10 Top Tips to Learn Spanish at Home
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10 Top Tips to Learn Spanish at Home
1. Give yourself time
Sure, you could just star your favourite online guide to essential Spanish phrases on your browser, learn the 10 most used sentences and call it quits. But that’s not really achieving fluency, is it?
Which is why the first step is ideally to devote some time each day to learning. You can decide if you want to dedicate 20 minutes a day. As little as 10 minutes a day, even (that’s what we’d recommend!).
The important thing when you’re living your life indoors is to find a balance: you don’t want to overdo it, but you’ll also need to set aside enough meaningful study time to have a real impact.
2. Understand the timeline
Speaking of time, you should also understand exactly how long it takes to learn a language.
That is to say, how long a time period do you want to study for? One week? One year? Two, maybe?
Some may be okay with the fact that they’ve got a long journey ahead. Others might prefer studying in short, intensive bursts so it’s over and done with quickly. It’s up to you to decide what works for you.
3. Set your goals
The first two tips are designed to focus on when you’re going to study.
It’s also a good idea to remember why you want to learn Spanish. Communicate with friends and family members? Be fluent for your next holiday? Understand the culture?
A good tip is to write that goal down somewhere. Keeping your eye on the prize will give you something tangible to work towards while you’re in quarantine.
Plus, it’ll be tremendously helpful in the long run, especially if you feel like your learning slows after a few months of study (which, by the way, can happen to everyone from time to time, so don’t worry if you occasionally find yourself in a learning rut!).
4. Build your foundation
Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate Spanish learner, you’ll need to start with the basics.
First steps while you’re learning at home might simply be memorising a few simple Spanish sentences. It might be getting acquainted with the Spanish alphabet – or even a tricky grammar point like the Spanish subjunctive that you remember hating at school?
The point here is that you’ll need something – some sort of knowledge base – to build on.
And later on, when this difficult period is over, this foundation of knowledge can give you the confidence to initiate a conversation with a native speaker. Plus, it’s also nice to see that foundation grow and become stronger as the weeks or months go by.
5. Immerse yourself
Immersion, as mentioned earlier, is really the best way to learn Spanish.
However, the frustrating question for a lot of learners is: how do I immerse myself without travelling abroad?
The good news is that, these days, you can pretty much bring Spanish culture to you by:
Watching Spanish TV and films
It’s easier than ever to access foreign media online. Spanish films on Netflix, videos on YouTube and other streaming platforms are your friends here.
Trying online tutoring
Practising with Spanish native speakers in person might be off the cards right now, but in the meantime you can do something even more valuable for your progress. Signing up to one-to-one lessons with highly qualified Spanish teachers on live tutoring platforms like Verbling could be just what you need to fast track your journey to fluency.
Listening to Spanish songs
Latin music is increasingly present in English speaking countries. But you can still go the extra mile and source some real obscure gems in any niche genre you enjoy (as long as they have lyrics, of course!).
Reading Spanish news
Sure, you might not get every sentence at first, but context helps a lot. In fact, you might be surprised at how much you can understand from a newspaper article, even as a complete beginner. Plus, right now it’ll be valuable to get the inside track of COVID-19’s impact on Spain.
For a more structured way of digesting Spanish news, though, Busuu has teamed up with El País, Spain’s second most widely read newspaper, to give learners like you real-world content at your level.
Tuning into Spanish podcasts
Another method can seem too advanced at first. But listening to Spanish podcasts while you’re doing housework or doing your paint-by-numbers at home is a great way to train your ear to pick up the words you know – and assimilate new ones.
6. Practise with native Spanish speakers
Another thing that’s easier than ever to do. Not in person, we realise, but thanks to this wonderful thing called the Conversations feature on Busuu’s app, it’s possible! Connecting you with Busuu’s community of over 100 million learners, you’ll be able to receive feedback on your Spanish language from native experts.
It just goes to show: even if your household holds precisely zero Spanish speakers, you can always find ways to strike up a conversation.
7. Stay focused
There is no shortage of Spanish online Spanish learning tools.
This is both good and bad.
On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to grow your toolset without stepping outside your front door. On the other, it can be terrible for your focus.
In fact, many beginner learners believe that using more methods at once improves their chances of becoming fluent.
This could not be further from the truth. Keeping your learning structured and consistent is the best way to ensure you progress, so ideally pick a tool that balances a few techniques together.
8. Review frequently
Some people believe that the best way to really get a book isn’t just to read it: it’s to re-read it.
The same principle applies to learning a language like Spanish. It’s something you do naturally every time you converse with Spanish speakers. But it’s also something you can do at home.
There’s even a name for it: spaced review.
The best teaching methods should incorporate it in their features, so it becomes completely natural and a part of you. Bonus points if it’s done in a fun way via quizzes, games and includes progress tracking.
9. Don’t aim for perfection
Some Spanish learners aim to pass as native speakers.
While an admirable aim, it might become too overwhelming as a challenge – especially when you’re just starting out.
It’s always best, therefore, to aim instead for a level that allows you to have a decent conversation.
What’s the difference?
Well, if you listen to yourself speak in your native language, you’ll be amazed at how often you fail to find the right word, hesitate before using an expression, or simply don’t know how to communicate your exact thoughts.
So why put so much pressure on yourself with a foreign language? Which ties in perfectly with our final tip….
10. Have fun!
Learning a language opens a ton of possibilities for friendship, careers and human connections.
But it’s not a succeed-or-fail kind of deal! First and foremost, it’s a journey – so you might as well have fun doing it!
Just remember not to be too harsh on yourself, take your time, and find the funny phrases that make learning Spanish worthwhile.