Learning Spanish is an amazingly rewarding thing to do. Not only can you add a highly desirable skill to your CV, but you will be filled with a deep sense of satisfaction at being able to converse with somebody in their mother tongue, at the same time as learning about new cultures from around the world.
However, starting out can often seem like you are lost in a sea of information and options. Spanish lessons, online Spanish, study Spanish abroad; the list appears to be endless!
Language learning is no mean feat. This is especially true if you’re starting out as a total beginner and have never taken a Spanish course in your life. You need to be patient, but you’ll also need a plan of action so that you know how to go about learning Spanish.
Whether you want to learn Spanish because of your heritage, your job, wanting to travel, or moving abroad, everyone has to start somewhere. Whatever your reasons for learning Spanish may be, you need to make sure you’re prepared before you start studying.
Before you start preparing, take the time to find out what your level is in Spanish. You can do this by taking a Spanish level test online, which will allow you to better forge a course of action. After all, why start with a Spanish for beginners course as a second language, when you are of a more intermediate level?
After this, you can set off on your journey to join the 440 million Spanish native speakers around the world.
Depending on your level, and the stage of your Spanish journey that you find yourself at, the tools and resources will change. This is absolutely fine. Don’t be afraid of changing your learning method along the way, as certain methods are better suited to different levels.
So let’s put together the plan that you’re going to use to start learning Spanish, improve your Spanish, and finally master it!
Do you not have the first idea about Spanish? Is Spanish a completely foreign concept? Don’t worry! Everyone’s a beginner at some point when it comes to learning a language.
Numbers are one of the first things you should learn in Spanish. (Source: Digital Buggu)
If you’re reading this article, it’s because you want to change that fact and start learning some language skills in Spanish.
Learning a foreign language is probably one of the most enriching experiences in the world and nowadays you can learn Spanish online quite easily since you can look up Spanish vocabulary in the blink of an eye, and find out anything you want to know about your new language just by typing it into Google!
If you’re just starting out learning Spanish, the first thing you’ll have to do is make sure you understand the most basic aspects of the language. You’ll need to learn about:
The Spanish alphabet
Genders in Spanish
Articles and adjectives
Basic vocabulary (words, phrases, introducing yourself, colors, numbers, weather, clothes, etc.)
The more complex aspects such as negation, the conditional tenses, the subjunctive, and the differences between the preterite and the imperfect are for further down the line.
Right now you should be focusing on getting a solid foundation in the basics, and improving your range of vocabulary.
Don’t freak out if this list seems long and arduous. With the right tools, you’ll be able to learn Spanish easily. You can even learn a language while having fun!
You will need to define your goals in order to find the right tools, however. If you want a conversational level for a trip to Spain or Latin America then sentence structure and verb conjugation will be of less importance than if you want to become fluent in order to live in Madrid, Buenos Aires, or Bogotá.
Make sure that you’re having fun while learning Spanish. (Source: burst.shopify.com)
Once you have defined your goals, you’ll need to find the tools to help you reach them. Firstly, if you can, we recommend taking Spanish classes or tutorials. Before deciding on whether you’re having your Spanish classes London – or whatever city you live in, in a group or with a one to one private tutor, you should have a look at your budget (group classes are cheaper but you’ll need more of them) and whether you want to meet other people or not.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of private tutors on our site, and they can plan the lessons with your learning objectives at the forefront of their preparations.
Don’t forget that you’ll probably need to invest in some materials such as books, too. Remember, there is no age limit for learning Spanish, and you will find books on Spanish for beginners for all age groups. There are also books for every level, and your Spanish teacher should be able to recommend a few for you.
Don’t forget that you can also complement your Spanish learning with videos, podcasts, websites, and dedicated mobile and tablet apps.
These types of materials are usually very good for training your ear and having fun while you learn. There are also some great films in Spanish that can help you tune your ear to the Spanish language (with the subtitles in Spanish or English, if you’re an absolute beginner). Listening to music is another way of doing this, and the number of different genres across the Spanish speaking world will mean that there is something for everyone.
Once you and your tutor have gone over all the basics, you can move on to the next level. Welcome to intermediate Spanish!
