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A Guide to Learning Spanish for Beginners

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Everything you Need to Know about Spanish for Beginners

Starting to learn a language isn’t easy. You need to put together a battle plan. A strategy. This is important for anyone setting out to learn a language as it allows to you follow a route whereby you can see real tangible progress. It also limits the chances of you wasting your time aimless sifting through language textbooks, or doing the odd grammar exercise online.

Spanish is a language that is spoken by around 440 million native speakers worldwide. It’s global appeal is therefore obvious, and it is subsequently held in high esteem in schools and universities in all four corners of the globe.

Learning to speak Spanish requires patience, motivation, and a plan of action. This plan will be different depending on you, your goals, and your budget.

Starting out to learn any language can be tough, so here at Superprof we have put together a few ideas about how, as a beginner, you can start to learn Spanish, as well as some of the things you should look out for.

From Beginners Spanish to Having an Advanced Level

In an age where there’s the internet and private tutors, starting to learn Spanish online isn’t that much of a problem. Since some English vocabulary has Spanish roots, certain words that you see during your Spanish lessons will be instantly recognisable.

However, when you try to look for a Spanish course, you’ll find so many different options like “learn Spanish free”, “Spanish classes online”, “free Spanish classes”. No matter what you type into Google nowadays, you get thousands of results.

You will find that certain methods are more useful at different stages of your Spanish learning journey, so don’t be afraid to switch them up when you feel like a particular method of learning Spanish is no longer useful. In fact, any plan of attack for learning Spanish will involve a whole variety of methods to help your reach true fluency.

How long does it take to learn to speak Spanish? It’s a long road to becoming fluent in Spanish, but don’t lose hope! (Source: pixabay.com)

When you do come to learn Spanish, you’ll need to first learn the basics:

  • The Spanish alphabet

  • Spanish grammar (pronouns, adjectives, personal pronouns, adverbs, etc.)

  • Expand your vocabulary

  • Syntax

  • The verbs “ser” and “estar”.

  • Conjugations that can be a bit of a nightmare for English speakers who’ve never studied another language before.

  • Negation

Online Spanish can help you do this, or you can take a beginners class at a local language school.

After you have mastered the basics, it’s time to start improving your Spanish. This is where a private Spanish courses or a Spanish teacher can be really useful. When you learn Spanish with a private tutor, they can adapt their classes to you and your level. You can also learn how to speak Spanish in a comfortable environment such as your own home.

Don’t forget you can complement language courses with multimedia resources such as films, podcasts, and dedicated smartphone and tablet apps. These are great for studying basic Spanish phrases and expressions as well as just kill some time while the commercials are on.

The next step might be spending some time in a one of the 20 Spanish-speaking countries across the world. Spanish is spoken far and wide, so why not travel to Latin America for example? You can learn about plenty of different Spanish accents and improve your speaking, pronunciation, and comprehension.

Finally, you can start working on moving from conversational Spanish to advanced Spanish and gaining fluency in your new language. How can you learn Spanish easily? Through immersion, of course! However, living in a Spanish-speaking country isn’t immersion if you don’t use Spanish every single minute of the day. 

Remember that you can immerse yourself in Spanish to a certain extent at home. Watching Spanish movies, listening to Spanish radio, and reading Spanish newspapers, are all ways of increasing your exposure to the Spanish language.

Is There a Minimum Age to Learn Spanish for Beginners?

Parents often ask this question as they’re eager to raise their child as bilingual, rather than having them learn it as a foreign language at school. So when should they start learning Spanish or a second language?

There’s not really a minimum age to start learning Spanish! It’s recommend that you start teaching them Spanish as soon as you can so that they become familiar with the sounds and vocabulary of the language. So, if you’re a Spanish speaker, make sure that you’re speaking to them in Spanish from an early age.

How old can a child start learning Spanish? Parents can teach their children Spanish from a very young age. (Source: www.lifeofpix.com)

If you want to raise your child as a bilingual speaker, each parent needs to decide on a different language to speak. This way, the child will find it easier to distinguish the two languages in the same way they can distinguish the two parents.

This is how bilingual families tend to do it. It’s generally thought that the child will be able to distinguish the two languages by the age of 4. By the age of 7, they’ve reached the age at which language learning slows down a bit. After this age, they won’t be able to learn the language as another mother tongue. This idea is known as the “critical period hypothesis”.

If you want your child to learn a second native language from a very young age but you aren’t a Spanish speaker, you could try to find an immersion daycare centre where they can learn the Spanish language.

How Can You Teach Your Child to Speak Spanish?

