How to Teach Yourself Spanish
Do you want to teach yourself Spanish?
Many people around the world have found a way to teach themselves a language, and they have shared about their experiences and best practices. Some have even mastered several languages and are experts on the subject. So, what’s their secret?
Is it possible to teach yourself a language? Yes, it is, and you’ve come to the right place to learn how! We’ll explore how with 16 practical tips from polyglots who have done it multiple times.
Is it Possible to Teach Yourself a Language?
Definitely! There are many ways to learn new languages and you just have to find the one that’s right for you. Maybe you’ve had negative experiences in the past. Or perhaps you just don’t feel very social right now. For a variety of reasons, you might be tempted to teach yourself Spanish.
It’s actually the best time in history to try something like this. So, why not ask the people who’ve done it before?
What Do Polyglots Say?
According to Lexico, a polyglot is “a person who knows and is able to use several languages.” Yes, these people exist. They learn languages for fun! So, what’s their advice? How do polyglots manage to learn multiple languages when for us simple mortals, learning one seems so difficult?
The good thing is that polyglots like to gather together at global conferences, so language enthusiasts like Michele can ask them questions and pick their brains. They may all agree that you can teach yourself a new language, but they offer different ways to do so.
Don’t worry, I compiled their tips and organized them in a clear, logical way. I’ve even included the input of other recognized polyglots such as Priyanka Gupta and Olly Richards, so you can make the most of them without having to go to the next polyglot conference.
10 Ways to Teach Yourself Spanish
Without further ado here you have the main things polyglots recommend you to do if you want to teach yourself Spanish:
1. Define Your “Why”
It’s amazing how powerful a “why” can be. If you don’t know why you are doing something, chances are that you’ll quickly lose your motivation to do it. Why do you want to learn Spanish? Ask this question at the beginning of your quest, then again and again during your learning process, and see how your answer evolves.
2. Set Your Goals
Now that you know the “why,” define your “what.” This is easier once your “why” is well-defined. If you want to learn Spanish because you want to move to Latin America some day, then you know that you are going to need fluency in your new language. So, what level of Spanish will satisfy your “why”?
3. Create Your Own Plan
This is crucial if you really plan to teach yourself Spanish. When you enroll in a course or hire a private tutor, this is the part they usually do. They already have their plans made and all you need to do is fit yourself into them. But here, you’re the one in the driver’s seat, so creating a good study plan that’s as specific as possible is a must.
4. Start Small
By “start small,” I mean a couple of things. First, slowly introduce this new project into your daily routine. In other words, don’t change your whole life because you want to teach yourself Spanish!
Secondly, start with the basics of the language. Don’t go straight to the hardest grammar concepts in Spanish. Instead, start learning how to give a brief personal introduction and a few Spanish phrases for beginners.
5. Expose Yourself to Spanish
Immerse yourself into this new language you want so much to learn. To teach yourself Spanish means to read, watch, and listen to Spanish. Actually, you should even think in Spanish, and, if possible, breathe in Spanish. You can do this in different ways:
Read in Spanish
Read anything you can get your hands on. My dad used to say that I should read everything, even the back of the cereal box. Start with short stories and then move to books. You’ll find plenty of resources on the web.
Watch TV in Spanish
Listen to Music and Podcasts in Spanish
Every time you commute, waiting in a line, doing your laundry, or out jogging, listen to music and podcasts in Spanish. You already use your headphones all the time, now do it with a purpose.
Set Your Devices to Spanish
This one is quite useful. By setting your phone, laptop, tablet, TV, Netflix account, and everything else you can think of to Spanish, you’ll force yourself to deal with Spanish on a daily basis.
Label Everything in Spanish
Imagine waking up every morning and the first thing you see is a label in Spanish that says Reloj (clock), then you turn around and you read Pared (wall). When you get up, you read Espejo (mirror), Cepillo de dientes (toothbrush), Cajón (drawer), Ducha (shower).
Welcome to your new world in Spanish! This smart trick may seem silly, but it’s really helpful.
Make Spanish-speaking Friends
If you really want to expose yourself to Spanish, you need to go where people actually speak Spanish. Visit Spanish-speaking community centers, find a Spanish conversation club, or look for Spanish-speaking Facebook groups. The point is to get social with native Spanish speakers.
6. Download Apps and Extensions
I also strongly recommend downloading a Google Chrome extension called Language learning with Netflix. It allows you to watch your favorite movies in Spanish, with subtitles in Spanish AND in English. It’s been a huge success story. I’m using it to teach Spanish to my students and to learn Portuguese myself (as it supports many languages).
7. Find a Language Partner
This is another way to get Spanish-speaking friends. Look online for a language partner and engage in real-life conversations with a native Spanish speaker. The idea of language partners is that you speak half your conversation in your goal language (Spanish), and the other half in the goal language of your partner (English). This way you help each other achieve your own goals.
8. Translate Into Your Language
This tip is recommended by polyglot Luca Lampariello, and it makes a lot of sense. Before starting to read in Spanish, start translating from Spanish to English. This way, you’ll be exposing yourself to the language and its grammar and getting the meaning of what’s being said, but still not creating a whole text from scratch in Spanish.
9. Write a Journal in Spanish
One of the best ways to teach yourself Spanish is to write in Spanish. Design your own journal, make it yours, and start writing. About what? Anything you have in mind.
I would write about my daughters’ experiences, the disappointing season of the Dallas Cowboys, and how much I’m enjoying life in Portugal. These are the things I have in my head on a regular basis. What do you have in yours?
10. Speak, Speak, Speak
That’s the ultimate goal, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s your first day or you’ve been learning Spanish for a few months now. Speak Spanish! Make mistakes, use the wrong words, and destroy Spanish pronunciation. It’s okay. You’re going to go through those stages anyway, so why not start today?
Are You Ready?
Are you ready to teach yourself Spanish today? Now that you have a collection of tips from some of the most recognized polyglots in the world, it may be the right time to do it. Start with the three first tips today:
- Define your “why”
- Set your goals
- Create your own plan
You can do that right now, after reading this post. All you need is pen and paper. Then you can label a few things around your living room, and maybe download an app, or that cool extension to watch movies.
And remember, a little back-up never hurts. Sign up for a free class to get language support from Spanish professionals and start speaking Spanish today!
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