Updated: Jul 8
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Want to speak Spanish fluently? I share 8 tips you must follow to learn to speak Spanish fluently, whether you are a beginner, improver or mastering fluency.
"I could almost feel the Spanish subjunctive bearing down on me as I stopped off at the Real Academia Española - the mother ship of the Spanish language."
In this episode of When in Spain I talk about motivation, learning routines, speaking habits, how to stay focused and motivated and above all enjoy the language learning journey. Basically, how I learned Spanish successfully! You can do it too!
AND if you want the video version, watch my YouTube video about learning Spanish...
I stop off at The Royal Spanish Academy or Real Academia Española, in the centre of Madrid, the mother ship for the Spanish language and home of the Diccionario de la lengua española, the official dictionary of the Spanish language. The Academy's mission is to ensure the stability of the Spanish language and promote linguistic unity under the motto "Limpia, fija y da esplendor" "Cleans, fixes, and gives splendor".
Overcome with such splendor of the Spanish language I felt inspired to share how I managed to become fluent in Spanish. I talk about motivation, learning routines, speaking habits, how to stay focused and positive and enjoy the Spanish language learning journey. I also recommend a selection of books for intermediate and advanced learners of Spanish.
Here’s the list of some of the books I used to help me learn Spanish:
Spanish Grammar in Context - Angela Howkins & J. Kattan-Ibarra
Speed Up Your Spanish: Strategies to Avoid Common Errors - Javier Muñoz-Basols & Olga Núñez Piñeiro
A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish - John Butt & Carmen Benjamin
Spanish among amigos - Nuria Agulló
MY LANGUAGE LEARNING TIPS
1. Find your motivation
At the beginning of our language learning journey we all ask, 'How can I learn Spanish?'. How can I learn Spanish quickly and enjoyably as possible? You're asking yourself the wrong question. The question should be 'Why do I want to learn Spanish?' Finding your motivation to learn Spanish is so important.
2. Resist instant gratification
Learning a language as an adult is a life-long process. We live in a fast-paced world with more and more emphasis on instant gratification. 'I want to be able to speak Spanish fluently now and I'm not prepared to invest hours, months, years in the process.' This is a fallacy. You feel like things are going slowly. That's fine. Don't beat yourself up about it!
3. Make Spanish bite-size
Don't pose yourself 'huge' questions like, 'how can I perfect my Spanish?'. Don't make the mistake of setting yourself gigantic goals which become insurmountable. Instead make yourself a list of small achievable goals. Yes, be ambitious but be selective in your language learning.
4. Mimic the accent and be confident!
What's the point in perfecting Spanish grammar and having a really rich vocabulary if when you speak Spaniards struggle to understand you or flinch at your 'accentazo'? If you're not saying things that are easily understandable, then it doesn't really matter how well you know the imperfect subjunctive.
5. Immerse yourself
Go to Spain and actually speak to native Spanish speakers. Watch Spanish TV, listen to Spanish radio and music and read in Spanish. Resist the temptation to fall back on your favourite TV shows from back home.
6. Get into a routine
Normally we moan about routines, but to learn Spanish successfully you'll need to make it a habit. Don't do what I did when I first started learning Spanish. Epic weekend-long learning sessions followed by nothing for weeks, sometimes months. Little and often is the key to success.
7. Don't become a fossil!
Don't fall into the 'I can just get by with what I already know' trap. It's easy to get comfortable with the level you have, maybe it's good enough to survive so why bother learning any more? What you're really saying is, I'm happy to just keep making the same mistakes. Find new ways to stay motivated and keep moving forward with your Spanish. What's the point in doing something in a half-hearted way?
8. Learn the grammar
Yep, there's no way to avoid it i'm afraid. You can't learn Spanish successfully without learning the grammar. It's really a case of just hitting the books and studying. It's quite a mechanical process. If that sounds like language learning hell then luckily there are lots of resources available online.