If you have always wanted to learn Spanish, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of millions of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Spanish is a language full of beauty, layers of meaning, and a rich linguistic history. It can take you all over the world, from South America to Spain and even to the islands of the Pacific.
But you might have a lot of questions about what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Spanish language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Learning Spanish: Background And Basics
Basic Spanish Lessons For Beginners
What's The Quickest And Easiest Way To Learn Spanish?
Why Learn Spanish?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. The reasons to learn Spanish are especially true. Here are just a few of the reasons why spending time learning Spanish is a great idea:
- build new connections with hundreds of millions of people across the world
- get a leg up in learning about other related languages, including English
- experience culture and history of the Spanish-speaking world through a linguistic lens
- spruce up your Spanish business skills to help you compete in the global economy
- travel to and even live in Spanish-speaking countries with confidence
- stimulate your brain and keep your mental muscles sharp
Reasons To Learn Spanish
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Spanish is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways learning Spanish will have a positive impact on your life.
- Build Your Business Spanish Skills — If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning a new language — especially Spanish — is a no-brainer for success. Latin and South America are emerging markets full of opportunity for businesses. Learning the Spanish language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Spanish-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
- Use Language To Train Your Brain — Picking up a new language is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Don’t give in to the argument that you’re somehow worse at learning languages after your youth! Picking up a new language is more than just memorizing lists of vocab (though you’ll certainly sharpen your lexical recall along the way). It involves making connections between those words and what they represent, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. If you’ve been lacking intellectual stimulation, there are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Spanish.
- Immerse Yourself In Spanish Culture, Unfiltered — Learning Spanish opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Spanish-speaking authors like Gabriel García Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful and poetic expressions. Through the lens of Spanish you get a look into the lyrics of classic flamenco songs and a more active immersion in more contemporary Spanish-language media like Spanish podcasts, radio shows, books, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of world-renowned culinary creations, the dialogue of famous Latin American and Spanish films, and the most sweeping currents in Spanish-language journalism all become accessible to you when you learn the Spanish language. And if you’re from a family with Spanish-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Spanish is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
- Learn Spanish For Travel — When you have Spanish in your back pocket, you have a passport to a whole new world. Learning Spanish not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Spanish lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the beaches of Barcelona, the many streets of Mexico City, the Incan ruins in Peru or anywhere else Spanish is an official language, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path when you have Spanish in your linguistic repertoire.
- Live The Spanish Language Abroad In Spain And Latin America — Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign Spanish-speaking university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you surf by day and work at night, or retire in a more tranquil, tropical climate, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Spanish — like if you live in Spain, for example — you’ll fast-track your journey to Spanish fluency. Learning Spanish is a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
Learning Spanish: Background And Basics
Where Is Spanish An Official Language? A Global Spanish-Speaking Community
If you know the Spanish language, you open yourself up to a whole world of Spanish speakers that spans continental borders. There are slightly more than 400 million Spanish speakers around the world, making it the second most spoken language worldwide behind Chinese (and ahead of English in third place!). It’s also the second most spoken language in North America, behind English, and the most spoken in South America, just barely beating out Brazilian Portuguese.
You can find Spanish speakers spread the planet in Spain and in most of the countries of the Latin American world, including Mexico and Central and South America. Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It’s also the official language of the territory of Puerto Rico.
And did you know that even though Spanish isn’t an official language of the United States (which has no official language), there are more combined native and non-native speakers of Spanish in the United States than there are even people living in Spain? That’s right; for many people living in the U.S., especially in places like Florida, the American Southwest, and densely populated cities, you likely don’t even have to leave your town or local community to find Spanish speakers to talk to.
How Long Does Learning To Speak Spanish Take?
Learning any new skill takes an investment of time and effort, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, cooking a new recipe or practicing a sport. Learning a language like Spanish is no exception. It requires a regular commitment and a willingness to challenge yourself — and to stick with it even when it gets tough.
When it comes to learning the basics of a new language, many experts say that with about 15 minutes of language study a day, you can learn the basics of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation in about 3 weeks — enough to have a simple conversation in your new language. The United States Foreign Service Institute ranks Spanish as a Category I language, meaning it takes around 24 weeks to reach “professional working proficiency.”
To build any skill, you need the right tools and teachers. The more access you have to resources that fit your learning style (and fit into your schedule), the better you’ll be at making quick progress towards your goal. Determining how long it takes to learn Spanish or any other language depends on how often you practice, how well equipped you are to learn and even your attitude.
What Is The Spanish Learning Process? The Path Towards Spanish Fluency
Reaching Spanish fluency is a multi-step learning process. You’ll start out with beginner Spanish then build on your knowledge with intermediate level Spanish before you start to master the most advanced Spanish topics. But what exactly happens at each of these levels in the journey to becoming fluent in Spanish?
Beginner Level Spanish
When you first start learning Spanish, you’ll learn the basics of beginner Spanish — enough to be able to carry a basic conversation with a Spanish speaker. This likely includes beginner Spanish vocabulary about how to introduce yourself in Spanish, talk about where you’re from, describe a few of the characteristics of people, places, things in the world around you, and ask questions in Spanish to get information you need. To express yourself in beginner Spanish, you’ll need to know how to form simple sentences, so you’ll learn basic Spanish verb conjugations (verb forms) and pronouns like yo (“I”), tú (“you”), nosotros/as (“we”), ellos/as (“they”) and more. The Spanish verbs ser and estar (“to be”) will become quite familiar to you as well.