Let’s put the theory into practice!

While we know that older children can always do exchange programs in Spanish-speaking countries, study languages at college, or practice speaking with a friend, how can you teach Spanish to kids?

Why not put them on the path to becoming fluent and start teaching them Spanish with the help of tablets? There are plenty of dedicated websites and apps for parents wanting to teach their child the basics of almost any language. There are also cartoons and books for learning Spanish that children will love! They’ll learn to love Spanish with fun stories and colourful pictures.

A private Spanish tutor is also an effective option. There are tutors available who are happy to teach children between the ages of 3 and 10 all , and will even travel to your home to do it.

While your child won’t be learning all the different Spanish tenses in their Spanish lessons, they can play games and listen to native Spanish speakers. A number of the tutors on Superprof even offer free Spanish lessons for the first hour so you can see if you like them or not, but you should check with each individual tutor to confirm this.

Finally, there’s always family. If you’re lucky enough to have any family members who speak Spanish, you should make the most of visiting them and making sure that your children benefit from free and effective Spanish practice!

From Spanish Basic Vocab to Fluency: How Long Does it Take to Become Bilingual?

This is also one of the most common questions we get about learning Spanish: how long to learn Spanish

First of all you will need to define what is means to be bilingual. Do we mean being able to write, read, speak, and listen in Spanish? Does it mean getting a good result in a Spanish test? Dreaming in Spanish? Being a native speaker?

What are the best methods for teaching children Spanish? The time it takes to learn Spanish depends massively on the methods you use. (Source: pixabay.com)

The other part of this conundrum is that the answer will differ depending on your objectives. The time will also depend on which methods you use. If you’re opting for private tutorials, you can expect it to take months or years. When it comes to total immersion you can do it in around 6 months if you’re using Spanish at home, at work, and when out with friends.

Additionally, you should also complement these methods with smartphone apps, podcasts, studying in classes, and using dedicated websites. These methods can also be great for training your ear in Spanish.

Don’t forget that it’s also much easier for younger children to learn to speak Spanish fluently, than it is for adults so don’t postpone it for the future; start learning Spanish today!

Is There an Age Limit for Learning Spanish?

Yet another question about time. Is there an age limit for learning Spanish? Whether you’re learning Russian, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, you could ask the same question!

Of course not! There’s no age limit when it comes to learning a language.

Even if a child can learn a language quickly, adults have certain advantages over them, including:

  • Maturity

  • Knowing how to learn

  • Concentration

  • Personal motivation

  • Familiarity with similar concepts in their own language

An adult can also make use of all the learning methods we mentioned earlier: they can hire a private tutor, travel to a Spanish-speaking country, watch films in Spanish, make Spanish-speaking friends.

You should therefore never think that you are too old to learn Spanish, because that is simply not true!

When Will I Start Dreaming in Spanish?

Would you like to dream in SpanishDreaming in Spanish is literally the dream when it comes to learning Spanish. When you reach this stage, it means that you’re either bilingual or that you’ve completely fallen in love with the language.

When will I dream in Spanish? Does dreaming in Spanish mean that you’re bilingual? (Source: pixabay.com)

Unfortunately, there’s not really any significant studies showing when this starts happening.

However, it does seem that neither high school nor college Spanish is enough to start dreaming in Spanish. It seems to be that you need to be bilingual or completely immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture.

Listening to, and speaking, only Spanish every minute of every day will force your brain to think in the language. It’ll happen quickly if you practice every day!

Then, as if by magic, your subconscious will, too!

Tips for Starting to Learn Spanish as a Beginner

Let’s finish with a few tips for those just starting their journey into the world of Spanish. 

Knowing how to go about learning Spanish is one of the most important steps that you will take in your Spanish learning process. This is because if you don’t know how to start, you will almost definitely feel like you are aimlessly wandering through the Spanish language with no real objectives and goals, and no real plan of how to progress.

In doing so you will more than likely see less progress, and you won’t be able to make connections between the different aspects of the language that you learn which can result in you becoming disheartened, and thinking that learning Spanish is an impossible task.

Therefore, when it comes to learning Spanish, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stay motivated
  • Define your goals
  • Set realistic targets
  • Find a method that works for you
  • Start with the basics
  • Practise, Practise, Practise!

Following these tips won’t make you bilingual overnight, but they will help you get yourself on the road to bilingualism. Remember that attitude is equally important as how to learn the language, so always try to stay positive and keep focused on your end goals (maybe a holiday to Spain or a job in Argentina) when you are having a difficult day with the Spanish language.

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