Deciding how to learn Spanish can feel overwhelming at first. With so many apps, courses, and programs out there, where do you even begin?
The truth is, the best way to learn Spanish is by immersing yourself in the language — and you don’t have to leave home to do it.
There are plenty of online resources that can make learning Spanish fun and engaging. We’ll show you how to put them together for a time-efficient and super-effective way to learn.
This article is full of tips, resources, and tools to get you proficient and reach your language-learning goals. Whether you want to travel with ease in South America or have high-level conversations with Spanish-speaking colleagues, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started.
Nothing beats complete immersion when it comes to learning a language.
Don’t just take it from us. Research from the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota found that the best way to learn Spanish is through immersion.
“Immersion students who begin the program as English speakers consistently develop native-like levels of comprehension, such as listening and reading skills, in their second language. They also display fluency and confidence when using it.”
What the Research Says About Immersion, by Tara Williams Fortune
What makes immersion work so well? Immersion means actually using the language to communicate from day one.
Learning Spanish while staying in a Spanish-speaking community means you’ll hear the language every day, all day. If you visit a part of the world where people don’t speak English—even better! You’ll have no choice but to use the vocabulary you know, however limited, to communicate.
However, many of us don’t have the luxury of spending months in a Spanish-speaking country just to learn the language. And when we do travel, we don’t pick up the language by osmosis.
It takes intentional learning and practice while you immerse yourself in the culture to create an effective immersion experience.
If you find yourself living, working, or enjoying an extended trip in a Spanish speaking community, here’s how to take full advantage of immersive language learning.
If you can’t make that happen right now, skip ahead for the best ways to learn Spanish from home — getting all the benefits of immersion on your own schedule.
Having a baseline understanding of Spanish grammar and vocabulary will help you put it to use in your destination country. However, traditional classes don’t give you the essential hands-on conversational practice to become functional and fluent.
Taking Spanish lessons online, you’ll get a personalized approach to learning. You can focus on what you most need to learn and go at your own pace.
To take full advantage of your immersion, sign up for Spanish classes leading up to your trip and keep going during your travels. This will build a foundational understanding before you go and accelerate your learning while you’re away.
Don’t be shy! Approach strangers with questions, whether asking for directions or chatting with the waiter at a local bar.
Small talk conversations typically require very basic knowledge of the language, so you can rely on limited vocabulary in situations like ordering food, asking for directions, or introducing yourself.
It might feel tempting to resort to your native language, especially when Spanish speakers want to practice their English with you.
Commit yourself to speaking in Spanish. Take your time. Speak slowly. With time, you’ll improve.
New language speakers often hold themselves back from practicing out of fear of making mistakes. But guess what—Making mistakes in a language offers excellent learning experiences.
Stretch out of your comfort zone as it will give you a much better appreciation of the Spanish language. Your efforts surely will pay off.
Plus, those faux-pas make for the best stories! Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, even if your Spanish friends laugh if you say “Estoy embarazada” when you feel embarrassed (it actually means “I’m pregnant”).
Every day is a school day, especially when it comes to language immersion. Take along a small notebook to write down new words and phrases.
This habit will help you reinforce learning as you go.
While full Spanish immersion is ideal, it’s not always practical. Fortunately, the internet offers tremendous resources for learning Spanish online if you can’t jet off to Mexico for a month.
And if you are planning an extended trip, online lessons are a convenient way to learn from anywhere.
You can find plenty of online Spanish courses, but it’s important to pick one that will work for you.
Want to find the best way to learn Spanish on your own? Check out our free online Spanish courses for a start.
But again, the easiest way to learn Spanish is with a program that includes plenty of conversational practice, follows your pace, and works with your unique learning style.
Take our free 5-minute quiz to help you understand how you learn best — whether it’s through visual representation, audio descriptions, active engagement or by any other means suited to your learning style and personality.
The best option for learning Spanish online depends entirely on your goals for learning Spanish. This includes the type of Spanish you want to learn, and why you want to learn.
Over 360 million people across 18+ countries speak Spanish as their first language worldwide, according to Britannica. The Spanish language has dozens of regional dialects, spoken with distinct accents and vocabulary.
Although the base language is the same in all Spanish-speaking nations, the rhythms, patterns, and words vary from one to another. Languages are “alive”, meaning they evolve and have unique dialects and interpretations. There is always more than grammar and spelling rules to achieve Spanish language fluency.
That’s why we recommend one-on-one lessons with a Spanish tutor online — an expert teacher who is also a native speaker in the type of Spanish you want to learn.
