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How to Improve Spanish Skills

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Ways to Improve in Spanish

There are lots of things that you need to know to improve Spanish skills on a daily basis. Anyone who embarks on this mission will realise that. But not all tricks are sufficiently effective.

Learning Spanish is not an easy task. You will need to develop a wide variety of linguistic skills whilst keeping yourself motivated and focused, even when the going gets tough. If you are starting from scratch, begin with the Spanish alphabet and some basic Spanish vocabulary. Spanish grammar will come later on.

The official language of Spain is a Romance language (or Latin language), meaning there are some similarities with French, Italian, and Portuguese.

However, Spanish is often seen as one of the easier foreign languages to learn for English speakers. In fact the Foreign Service Institute of the US State Department say that Spanish is a category 1 language, meaning it takes the least amount of time to learn.

This in turn means that getting started and progressing easily in Spanish is not as difficult as you might think.

By following our advice you could find yourself nearing fluency a lot quicker than expected. But remember, give yourself time to adapt and to learn. This isn’t a process that will happen overnight, nor is it a process that requires no input from you. You’ll need to work hard and study regularly. So, how can you improve your Spanish skills?

Improve your Spanish Reading Skills 

Read Spanish Language Newspapers

To perfect your level, start by reading Spanish newspapers! This might not seem like the easiest task in the world, but you can start with shorter articles and build your way up.

Read the newspapers in Spanish Reading information at a newsstand is an effective way to learn new words from the Spanish dictionary.

If you are planning on visiting a Spanish speaking country, you can find such newspapers easily. Obviously this is a bit more difficult if you are not travelling, but it’s not impossible. In the bigger cities, you will often find newsstands that sell a range of foreign newspapers. If you can’t find one, then you can always read the news online as the majority of newspapers publish their content on the internet too.

For those who love sport, why not start with a sports magazine, which will make for more accessible reading if it’s a topic that you like.

We naturally direct our sports readers to the well-known “As” and “Marca”. These are two titles that are true European references in terms of football news and analysis.

For those who would like to test out other types of reading, more oriented towards Spanish, international, political, economic or cultural news, it will be necessary to turn to other press groups such as:

  • ABC,
  • El Mundo,
  • El Pais,

Reading these newspapers will quickly help the reader improve many different aspects of their Spanish.

While this may seem hard at the beginning, progress in written comprehension comes rather quickly. Don’t hesitate therefore to couple this by watching YouTube videos in Spanish to give you the oral skills you need.

The advantage of reading an informative medium in a foreign language is that you are less subjected to the different editorial lines taken by each individual newspaper as you are often more removed from the politics of the country in question.

Reading Spanish online

Everyone is not necessarily equipped to read Spanish newspapers every day. You have to go to a newsstand on a daily basis, which isn’t easy, and you have to live in a big metropolis…

Moreover, this also requires a certain daily cost, and therefore a small budget.

Thus, to reduce your fees but continue to improve your Spanish quickly, it may be good to turn to websites to learn Spanish online for free.

You will find the same articles, as well as others more oriented towards a web writing. We mean shorter and more visual articles: with photos and video reports.

Try first to read the Spanish front pages on a digital kiosk!

The reading will therefore be only more fluid. Progress will be more linear. According to us, the best way to read daily Spanish articles on the internet is still to subscribe to a media on Facebook. The news feeds will appear several times a day on your timeline.

Then why not read the news on Google News?

Available wherever you get internet access (wifi, 4G, cable connection), Google offers the possibility to read the digital press from many countries around the world.

This will provide access to information from all Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, from Mexico to Chile. Unfortunately, Google News Spain services were closed.

Some American newspapers are also sold and translated abroad, such as the New York Times.

The top tips for learning Spanish quickly will often talk about constant practise, and reading the news in what ever format definitely constitutes this.

Read your Favourite Novels in Spanish

If you want to improve your Spanish level, you shouldn’t start by tackling a complex novel from Spanish literature.

If you feel that you can handle it then by all means go ahead, but be aware that there is a risk of total misunderstanding and discouragement.

Read Harry Potter books in Spanish Re-read the famous Harry Potter trilogy and stories about the Hogwarts castle in Spanish to improve your level and practise.

How can you avoid this?

The trick is to search and find your favorite books in Spanish.

Already read several times in English, you maybe know them by heart, from the least disturbing element to the famous punch-lines that stay with you.

This makes it possible to try reading in the language of Cervantes, to memorize new Spanish words!

By already knowing the story, you will no longer withhold the frustration of not understanding much about the overall frame. The learner will then be able to concentrate on the Spanish translation, syntax and vocabulary.

