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Two Week Challenge: Learn and Speak Spanish in Just 20 Minutes a Day with Free Resources
Where To Begin?
Spanish is a popular second language choice for native English speakers. Whether you are learning as a school requirement, to communicate with a friend, or simply to broaden your horizons, this article will provide you with step-by-step tools needed to guide your learning journey.
A simple Google search of the term "Learn Spanish" will provide you with almost 34 million results. That's 34 million websites, apps, blogs, links to purchase books and audio, and pieces of advice to choose from. The topic is so saturated, it becomes incredibly difficult to find where to begin. It would take hours alone just to consider your options and read just a handful of the 1000's of reviews of the available materials.
Whilst many paid resources are available, this guide gets you speaking without needing to spend a single cent. This guide aims to provide you with an immediate path to start learning Spanish right now. The time for procrastination has ended; your learning starts here! If you have the motivation and can dedicate a minimum of 20 minutes per day, you will be able to hold a basic conversation with a native speaker within two weeks.
It's Good To Talk!
A common mistake made by many language learners is being too afraid to speak to others in this new language. It is imperative to overcome this mental hurdle before you begin your learning journey. After all, what is the point of learning a language, if you don't intend to ever speak it?
Your first conversation may cause you some butterflies, but they soon pass, as you will be so engaged in the speaking and listening process. You will likely find the half hour or so passes by incredibly quickly, and you will feel invigorated from speaking in Spanish. You will surprise yourself with how much you could actually understand.
To familiarize yourself with the Spanish language, spend your 20 minutes of study time for today perusing the 100 most used Spanish words. You do not have to try to memorize these words; however by introducing yourself to these common word you can cut time in the future when you encounter the words for a second time. It can make the process less daunting when words essentially seem less 'foreign' to you. You can find the 100 most used Spanish words here:
You will find many words you already know, such as 'hola', 'amigo' and 'gracias'.
Ready for the next challenge? You need to learn some core words and phrases ready for your first speaking exercise next week. To do this, download two free apps onto your device. First download Memrise onto your device from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store:
There is a premium upgrade available for Memrise, but you will not need this. The content you need is 100% free. On the Memrise start up page, choose Spanish (Spain) beginner. Create your account using your Facebook login, your G+ login, or create an account with your email. Follow the prompts, and complete ten minutes of learning for the day.
Memrise - Perfect For Beginners
Hola Learner - Ready To Go?
Day Two - Part Two
How did you enjoy your ten minutes of Memrise? Great fun? Memrise is fantastic for helping you learn key words. Next, we are going to download a second free app; this one is great for short sentences and phrases. Download Duolingo from Google Play Store or Apple iTunes store:
Follow the prompts, then begin your ten minutes of Duolingo for the day with the first unit - Basics.
Hard copy resources are not required for this two week challenge, however if you prefer to have something tangible to hand, you can pick up a Spanish phrase book for just a few dollars. If ordering online, place your order today so it will arrive well in advance of day 14. Whilst travel guides have a number of sections not applicable unless traveling in a Spanish speaking country, they have very useful greetings and phrases in them too. Amazon and Book Depository (UK site with free Worldwide shipping) both have Berlitz and Lonely Planet fast talk phase books for under $7.00.
Duolingo - Your Phase Building Buddy!
Complete your ten minutes on Memrise and ten minutes on Duolingo for the day. Of course, the total of twenty minutes per day is a guide. You are free to spend less time or more time per day at your discretion, and you will still get the same outcome - it will just take you slightly longer or get there slightly quicker according to the time you spend. You may find the apps quite addictive, and have problems putting them down!
Pushed for time? Your completion of Memrise and Duolingo for the day don't need to be completed simultaneously. Perhaps you could complete the Memrise on your morning train journey to work, and Duolingo on your coffee break? The key challenge is to ensure you always find the time, and never make excuses. Even the busiest of us can find ten minutes spare in the day.
Hitting A Mental Barrier? Break On Through!
You may be hitting a mental barrier, and the initial enthusiasm of learning a new language may be fading away. Remember why you wanted to learn in the first place, and visualize yourself at some point in the not-too-distant future speaking conversational Spanish with ease. Still feeling stuck? Google "motivational quotes" for some inspiration.
It's perfectly OK not to study every single day, although try to complete your twenty minutes at least five times per week. If you really need a break today, check back in tomorrow. Feeling motivated? Great! Complete ten minutes on Memrise and ten minutes on Duolingo.