For example, if you need Spanish to communicate with people at work in a Mexican-American community, find a teacher from Mexico. Learning in the right accent and dialect will help you understand the Spanish you hear day-to-day.
Traveling to Europe? Look for an instructor who speaks Castellano, a dialect spoken in Spain as well as parts of South America including Argentina and Uruguay.
Spending the winter in Costa Rica? An instructor from Central America will offer the most useful learning, including cultural context to enrich your experience.
At Live Lingua, you will learn to speak Spanish from someone already at the top level of Spanish language proficiency — a native speaker — who possesses excellent teaching skills and an ample understanding of the use of the language within a set of social belief systems.
From day one, you will dive into the specifics of the Spanish language (such as accents, jargon, and proper expressions) in addition to the cultural highlights of the country you are most interested in visiting.
Plus, you’ll be matched with a teacher who can help you reach your specific goals, whether it’s basic conversational skills or speaking like a local.
To learn Spanish, you’ll definitely have to do some studying of grammar and vocabulary. But if all you do is bury yourself in a textbook, you’ll have a really difficult time becoming fluent.
While the easiest way to learn Spanish is immersion, the second-easiest way is to re-create the immersion experience at home or wherever you happen to be.
Here are the best ways to learn, practice, and improve your Spanish. Use them regularly, and you’ll be speaking like a native before you know it.
It sounds obvious, right? But you will ultimately learn Spanish best when you speak it. When you take group classes or learn only from apps and books, you miss out on chances to learn from your mistakes and improve your pronunciation.
Conversations with other Spanish speakers help to practice forming sentences and improve your listening skills. Create as many opportunities as you can to converse with Spanish speakers.
Having regular one-on-one lessons is a great place to start — but don’t stop there.
Millions of people worldwide speak Spanish, and you likely find plenty of native speakers just outside your door. Look for opportunities to meet Spanish speakers near you. Attend Spanish cultural festivals and events. Go to the concerts of Spanish-speaking musicians.
Seek out businesses owned by Spanish speakers in your community. Look up restaurants from Spanish-speaking countries and try practicing the language when you go. Even Spanish lessons for beginners teach ordering at a restaurant, and you may just make new friends in the process.
If you’re living in a Spanish-speaking community, there will be plenty of people who would love to practice their English — use this to your advantage! If not, find a conversation partner online for regular practice.
Connect with a language buddy, a native Spanish speaker who wants to improve their English. Schedule a time every week to practice with your language buddy, 30 minutes in Spanish, then 30 minutes in English.
You can learn a lot about a new culture and language through people, and the more conversations you have, the more fluent you’ll become. Even if you already have a tutor, the extra practice will help you develop vocabulary and rapidly improve your fluency.
Immersion is the best way to speak Spanish like a local. But even short trips can give you an excellent opportunity to improve your skills. If you can’t do a long-term Spanish immersion, visit a Spanish-speaking community, country, or region as often as you can.
Find destinations that you’d like to visit, and make sure you use your Spanish as much as possible while you’re there.
Of course, Spain is a popular one, but there are many other fantastic travel destinations where you can use your Spanish. Many Central and South American countries speak Spanish, as well as Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Spanish is also heavily spoken in many communities in the United States, such as Miami as well as parts of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.
“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”
Rita Mae Brown, Language is the Road Map of a Culture
If you want to go beyond the literal meaning of words and truly speak Spanish like a local, you need to understand the culture of the people. Humor, slang, idiomatic expressions—Just one word or phrase can tell an entire story about a culture. You can even learn a person’s background, neighborhood, or family history by the way they speak.
When it comes to culture from Spanish-speaking regions, you have no shortage of options. From world-renowned dance styles like flamenco, tango, and salsa to rich musical traditions, like mariachi and reggaeton, the Spanish-speaking regions of the world offer an amazing breadth of cultural traditions.
As you understand culture, you’ll start to unlock the deeper meaning behind the language.
To learn how Spanish speakers communicate, check out these incredible artists in music, movies, and art. These will deepen your comprehension of other societies as well as widen your vocabulary.
Books are a great way to familiarize yourself with Spanish grammar, and a great supplement to your lessons and conversational practice.
Reading the newspaper helps to stay on top of current events while also practicing your Spanish comprehension and expanding your vocabulary.
Understanding the latest news can help you come up with conversation topics when speaking Spanish and better understand people from Spanish-speaking countries.
El País is a well-established Spanish periodical; otherwise, try Reforma from México or El Clarín from Argentina.
From the comfort of your home, you can read about the life experience of Spanish speakers from around the world.
