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How To Start Speaking Spanish Before Your Vacation

So you want to learn some Spanish for your upcoming vacation, but don’t know where to start? No problem! With these Babbel courses, we’ll have you comfortable and confident in just two weeks!
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How To Start Speaking Spanish Before Your Vacation

Illustration by Aura Lewis, courtesy of the Bright Agency.

It’s that time of year again. The weather is a bit colder, the days a bit shorter, and you’re just about dying to get away. So you’ve planned a vacation! Maybe you’re off to Patagonia to climb some mountains, to Mexico to explore the Mayan and Aztec ruins, or even to Barcelona to check out some Gaudí architecture. Wherever you’re headed, knowing a little bit of Spanish is definitely going to make your trip more enjoyable!

“But wait,” I hear you say, “I don’t speak any Spanish!” (Or maybe you did learn Spanish in school, but forgot most of it.) Well, don’t get your ropa interior in a bundle! Here at Babbel, we’ve got a veritable mountain of content to help get you learn Spanish for travel!

Learning a bit of Spanish (or brushing up on what you already know) before your vacation will make it easier for you to get around, to find amazing places to eat, and to connect with the locals so you can really experience the culture of the country that you’re visiting! Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here is a two-week timeline we’ve put together to get you speaking confidently before you head out.

Days 1-3: Get Started With The Basics!

There are some pretty standard words and phrases that everyone should know how to say in the local language when traveling to a foreign country. Here are just a few:

  • Hello
  • How are you?
  • Good morning / afternoon / evening
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • Yes
  • No
  • Sorry
  • I don’t understand
  • How much is _______?

Tackling Babbel’s Spanish beginner’s courses will make you a master of these phrases in no time. These courses will also teach you how to introduce yourself, ask simple questions, book a hotel room, and order some delicious food in a café or restaurant. There are also a number of lessons focused on practicing your Spanish pronunciation, so you’ll have no problem being understood!

Depending on where you are going and what you plan to do during your stay, some courses will probably be more valuable to you than others. You should think about what you plan to do on your trip and try to come up with a list of situations you can imagine yourself in. We recommend taking a look at the courses on our web version so that you can see exactly what each lesson contains.

Here are some additional lessons we think are super useful for your first couple days of preparation:

Category Course Lesson
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation Tenemos una reserva…
Listening and Speaking Peculiarities in Pronunciation Emphasis 1

Days 4-6: Practice Ordering In A Café, Restaurant or Bar!

One of the absolute best parts of going on vacation is experiencing the unique cuisine of the place you are visiting! Maybe you’re traveling to Mexico and can’t wait to get your hands on some amazing barbacoa tacos or fresh tamales, or you’re jetting off to Peru and dreaming of a tangy ceviche with a side of (eep!) roast guinea pig, or you’re heading to Spain and just want to munch on some traditional tapas dishes like patatas bravas or gambas al ajillo.

With all the opportunities to tantalize your taste buds, you’re going to need to know how to order exactly what you want to eat or drink in Spanish. Luckily for you, we have the perfect lessons to teach you how to do just that! Check out these three lessons to get yourself comfortable with all things food and drink related:

Category Course Lesson
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation Dos cervezas, por favor
Countries and Traditions Spanish for Everyday Life En el restaurante
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation ¿Qué tienen de postre?

We’ve also got a great course all about food in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and the different regions of Spain. If you’re heading to one of these places, then definitely take a look at the course Food in Spain and Latin America in our Countries and Traditions category!

After completing these lessons, you’ll be able to understand the menu, order food and drinks, and ask for the bill. The exhilaration of getting through an entire restaurant experience en español will make all the time you spend practicing 100% worth it! ¡Buen provecho!

Days 7-10: Learn To Ask For Directions, Get Around By Car, And Use Public Transportation

Getting lost can be one of the most stressful experiences ever — even when you’re in a place where you speak the language. Imagine getting turned around in the subway system, getting a flat tire, or taking the wrong bus to the middle of nowhere and not being able to communicate with anyone! Knowing how to ask for help is crucial if you end up in one of these situations.

By now you should have made it through most of the beginner’s courses, but just in case you missed some of them, here’s a piece of advice: In Beginner’s Course 2, there’s a unit called “Vamos en avión.” The lessons in this unit will teach you some really useful things, such as vocabulary for different forms of transportation, the forms of the verb ir (to go), how to ask for and understand directions, and how to say estoy perdido (I’m lost) — a great phrase to know in any language!

If you still feel like you need a bit more practice, then go through these lessons too:

Category Course Lessons
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation ¿Donde hay…?
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation Un billete para el centro…
Countries and Traditions Spanish for your Vacation Tengo una avería…

These lessons will help you review the skills you need to ask for directions, to use public transportation, and to deal with any problems you might have while driving in a Spanish-speaking country.

Days 11-14: Review What You’ve Learned (And Have Some Fun Too!)

You’re leaving in just a few days, so now is the perfect time to go back over everything you’ve learned so far. The Babbel Review Manager is the perfect tool to help you do just that. All of the vocabulary and phrases you’ve picked up over the last two weeks have been stored there so you can easily review the most important things.

Once you’re feeling confident in your main skills, then you can cut loose and have a little fun! We have a ton of courses with interesting cultural and linguistic content that you’ll find under the categories Countries and Traditions and Specials. There you can learn some colloquialisms to help you sound just like a local (guay!), get some ideas for sightseeing in Mexico (Tulúm, anyone?), learn a bit about true and false friends, and even pick up some interesting idioms that will have you impressing the people you meet on your travels en menos que canta un gallo!

You’ve studied hard for two weeks, and now you’ll be more than ready to communicate effectively during your trip. Our final piece of advice for you is, of course, to have fun!

¡Buen viaje!

So what are you waiting for? Start tackling Spanish today!
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Ted Mentele
Growing up in Wisconsin, Ted found a love for nature, cheese, and deep-fried food. He studied German, and in 2013 decided to move to Berlin for a bit. After five years teaching English, six trips to the visa office, and a number of pleas from his Mother for him to move home, he’s still there. When he’s not editing away at Babbel, he spends his time listening to weird music, collecting sci-fi books, and thinking about birds.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Ted found a love for nature, cheese, and deep-fried food. He studied German, and in 2013 decided to move to Berlin for a bit. After five years teaching English, six trips to the visa office, and a number of pleas from his Mother for him to move home, he’s still there. When he’s not editing away at Babbel, he spends his time listening to weird music, collecting sci-fi books, and thinking about birds.
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