I've actually listened to common jokes that exist in Chile regarding the two most common errors of Americans learning Spanish. What are they?
1) a really bad accent
2) inability to conjugate verbs
What can Americans do to overcome these two obstacles and not perpetuate the stereotype?!
Be humble and admit your accent is bad and needs to improve. Ask a native speaker how your accent is. Once you know the correct grammer or word, don't stop there. Even if you seem like a crazy person repeat the same word or phrase over and over again outloud trying to imitate the accent of a native speaker (maybe a recording). Let your tongue get acclimated to the new sounds.
You cannot cut corners. Memorize those conjugation patterns so you can form sentences and speak. Once you can do that, you won't have to memorize as much.
I am a Spanish Native speaking person, I've being teaching since 1986, first English as a second Language and now Spanish as a second language.
Learning Spanish is fun. Spanish is a very versatile language, it is known to be a Roman Language, means it has it's roots from Latin. Did you know that English and Spanish have the same roots? And even though their grammar structure and the pronunciation of the words are different, they have many, many similarities. Languages evolved just like humans do and in every country you will find so many differences that it doesn't matter if you speak Spanish in Spain, you are going to see that Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela are so different that you might want them to speak to you slowly.
A language has not only the grammar structure, spelling, pronunciation, but it has so many modals and expressions that are so different from one an other. That is what makes Spanish so versatile.
It is not like...