How do you become fluent in Spanish without losing the will to live? Here are some of my best tips:
Spanish learning tip #1: how to make fast progress
Study Spanish with a course that’s right for your level. If in doubt, use a course that’s below your level, but never above it.
When I started learning German, I got a course that my father had in his office. It was a great course, but I made painfully slow progress. Because it was way above my level.
I had to keep using the dictionary, and I developed huge gaps in my knowledge.
I got bored and frustrated and, I have to confess, that first time around I gave up learning German.
A year later, I tried again. But this time I had bought myself a beginners’ course. I finished it, and then moved on to the course that had given me so much pain.
Now that it was at the right level, it was much easier to go through it, and a lot more enjoyable.
Spanish learning tip #2: the secret is in the basics
To master Spanish fast, you need to have a sound knowledge of the basics.
Don’t rush through the lessons in your Spanish course, specially the first ones.
Make sure you’re familiar with the words that come up in your course conversations. They’re the ones you’re going to hear more often.
And remember: don’t hesitate to review your lessons as often as you can.
Spanish learning tip #3: with pain there’s never a gain
Studying Spanish doesn’t have to be a gruelling task.
Instead, you can easily make it fun, and something to look forward to.
Take your Spanish course with you to your favourite place: your coffee shop, a park, your garden, a friend’s house, or even the bath.
Forget about the “no pain no gain” nonsense, and enjoy learning Spanish!
Spanish learning tip #4: the power of tiny goals
To get the motivation you need to continue learning Spanish, set yourself tiny goals.
Instead of going for overwhelming goals, like completing a whole lesson every two days, embrace tiny goals.
Goals, so small, that you cannot fail to achieve them. For example, aim at doing a drill every day. If you do more than one, that’s great.
Soon, learning Spanish will feel like no effort, and you’ll be making great progress.
Spanish learning tip #5: celebrate your small victories
Becoming familiar with new words takes time, so you need to be kind to yourself.
Patience always pays off when you’re learning a language. But that that doesn’t mean you have to get bored with it.
Here’re two tricks I always use when I’m studying a language:
One: is to make sure I learn something new every day, even if it’s just a couple of words.
And two: I celebrate my small victories, like finishing a lesson or getting all the answers right in a drill.
Remember that every small victory takes you closer to becoming fluent.
Spanish learning tip #6: are you using the right intonation?
When I was learning English, I had a great pronunciation book. It covered all the sounds with excellent examples. But it went further than that.
It showed you how important intonation is in a language.
So, when it came to creating my Spanish course, I made sure I guided you through the intonation.
That’s why I always remind you to imitate the way words are said in the course conversations and flashcards.
Using the right intonation will make it much easier for others to understand you.
Spanish learning tip #7: the beauty of brevity
I want to tell you about a big mistake I used to make when I started learning English.
Every so often, I’d spend three or four hours in a row going through my English lessons. It was hard. So hard, that I would then spend days avoiding my English course. Eventually I realised that a much better way of learning is to have short study sessions.
Of no more than thirty minutes at a time.
Studying twenty or thirty minutes every day is much more efficient than doing three hours once a week.
To become fluent in Spanish fast, avoid binge studying, and get into the habit of learning a bit every day.
Spanish learning tip #8: make appointments with yourself
It’s one that has allowed me to become fluent in English and other languages. And it’s this:
Think of learning Spanish as something that deserves a slot in your diary. Not just something that fits around everything else, if there’s time left.
Choose a time slot and stick to it.
Make the people around you aware of how important it is for you to learn Spanish, and that those minutes are for you.
That small change in your daily routine will put you one the right path to become fluent in Spanish.
Spanish learning tip #9: how to understand Spanish without trouble
How’re you doing so far with spoken Spanish? Can you understand it well?
I guess you’re going to tell me that not as well as you’d like.
So I’m going to show you how I got to understand English without trouble. And how I’m learning other languages now.
The secret to developing your listening skills is to do the right exercises. And to do them frequently. Here’re the two most important exercises:
Exercise one: Always listen to the conversations in your Spanish course BEFORE reading their transcript.
And exercise two: Go back to the conversations in your Spanish course regularly, even if you can understand all the words well.
The more you review the conversations in your Spanish course, the faster you’ll develop your listening skills.
Spanish learning tip #10: busting another learning myth
Let me bust a learning myth you’ve probably heard at some point: “You can only learn a foreign language as a child.”
I’ve been teaching Spanish for a long time, and I’ve seen hundreds of people of all ages make great progress. Some of my best students have been in their seventies, and even in their eighties.
Their enthusiasm is often awe-inspiring. Their memories might not be what they were thirty years ago, but their patience, determination and a higher degree of common sense more than make up for it.
Remember: age is not a barrier to Spanish learning. A negative attitude is.
Spanish learning tip #11: take short steps
Don’t learn too many new things in one day.
If you have time left after playing a new conversation and doing a few drills, play that conversation again, and redo the drills you’ve just done.
Aim at reviewing at least 50% of the time you’re learning Spanish, and you’ll make really fast progress.
Spanish learning tip #12: how to get encouraged
Here’s a learning tip that I wish someone had given me a long time ago:
Let the people around you see how important learning Spanish is for you, and they’ll support you and encourage you. And they’ll respect the time you need to put into it.
Explain to your family and friends that you want to become fluent in Spanish, and they’ll respond positively.
They might even join you!
Spanish learning tip #13: the power of speaking
The only way to learn to speak Spanish is by practising speaking.
By that I mean that just listening to the recordings in your Spanish course cannot compare to saying your own sentences out loud.
Once you’re familiar with a conversation in your Spanish course, do the role playing exercises. And then repeat those exercises until you can come up with all the lines without hesitation.
That’s the easiest way to become fluent in Spanish.
Spanish learning tip #14: how to deal with naysayers & cynics
Let me mention something that most of us, language learners, have to deal with at one point or another.
There are naysayers and cynics everywhere. Their negative comments can be a big blow to your motivation, specially if they come at the wrong time.
Ignore those gratuitous comments or, even better, take them as a challenge to continue learning Spanish. You deserve to be fluent.
Spanish learning tip #15: passive vs. active learning
When I was learning English, I used to spend a lot of my time listening to my course recordings. I developed my listening skills fast, but I wasn’t able to say very much.
What I was doing is what’s called: passive learning. But to be able to speak, what I needed to do was: active learning.
So I started doing plenty of speaking exercises.
And that’s when I noticed how much faster I was developing my conversation skills.
To help you become fluent in Spanish, in my course I bring you all the drills and exercises you need to do active learning.
Spanish learning tip #16: why grammar is your friend
Let me tell you about a Spanish learning myth that I hate.
Every so often, you’ll hear people say that you can learn a language without knowing any grammar.
The truth is, to be able to build even the simplest sentences, you need to know SOME grammar. Not a lot.
The easiest way to learn the grammar you need, is to take it in very small doses.
And that’s what I’ve done in my Spanish course. There I introduce you to the grammar that will help you make fast progress.
Spanish learning tip #17: every word counts
Always learn something new when you open your Spanish course, even if it’s just a couple of words.
Remember: every Spanish word you learn will get you closer to your goal, so everything counts.