Learning a language fast is really all about strategy. Whether you are taking a class or learning by yourself, you will need to actively find ways to practice the language.
The advantage of studying a language is that there are dozens of ways you can incorporate it into your daily life without having to sit and open a book to study it. After all, language is a reflection of life. It is through language that we make sense of the world.
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Incorporating a new language into your life might require you to get creative and make small changes to your routine.
Finding the right strategy for you may take time, but it’s worth trying. Once you find the kind of activities that work for you they can easily become part of your daily habits in no time.
In this post, I have done some of the work for you and have come up with some of the easiest, most fun ways to practice your Spanish that won’t even feel like studying!
1. Don’t just watch. Rewatch!
Most people will tell you to just watch movies and tv shows in Spanish. And while this is definitely a good way to start, my recommendation is that you not only watch any show in Spanish. Instead, follow these guidelines to find the best show or movie for you and learn about how to be a proactive watcher:
a) Choose a genre you enjoy. Don’t just watch anything for the sake of learning a few Spanish words. Make sure that you choose content you will find interesting or at the very least, entertaining. This is key for adding this to your routine. If you don’t enjoy it from the get go, you’ll probably not come back to it.
b) Go for short movies or episodes. Watching something in a language you don’t yet fully understand will require more brain power. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with a 3-hour movie or an hour-long show of 10 seasons, and instead go for short movies or 20 min max episodes.
c) Be intentional while watching. Record yourself repeating phrases from the show. Pause and look up new words that you are catching. Take notes (even if they’re just mental notes). Actively watch to make the most of your practice.
d) And finally and most important. Rewatch, rewatch, rewatch. Remember that you are watching your Spanish show not only as entertainment but to learn. There’s a lot you will miss in your first exposure to the dialogues and plot. In rewatching, you are helping your brain retain more, and the more you watch, the more you will understand. Finally, the better you will catch subtle aspects such as pronunciation and idiomatic expressions.
2. Change your Siri, Alexa or Google’s language
It’s no secret that you can change the language of your devices such as in your smartphone or TV to the language you are looking to learn in hopes to memorize some of its vocabulary. And while this is a great, and definitely a good start, soon you will become accustomed to the words in your phone and will not be exposed to any new words. And not only that, but you will possibly learn words that you are not likely to use in conversation.
So instead, why not up your Spanish game by changing the language of your voice recognition devices. Voice recognition devices are, for example, Alexa (from Amazon), Siri (from Apple) and Google Home.
Here are some advantages of doing this:
- You will practice your speaking since you will need to communicate with it in Spanish. You will get used to ask simple questions such as the time, what the weather is like, etc.
- You will improve your listening skills. Alexa, Siri or Google voice will reply to you in Spanish. You will get to hear different words and sentences. The more you ask, the more you will listen to the language.
Check out this earlier post on how to change the language on your devices and get even more ideas on how to use technology to practice your speaking skills on your own.
And if you don’t own or don’t want to own any of these devices, you can still take advantage of speech recognition by using them in Google Apps like Google Docs.
3. Find Spanish in your community!
If you have made learning Spanish one of your life goals, you are in luck. Spanish is widely spoken around the world and it’s really not hard at all to find yourself in a conversation with a native speaker, sometimes in your own neighborhood.
In the US, there are over 41 million people that speak Spanish as their first language. There are high probabilities that there is a Spanish speaking community near you, you just need to find it.
Moreover, many Spanish speakers are eager to learn English as well. So, it is not uncommon to find conversation groups or language exchange events in your public library or through websites such as meetup.com.
And if you don’t live in a place where Spanish is spoken, remember that nowadays our most accessible, largest community is online. There are millions of people who share your same goals and hundreds of native speakers and teachers looking to connect with you online as well.
Many of these events are free or at a very low cost. And one of the upsides of finding a group is that you get to connect to regulars with whom you can build a rapport. Getting started with a new group can be intimidating (I know that well) but it can also be incredibly rewarding and fun. So, get past the initial awkward phase and I guarantee you will not regret it.
- Reread a book you love but in its Spanish version.
- Learn and rehearse a song in Spanish (SPotify has now added lyrics!)
- Watch TED talks in Spanish (with subtitles!)
- Follow Internet influencers and Youtubers from South America or Spain.
And there you have it, three simple yet powerful ways to incorporate Spanish into your day-to-day habits you will not only improve your language skills but also your life!