How to Learn Spanish and Speak Like a Local
Let me start with a disclaimer: I am far from being able to speak Spanish like a local. This said, I believe if I continue using the tips and tools I am about to share with you that I will be fluent very soon.
Here is the system that I have used with pretty good success.
Duolingo is by far my favorite language learning tool.
Well, for starters, it is free!
Second, I believe it is perfect for teaching you the basics of a new language. In my experience, it may not help with your speaking ability at first, but it will build your vocabulary to a level that will make it easier to learn how to use words in conversations at a later point in your studies.
It has a game-like feel to it that makes it really fun and easy to play. If you complete the entire Spanish tree-which I suggest you do-you will have a really good base knowledge of Spanish vocabulary and sentence structure.
Listen to music in Spanish
This tip is pretty straight forward. Just listen to music in Spanish. Find one radio station or artists to follow. This gives you the advantage of hearing the same songs over and over again. It is likely that you will have no idea what the heck the artists are singing about at first. However, after a few times of hearing the same song you will start to pick up many words and phrases. Plus, music in Spanish is pretty similar to music in English. They are all love songs in one way or another! I really didn’t like listening to music in Spanish at first, but after discovering some musicians that I really enjoy, it has become a fun experience. It will open up an entire new world of music and culture for you!
Watch your favorite movies in Spanish
Similar to the tip above, except that you get to watch your favorite movies or shows! Why do I say favorite? Ideally, you should start with movies that you already know what is going to happen. For me, that is Forrest Gump. Fun fact: I can quote that movie line for line. So when I watched it in Spanish, I really did not even need to watch the subtitles. I was able to just listen to the the dubbed voices in Spanish and know what they were supposed to be saying. As you increase your listening skills, you can start watching movies that you are a little less familiar with.
If you want to increase your comprehension of conversations in Spanish and in the music you are now listening to, try out FluentU. I do not use this resource as often as Duolingo, but it is a really cool program. You can watch music videos and a collection of other Youtube that the FluentU team has translated for you. The videos have subtitles and you can even stop the video to hover over certain words to see a definition in English! Using FluentU has greatly enhanced my ability to hear a song or conversation and string together the meaning of what is being said.
Take every opportunity to speak with Spanish speakers
Why do you want to be able to speak Spanish? Probably so that you can talk to people in Mexico and central and South America, right? Or maybe to be able to speak Spanish at work? So if your goal is to speak Spanish, then the only way to reach this goal is to practice speaking to people. You can use fancy apps every day all day, but if you don’t practice conversing, you are going to have a hard time speaking with others and understanding what they are saying to you. It will be embarrassing at first. Your brain will feel like it is running very slowllllllly. You will literally feel exhausted after trying to have a conversation in Spanish. That is okay! That means you are learning. Once you get over that initial hump of feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable, your learning curve will shoot up! Start off by asking people questions in which you are pretty certain as to what they will say. If you can control the conversation, it is likely that you will feel much more confident.
Practice every single day
I know this tip is not sexy. Most of my advice is not. However, if you want to become fluent in Spanish you need to speak the language every single day. How did you learn English? Though you probably did not have much of a choice, you practiced listening and speaking every single day! Even if you are studying for 5-10 minutes per day, you will make progress (eventually) if you create the habit of practicing Spanish every day.
What tools have you been using to learn Spanish? Did I leave something out? Let me know how your Spanish journey is coming along!
Keep it Kinetic,