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It is almost the time for New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most common is to learn a new language. If you’re determined to improve your Spanish skills in 2018, follow our top tips to make your learning journey more fun than frustrating.
Podcasts have never been more popular, and listening to some of the best Spanish versions, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, is a great way to improve your listening skills. From language-learning podcasts to programmes exploring the latest current affairs, sports or history in Spanish, there is something available for everyone.
Next time you settle down to a night of television, consider watching something in Spanish. You can always put the subtitles on if you’re lost, but having a go at exploring Spanish cinema and TV is a great way to hear more colloquial language and a range of accents. The recent Netflix series Cable Girls is set in 1920s Madrid, and you can’t go wrong with any film by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.
Language exchanges, called intercambios in Spanish, are a great way of improving your Spanish in a much more informal atmosphere than a classroom. They involve meeting up with a native speaker who wants to learn English and exchanging your languages, maybe by speaking half the time in English and half the time in Spanish. There are several websites where you can upload an ad or reply to one, including Tus clases particulares; choose intercambio indiomas from the dropdown menu.
One common excuse for not learning a language is lack of time, and one easy way to incorporate the language into your everyday life is to simply change the settings of your phone to Spanish. You will have no choice but to use some Spanish every day in order to use your phone (and let’s be honest, we’re on our phones a lot).
One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in Spanish is to get yourself a Spanish-speaking boyfriend or girlfriend. It might sound silly, but think about it: you’ll be speaking to them more than anyone else, and you can insist they speak to you in Spanish. Your language skills will improve in no time, and you might just meet the love of your life.
One of the best ways to soak up some Spanish is to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. Is there a better excuse to hit the road on your next adventure than to tell yourself that you’re doing it for your language skills? We don’t think so. Travelling to Spain or Latin America will allow you to put all your hard-learned skills into practice, and you’ll come home more confident than ever in Spanish.
Language apps can be great because they often make language learning into a game, challenging you to improve your skills on a daily basis. The key with using apps is using them regularly, so make sure you put in at least 10 minutes every day to get the best results. Some of the most popular include Duolingo, Lingvist and Mind Snacks.
Learning food vocabulary is never more fun than when you are actually eating the food. Consider some Spanish cooking lessons, or simply head out to a local tapas bar to immerse yourself in Spanish for the evening. You could also try putting your newfound vocabulary into practice by making your next shopping list in Spanish.
Swap your usual choice of music for some more Spanish-focussed artists to get into the Spanish vibe. Spanish has crept into lots of recent big hits (hello, Despacito) so it won’t be hard to find some great Spanish-language tunes to sing along to. You’ll be fluent before you know it.
Whether you read the news online or catch up with the latest TV bulletin, try doing it in Spanish instead of English. The language used will be more formal and easier to understand than the Spanish used in TV shows and films, and you might already have an idea of the day’s news to give you a head start in understanding what’s going on. It’s also a great way to learn more about Spanish society.
This might be an extreme one, but there really is no better way to soak up the language than to live with it day in, day out. If you’re at university, look into the possibility of taking a semester or year abroad, or consider taking a gap year to teach English after your studies. If you’re a little older, look into any opportunities that might be available within your company for secondments or transfers abroad.