Learning Spanish from zero can be quite the task, especially if you are trying to learn some basics all by yourself. In this article we look at some of the best techniques that will help you speed up the process and improve your speaking skills significantly: from study methods to unique and fun ideas, we will take your Spanish to the next level.
1. ORGANIZE YOUR STUDY SESSIONS
Some people believe that it is best to concentrate all your learning into one long study session. However, learning is basically mental exercise, and experts recommend 30 minutes of it a day. Studying a language works exactly like that. Your brain has a limit on how long it can keep on absorbing information, so the best way to go about it is to plan specific times along your everyday day schedule to focus on Spanish for a while.
If there really is no way you can reserve 30 minutes every day to studying and need to do your sessions for longer periods of time on one or two days, remember to take appropriate breaks and let your brain breathe. The Pomodoro technique is the best way to keep track on how you use your time: for every 20 minutes of studying, you should take a 5-minute break. You can check the virtual space LifeAt to create Pomodoro timers and a good focus ambiance to study in.
2. FORGET ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT THINK
It has happened to all of us, when we first start to learn a new language, we are shy and afraid to use it in real life. We worry about making mistakes and people laughing at us. But the thing is, Spanish grammar can be difficult to get the hang of, and often other people will make the same mistakes as you. So don’t worry about that, you have plenty of time to polish your grammatical skills. Instead, concentrate on learning as much vocabulary as possible.
In language psychology, it is often common to analyze how children learn language for the first time. If you have ever paid attention to it, as babies we make the most bizarre grammatical mistakes, and still, we all end up knowing how to speak properly. That’s because it is more important to focus on conveying a message than to make a perfect sentence. Leave aside your overthinking and don’t be afraid to speak up.
3. BE PHYSICAL ABOUT IT
In today’s advanced era of technology, majority of students develop their studies through computer screens. The internet allows access to a vast amount of information that can be otherwise difficult to find by reading through a multitude of books. However, studies, like the one by Pablo Delgado et al. in 2018, have shown that the things we read often don’t stick.
If you want to able to better remember the things you study, go back to the old days of pen and paper. We recommend writing your Spanish notes by hand, when you revise them, you can annotate it on the sides, highlight important sections with markers and even add post its that summarize the content of each topic. But most importantly: don’t erase your mistakes! There is no Ctrl+Z on paper, so make your errors visible instead of starting anew each time, that way you can reflect on your progress and not fall for the same thing twice.
4. POST ITS!
As we said in the previous tip, post its can be a lifesaver to make quick notes or summaries, but there is another way to use them to help you in your studying. We have often seen in it before in TV shows or movies, usually in an exaggerated manner to get a laugh out of the technique, but don’t be fooled, it really is useful: FILL YOUR HOUSE WITH POST-ITS.
Yes, we are serious. If you are learning initial vocabulary, you will see it is mostly related to ordinary, everyday life objects. So, instead of isolating the acquisition of these terms to a devoted study time, surround yourself with it. A post-it saying ‘nevera’ on your fridge, ‘perro’ on your dog’s collar or ‘escritorio’ on your desk. Every time you interact with the object, read the post-it out loud; in no time you won’t even have to read it, you will simply remember it!
5. GAMIFY YOUR LEARNING EXPERIENCE
We get it. Studying can be really boring, specially at the beginning, when you feel like you don’t know enough to use the language outside of you study sessions. If you want to diversify and make a more dynamic use of your time, explore the gamification of the learning experience.
There are actually plenty of websites that offer unique ways to play at a language. For example, one of our favorites is LyricsTraining. In this website you can select the language you are learning, and it will show you songs in that language, which you can also sort by genre. You will be able to listen to them and then try to fill-in the missing words at the same time as the song plays. It might sound hard, but you can adjust the difficulty to adapt the game to the current level you are in. Doesn’t that sound fun?
6. CONSUME SPANISH MEDIA
A tale as old as time: what everyone will tell you to do when learning a language is to watch TV shows and movies in your target language. However, people tend to make the same mistake over and over again. It might be difficult in the beginning, but once you reach a basic level of vocabulary, CHANGE THOSE SUBTITLES TO SPANISH! It won’t matter if you’re listening to the actors speaking in Spanish, if the subtitles are in your native language, your brain will not pay attention to the new vocabulary and grammar.
Another medium that is often forgotten when talking about being immersed is books. Reading is a very important skill for improving your writing, but did you know you can also use books to improve your pronunciation? Try choosing a book that also has an audiobook option. Next time you pick up the story where you left it, play the audiobook while you read! You can check the spelling of new vocabulary and also hear to the correct way of pronouncing it: two for one.
7. VISIT SPAIN!
Obviously, the best way to truly learn a language is to be fully immersed in its culture. If you really want to improve your Spanish, come to Spain! But keep in mind that there are better options than your average 2 week vacation abroad: Campus Spain offers the ideal context to learn the Spanish language.
Our Spanish-LCA course is a custom-made program that includes an intensive language learning course at the University of Vigo; a cultural experience filled with unique trips, visits to museums, celebrations of local festivities and much more.
Our team will be with you during the whole process: before leaving your country, during your stay, and after you finish the course, to ensure that you have a smooth and fascinating experience in Spain.
The best part about it? If you fall in love with Spain, you don’t have to put your life on hold. Spanish LCA is a university pathway program and its successful completion will allow you to access over 80 different Spanish universities, for all study majors. This way you can keep expanding your Spanish knowledge and even give yourself the opportunity to settle in the country.
If you are determined to learn, #YourHeartisSpanish!
To learn more about what we have in stock for you, check out our website.