Welcome to my list of tips for learning Spanish! I went into university thinking that I’d just be studying German and linguistics, as that’s the course that I’d signed up for. I soon found out after a fun week of freshers, that it was compulsory to pick up another language. I’ve always wanted to speak a romantic language, as German isn’t the most softest-spoken language, let’s face it! Even though I had lectures and studied using books, I found it a real challenge and it was very overwhelming.
Throughout my university years, I tried different techniques to pick up Spanish efficiently and as quickly as possible. I knew that in my third year of University, I’d be spending it abroad. Therefore, I needed to have a decent level of Spanish and had around 8 months of learning to do just that!
Whilst you may not be in the same position as I was (learning Spanish at University), I wanted to share with you of the tips and tricks I learnt along the way. You can use them to help boost your Spanish learning and get to a decent level, fast! Continue reading for my top 10 tips for learning Spanish like a pro! 🙂
1. Limit the amount of English you speak
This one is quite a hard trick to master, especially when you’re not living in the country. And even when you’re there, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of speaking with people of your native tongue.
By listening, reading, writing and speaking in Spanish during your working days, you’re slowly training your mind to focus on Spanish.
If you don’t have any Spanish friends or a tandem partner you can speak to, why not speak to yourself? Do a bit of roleplay with yourself and sit in front of the mirror. It sounds incredibly strange, but it works wonders!
2. Immerse yourself in Spanish resources
There are so many Spanish resources available to access online, and a lot of them are free! I can honestly tell you that I’ve tried ALL OF THEM!
When you’re first starting out learning Spanish, you need to start with the basics. If you try to read El Pais, you’re going to feel so overwhelmed and hardly understand a thing. Online newspapers, such as El Pais are good when you’ve gained a good level of knowledge of Spanish.
Below, I’ve listed some of my favourite online learning resources:
- News in slow Spanish provides you with various key topics in the news, ranging from intermediate to advanced. They also offer different courses, helping you with grammar too!
- Coffee Break Academy offer a range of different ‘coffee break’ audio sessions across various topics. They provide transcripts too, which make them easier for you to follow and to look up the words that you don’t understand.
- Spanish pod provides you with short audio and video lessons for fast and easy learning. The lessons are also tailored based on your goals and needs – so you can be a pro in no time!
3. Take a Spanish summer course
During my second year of university, I worked ever so hard to learn as much Spanish as I could before venturing out on my year abroad. When the end of term came, I panicked and really wanted to feel more confident about my Spanish before jetting off (even though I knew it would improve massively when I was out there).
I did some research online and found some great Spanish summer schools that I could take part in. My friend was living in Valencia at the time and recommended AIP Language Institute.
I spent a month in Valencia and went to the language school Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm. The days were pretty full-on and a bit overwhelming at times, as there was a lot of information to take in. The school organised accommodation with other students, so all I needed to do was sort out plane tickets. It was super easy!
Here are some other recommended language schools in large Spanish cities:
Bilbao: Instituto Hemingway
Madrid: AIL Madrid
4. Get a Spanish tutor
I don’t know about you, but it can be quite difficult at times to really get myself motivated to learn a language. I still have days like those when I’m learning Portuguese now!
Spanish tutors will be able to guide you through different aspects of the language, so that things are clearly explained, you understand everything, and also able to practise a bit of Spanish speaking along the way.
You can search for Spanish tutors in your area. Some may offer home visits, whereas others may have a space for you to learn.
5. Write it down
This is one of our essential tips for learning Spanish and it’s often overlooked! I’ve never been blessed with a good memory and have always had to find ways of retaining information in my brain – oh the struggles!
Regardless of if you’re like me or not, I’d recommend that you get into the habit of writing any Spanish word down that you pick up. Even if it’s the most random word – you never know when you’ll come across it again.
You can then repeat writing the words/ sentences on some scrap paper several times, and eventually it’ll sink in. This is an extremely powerful way of remembering things. Learning a language doesn’t come as naturally to us (if you’re not bilingual) so we need to find ways to retain information in our brains.
6. Make use of the language learning apps
There are so many language mobile apps out there for you to take advantage of. The main ones are Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, Busuu and Babel. You can learn Spanish with any of these platforms; it doesn’t matter which one you use.
Most of the apps are free up to a certain degree, but a subscription is needed if you want to further develop your language skills. Spend 20 minutes a day using the apps on your commute, before you go to sleep or during any spare time you have. It’s quick and easy to start learning on the go.
7. Keep learning vocab, grammar will come afterwards
Due to the way that I learnt languages in the past, grammar has always been the primary focus for me. However, looking back, it wasn’t a necessity at the beginning.
The most important thing is to keep learning vocab. Build your vocab library, where it includes keywords that are categorized, or phrases that are hard to remember. Keep writing them down in your notebook!
You’ll pick up on the grammar as you go (without being aware that you’re learning Spanish grammar!)
9. Try reading short stories in Spanish
Short stories are a great way to support your language learning journey. There are various types of short stories; online, e-books and books that are supported with a back translation in your native language for you to cross reference.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of reading short stories. They’re long enough for you to spend a decent amount of time reading Spanish, but not so long so you’ll lose concentration.
9. Listen to podcasts and audio courses in Spanish
Whilst podcasts and audio courses aren’t a substitute for speaking practice, they’re still as useful and important.
There are many different Spanish podcasts for learners of Spanish across all knowledge levels and I’ve listed a few of my favourites below.
- Spanish pod provides you with short audio and video lessons for fast and easy learning. The lessons are also tailored based on your goals and needs.
- Mimic Spanish Method is an online tool that provides you with courses to help with your pronunciation. Pronunciation is a skill that’s often neglected during the early days of learning Spanish, but one that’s equally as important.
- LingQ offers you many different Spanish listening resources across all levels. This learning platform is especially good if you like to read along whilst you listen to a transcript.
10. Make Spanish learning a part of your daily lifestyle
As with anything, if you don’t consider Spanish as part of your daily lifestyle and routine, it’s going to feel like a chore and you’ll end up hating it and giving up.
It might help to block some time in your calendar daily, where you can dedicate a time slot for Spanish learning. Over time, it’ll just come natural to you and you won’t need to allocate a specific time to practice.
Our successes often come from enjoyment. The more we enjoy Spanish, the better we’ll get! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading my top tips for learning Spanish like a pro! I’d love to hear about your language journeys, so please leave a comment down below!
By SusieAuthor bio:
I’m is a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.