Thinking in a Foreign Language: 7 Methods to Help You Train Your Brain
In learning a foreign language, there are four basic language skills- reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
How many Spanish words do you know?
You might have heard of “Hola,” which translates to “Hello”.
Perhaps you’ve also heard of “Gracias”? It stands for “Thank you”.
The Spanish word “Adiós” is pretty common too, it means “Goodbye”.
Knowing these common Spanish words is a good start, but it is definitely not enough to engage in a conversation with a native Spanish speaker.
When you hear someone talking in Spanish, it may seem like a very complicated and intimidating language. You might not have any idea where to start. Maybe you have already started but you don’t think you’re getting anywhere. But with a clear plan, commitment, and hard work, nothing is impossible.
Whether you’re a complete beginner who doesn’t have any prior knowledge about the Spanish language, or you have already picked up a few Spanish words and phrases here and there, you’re in luck because you’re exactly where you need to be.
In this guide, you’ll discover the best ways, tips, and resources to learn Spanish fast.
Let’s dive in.
Did you know that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world?
There are over 572 million Spanish speakers around the world, and the numbers are growing exponentially every year! There are also 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world.
There are various reasons why people choose to learn Spanish.
When getting a new job, having the ability to speak Spanish can be a valuable asset. With the massive number of native Spanish speakers, it is likely that you’ll come across a Spanish client, and your fluency in Spanish might come in handy.
Knowing how to speak Spanish can also help you earn for a living as a translator, an interpreter, a Spanish language teacher, or even an immigration social worker.
Perhaps you’re going on a vacation? How awesome would it be to be able to mingle with the locals, know how to order traditional food, and speak with a cab driver in fluent Spanish? Knowing Spanish is a must if you want to make the most of your travel to Mexico or Barcelona.
Perhaps what motivates you to learn Spanish are purely academic and personal growth reasons.
Whatever it is that's driving you to want to learn Spanish, you’re in luck because you are in the right place! In this guide, you will find out the best tips to become fluent in Spanish in no time.
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You can choose who you want as your tutor and you can choose a time that works for you based on your tutor’s available hours.
Whether you’re completely a beginner or you already knew a few Spanish words and phrases, your tutor will provide a personalized lesson depending on your needs and preferences.
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Reading Spanish textbooks may be traditional, but it remains the best way to learn Spanish on your own.
There are a lot of books used to learn Spanish, but some are more ideal for self-study than others. Here we have curated the best Spanish learning books:
Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative And Proven Approach (Best Overall)
The Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative And Proven Approach is one of the most popular and well-reviewed books for self-studying Spanish. Since it has been around for a while, some thematic concepts might seem outdated, but it remains very helpful for learners to study the fundamentals of the Spanish language up to this day.
This book is designed especially for beginners. It contains short grammar explanations, making it easy for novices to understand. It also comes with several practice exercises so you can reinforce what you’ve learned from the book.
Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Series (Best for Beginners)
If you’re looking to start with a beginner book then progressively move on to more advanced books, the Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Series might be the best option for you.
The whole series consists of Beginner Spanish, Complete Spanish Grammar, Spanish Verb Tenses, Spanish Conversation, Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, and Complete Spanish All-in-One.
This book has several exercises as well as an online flashcard app and streaming audio synced with the book that you can download. The answers to the exercises can also be found in the book, so you can always check how well you’ve done.
Easy Spanish Step-by-Step (Best for Grammar)
The Easy Spanish Step-by-Step might appeal to anyone who’s looking to focus on Spanish grammar.
As its name suggests, this book teaches you the most basic grammar concepts, gradually advancing step-by-step, which is how people naturally learn a language.
It has an uncomplicated layout and clear structure, making it easy for beginners to comprehend. This book also contains several practice exercises to test your knowledge, lots of vocabulary to help you learn new Spanish words, and many reading passages to practice reading and pronunciation.
Spanish for Dummies (Best for Conversation)
You might want to consider getting this book, especially if you like the “Dummies” approach to learning something new.
The Spanish for Dummies book is a simple, straightforward way to start learning Spanish by yourself. This book is focused on reinforcing Spanish words and phrases to real-life conversations. It covers grammar, verb conjugations, and pronunciation. It also features a mini dictionary and practice exercises that reinforce the lessons in the book.
This book, however, is focused on Latin American Spanish, so it doesn’t pay much attention to other Spanish dialects.
Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary (Best for Traveling)
If your purpose for learning Spanish is for you to be able to easily get around while traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, then the Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary might be the perfect option for you.
With this book, you’ll be able to learn useful words and phrases that will come in handy in all travel situations, such as when ordering food, shopping, and dealing with emergencies. This book also includes basic Spanish information including time, dates, numbers, and more.
Available in several versions for Latin America, Mexico, and Spain, you can purchase the most relevant one for your travel. Also, its size is small enough that you can conveniently carry it with you wherever you go.
Did you know that YouTube is one of the best resources to learn a new language?
There is a wide range of YouTube videos that offer free Spanish lessons. They range from videos created to teach you vocabulary and grammar to videos that help you improve your pronunciation.
