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Learning Spanish from Scratch

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Begin Learning Spanish

Starting to learn a language isn’t easy. You need to put together a battle plan. A strategy. This is even more important when it comes to teaching children. How can you teach them Spanish?

Later on, you’ll need to work out how you can help them achieve bilingualism during adolescence.

Here are our suggestions for those who would like to master the Spanish language.

Spanish for Beginners: Where Do I Begin?

In an age where there’s the Internet and private tutors, starting to learn Spanish online isn’t that much of a problem. Since a lot of English vocabulary comes from the same place as Spanish vocabulary, some of the words you see during your Spanish lessons will be instantly recognisable.

However, when you try to look for a 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.

How long does it take to learn to speak Spanish? Learning a language is a long process. Don’t lose hope! (Source: pixabay.com)

You’ll need to first learn the basics if you decide to learn Spanish online:

  • 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

Then 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 Spanish-speaking country. Why not travel to Latin America? You can learn about plenty of different Spanish accents and improve your speaking 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.

Learning Spanish: When Should You Start Lessons?

Parents often ask this question as they’re eager to start giving their child a second mother tongue rather than having them learn it as a foreign language in 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 they’re born so that they become familiar with the sounds and vocabulary of the language. So make sure that you’re speaking to them in Spanish.

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

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. 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, there are a number of immersion daycare centers where they can learn Spanish.

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 very young children?

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 colorful 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 over the country 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.

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!

How Long Does it Take to Become Bilingual?

This is also one of the most common questions we get about learning Spanish: how long does it take to become bilingual?

What do we even mean by bilingual? Do we mean being able to write, speak, read, and listen to 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 a language depends massively on the methods you use. (Source: pixabay.com)

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 should expect that it 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 for Spanish.

Don’t forget that it’s also much easier for younger children to learn to speak Spanish fluently.

Is There an Age Limit for Learning Spanish?

Yet another question about time. Is there an age limit when it comes to learning Spanish? Is language learning a process with an expiration date? 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.

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!

What Should I Learn First?

Let’s finish with a few tips for those just starting their journey into the world of Spanish. How can you make as much progress in as little time as possible?

Spanish it generally thought of as a language that’s easier to learn for English speakers than others. This isn’t far from the truth.

Since half of all English words are from French or Latin, they share a lot of similarities with Spanish words. You’ll see some words and know immediately what they mean! That doesn’t mean you can just start putting an “a” or an “o” on the end of every word and say you’re speaking Spanish, though!

We should also mention that we’re not saying that learning Spanish is easy, either. In fact, Spanish can be really complicated in certain respects!

Here are a few examples how Spanish can be tricky:

  • Spanish has a low information density per syllable, this means it can be spoken very quickly and native speaks will!

  • Conjugations can be the stuff of nightmares for beginners.

  • Many Accents: Spanish is spoken all over the world in a huge number of different ways.

  • There are certain sounds that don’t exist in most English accents that can be difficult to learn at first. For example, the guttural “j” sound, the trilled “r”, or the tilde that changes “n” into “enye”.

You should focus on these difficult elements when you first start out so that you’re a master of them by the time you reach an intermediate level. Then you can start working towards becoming bilingual!

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