While an upcoming trip is a great inspiration for learning a new language, we can’t be globetrotters all of the time. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to put your Spanish into practice right here in the U.S. After all, you’re already in the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
Here are some suggestions for practicing your Spanish right here at home.
1. Start A Spanish Club
You’re not alone in your quest to learn a new language, and we all know that most activities are better with friends, so why not start your own Spanish club? Invite a group of friends who are also learning Spanish — or use a networking site like Meetup to connect with other like-minded individuals — to get together on a regular basis to practice speaking Spanish. You can watch a Spanish-language film, read poetry in Spanish, or simply dedicate the evening to conversing solely in Spanish. Making the language a regular part of your life and practicing your conversation skills in a casual setting will help you become more confident in your abilities.
2. Volunteer In Your Local Community
Another great way to make Spanish a more permanent part of your life is to volunteer in your local community to teach English to native Spanish speakers. You’ll be creating relationships and staying motivated to improve your Spanish skills as you watch the students improve their English skills. You can find volunteering opportunities through your community’s website, or by visiting a volunteering website such as VolunteerMatch.
3. Start Listening In
You’re surrounded with opportunities to learn Spanish, all you have to do is listen in. Tune in to Spanish-language radio or television stations or pick up a Spanish-language newspaper. You can also change your online environment by switching your Facebook settings to Spanish, and if you’re calling customer service, oprima dos to hear the instructions in Spanish. The small things add up, and will help you see the language as a living, breathing thing, and not simply a verb conjugation table.
4. Join A Spanish Society
Learn more about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries by joining the Instituto Cervantes. Established by the Spanish government and named after the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, the Instituto Cervantes is the largest worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Spanish language and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. Become a member of your local chapter to attend events and lectures on Spanish culture, film screenings, readings, and more. If there isn’t one in your area, you can follow the Spanish language department of a university near you to learn about upcoming events.
5. Go On A Field Trip
Of course, you don’t have to be in a classroom or listening to a lecture to learn about culture. If there’s a Spanish-speaking neighborhood near you, take a trip there. You can learn a lot just by reading the business signs and listening to the conversations happening around you. Visit a grocery store or a restaurant, and read menus and ingredient lists. Ask questions, and order something you’ve never had before. You’ll pick up some new words, and maybe even discover a new favorite food in the process.