22 January, 2019
Perhaps you’re considering learning Spanish or are brushing up on what you learned years ago.
Studies show that what makes it difficult for adults to learn a new language is their reception to sounds. However, having a good vocabulary and speaking at a level that a native speaker could understand can be achieved at any age.
At this point, your goal should not only be able to speak Spanish at a conversational level but also to become fluent orally and in writing.
Learning a new language can be very challenging, but it’s not rocket science. In this article, we will share with you our 7 proven principles that will help you gain the confidence to achieve fluency in Spanish. Here we go…
We often link success learning the Spanish language with a person’s level of motivation.
For some people, learning the Spanish language opens the door to new work opportunities. For others, it can be the desire to immerse oneself in another culture or to meet new people.
So, what is the best way to learn Spanish fast? You might answer constant practice. By this, we mean that the most effective way to learn Spanish is to exploit your inner drive. That is called motivation.
To explain, there are two kinds of motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from one’s inner drive to achieve a goal. For example, you are so fascinated with the palaces and gardens in Granada that you want to learn Spanish before you go there so that you can enjoy the place more.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from the external environment. For example, you may be living in the US and find that Spanish is increasing in importance and is becoming a key language for new job opportunities that will enable you to boost your career.
Now you know that motivation plays a huge role in your success. But how do you motivate yourself? The next principle will show you.
When you are not completely ready to get out of your shell, making your Spanish a daily habit is a good start.
Daily habits mean being consistent and having a realistic goal. Once you have already established a daily habit, it is already ingrained within you and becomes second nature. Therefore, speaking Spanish will be as easy as drinking a glass of water.
Developing a habit involves a cue, a routine, and a reward. A cue makes you act towards a desired behavior. An example is putting a reminder in your phone to open a Spanish language learning app. Next, is having a routine. This is now your specific action after the cue like the opening of the app and learning some words or phrases, or listening to a podcast itself. Lastly, reward yourself for doing the routine by getting satisfaction from your interaction in Spanish with your tutor or friends. This reinforces positive behavior towards the desired outcome-conversational fluency.
It only takes a few dedicated minutes, and when it becomes a habit, you will not even notice that you’re doing it.
To list, make Spanish your daily habit by:
• Having a realistic goal in mind.
• Reminding yourself to start with your lessons.
• Following a routine.
• Rewarding yourself for a job well-done.
Make mistakes. You’re going to learn from these mistakes and the best part is that people always want to help you!
Build a good vocabulary. Note the words and phrases that are commonly used in your daily activities. If you study or work, write down all of the useful words.
The key to mastering Spanish is at your fingertips. If you want to improve your listening and writing skills, you can use online applications, like Duolingo. On the other hand, when trying to improve your speaking ability, you may need a partner to practice talking in Spanish.
One way is to meet up with a Spanish native speaker or start online sessions. Online sessions can be cost-effective because you can do it in the comfort of your home or your mobile phone. This option is ideal as it saves time, money and effort. At the same time, you have the chance to talk with a native speaker.
Also, it is important that you are given feedback of your mistakes. In fact, we encourage you to make mistakes if it is unavoidable. One mistake people make in learning a new language is when they avoid making mistakes. They speak less while choosing only safe phrases or sentences. That is not helping us to achieve our goal.
Lastly, for some people, it helps them when they speak aloud when practicing Spanish. Speaking out loud is one of the most effective strategies in greatly improving your speaking skills. Also, it helps you to boost your confidence.
In this principle, we have learned the following:
• Ask for help. Build a good vocabulary.
• Use apps like Duolingo.
• Find a partner and join classes or speaking clubs.
• Learn from feedback.
There is so much information out there that could help you to speak Spanish.
You may be living on the other side of the world, but a little twist in your lifestyle could help you a lot in putting yourself into Spanish mode. For example, changing the language settings on your TV, computer or mobile phone are little ways in which you can immerse yourself in the language. Find a Spanish recipe online and impress your family with your paella. Put Spanish quotes in your desk, coffee mug or your computer. By doing these, you are incorporating the Spanish language into your daily activities.
Again, no matter how busy you are, there’s always time if you give it a shot. Grab your phone and open an app during a work break or while commuting. Listen to podcasts, use Duolingo and online flash-card based systems (Anki is a good program) that utilize SRS (spaced-repetition system) to learn Spanish during your downtime. Watch Netflix shows with Spanish subtitles and Spanish audio.