A short task to complete today, regardless of whether you complete your twenty minutes or not. Head on over to Take Lessons at the following link:
Take Lessons offer 100% free group online beginners classes (no credit card details required). Be brave, and book yourself a group class for Day Seven (give or take a day, depending on Take Lessons availability). Suggested is one of the following classes:
Spanish Conversation: Live Practice Session for Beginners
Introduction to Spanish Lessons
¡Hola! Intro to Spanish Conversation
However, feel free to enroll in any class you would like.
The great thing about taking a group class is knowing the other participants are in the same shoes as you, and may also be feeling nervous. Classes are normally limited to five people.
Language Learning Barriers
What is your biggest challenge in learning a 2nd language?
Days Five & Six
Keep going with your twenty minutes a day!
Attend your group Take Lessons class. Take notes, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Take Lessons usually make their PowerPoint available after the class, so you can revise it later if you choose.
Don't forget to complete your twenty minutes today!
Half Way There
Time to do some planning, ready for your day 14 speaking challenge. Your lesson will be held on Skype, from the comfort of your own home, at a time and date selected by you. Please register for Skype if you do not currently have a log in. A number of online language teacher sites offer your first lesson for free, with no obligation to continue and no credit card details required. Try Live Lingua or The Spanish Tutor for your 100% free lesson:
Complete your details on Live Lingua, and they will email you to schedule your free one hour lesson. Alternatively, click on 'Free Trial' at the top of The Spanish Tutor homepage, and fill out your details. They will email you to schedule your free half hour lesson (a good solution if you don't feel brave enough to have a full hour lesson). Both will match you with one of their tutors based on the information you provide them.
A suggested message to provide to Live Lingua or The Spanish Tutor by email when they ask about your requirements:
¡Hola! I have been learning Spanish for a couple of weeks using the Memrise and Duolingo apps. I would like to begin speaking in Spanish, with a goal of being conversational in the future. I have previously attended a Spanish Introduction group class, but have no other speaking experience. I consider myself an absolute beginner, who is energized to learn. I would be grateful for your assistance.
Don't forget to complete your twenty minutes on the apps for today.
Days Nine, Ten & Eleven
Complete your twenty minutes a day. Give yourself one day off learning, if you feel you need a break. Reflect on your progress so far, have a look to see how many units of Duolingo you have completed and reward yourself for your dedication!
Time to prepare for your speaking lesson in two days time. Settle any nerves you may have by knowing the native teacher has spoken to novice learners on dozens, if not hundreds, of times before. They are there to help, and will not judge you for only knowing basic phrases. As the old saying goes "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".
We are now going to prepare a basic script. This is a piece of A4 paper you can hand-write, or type and print, with basic and useful Spanish phrases and answers. If you have a phrase book, you can take some straight from there. Alternatively, head on over to this webpage for ideas:
Add to the above list if you have any specific questions to ask. A useful tool is Google Translate. Practice speaking out loud, or if possible to a friend or family member. They may not know what you are saying, but passing the words from your lips is great practice!
Complete your twenty minute app time for the day (subtract the time spent preparing the above list from your app time if required).
Relax, enjoy some quiet time if possible, and complete your twenty minutes app time for the day. Review your script prepared in advance of tomorrow, and speak the phrases aloud again if possible. Sleep well tonite, and stay motivated for your goal.
Day Fourteen - Ready to Speak Spanish
The day is here! Make sure you test your Skype connection in advance of the lesson. Grab your phrase script, and grab a coffee. Be brave, and speak in Spanish wherever possible to the teacher. It is likely they will begin the lesson by asking basics about you, and possibly ask why you would like to learn Spanish.
If you don't know what an English word is in Spanish, you can ask "¿Como se dice [English word] en Español?" As an example, "¿Como se dice 'occupation' en Español?" (translation: How do I say 'occupation' in Spanish?). If you don't understand what's being said to you in Spanish by the teacher, you can ask "¿Puede repetirlo, por favor?" (translation: Please repeat).
Relax and enjoy the lesson. You will not be speaking in Spanish 100% of the time, and you will not be spoken to in Spanish 100% of the time; however do your best to speak and listen in Spanish as much as you can. You will feel a tremendous sense of achievement when the lesson is complete.
Day Fifteen - What next?
Hopefully you have found your 14 Day Spanish journey rewarding. Congratulations for completing to the end, and for being able to speak Spanish to a native.
If you wish to continue your Spanish journey, you could have a trial with a different teacher (it is suggested to try 2 or 3 different teachers to ensure you find your best fit), or you could book a full hour with the teacher you had yesterday. Keep up with Memrise and Duolingo to improve your vocabulary further. Remember to keep motivated, and you will improve your Spanish speaking and listening skills with regular practice.