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8 Ways to Learn Spanish, Guaranteed!
1. Enroll in a class
Alright, this is the most obvious thing that you can do, that's why I'm hitting it first. Many people might not want to do this because it involves a lump of cash and a commitment of time. If you're one of these people, please skip this section.
However,you may be one of those people who thrives in a classroom. You enjoy being with other students and learning in a group, you love having an expert available to you at all times to answer your questions and correct your mistakes, and you feel that the only way you'll learn a foreign language is by hearing it from a native speaker.
Many city and county recreation centers offer foreign languages classes, especially Spanish classes, for beginners, and most language classes are taught by native speakers. You can also look into those "lifelong learner" programs at your local community college, or see if a professer will allow you to sit in on his or her Spanish class.
2. Start a Spanish club.
Once while staying with friends in France, I posted a note in a coffee shop:
"American looking for French friends to enjoy conversation and improve French language skills"
Believe it or not, people actually e-mailed me! And they weren't creepy at all! I made a few friends who not only hung out with me and allowed me to speak my broken French to them, they showed me around the city and inadvertently taught me a lot about French culture.
So, if you know other people who want to learn Spanish, or who speak Spanish but want to learn English, get a Spanish club started up. Talk to each other about anything at all, and benefit from each other's knowledge!
Duh! Most people I know have picked up their foreign languages while traveling. This is, without a doubt, the number one way to learn a new language. Immerse yourself in it, and try to cut out all English in your life so that you begin thinking, speaking, and dreaming in the new language. Of course, not everyone has the time or money to do this, but there are ways to make traveling easier:
If TIME is your problem, don't fret- you don't need to spend 6 months in a foreign country and become totally fluent. Just a week or two of immersion will do wonders to your language skills. Many tour agencies offer Spanish immersion tours in all countries of the Spanish-speaking world. You can see a new country and hone up on your Spanish skills, and even do volunteer work if you're interested in it. They companies can plan it all out for you so all you have to do is buy the package and hop on the plane- they'll do the rest. This can be a fun thing for parents to do with their children, or for couples to do together.
If MONEY is your problem, keep in mind that there are many ways to make travel more affordable, if you are willing to be adventurous. Use sites like couchsurfing.com to find a free place to stay, and don't eat out in any restaurants- just stick to what you find in the markets. Also, keep in mind that there are many delightful places to travel to outside of Spain. Many countries in Latin America are very cheap and actually quite safer than they are made out to be. Bolivia, for example, is a wonderful trip to take and can be seen on $5/day if you stick to the very basics. By couch surfing, eating cheap foods, and using public transportation, I traveled for 4 months through Ecuador on $500. This might not be the most relaxing vacation of your life, but you sure will learn a lot of Spanish!
Indispensable travel book- the world on $50/day
Matt Kepnes genius guide to long-term, budget travel, for the young, old, and broke.
Travel cheaply and learn a lot with this site:
4. Listen to Music
Once, an German anthropology student doing his thesis on music told me that there were more songs written in Spanish than in any other language. I don't know if that's true or not, but I believe it. There is music in Spanish for all tastes- rap, pop, rock, blues, opera, as well as salsa and other Latin styles. Even Andrea Bocelli likes to sing in Spanish. I learned a substantial amount of Spanish by listening to pre-English Shakira and the Buena Vista Social Club. I've met people who spoke wonderful English and claimed to have learned it all from listening to music. This can be a delightful tool for language learning that will make it fun.
Learn Spanish with Compay Segundo of the Buena Vista Social Club
5. Use the wonderful internet.
There are thousands of language-learning sites online. One that I love is livemocha.com, but a simple Google search will show you many more. A good language learning site will offer native speakers' pronunciation guides. Remember that it's never ideal to learn a language without a native speaker's voice guiding you in the correct pronunciation. You may learn to read Spanish novels, but people won't understand you when you talk!
Another site that was shared with me by fellow hubber Bharatthapa is a site that hosts language courses of the Foreign Service Institute of the United States government. This site may not have all the audio files, but it has excellent grammar, vocab, and spelling guides.
- Language Learning with Livemocha | Learn a Language Online - Free!
Livemocha is the world’s most popular language learning site. Learn online with our award winning course and practice with native speakers. Best way to learn a new language.
- FSI Language Courses - Spanish
Public domain versions of language courses from the Foreign Service Institute.
6. Use Radio Lingua- Its Free!
Radio Lingua Network is a Scottish company that provides language-learning lessons. They have podcasts that are available to download for free through iTunes, and they have a wealth of other resources on their website that you pay for.
I've been listening to their famous podcast, Coffee Break Spanish, and I am very impressed by the lessons. They make it fun and easy for you to learn Spanish anywhere. They also have resources for advanced learners who can understand a good bit of the language, such as News Time Spanish, which is a newscast in slow Spanish, as well as Show Time Spanish, which is kind of like a radio soap opera that is in slow spoken Spanish and English.
I've been used their Coffee Break French program, and I must say that I've learned quite a bit while listening to it in the car, while cooking, while folding, laundry, brushing my teeth...etc.
7. Use other applications for your iPod, iPad, or smartphone.
There are tons of other apps and podcasts available for Apple products. Just do a quick search in the App Store for "Spanish", and you'll find some free language learning tools as well as some that you have to pay for. You'll also find many more free podcasts that are meant to teach Spanish. I have an iPhone, so I don't know what the app situation is for other smartphones. Anyone who is knowledgeable about language-learning opportunities for people with droids or blackberries, I'm sure your comment would be welcome!
8. Make time and space for Spanish in your life
If you live in the U.S., chances are that you don't live too far from a Spanish-speaking population. If possible, immerse yourself in their world. Go shopping and eat at restaurants in Spanish-speaking areas. Maybe you will make a few friends.
Otherwise, you can volunteer with organizations that target the Spanish-speaking community, or you can sign up to host travellers on Couchsurfing. Odds are you will get a few that speak Spanish.
Basically, the sum of this section is this: Any way you can, bring Spanish into your life, and eventually, if you dedicate yourself, you will learn it! Suerte!
WHY LEARN SPANISH???
- Ten Reasons to Learn to Speak Spanish
Top 10 reasons to learn Spanish!