All of these tools allow you to learn the Spanish language without actually going to the country itself.
In short, immerse yourself in Spanish by doing the following:
• Incorporate Spanish into your daily activities.
• Set Spanish as the language in your devices & your social media accounts.
• Join forums in Spanish or Facebook groups, like Aprende Hablando.
• Use flashcards to memorize new vocabulary.
• Listen to podcasts.
• Watch TV programs and Netflix shows in Spanish.
And remember that the key to learning any language is receiving a LOT OF INPUT. However, it is not a matter of your “exposure time”, it is a matter of how much time you spend actively learning.
You only need about 1,000 Spanish words and these words always appear in almost every conversation you have. Yes, only 1,000. But how do you know which words should make-up the top 1,000? Studies show that we tend to use the same words or phrases even if there are better words or phrases than them. Examples of common Spanish verbs are hacer, poder, ser and estar, among others.
Again, always have in mind that the words you have been committing to memory do not become effective until they can be used. So go back to #3 and remember that you need to start making tons of mistakes in order to fix vocabulary, grammar, and other structures.
Being an English speaker means that there are many words in Spanish that appear in both languages and that can mean the same too. These words are called cognates. Some cognates do not have the same meaning as in your own language. Nevertheless, it helps you to remember them with ease.
When you learn Spanish using textbooks, the topics may not be very interesting to you. Instead, learning may seem more of a burden to you. But, when concepts are related to your work or interests, like in customized 1:1 courses, Spanish becomes easier to understand and your language experience becomes more enriched. It stops becoming only a memory game and turns into something useful for you. A short amount of time every day is far superior to a large chunk of time once a week, as short lessons are more fun and easier to squeeze in, and most importantly you forget nearly everything new if a week has passed.
We have listed some strategies to help you focus on the most important aspects of the language that will enable you to start speaking Spanish now.
• Use flashcards.
• Bring a notebook.
• Identify where you are in your Spanish learning.
• Integrate all your materials.
Those who can speak Spanish quickly don’t obsess themselves over their Spanish grammar. They learn Spanish quickly by talking and committing mistakes. The good thing about making mistakes is the valuable feedback that you can get from others. As it turns out, you may have to totally stop studying to really become fluent. It may sound weird, but at this stage, we recommend that you put your textbooks back on the shelf.
Aiming to speak Spanish perfectly causes you to become too careful when communicating your thoughts so that you end up taking less rather than expressing yourself freely. What we mean, it that is alright to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.
You learn best when you’re having fun. So, we suggest that you incorporate your Spanish into the things that you love to do.
Take advantage of the power of digital technology to improve your learning. Change the language settings of your favorite video game or your applications. Do the same for your social media accounts.
Eat out in an authentic restaurant. If you’re learning Spanish abroad, eat where the locals eat. If you’re in your home country, track down where native speakers own restaurants: read the menu in Spanish, speak the language with the waiter, listen to native speakers in natural contexts and try to follow along and figure out what they’re saying, enjoy your sangría or margarita! Don’t want to dine out? Just search for your chili con carne or ceviche recipe in Spanish on YouTube. The best part about any cooking video is that it was created to follow carefully.
Is there a Mexican grocery store in your town? Start going there to do your shopping. Read the signs on the walls, look at products and read labels.
If you are a researcher, look online for Spanish materials that are related to your topic. Are you also a music lover? Spotify is such a great tool. Listen to Spanish songs and follow their lyrics.
Attend cultural events in your country. Most consulates or embassies sponsor shows and films showcasing their products and culture. Have a taste of their authentic wines and dishes. Meet people who share your interests.
By using these fun activities, you’ll be able to inject a little language learning into everyday activities. Little moments of fun language learning can fit perfectly even into the busiest of schedules. Let no spare moment go to waste!
Try to immerse yourself in the language and culture as best as you can, as well as being consistent with your learning. It is better to do a little bit every day than trying to cram all your studying into a single day, as short lessons are more fun and easier to squeeze in. Lastly, try to enjoy yourself while learning.
If you follow these 7 principles, you will see a great improvement in your Spanish in a short period of time, as you are incorporating your learning into your daily activities, without having to alter your whole routine.
Soy profesora de español y tengo más de 5 años de experiencia enseñando en todos los niveles, desde nivel principiante a avanzado. Soy además editora de este blog de Aprende Hablando y estoy certificada para la preparación de los exámenes DELE y SIELE.