Let’s check out this amazing video that teaches you a few basic Spanish words and how they are properly pronounced:
There is also one more interesting type of learning videos that is getting more and more popular: sleep learning. Sleep learning, also known as hypnopedia, is the concept of learning during sleep.
There are only 24 hours in a day, and usually, about a third of that is already spent on sleeping. That leaves us with approximately 16 hours to do what we need to do, which is not always enough.
Is there any way possible to make use of the time spent in sleeping to learn a new skill or even a language?
The good news is, yes, there is a way we can absorb information while we are sleeping. Research reveals that the sleeping brain is far from idle. Thus, some forms of learning can happen while we're asleep.
Sounds impossible, right? How about you try it and see for yourself?
Here’s a YouTube video you can listen to while sleeping:
The first step in learning a new language is to pick up some basic vocabulary.
You have to make sure that you have enough words to work with before you start building sentences.
You don’t have to memorize every single Spanish word and phrase out there, it will take you a long time to do that.
The key is to keep it simple. Focus initially on commonly used words and progressively work your way up to more complicated words.
You can start by learning Spanish numbers, days of the week, and the months of the year. Then, you can move on to learn how to tell time in Spanish, the right terms for colors, and animal words.
Study any Spanish words that you think are likely to come up in real-life everyday conversations.
Check out the 80 Spanish words and phrases, a list of basic and common Spanish words and phrases that are ideal for beginners.
When you’re studying Spanish, you’ll come across several new words that you don’t have any idea how to pronounce. It’s not enough to know Spanish words and their definition. If you’re aiming to speak Spanish fluently, you must also know how to correctly pronounce words, phrases, and sentences. Luckily, there’s Forvo.
Forvo is the leading pronunciation dictionary. It is a website where you can enter words and expressions in any language and a native speaker of that language will pronounce it for you.
When you search for the pronunciation of a specific word, Forvo will reveal several pronunciations following a point system so you can see the most voted pronunciations first.
If you’re unsure about how a native Spanish speaker would pronounce a word or a sentence, go to Forvo.
Spanish podcasts are a good way to learn Spanish, especially if you don’t have a Spanish-speaking friend who can chat with you. Sure, textbooks, dictionaries, and flash cards will help you pick up some Spanish words and phrases, but they aren’t enough resources to get you conversing in Spanish freely and naturally.
When listening to podcasts, you are honing both your listening and speaking skills, which are crucial when you want to have meaningful conversations.
So sit back and relax while you listen to some Spanish podcasts. What’s more, you can download podcasts on your phone so you can listen to them anytime, anywhere.
Here are some of the best Spanish podcasts:
Coffee Break Spanish
Imagine having fun and learning at the same time.
If you like watching vlogs from your favorite YouTubers, perhaps it is time to switch to Spanish vloggers if you want to learn Spanish.
Here are the most popular Spanish-speaking YouTubers:
Hola Soy German
Some of their videos have an English subtitle feature, so that should be helpful to you. But if you really want to test your Spanish knowledge, it is recommended to watch Spanish videos without an English subtitle and try to understand what they’re saying.
Then you can watch the video again, this time with English subtitles, to see how much you were able to understand.
There’s nothing more helpful than simply participating in a Spanish conversation.
Once you have learned some Spanish vocabulary and have a knowledge about grammar, perhaps it is time to jump into real-life conversations to reinforce what you have learned so far.
If you don’t know anyone who speaks Spanish, don’t worry. Here’s a video that can help you practice engaging in a Spanish conversation:
As you can see in the video, the girl asks a series of basic questions most commonly used in everyday conversations. When she asks a question, you can pause the video and answer the question in Spanish.
This video allows you to engage in a Spanish conversation.
When you’re just starting to learn a new language, it may seem like an impossible task.
It is like looking standing at the base of a mountain and looking up at the towering peak. However, it is important to remind yourself that a lot of people before you have reached the peak.
Similarly, a lot of people who don’t have any knowledge in the Spanish language have become fluent in it because of their hard work in learning the language.
All of us have been beginners at something at some point in our lives. It is normal to begin at the starting point.
You should use that as an inspiration. If they did it, you can do it too.
And hopefully, this article has equipped you with some amazing resources and tips that will help you become a fluent Spanish speaker in no time.
Start by learning the basics in pronunciation and grammar. Then find online resources to help you immerse in the language, like for example articles, news, blogs. Find good Spanish podcasts and listen to them everyday. Find Spanish music and sing along using the lyrics that you can find online. Find a Spanish speaking person to talk to and practice your speaking skills.
The order depends on you and your wants and needs. You can start with grammar, but it's perfectly okay to start with movies in Spanish too. Whatever works for you. Find your own method and enjoy it!
The fastest way to learn Spanish is by using it everyday. Find a Spanish speaking conversation partner and talk to them as much as possible. Immerse yourself in the language and use it daily. Consistency is key when it comes to language learning. Spend at least 1 hour a day on your Spanish lessons.
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