5 Spanish learning tips

Maybe it’s because people are getting ready to travel the world again as soon as the pandemic is over, or it’s because Spanish is the most romantic and beautiful language in the world. But one thing is certain: learning Spanish is hot!
So I felt like time to dig into my language learning experience and create some Spanish learning tips to help my fellow language learners.

Whatever your reason is, one thing is clear: 2020 and 2021 have created a world that wanna-be-Digital-Nomads can only dream of! For everybody that wants to travel the world and do their job from anywhere, read these 5 Spanish learning tips to be ready to leave as soon as you can!

Tip 1. use apps 

These days, there are many apps available on your smartphone that help you in your journey to learn Spanish. For example, apps like Duolingo, Quizlet, Memrise, and even Google Translate can help you leap towards your goal. 

Spanish learning tips to learn consistently
Let apps help you to micro-learn

And it’s also super convenient: Waiting for the bus? Do a quick round in Duolingo. After lunch, right before going back to work, learn a few new words in Quizlet or Memrise. Writing a professional email to someone? Quickly translate 1 short sentence in Google Translate, memorize the translation, and whisper it to yourself the rest of the day. These tiny micro-moments that everybody has available, will allow you to reach your goals. And if you have a bit more time, you can dedicate yourself to watching films in Spanish, no matter your level.

The most beneficial thing about using apps and why I’m recommending them to you is that they all provide microlearning. And let microlearning just be my second in this series of Spanish learning tips!

Tip 2: Adopt micro-learning into your daily schedule

You’ve probably heard it before: it’s better to make a little progress consistently than to make lots of progress every once in a while. Or to say it concretely: it’s better to learn 5 new words daily for the next year than to learn 50 new words today and watch Netflix the rest of the month. This last option doesn’t only deplete and demotivate you, it’s also ineffective and a waste of time.

It doesn’t look like much when you’re doing it, but only 5 minutes a day adds up to 35 minutes a week, which adds up to more than 2 hours a month. It’s the little things that you do that make a change.

But be aware, especially when learning a new language! Don’t be too challenging or strict towards yourself. Setting goals that are too high to reach will end up in disappointment and frustration. It’s better to aim for 5 new words and do 7, than to set 15 and do only 5. The trick is to make a little progression constantly. 

Tip 3: get a Spanish teacher

Spanish conversation student and language teacher
A Spanish teacher can help you reach your goals

When learning how to speak Spanish, you can do a lot yourself. Actually, you SHOULD do a lot yourself! You should only use a teacher when you know what you want to learn and you need someone knowledgeable to guide you in that process. Get a teacher that knows what (s)he’s doing, that puts you in the driver’s seat. Don’t allow yourself to sit there passively and let your teacher fill you with information. That might have been how we thought to learn a language back in the days, but it’s certainly not what makes you a foreign language speaker quickly.

Discuss your goals with your teacher. Make sure you arrive prepared for your classes so that you can have an hour well spent. If you do pre-work, homework, and practice new grammar topics, then you can use your teacher-time to practice as much as possible and to ask as many questions as you can. Try to understand your teacher, listen carefully, try to build good sentences to answer him/her, keep up the conversation yourself, make sure you have something to talk about. 

And this third one of my Spanish learning tips is also just lots of fun! It’s fun to share your mistakes with someone, it’s motivating to hear him/her making mistakes in your language, and it’s useful to listen carefully to how (s)he’s using the language and to learn about their culture.

Tip 4: talk to native speakers

Most people want to be able to speak to natives as soon as they land on Latin grounds. So, you gotta go prepared. In your language learning journey, you should spend as many hours ‘in the field’ as possible. I’ve heard some people say that for every hour learning grammar, you should spend at least 2 hours practicing it in real-life contexts.

You’ll need locals for that. The best would obviously be to go to a Spanish-speaking country, but there are also plenty of opportunities for you in your own country or even in your own house, online. You can check on Meetup.com what language exchanges there are in your town. But within your friend cycle, some might also have connections to a Spanish speaker, a colleague, a friend, someone’s partner etc.

And don’t let the fear of making mistakes hold you back! You shouldn’t even aim for doing it 100% correctly. Making mistakes is part of the process. Actually, it might be one of the most important parts of the process. Let that be secret Spanish learning tips 4a :-). You might learn more from making mistakes than from doing it correctly. Ask the person you’re talking to what type of mistakes you want them to correct. There needs to be a good balance between being able to express yourself and practice fluency, but also getting corrected if the message is not coming across.

The first thing you’ll need is a click with your conversation buddy, if there’s no click you might just get bored with the conversations, or if (s)he doesn’t feel properly what you need, it might work counterproductive.

Tip 5: Copy locals

If you have the opportunity to go to a Spanish-speaking country, observe people and copy them. I mean, copy them exactly! Their tone of voice, speaking speed, facial expression, and hand gestures. It sounds a bit silly, but the best language speakers that I know did exactly that. It’s not the only thing that makes you a Spanish speaker, obviously, but it definitely helps a lot to get the right mindset!

If you don’t have the opportunity to go to a Spanish-speaking country, let’s say because there’s a ….. worldwide pandemic :-(, then you can also do it by copying someone from a movie, tv-show or the news. The good thing about this is that you can record it and watch it over and over again to see if you’ve got the right pitch, speed, gestures, and expressions.

The message here is: feel like a local and you’ll become one!

Good luck with your journey, I believe in you!

Johanna,

From a language learner to a language learner.

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