. So, add a bit of Spanish into more aspects of your life and see how you learn to think in Spanish much more easily.
Polish Your Spanish
By learning Spanish you open the doors to 21 countries on three continents—Latin America, Europe, and Africa! Even if you’re not a globetrotter and live in the United States, more than 53,000,000 people speak Spanish in the U.S. You’re also going to open the doors to the third most spoken language on the internet and could even land a job with a much better paycheck.
Now that you’ve got lots of inspiration and tools to think in Spanish, how about signing up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy to polish your Spanish with our friendly, native-speaking teachers in a 1-to-1 online class. More than 24,000 people choose Homeschool Spanish Academy monthly thanks to our tailored lessons, earned high school credit, and budget-friendly payment options!
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“This is the best way for your kid to learn Spanish. It’s one-on-one, taught by native Spanish speakers, and uses a curriculum.”
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“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”
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“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
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