The universe for both of these is immense and finding something worthy can become tiring. Select a subject matter that aligns with the purpose of your language learning efforts. For example, if you are learning Spanish for business purposes, explore Entrepreneur to get acquainted with the professional slang.
Get interactive and practice writing in Spanish. Look at the blog comments; you may come across plenty of spelling and grammar mistakes, but pay no attention to them. If you feel confident (or even if you don’t), make a comment!
Become a real music aficionado by diving deep into the rich musical traditions of Spanish speaking countries. Plus, listening to song lyrics is a great exercise in language comprehension.
Streaming services like Spotify make this easy. Here are some genres to check out:
Podcasts and talk radio offer an opportunity to listen to Spanish from anywhere. You can find a range of topics that interest you, while you get a better understanding of humor and dialect in Spanish spoken around the world.
Watching TV shows and movies in Spanish is as much of a learning experience as it is entertaining. Turn on captions to your favorite programs to help follow the plot and learn new vocabulary.
Feeling like a stay-at-home-binge-watching night? Enjoy Spanish and Latin-American films, documentaries, and TV series on Netflix. You can find plenty of Iberoamerican plots to choose from: Narcos, La Casa de las Flores, Luis Miguel, Club de Cuervos, Distrito Salvaje, El Chapo, Estocolmo, El tiempo entre costuras, Gran Hotel, and Las chicas del cable, and many others.
Learn about local delicacies with cookery shows from El Gourmet, a great way to learn ingredients and measurements. Consider viewing a thought-provoking TED Talk en Español.
You can also experience the drama-filled world of telenovelas, the Spanish version of a soap opera. Even if you’re not a drama queen, the spectacle that is Mexican soap operas from Televisa are about as entertaining as TV can possibly get.
Spanish learners often struggle with the initial task of progressing through Spanish courses in their quest to learn a second language. Remember that learning a new language takes time.
Don’t expect to start speaking like a native overnight.
Have patience and allow yourself to make mistakes. See it as a lifelong learning experience. Pay attention, make notes, and try to enjoy the process. As you move forward in your language learning journey, you will start to understand more complex content.
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t understand something right away. Your ear will slowly get attuned to the sounds and melodies. As you learn pronunciation, you start to notice similar words, related terms, and repetitive patterns.
When in doubt refer to the Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española. The objective is to get familiar with the world of Spanish language, including gestures and other non-verbal forms of communication.
Learning a language, while challenging, is ultimately meant to be enjoyable. It opens up a world of opportunity to relate to people from another culture on an entirely new level. You’ll make friends. You’ll probably make funny mistakes.
You may even start dreaming in Spanish! Have a sense of humor and enjoy the language learning experience.
As you get better, try a few of these fun Spanish learning activities:
Ready to learn to speak Spanish? You might have a few questions before you start. Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about learning Spanish below.
The easiest way to learn Spanish is to immerse yourself in the language, guided by a one-on-one tutor. You’ll start with some basic vocabulary and grammar, then build on it with conversational practice. This rapidly improves your pronunciation and comprehension. Consume books, audio, and video in Spanish for fun, easy ways to enhance your learning.
Live Lingua online classes connect you a native Spanish speaker to begin the first steps in your language learning journey. You’ll learn pronunciation like a native through the best program to learn Spanish, as well as the most important vocabulary and grammar to get functional quickly.
Learning Spanish is a lifelong journey. Even native language speakers constantly evolve their speaking skills. Rather than focus on the end goal, enjoy the learning process. Spend a little time each day dedicated to learning. You’ll slowly get better and better at speaking. When you take this approach, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
Learning Spanish will involve some personal study, as you memorize new words and learn the grammar. However, it’s not easy on your own, and it’s much less effective than having a teacher to guide you. Language is meant to be interactive. If you want to become fluent, you’ll need to have conversations!
As the second most spoken language in the world, Spanish opens a world of possibilities; new people, places, culture, art, food, music, and beyond.
When you learn to speak Spanish, you can communicate with all kinds of new people in their native tongue. It will enrich your travels, give you access to media and art from around the world, and increase your diversity awareness.
Sure, it takes some work. But learning how to speak Spanish should also be fun. With the right resources and strategies, you can experience the joys of speaking Spanish in no time.
If you’re ready to start learning Spanish the easy way, take our free 5-minute quiz to help you understand how you learn best — whether it’s through visual representation, audio descriptions, active engagement or by any other means suited to your learning style and personality.
Let's connect you with a hand-picked native-speaking tutor today.