Learning How to Speak Spanish? 5 Tricks to Fast Track Your Fluency
Are you just getting started with learning how to speak Spanish?
Have you defined your “why” for learning the language? Knowing this language will make a difference in your life, but how? Armed with fluency in Spanish, what new things will you be able to do?
Like all languages, Spanish is beautiful, amazing, and complex. If you’re wondering what to focus on as you begin your learning journey, here are five tricks to help you get on the fast track to fluency!
1. Develop a Sustainable Habit of Studying Spanish
How do you make language learning less overwhelming? By breaking it into manageable chunks and committing to doing a little bit every day. That way, your lessons won’t be a long, boring review session at the end of the day or week that you’ll do anything to avoid.
Do you usually wait until late in the day to fit in your language learning time? For most of us, the late afternoon or evening is the absolute worst time to study a language. Our brains are not sharp and focused as they are in the morning. Usually, we’re tired and certainly not in the mood to sit down and study. Instead of waiting until the end of the day to study Spanish, make a point to fit it in earlier in the day.
Inspect your daily routine to determine when you have time for language learning in your week. Track how you spend your time for a few days by keeping a log in your notebook. Take an honest look at your schedule to decide what’s necessary and what activities can go. Pencil in times on your calendar or planner for daily Spanish learning, even if it’s just half an hour.
Take short lessons multiple times a week. Think bite-sized and frequent. Planning shorter study sessions makes spending time learning each day more feasible. Plus, when you return to your language several times during the day, the material is more likely to stay with you. The more exposure you get to Spanish, the more likely you are to remember it.
2. Make Learning Fun and Productive
You’ll learn Spanish quicker and more efficiently if you enjoy studying. By making it a pleasant and fun experience, you’ll commit to doing it regularly. Then you’ll soon start to see the results of your efforts, which is supremely motivating.
As a beginner, your goal is to first learn the most common thousand words or so in the language. Oh, and don’t forget the basic grammar. The good news is that you can skip more advanced topics like the past tense and the subjunctive for now. Focus on the present tense verbs.
After that, you should just learn vocabulary related to your interests. Love working out? Learn exercise vocabulary. Going to volunteer? Learn some medical terminology. Discover your most common thousand words related to the subjects you talk about most.
Luckily, making learning fun is easy. The same things you enjoy in your downtime (music, videos, movies, audiobooks, and other media) can be fabulous learning tools. Switch out activities you would normally do in English for their equivalents in Spanish. It’s a natural and entertaining learning method.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Watch Movies and Shows in Spanish
Listen to Latin Music
Jam out while you do other things, like jogging, cooking, or cleaning house. Print out the lyrics so that you can sing along and learn the words to your favorite tunes.
Listen to Audiobooks in Spanish
Don’t expect to understand everything at first, but keep at it and know that you will progress with practice and perseverance!
3. Expand Your Vocabulary and Grammar Skills
Approximately 60% of English words come from Latin. The Spanish language also comes from Latin, so English and Spanish overlap in many regards. Which brings us to another trick to build vocabulary fast and build your confidence: cognates.
Cognates are words that sound or look similar to the English, such as rapid vs rápido. And there are tons of them. Start by learning the most common Spanish cognates and the rules to recognize patterns. Use this fast and effective technique to add thousands of words to your Spanish vocabulary.
- Easy Cognates for the Beginning Spanish Learner
- Top 40 False Cognates in Spanish That Will Trip You Up and Confuse You
Focus on the Fun Parts of Spanish
Make your own vocabulary lists rather than using generic lists from textbooks or websites. This way, you won’t waste time on words you already know or niche vocabulary that has no connection to your life. Keep a running list of words or phrases you think would be useful to you. Jot down the words and phrases you use most often in English and look up their Spanish equivalents.
Whenever you read, watch, or listen to Spanish content, add more interesting, unfamiliar words and phrases to your list. Review your vocab lists frequently to retain the new words and boost your vocabulary acquisition.