Improve your Spanish Writing Skills

Practice Writing for Yourself

Becoming fluent in Spanish will involve mastering the art of writing and articulating yourself through the written word. Writing will make it possible to master a maximum of vocabulary and new syntax.

The next step is to get to lay out all this new luggage on a blank page, all in a correct Spanish.

This writing exercise will oblige the person writing to think completely in Spanish. We must therefore forget the English grammar so that we can immerse ourselves 100% in Spanish.

Why not start keeping a diary?

To write down everything that you’ve done in your day or write your dreams, to create stories derived from your imagination in the Iberian language will present a double advantage. On the one hand, this linguistic gymnastics will help you to think better in Spanish. On the other hand, a vocation as writer or translator may emerge from an activity that seemed initially banal or innocuous!

Find a Spanish Speaking Correspondent

When we were in elementary school, our teachers found correspondents. Young French, Spanish, Italian or German children sometimes stood at the other end of the pencil, and would write back to you and maybe sometimes a friendship would spring out of this.

Twenty or thirty years later, things have evolved, Superprof will not advise you to find a Spanish-speaking correspondent to send letters to…

The Internet revolution and its infinite possibilities make it possible to find this correspondent with whom to exchange, to progress rapidly, informally and without having the feeling that you’re working.

How do I find that person?

By seeking a linguistic tandem on sites specialized in cultural and linguistic exchange, forums, etc.

Speaking regularly in Spanish through the linguistic tandem will help you make enormous progress.

And in particular with the “every day” Spanish.

It would be an opportunity to learn a Spanish language closer to the social realities of the street and everyday life, with all the Spanish expressions and words related to it: a very practical solution!

How to Improve Spanish Speaking Skills

If you want to learn conversational Spanish, perhaps for a trip to a Spanish speaking country, or maybe because it is your weakest Spanish skill, then it is useful to note that there are a lot of ways to go about doing this.

Find a Skype Correspondent

Just as you can find someone to write to, you should try to find a Spanish person to speak with (with the difference that here we are moving to a whole new stage of your program: speaking in Spanish). This can be online, but it can also be within your city. Keep an eye out for Spanish cultural events or Hispanic organisations close by.

The next step after reading and writing is a matter of confronting yourself now as close as possible to the language: to speak, to understand and to discuss.

This is obviously the most difficult step to take. But it is also a fundamental basis for achieving your goals.

Many students often make speaking the most important part of classes, but to be effective you need to be in a small group which is not always a possibility. However you learn a specific Spanish – usually the one spoken in Spain. As a result, once in Spain or Latin America, it can be a shock.

Finding an Hispanic Establishment Close to Home

It could be a Latino, Cuban, or salsa bar, a tapas bar or an establishment run by Spanish speakers. They are all usually recognisable from a distance.

You can’t miss them, they often have yellow and red terraces, bright colours that contrast with their neighbours.

A poster of Ernesto Che Guevara, a cup of mate, jerky music and tango dancers: no doubt, these bars are great for progressing in Spanish!

They are not in every city, but they are still quite widespread.

So go in search of one of these Spanish-speaking establishments for the night owls amongst you. Parties, music and drinks are often excellent vehicles for engaging in discussions! It is the cocktail of perfect ingredients to untie your tongue! You gain confidence and are more eager to express yourself without fear of making mistakes.

Take advantage of the local Spanish-speaking clientele to work on your spoken Spanish!

Speak Spanish with a Spanish-Speaking Student

For those who live in student cities and towns, take advantage of it.

Universities have the opportunity to host students from all over the world throughout the year. This is achieved through international or European exchange programs such as Erasmus.

It is therefore very common to find Spanish speaking students at universities who can be recruited to teach their mother tongue.

They won’t hesitate to share their knowledge of the language of Cervantes to finance their studies, or to simply learn English in exchange.

The deal is simple: in exchange for conversations in Spanish – often less expensive than private classes – informal conversations are also held in English.

A practical solution to improve your Spanish, which is found especially in the classifieds of the universities.

How to Improve Spanish Listening Skills

Watch the TV

It is now time to perfect your ear, to optimise your aural comprehension.

Learning Spanish by using TV programs Watch TV in Spanish to progress and stay entertained.

Speaking Spanish is one thing, but getting to understand what we are told during a conversation is another. It is therefore essential to have an aural understanding of Spanish.

There are several ways to do this, starting with television. There are many channels open to television or internet subscriptions, such as:

  • TVE,
  • La Sexta,
  • Telecinco.

