You’re getting up early, getting ready for work, grabbing a breakfast – if you have time. In between chugging your coffee in the car, sitting in traffic, working all day, meeting deadlines, eating lunch at your desk, life gets hectic.
That’s before your studies even come into play. picking the kids up from school, preparing dinner, running a few errands, perhaps getting a quick work-out session in, and maybe, just maybe, you have enough time to watch the news or read your book.
Does this sound similar to your day? Are you also trying to fit learning a new language into your life? Many people are and trying to fit that into your crazy schedule can be difficult.
Imagine dating the beautiful Latina that lives across the street, or traveling through the magnificent wine region of La Rioja in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, or shaping the local gourmet food scene by importing great produce from Argentina.
Never feel intimidated by the size of your dreams — learning the languge will help you achieve anything you have imagined doing in a Spanish-speaking country!
As obvious as it may seem, learning the Spanish alphabet by heart will be the foundation upon which your Spanish fluency is built. The Spanish characters look very similar to the ones in the English alphabet and some of them are pronounced alike.
However, getting “the hum” of each letter right is essential because the Spanish language is a phonetic writing system, where there is a direct link between the symbol and the sound of speech that it represents.
That is, the spelling and the pronunciation of a word is practically the same. This means that, in most cases, you could deduce how to pronounce a word by looking at the way it is written.
Likewise, you could guess how to write a word by listening to the way it is said.
You may want to attempt to read (or look at) all kinds of content written in Spanish.
Browse through magazines, newspapers, journals, eBooks, websites, or even sales materials such as flyers, blackboards, and brochures.
Choose a topic of your interest.
Pay attention to the typography and the letter design. Even if you don´t know the exact meaning of the words, their shapes, colors, and decorative motifs will convey emotions and intention; suggesting their broad significance.
Another helpful exercise is to translate a paragraph of something you´ve written in your own language and compare the two pieces. Notice any obvious resemblances and dissimilarities.
Next time you watch your favorite Netflix series you can have the subtitles on in Spanish. Are you not a binge-worthy series addict?
Documentaries, live sports narrations, and all kind of films constitute excellent materials to practice your Spanish reading.
Change the language settings of your mobile phone and other electronic devices to Spanish. A clever way to challenge your patience and increase your problem-solving skills!
Listen to radio shows, audiobooks, podcasts, and music in Spanish. There are over 20 nations where Spanish is the official language.
Nevertheless, accents may vary from one region to another even within the same country. Expose your ear to the accent of the geographical place that is most relevant to you.
For example, Mariachi bands and narco corridos are excellent genres that will also give you a taste of Mexico´s folklore.
Mexican soap operas (telenovelas) are famous for their passionate melodramas and overstated acting.
The storyline is usually based on common character archetypes that are easy to identify, making them a great tool to recognize the use of spoken Spanish language in different scenarios of Mexican life.
Most likely, the vocabulary will vary according to each character and you may also notice a different intonation depending on their social class or professional rank. Not interested in melodramas? Look for TED talks in Spanish!
It doesn´t matter if it is the most ordinary grocery shopping list, a reminder on your Google calendar or a passionate love letter to your partner. Or have you thought of a pen pal? Just give it a go!
A classic technique to increase vocabulary around your home or workspace is to write words in both Spanish and English on Post-it notes and then stick them onto the objects in visible places.
Labeling day-to-day stuff is a fun thing to do but beware that it is likely that you will suddenly get used to the notes and stop noticing them anymore.
The Royal Academy of Spanish Language Dictionary constitutes the most authoritative resource to clear your Spanish doubts. Although at first glance dictionaries are often overlooked they convey a quick and reliable source of knowledge.
Do not be embarrassed by this entertaining game. Try to repeat phrases that you hear, maybe something said by a radio presenter, or imitate the accent of your favorite TV character, or sing along to karaoke. Record yourself and listen carefully. Finally, joining a conversation group is always a great idea to practice your Spanish but also to meet people with similar interests.
Learning a language is not just a skill to add on to your CV. It is a door to a huge array of experiences:
Spanish is a romance language so once you have acquired it you might find it easier to learn French or Portuguese. This is a particular advantage if your native tongue is English, which is a Germanic language, and you are looking to become multilingual.
Attaining fluency in a new language entails motivation, commitment, practice, and some brain work.
Cognitive skills such as perception, attention, and memory allow the beginner to move forward through the learning process.
Nonetheless, each learning process is individual, and therefore we cannot answer if you can learn Spanish in 3 months or 3 years.
Using Apps and non-personal teaching services does not always deliver. Why?
Think of trying to learn to play tennis with an imaginary racket listening to an audiobook in your living room versus having the Williams sisters coaching you on a professional tennis court at the time of your convenience.
Online learning is the new way forward, and perhaps one of the best reasons why, is because it gives you the ability to connect with native speakers from around the world.
Not only does this make for a world of interesting conversations, but it helps you get used to accents.
For example, if you are living in Germany and trying to learn Japanese, you might have a German teacher who is fluent in Japanese, however will not sound like a real person from Japan.
Hearing the actual accent makes learning the language more on point and makes you sound more native. If you are learning English, where else would you be able to speak with someone who has an Australian, English, or American accent at any given time you want? Only online!
If you are keen to move to the fast lane you may speed up your learning process by using immersive lessons.
Live Lingua is an award-winning online language school that provides customized services conveyed via Skype at your preferred time by prepared teachers who are native speakers of the language you are trying to learn.
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