6 Tutor-Recommended Tips for Learning Spanish Fast
Once students learn how to approach Spanish study properly, in diverse ways they enjoy, learning the language becomes much easier.
Is learning Spanish easy? It is definitely an adjustment at the beginning, with different grammar and sentence structures to confuse English native speakers. But once students learn how to study Spanish properly, and get accustomed to its differences, learning the language gets much easier.
Studying a new language takes organization, planning, and different approaches. In this article, we’ll examine six essential tips for learning Spanish. They include memorizing vocabulary, grammar exercises, Spanish immersion, Spanish tutoring, sticking to a schedule, and learning about Spanish culture.
1. Memorizing Spanish Vocabulary
To be understood in a language, you only actually need to know around few hundred words. It’s not as many as it sounds! Consider this: in your native language, you already knew around 5000 words by the time you were four. What Spanish words do you already know? Those count toward your total!
Here are a few simple-to-incorporate ideas for committing to memory Spanish vocabulary.
Use Sticky Notes Around the House
One easy way to learn Spanish vocabulary is by using sticky notes using specific vocabulary around the house. For example, when learning about appliances, place notes on different appliances like the refrigerator, the microwave oven, the toaster, the stove, etc. It will help you remember the meaning and the spelling and pronunciation of the specific appliance in Spanish.
Once you have learned this vocabulary group, switch it up, and place notes on other objects, like furniture. Follow the same steps with the specific vocabulary you’re interested in learning. This process can be expanded to include anything in your home.
Write Grocery Lists in Spanish
Another excellent method to memorize Spanish vocab is by writing grocery lists in Spanish. Make a list of your regular groceries, divide them by dairy, fruits, grains, protein foods, vegetables, snacks, etc.
Write what you need in each area, and if you need, each items’ English translation, while also practicing spelling and pronunciation. Reviewing common vocabulary like foods and ingredients is a significant opportunity to retain Spanish names for many fruits, vegetables, and other kinds of food in Spanish.
Describe Your Clothing
In addition to making lists, write down what you are going to wear tomorrow. This activity is an effective method to practice clothing vocabulary. Be specific with different kinds of vocabulary on clothing from top to bottom like a shirt, t-shirt, pants, shorts, dress, skirt, shoes, flip flops, etc.
Take it up a level by adding specific colors to your descriptions. For example, camiseta blanca (a white shirt), pantalones negros (black pants), and zapatos marrones (brown shoes).
Change the Language On Your Phone to Spanish
Last but not least, change the settings on your phone to Spanish. If you think about it, this tip makes a lot of sense for anyone who’s learning a new language; our phones are with us all day long, and without thinking about it, we read, take in information, and give commands.
Switching the language to Spanish on a device you’re already familiar with will help you become familiarized with new vocabulary that may not appear in “normal” Spanish textbooks or exercises, as well as words and phrases related to phones and technology.
2. Spanish Grammar Activities
There are a number of different grammar activities you can use when learning the Spanish language.
Learn Specific Phrases for Different Settings
If you are interested in learning Spanish grammar basics to communicate when traveling or working (or even just to continue your Spanish self-study), write a list of the most useful Spanish phrases and words you’re likely to encounter in different settings and environments.
Having a specific list (in Spanish) that focuses on ordering in a restaurant or communicating at the airport will go a long way to make you more familiar with the grammar involved in speaking/reading in these environments. You’ll also find commonalities in grammar as you commit these phrases to memory.
Compare and Contrast
Practice writing comparisons in Spanish between objects, places, or people. You could compare two:
- Famous cities
- Popular foods
…anything that speaks to you and encourages you to practice. To expand this Spanish grammar exercise, include questions, like which one is more interesting, healthy, or attractive? Which one is more quiet, entertaining, or tasty? Give your own opinions while applying the grammar on comparatives.
Create a Verb Journal
When practicing Spanish grammar basics, writing is an indispensable tool to practice present tense. Create a journal and record stuff you do every day, either only in Spanish, or using English and working through each sentence to translate. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice conjugation of regular and irregular verbs. When you’re ready to scale your practice up, add more information about your day, ask questions, and practice negation by stating what you don’t generally do daily.
Repeat this activity when practicing the past tense Spanish preterite. Jot down what you did last summer, or how you celebrated your last birthday. It is an excellent opportunity to practice regular and irregular verbs that relay information about things that have already happened - a very common part of communication in any language. Include statements like what did you do? Where did you go? What did you eat?
3. Spanish Immersion
One tried-and-true method to learn Spanish fast is by immersion in the language. There are different activities to participate when learning the language, and no, you certainly don’t have to move to Spain to be immersed!
For example, listen to your favorite songs in Spanish and try to catch the main words in the songs. Write them down! As you keep progressing, focus on understanding one or more complete lyrics. It’s normal not to grasp the full lyrics of a song even if it’s in your native language, so take it slow and congratulate yourself when you get it right.