Make Reading in Spanish Something You Do Daily
When you’re first learning how to speak Spanish, it can be a challenge to find reading material that’s not over your head. Here are some handy reading resources for adult beginners and intermediate-level students:
- 20 Free Spanish Books, Novels, and Stories in PDF and Printables
- 20+ Free Online Spanish Books for Self-Motivated Beginners
In addition, a slew of innovative apps exist to practice reading in Spanish. Readlang, for instance, lets you highlight words on Spanish-language websites and create flashcards.
You’ll grow your vocabulary quickly and learn grammar in a natural way, as you see it in context. Reading helps you form connections between the written and spoken word. Best of all, it will help you understand and communicate with native speakers.
4. Immersion is Key
Immersion is the quickest way to fast track your fluency. We learn our native language through immersion. By constant exposure from birth onward, we learn to understand and speak it ourselves. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that immersion is highly effective for learning languages.
Likewise, listening to lots of Spanish empowers you to absorb the cadence of the language. You’ll gradually move toward proficiency and, eventually, fluency. Immersion entails surrounding yourself with your target language as much as possible. This can be achieved via travel to Spanish-speaking countries, formal classes, and/or informal studies.
In the times of Coronavirus, it’s not so easy to jump on a plane and enroll in a Spanish immersion course in Spain or Latin America. Instead, you need to proactively create your own personal Spanish immersion program.
How to Create Your Personalized Spanish Immersion Experience
- Find ways to fit speaking and listening to Spanish into your daily routine using the tips and resources we’ve shared in this post.
- Find a local Spanish or Latino community to hang out with. Get used to having conversations with native speakers.
- Set your computer, phone, and internet browser settings to Spanish for extra practice. Alexa and Siri can speak Spanish, too! Added together, these micro-moves can propel you to a higher level of understanding and communicating in Spanish.
- Subscribe to the Spanish Academy TV YouTube channel for new weekly episodes on grammar, Spanish culture, and more. Get first access to new books and product releases from Homeschool Spanish Academy!
- Attend group or online classes (yoga, salsa dancing, drawing, chess, etc.) delivered in Spanish
- Go to local language exchange events and practice with people
- Choose a destination that appeals to you and spend a weekend immersed in that culture. Research it, watch travel documentaries, and follow a recipe in Spanish to make a traditional dish from the region. Even virtual travel can keep you focused on your goal of learning how to speak Spanish.
5. Speak Spanish Aloud
You do not need to know all the (many) nuances of Spanish grammar to communicate well.
The way to become confident in having conversations in Spanish is to have lots of them.
Let go of perfectionism. Accept that you will make mistakes. You will tell people you are pregnant (“Estoy embarazada”) when you think you are saying that you are embarrassed (“Tengo verguenza”). You’ll stumble over syllables, use the wrong conjugations, and probably make native speakers laugh at you on a regular basis.
This may be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s a part of this journey that cannot be skipped. It’s impossible to speak if you don’t allow yourself to make inevitable mistakes.
Polyglots (speakers of multiple languages) and fast Spanish learners aren’t afraid to butcher a sentence. They are more concerned with being understood and being able to communicate. Improvement, if not “perfection,” will happen naturally.
Learn more language learning tips and tricks from polyglots!
Lastly, be sure to say the Spanish words you’re learning out loud. Yes, talk to yourself! The practice actually prepares you for real conversations in Spanish. You can keep your Spanish skills sharp by speaking the language every day. This can be accomplished by just speaking to yourself, but you’ll still need a way to get valuable feedback on your speaking and pronunciation.
Try Online Spanish Tutoring!
The bottom line is that you need to start speaking Spanish straight away. Of course, learning how to speak Spanish with a native speaker is ideal. The act of speaking forces us to think on our feet, comprehend what the other person is saying, and formulate a reply.
Homeschool Spanish Academy provides remote learners with access to immersive Spanish classes. Our professional teachers from Guatemala tailor each class to meet your unique needs and goals. Book a free trial class to try out this fun, productive way of learning how to speak Spanish.
What other tips do you have for gaining fluency fast in Spanish? Let me know in a comment!
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