Europe is a place that is often romanticised in American TV and Film. Midnight strolls under the Eiffel tower The thought of learning an entirely new language from scratch can be a daunting one, especially when there are a whole host of new grammar rules to get to grips with that differ from your native tongue. Luckily, if you already speak a Romance language like French or Italian, learning Spanish will be a considerably smoother process due to the shared Latin roots of some words. Similarly for English speakers, Spanish is consistently voted as one of the easiest languages to learn thanks to its largely phonetic pronunciation.
Spanish is one of the most important languages to know. With 543 million speakers across the world, 20 countries listing Spanish as an official language and a further 4.5 million people learning it each year, understanding of the Spanish language gives you a great global and social advantage. By learning Spanish from scratch, you’ll be able to converse with another 7% of the world’s inhabitants!
So, how does one go about learning Spanish as a total novice and becoming a true global citizen? Thanks to the abundance of largely free, online resources at our fingertips, learning any language in the 21st Century – and to a high level – is a feasible reality. Let’s explore some techniques.
Before you start to learn Spanish
Think about why you are learning the language. Are you moving to a Spanish speaking country or just picking up a new hobby? Whatever your motivation, keep this in mind when approaching your learning to stay on the right track. Consistently reminding yourself of why you set out to achieve something is great encouragement.
Also think about what styles of learning you respond to best – visual (by seeing), auditory (by listening), kinesthetic (by doing)? Selecting the appropriate method and choosing realistic goals will make language learning less of a task. It can and will be great fun!
Language learning websites
Possibly the most well-known tool of them all, are websites like Duolingo, Babbel and Busuu. Most are free to use or incur a modest monthly fee to subscribe to. You can set daily time goals and reminders to practise manageable chunks of learning and vocabulary, split into logical topics. You can also use them via websites or apps to make your Spanish learning journey accessible from anywhere. These websites are a great place to start and provide structured study. The more you practice, the more you’ll improve which is key when it comes to learning a new skill. Little and often every day enables your learning process much more than big bursts.
Children’s books to learn Spanish
This might sound a little strange but children’s books in Spanish are a great place to start. The language used is really simple and if you pick one you’re familiar with, chances are you’ll be able to follow the story quite well. This way, you’ll be able to focus on picking up the vocabulary as it’s not overly complicated. You can pick up bilingual books, too. Check out Spanish Books For Kids, or you can find plenty on Amazon, such as El Mundo Magico de Pepe and learn alongside your children at the same time!
Learning Spanish passively
Think podcasts, songs and radio stations. You can listen actively, of course, but Spanish language audio makes great background noise for subconscious learning throughout your day. Your chosen music streaming service will have a plethora of content available at your fingertips when working from home, getting active or just popping to the shops. Some great places to start are: News in Slow Spanish, giving you a weekly debrief of current events at a beginner-friendly pace, and Coffee Break Spanish, designed to accompany your language learning journey all the way from complete beginner through to intermediate and beyond, explained expertly.
Incorporate Spanish into everyday life
Have you thought about changing your mobile phone into Spanish? This is something I did when starting to learn the language as a teenager, and it really helped! It forces you to get to grips with a lot of words that you will likely recognise, and it’s easy to change it back to English if you need to. Alternatively, you can change the language on certain apps that you use frequently if you don’t want to take the full plunge. Make Spanish a part of your evening routine too. If you’re settling down to watch Netflix, pop the Spanish subtitles or audio so you can start to recognise accents and sounds. You can also stick post-it notes with Spanish words on household items, like “cómoda” on your chest of drawers to reinforce your learning.
Practising Spanish with native speakers
Websites like Facebook are full of groups of native speakers to chat with to practise Spanish – they’ll most likely want to practise their English like you want to practise your target language, and there’s no more authentic way to do so than with a native. Alternatively, head over to websites like Conversation Exchange and Verbling for a structured introduction to chatting online.
The winning formula for successful language learning is immersion plus consistency, and you’ll be hablando in no time!
By Libby Roberts on behalf of HeySpanish
HeySpanish is an innovative, engaging company teaching Spanish to children of all abilities. They offer online classes for total beginners, or children that may come from Spanish-speaking families, and need to improve their skills, learn to read, write and acquire more fluency and vocabulary. We provide a fun and immersive environment that guarantees children a valuable, life-long skill. Come and join us!