Here are 6 tips to help you learn Spanish quickly. In a nutshell, they are: Create a habit… select a program… and listen to Spanish in the background. Now for the details:
1. Create space in your life for the habit of practicing Spanish.
Fifteen minutes every day is a better start than an hour once a week, because you are more likely to do it! Spend a little time right now to reflect on how to include learning Spanish in your life.
Here are some possible times to study Spanish:
- Before doing your email
- During one of your breaks at work, or during lunchtimes
- Right after dinner
- With your first cup of coffee… hey, that gets it done early!
If none of those work for you, you get the idea… tie in your time to learn Spanish with something else you do every day. If you try a time and you find that you don’t do it then, no problem, just choose a different time.
We tend to do things that have become habitual, and this one simple tip could easily make the difference between success and failurein your learning Spanish!
2. Select a Spanish Program that you like
For suggestions, see my comparison chart of different Spanish programs. These have free demos you can try.
The point here is that you need a systematic way to learn. The programs I have rated highly emphasize conversation and let the grammar come along with it naturally. This is way more fun, and more effective for learning, than to hit the grammar right away. Some community classes are okay but many are not really going to help you learn to speak Spanish.
3. Listen to Spanish in the background.
This helps you learn Spanish faster because you’ll be immersing yourself in the language to a degree and picking up little bits. It can also help keep you motivated.
When you’re at home, there might be Spanish television programs, or see what you can find on youtube.
You could listen to Spanish when you’re out and about by listening to parts of the program you are using or to Spanish music in your car. Or by having mp3s on a
4. Use your English to learn Spanish.
This approach draws on the most current linguistics research into how adults learn foreign languages. Around 12 or 13 years of age, our brains shift and we are no longer “hard-wired” to learn in the way children are. (By the way, this seems to be part of why it is harder for adults than kids to learn new languages without an accent.)
You may have read that the best way to learn Spanish or any foreign language is to put yourself in a situation that is entirely in Spanish. Chances are, reader, that you are past the age where this is true for beginners.
Nonetheless, one of the programs I review on this website, the famous Rosetta Stone program, is set up this way. See my review of Rosetta Stone Spanish for more on this.
Of course, once you are getting to be at home in Spanish, then it can make sense again to speak only Spanish at times.
One benefit of learning Spanish when you already know English is that you can draw on your vocabulary and on the fact that you know how your own language is constructed.
I find this point to be true all the time in Mexico, regarding vocabulary. Often, I don’t know the exact word I want but if I say, “In English we say…” and then use the word, the Mexican person often recognizes it.
5. Review what you have learned.
When you are learning something new, it takes some repetition to become familiar with it. The best of the Spanish-language programs build a lot of repetition into each lesson. They also construct subsequent lessons to use what you learned before.
Reviewing what you have learned, ideally the same day you learn it, will help move that material from short-term memory to long-term memory. Even then, more review later is called for.
6. Use mental rehearsal to learn Spanish.
This method kind of grows out of reviewing the material, but takes it a step further. Mental rehearsal means practicing in your mind. You can do it while sitting quietly but you can also make use of many times during the day, such as when you are waiting or doing things like cooking that may not require a lot of attention.
You can learn to speak Spanish much faster by incorporating mental rehearsal (sometimes also called visualization) into your habits. For example, you could be making up an imaginary conversation — taking both parts — where you are buying some fruit in a street market, asking how much it costs, and getting much more comfortable with using numbers in conversation.
¡Buena Suerte! (Good Luck!)
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