A tip: many songs in Spanish use slang and Spanish idioms, which can make it tricky for non-Spanish speakers to understand them fully. Treat this like an opportunity to learn and memorize more common, less “textbook”, Spanish. If you’re struggling with lyrics, look them up in English, check the new words, sing along, and write as you go. Your Spanish listening skills and pronunciation will improve. Also, as a bonus, you will feel more familiarized with Spanish music.
Consume Spanish Media
Another activity that will immerse you in the language (and even help you learn Spanish for free) is to watch Spanish shows, telenovelas, and movies. There’s a great variety of options for all these to choose from on streaming services. Just take it slow at first until you’re comfortable; pick one short show, use the subtitles, and practice reading and listening during the show. It will help you connect to the story, acquire new vocabulary, and improve your Spanish listening.
Consider reading magazines, short stories, and newspapers in Spanish as another way to be immersed in the language. Choose a small article or story and read sentence by sentence. You don’t have to know every new word; just try to grasp each paragraph’s general idea. If you would like to invest more time, highlight new words or phrases.
Follow Spanish DIY Tutorials
Following DIY tutorials in Spanish is another considerably useful way to be immersed in Spanish. Pick any video tutorial of your interests, pay attention to the instructions, and follow the directions. Pause the video when you need to, look up words you missed or don’t know, and use the structure of the tutorial to add those words and grammar rules to your arsenal.
Practice Spanish Conversation
Utilizing the vocabulary, grammar, and phrases you’re picking up is a cornerstone of Spanish language learning. Have Spanish conversation as often as possible! Join a group of Spanish speakers, friends, or family members who speak the language. Talk about anything - your day, what you did yesterday, questions, and don’t forget to practice giving affirmative and negative answers. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The people around you will be happy to help you improve your conversational skills, and you’re helping them, too.
Cook a Spanish Recipe
Lastly, and most deliciously, try following a recipe of a favorite Spanish dish. It will help you understand the composition of the language, the names for ingredients (and sometimes their colloquial names), and how instructions appear and work in Spanish. And, of course, you get to eat amazing Spanish food at the end!
4. Spanish Tutoring
Regular lessons with a Spanish tutor are very beneficial when learning the language. Spanish tutors are knowledgeable, affordable, and accommodate lessons according to the needs of each student.
Nowadays, Spanish lessons with a tutor can also be taken online, making them more accessible and convenient. Discuss with your tutor the areas you’re more interested in improving, such as conversation, listening, writing, or reading. They’ll work with you on your goal through interactive lessons. Spanish tutoring is a significant opportunity to practice the language in real-time.
5. Sticking to a Schedule
When learning Spanish, it is essential to set a time every day to study, and to stick with the schedule. Most Spanish tutors and teachers advise to study the language for a minimum of sixty minutes each day.
Alternate each day between writing in your journal, preparing your grocery lists, reading Spanish magazines, watching Spanish TV shows, talking to friends in Spanish, or having a Spanish tutoring lesson.
You can even practice two different exercises during the hour. For example, read a short story for thirty minutes, and watch a show for the rest of the other thirty minutes. Or listen to music in Spanish on the way to work, and watch a tutorial in Spanish in the evening. Choose the best time that works for you each day, and stick to activities that interest and inspire you. Be consistent, and soon, Spanish will become part of your daily routine.
6. Learn about Spanish Culture
In addition to just learning all the ins and outs of Spanish grammar and vocabulary, one tip on how to learn Spanish is by being involved in the cultural aspect.
When acquiring the language, you’ll also learn about the culture of a specific Spanish-speaking country. Shows, movies, books, publications, and food will show the way people live, the way of thinking, their traditions, customs, history, and background. Understanding all these things brings you closer to really understanding how Spanish is used in the real world, and it will help ease struggles with the differences in Spanish vs English translations.
Also, when learning about, and becoming involved in, the Spanish culture, you can learn different slang, dialects, and ways to name certain things in different countries. For example, when watching a Mexican movie, we learn that calcetines are socks. At the same time, the same word for socks is medias if you watch a movie from Peru. It’ also really fun just to learn colloquial phrases from specific countries like, que chido! (how cool!) from Mexico, or que chevre! (how cool) from Peru. Spanish language is vast and varied. Why not participate in some of it’s grand beauty and diversity as a part of your language study?
By getting to know how people use Spanish in different Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico or countries in South America like Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and others, you’ll begin to see differences and similarities that enhance and nurture your language learning. Those differences will help us understand such a profound language as Spanish in a more profound way.
There you have it - six powerful methods anyone can easily incorporate into their Spanish language study. From immersion to just picking up new vocabulary, including Spanish TV shows and films as some of your practice material, to keeping a Spanish journal where you can privately work on grammar and phrases, remember: learning Spanish is a journey. Like any trip, come well-prepared, but most of all, enjoy yourself.