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The 5 most effective ways to learn Spanish
1) Watch a Spanish speaking channel. In today's world, if you have access to a tv or laptop, you have access to at least one Spanish speaking channel. You can get on your cable providers website and find the channel guide to confirm which one it is. You don't need to upgrade or pay anymore money to gain access but if you do, go for it.
Once you've found your channel, go to your tv settings and turn on the subtitles option. Depending on what you're watching, some tv shows will be more entertaining than others. The Latin media tends to be more tolerant in terms of censorship so it's actually easy to watch. I recommend watching the news channels because it's typically relevant to what we see on English speaking channels so one can catch on quicker. Watch it while your at the gym or at home during your leisure time. You will be surprised as to what you pick up.
The Goal: Try to catch yourself watching the program without paying attention to the subtitles. Once you start picking up what's going on, words will begin to make more sense and come together.
2) Listen to Latin Music. This in my opinion is the easy part. There are tons of great Spanish songs with great beats. Some of which are popular right now. You can obviously listen to them anytime you would typically listen to music. The most effective times would be when you are focused and concentrating. Doing it while driving, studying or working out tend to work best for me.
The Goal: You will find yourself singing along to the songs and pronouncing the words correctly in Spanish! Listening to Latin music is not only entertaining but a great method of learning Spanish on the fly.
3) Going a Spanish Club or Association. Most cities have a local club or association that you can sign up. Some cost monthly or yearly memberships where others are free. I would suggest looking up places where you can volunteer and help a Spanish community. Volunteering is always free and nothing is more helpful than being immersed in a Spanish speaking environment. Some clubs and associations also have monthly or yearly banquets. As mentioned earlier, some may require dues but occasionally some offer networking events that are open to the public. It may seem nerve wrecking or a little out of your comfort zone but it's the most effective way to learn.
The Goal: Depending on the event, it's suggested that you do a little research in preparation for the occasion. That way you can focus your attention on networking and feel like you're adding value in your conversations. You want to meet as many people as possible so that you can get further engrained into the Latin American community.
4) Take Salsa Lessons. This is a step that can be optional but highly recommended. It takes the previous three steps and bundles them into one. You dance to great Latin music, network with other Spanish speaking (or learning to speak) individuals and depending on your instructor, will be getting a great show to watch while you learn. You can find some places that offer free Salsa lessons but most places charge a fee. If food is provided or the Salsa lesson is sponsored by a restaurant, it may be worth the fees.
The Goal: Meet some dance partners or friendly couples who you can network with. Grabbing coffee, drinks or food with new friends is a very fun and easy way to learn and practice your Spanish.
5) Explore Locally. What better way to learn Spanish than to be in a Spanish speaking area. The best part is that you don't even have to travel outside of the country or even your city. While it's highly recommended that you travel to a Spanish speaking country, there are plenty of places close by that are predominately Latin American. Go to a authentic Spanish or Mexican restaurant or go to a Farmers market. Most cities have a decent hispanic population and it's easy to identify which areas are more heavily influenced. Be smart and diligent when it comes to where you are going. Do a little research and make sure it's an area that's friendly or worth going to. If you do have the opportunity to travel, you can go to cities like Miami or San Diego to get a taste but I recommend traveling to Mexico, South America or Spain. You will never get a better experience than actually living in a Spanish city. Whether you are just learning or have become fluent, every bit is just as enjoyable. The best part is that most people also speak English these days and worst case, will be able to communicate with you. They certainly appreciate your trying and will tend to teach you a thing or two.
The Goal: Enjoy yourself and soak it in. The Latin American culture is different than what we are used to in the US. It's vibrant, fast paced and full of life. Siestas also known as naps are in order and dinner typically starts at 10pm. If you have been learning Spanish and want to see how good you have become, this is the ultimate way to test yourself. It's rewarding at the same time.
I hope you find this useful and wish you the best of luck! Adios y buena suerte!