BEWARE: the only difficulty will be to make a choice among all the regional channels of the country.

Learn Spanish by Listening to Music

Rather than despairing at not being able to understand some very quick Spanish songs on the radio, start with slower paced music that it is easier to understand.

This is also what teachers often offer at school to help you learn Spanish.

Have you not heard “Clandestino” or “Me gustas tu” by Manu Chao?

Learn the songs of Manu Chao The songs of Manu Chao can be a great way to get into Spanish

Spanish music is very rich, often very melodic, as well as often being engaged, romantic, and very rhythmic (tango, salsa, bachata).

It is enough to find the artists that are best for the learner to sing and learn their words by heart.

In a context of unbridled globalization, music is also – sometimes unfortunately – a commercial product that is exported worldwide, even more so than material goods.

Thus, in the mid-2000s, we discovered Argentine culture through electro-tango, a tasty mixture of modern electro-music – and tango – style invented at the end of the 20th century – by a group whose global reputation is now well established: Gotan Project.

There are not many lyrics in their songs, so it’s easy to practice to recognize the Spanish words and then sing them!

Another method that you might not have considered is learning Spanish through Spanish podcasts. In the same way that music only relies on your listening skills, so does listening to a podcast. With the television you can use what you see to give you a bit of context about what is happening, but a podcast is based on your ability to understand what is being said.

Watching Spanish Language Movies with Subtitles

If the Spanish music is of great richness, what about its cinema and its most beautiful films?

From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas to Victoria Abril, and Carmen Maura to Javier Bardem, Spanish cinema can boast a whole host of famous names.

Many of them have had a lot of success in English speaking cinema as well, but they all cut their cloth in the Spanish language movie industry.

Sometimes political, sometimes poetic or absurd, but you can learn Spanish through Spanish films.

Watching Spanish films in their original version allows for a playful, interactive and progressive exercise. This is because, at the beginning, the learner views the film with subtitles in English.

It performs a process of identification and auditory memorisation of the words that you heard, and their translation makes it possible to associate them with a visual memorisation.

After a while, subtitles in English will become less and less important!

Take a Spanish Course

Talking with your Spanish Teacher

Another way to have regular conversations in Spanish is by taking Spanish lessons through the Superprof platform.

In many countries throughout the world, you can find a multitude of native Spanish speaking teachers who are ready to give lessons in their mother tongue.

To improve your Spanish quickly, all that remains is to find a teacher nearby and to arrange a daily learning and revision program with them.

The majority of home teachers will also be able to adapt to a variety of different levels: from beginner to intermediate and advanced.

From oral expression, to listening comprehension and writing comprehension, Spanish courses are the key to progressing at high speed.

Learn about the Spanish Language and Culture

If you want to learn about Spanish culture as well as learning the Spanish language, then taking classes with a private teacher will be perfect for you.

Whilst grasping the various elements of Spanish grammar and verb conjugation, you could learning about the history of Spain or Latin America.

If you choose to learn Spanish with a native Spanish speaker who is also a good teacher, you will have the best of both worlds.

Being a good teacher, they will be able to help you progress on the language side of things. But having grown up in a Spanish speaking country, they will also know all about the culture of their homeland. Your Spanish classes could involve you learning the Spanish language whilst also discovering the beauties of another country.

Visiting a Spanish Speaking Country

Getting to Spain

Gaudi in Barcelona: a cultural trip Barcelona is a great city to learn about the Spanish language and culture

Obviously, what better way is there to improve your level of Spanish than through linguistic immersion? Go to Madrid or Barcelona for example.

Immersion in a linguistic environment that is 100% foreign will awaken all senses and abilities.

To progress or become bilingual in Spanish, there is no better way than travelling: discover Spain and its cultural nuances, from Andalusia to Catalonia, from Galicia to Arragon. This is an ideal way to strive towards Spanish bilingualism!

Discovering Spanish in Central and South America

With around 440 million native Spanish speakers in the world, Spanish is the second most spoken language by the number of natives. This means that there is a huge pool of potential teachers in dream destinations such as Colombia and Argentina.

If you would rather go to Chile, Peru, or Ecuador, then these countries will work too!

Going to improve your level of Spanish in South America will be much more efficient than listening without practising during long Spanish programs.

So, from Argentina to Bolivia, through Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico to Central America, or even Peru, immersion will be total, especially since the Latin people are not known to be good English speakers!

By speaking only the Spanish language, your progression will be only rapid!

Remoteness helps, the learner will soon have to blend into the local population, work or make friends.

The best way to work daily in Spanish!

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