Learning a new language, or perfecting a language you know takes work. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, learning an idioma like Spanish can seem daunting. Where to start? How to streamline the process? Is there any way to learn quicker and easier?
Fear not. Learning Spanish should be a fun way to connect with your culture and your roots. Don’t boggle yourself down with all the details at once. Just like everything you have learned up to this point, it was a culmination of several little steps. You got this. Here are some ways to make learning Spanish easier, quicker, and a ton of fun. Buena suerte (good luck)!
Put Post-Its On Everything
Integrating Spanish into your everyday life is an easy way to immerse yourself in the language. Grab some Post-Its and label your whole home with items translated into Spanish. So, put a Sticky Note that says refrigerador on the refrigerator, another one saying libro on a book, and so on. You can add onto the words as you go along, like different countries’ version of each word, or slang words for them, to add another learning layer!
Watch Spanish-Language TV Shows and Movies
The benefits of watching Spanish-language TV shows and movies are two-fold. One, you learn Spanish in a way that it is spoken in everyday life, learn about the culture (including our dramatic telenovelas) and can learn words and accents from different countries. Two, you can watch Spanish shows with English subtitles, and Spanish shows with Spanish subtitles, so you can learn by seeing and hearing words at the same time. A good beginner option is to watch English shows with Spanish subtitles to see what words look like in another language.
Practice With a Native Speaker
Speaking with someone who is a native speaker is invaluable. This can be family, friends, or someone who is part of a study group with you (look online for local language meetup groups!). Native Spanish speakers can provide feedback, help with certain issues and questions, and show you how the language should be spoken. This is also great when speaking with native speakers of various countries (you’ll pick up on differences in accent, pronunciation, word meanings, and slang). A good idea when interacting with family members or friends who need help perfecting English is to speak to them in Spanish, and have them speak to you in English.
Listen to Latin American Music
Music itself is a universal language. It is so natural to listen to music and not worry about the lyrics right off the bat—you’re just enjoying the groove. This makes learning the words fun, though, right? You want to learn the words because you like the song. Same goes for tunes in other languages. Take the time to discover new songs on Spotify or YouTube (where you can add closed captions) and rediscover songs you know, but don’t know the words to. In the process, you’ll also learn more about Latinx culture and history!
Read Latinx Magazines
A great way to see Spanish words, and learn to associate them with various things, is to pick up a Spanish-language magazine. Español is phonetic (which means for the most part, it’s pronounced how it’s written, unlike English), which makes it easier to read. If you get magazines (and books and any other reading material) that are in a subject matter you know and like, this will make the learning process even quicker and easier, as you make connections between languages.
Have the Right Attitude About It
Learning should be fun. Don’t make learning Spanish stressful, or make you feel embarrassed. No one knows everything, and you are no less Latinx for not knowing Spanish. A lot of us grew up understanding it, and responding in English. While in other families, Americanization was the goal, so zero Spanish was spoken. Also, imagine parenting in two languages—it’s hard! You have no obligation to learn Español, so think of it as a way to enrich your life—without expectations. Remember, each day you learn a little, the next day a little more, until you get to the level of fluency you want. Everything you do learn is a plus!
Switch The Language Settings on Your Electronics to Spanish
Electronics are an inescapable part of everyday life. An easy way to introduce your phone, TV, computer, and social media accounts (and the words associated with them) to the Spanish-speaking experience is to switch the language settings. Make sure, however, that you know how to change them back if and when you need to!