Why not make lists of useful Spanish vocabulary? (Source: kaboompics.com)
The above will act as a guide for Spanish beginners, but afterwards it will be time to really get to develop your understanding and knowledge of the Spanish language. Here are a few things intermediate learners should do:
Refine your pronunciation
Make more complex structures
Revise vocabulary thematically (e.g. verbs, nouns, adjectives)
Study more conjugations (present, preterit, present perfect, simple future, imperfect, preterit perfect)
Learn common irregular verbs
Study the subjunctive (present and imperfect subjunctive) as well as further studying the conditional and the imperative
Use tenses correctly
At this level, you should be able to hold a conversation with a Spanish native and understand them.
This may seem like a lot of things to learn, so obviously teaching Spanish to kids will put them at an advantage as they will be able to assimilate this information from an early age, and they will have plenty of time to practise and improve.
At an intermediate level, you can always read Spanish books and get private tutorials or group classes from a dedicated teacher or tutor. However, with all the skills you’ve learned, you have to start practicing every day.
Keep watching films, videos, and series in Spanish, too! If you can, get rid of the subtitles in English and only use the Spanish subtitles when you really need to. Avoid speaking English where possible, and start reading Spanish novels, too. This is a great way to expand your vocabulary and learn more about Spanish grammar and conjugations.
At this level, we recommend looking for a native speaker to chat with regularly or even going to the country on an exchange program. In fact, since languages are communication tools, you’ll quickly improve your Spanish by putting yourself in situations where you have to communicate in the language with native speakers.
You can learn Spanish online on your smartphone. (Source: skitterphoto.com)
Nowadays, it’s very easy to find a Spanish-speaking friend. There are a number of websites that can facilitate a language exchange for you.
You can start by sending a few emails, texts, or even letters. Once your Spanish is good enough, you can move on to making phone calls. This will help you improve both your written and spoken Spanish as well as giving you the opportunity to hone your reading and listening comprehension skills.
Bear in mind that when it comes to working out how long learning Spanish takes, there is no magic formula. The only thing that is for certain is that if you are diligent and practise as much as possible, you will learn the language of Cervantes a lot faster than if you don’t do these things.
By the time you reach this stage, you’ll feel very comfortable with Spanish. You’ll have mastered the basics a long time ago, taken a number of Spanish courses, and be able to comfortably talk with native Spanish speakers and fully understand their responses.
Do you still want to improve your Spanish? Good! Let’s work on a strategy for reaching the advanced levels of Spanish. Have you considered gaining fluency by moving to a Spanish-speaking country?
Make sure you keep studying the concepts from the earlier levels. You’ll need to be fully aware of all these concepts (especially all the different tenses and conjugations there are in Spanish). Additionally, you should practise your pronunciation and try to make it as indistinguishable from a native’s as possible.
Don’t forget to try to expand your vocabulary on a daily basis. For example, why not work on studying a few new words each day?
Once you get to an advanced level, it might be time to leave your textbooks behind. In order to continue improving, the key will be practice, practice, practice! Who knows, one day you might even start having dreams in Spanish if you practise enough!
Spanish basic vocab is a good start, but moving to a Spanish speaking country could see you develop at a fast pace. (Source: Leoniw Fahjen)
If you have Spanish-speaking friends, don’t lose contact with them. Make sure you’re talking to them in Spanish as often as possible. Furthermore, if you live in a big city, look around for events dedicated to Hispanic culture and places where you can speak Spanish. Don’t forget to check out websites where you can find language exchange partners, too.
In short: Give yourself as many chances to speak Spanish as you can.
You should also definitely consider traveling. Why not head to Spain or another Spanish-speaking country? Whether it’s the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Costa Rica, Argentina, Colombia, or Chile: there are so many Spanish-speaking countries to choose from.
It’s also a huge bonus that these countries are hugely beautiful, with loads to see and do! Once you get there, you probably won’t want to leave.
However, it’s not all about the beach. You’ll want to completely immerse yourself in the local Spanish-speaking culture. You should avoid speaking English and even avoid meeting other English speakers. Even at night, you should watch TV shows and read books in Spanish. It’s the very best way to improve your Spanish.
Now that you’ve got your plan of attack ready, it’s time to get to work! One last tip for learning Spanish quickly and effectively: have fun and focus on short regular study sessions. In fact, there’s no point in studying for an hour or two every Saturday. You should be studying 15 to 20 minutes each day.
This can help you learn all the concepts that you need to understand in order to speak a language. Thus, you’ll make slow and steady progress, stay motivated, and continue wanting to learn Spanish. Above all, don’t forget that the best way to learn a language is by using it!
There is no minimum age for learning Spanish, so if you are parent reading this, why not give your child a head start by having them start their Spanish journey earlier?