When you learn Spanish for beginners, you’ll also learn how Spanish nouns work — what it means in Spanish for nouns to have a gender (masculine or feminine) and how Spanish adjectives must agree with those nouns in gender and number (singular or plural). All of this means you’ll need to build up your Spanish vocabulary with a solid foundation of some of the most common Spanish verbs, Spanish adjectives and Spanish nouns.
And then of course there are other beginner Spanish basics you’ll pick up along the way like Spanish numbers, Spanish weather expressions, telling the time in Spanish and the names of the colors in Spanish, to name a few.
Intermediate Level Spanish
When you progress past Spanish for beginners into intermediate Spanish, you’ll be exposed to more complex Spanish verb forms, verb tenses and sentence structures to help you communicate your ideas in Spanish more nuanced ways. You will probably, for example, learn how to form the Spanish past tenses (expressing that someone did something), the Spanish future tense (expressing that someone will do something) and the Spanish conditional tense (expressing that someone would do something), among others. And you’ll likely also learn about how to use constructions like the progressive forms (expressing that someone is doing something) and the imperative (to command someone to do something).
Spanish words beyond nouns, adjectives and verbs will become more useful to you as you expand your Spanish abilities. You’ll learn how to use and differentiate between important Spanish prepositions like por and para (“for”), en (“on” or “in”) and según (“according to”), to name just a few. Spanish adverbs like todavía (“still”), nunca (“never”), aquí (“here”) and allí (“there”) will also come in handy as you learn intermediate level Spanish.
The intermediate Spanish vocabulary you’ll learn at this stage will expand your lexicon by leaps and bounds. When you add in prepositions and adverbs like the ones mentioned above, for example, you’ll have brand new ways to express an idea.
Advanced Level Spanish
As you approach the point of becoming fluent in Spanish, you’ll round out the edges of what you haven’t learned or practiced much and begin to use the language as a native Spanish speaker would. This includes learning Spanish expressions used frequently by native speakers, which could mean Spanish idioms, Spanish slang, Spanish insults and swear words and even Spanish jokes!
A major grammatical focus of more advanced Spanish lessons is the difference between the Spanish indicative mood and the Spanish subjunctive mood, one that helps you express desires, wishes, doubts, possibilities or ideas that aren’t concrete facts and that can appear across all the Spanish verb tenses.
With advanced level Spanish knowledge, you’ll learn how to use the Spanish language more richly and poetically, forming layered sentence constructions that contain sentences and phrases embedded inside one another and using relative pronouns like lo que and lo cual (“that which”).
You’ll also grow your Spanish vocabulary greatly. The types of Spanish vocabulary you’ll learn in the advanced Spanish path vary, and because there can be so much to learn, you can tailor your Spanish vocabulary to your interests and fill in the gaps where you want more words. This could include Spanish for business or the medical profession. Or perhaps you like talking about sports, the entertainment industry or politics. You can create your own specialized vocabulary depending on what’s important to you in your learning journey.
Learn Spanish For Beginners: Basic Spanish Lessons
Spanish is a member of the Romance language family, which means that it (along with Italian, French and Portuguese, among others) derived from Vulgar Latin, the Latin variety spoken colloquially in the Roman Empire. That means if you know one Romance language (or if you’ve studied Latin), you’re bound to find plenty of words you recognize across the languages.
English is technically a Germanic language, meaning it shares a common linguistic ancestor with languages like German and Dutch. But over centuries English has adopted so many words from Latin and languages like French that derived from Latin that you’ll find countless cognates, or words that sound the same and have the same meaning across both languages, in both Spanish and English. You probably don’t need to consult a dictionary to know the English translations of words like el animal, la celebración or público.
You might be surprised to learn that the second largest influence on Spanish vocabulary after Latin comes from Arabic. Many nouns beginning with al- in Spanish, like la almohada (“the pillow”), la alfombra (“the rug”), or el algodón (“the cotton”) trace their etymological origins back to Arabic — a reflection of the Moors’ conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. In fact, there are about 4,000 modern Spanish words that come from Arabic, evidence of a lasting legacy imprinted on the language today from hundreds of years ago in history.
Spanish Pronunciation And Tips How To Improve
Spanish pronunciation can be a bit tricky for beginner Spanish learners, but with enough practice, it’s fairly straightforward. Many of the same sounds exist in English and Spanish, with a few exceptions. One of the most notable unfamiliar sounds is the double-r (doble erre) or rr sound, which is a “rolling” sound made with the tongue that appears in words like arriba (“up” or “above”) and correo (“mail”). You also roll the r when it’s at the beginning of a word like rojo (“red”) or after the n sound like in sonrisa (“smile”). To improve your Spanish pronunciation of the rr sound, practice flapping your tongue against the roof of your mouth and running it back along your palate as you force air outwards. It should sound like the purr of a cat!
Another confusing sound for English speakers learning Spanish is the j sound, which sounds like a throatier English h (as in “hand”) and appears in words like jardín (“garden”) and rojo (“red”). What makes it all the more confusing is that the letter h — in words like hotel (“hotel”) and hombre (“man”) — isn’t pronounced at all!
Another notoriously troublesome letter-sound pairing is the double-l or ll sound, found in words like llamar (“to call”) and amarillo (“yellow”). This combination is typically pronounced as the English y sound (like in “yes”), though most Spanish speakers in Argentina would pronounce it as the sh sound in “sheep.” Most people in Spain even pronounce it like the English j sound, like in “jump.”
If you see an accent mark over a vowel in Spanish, don’t fret; it only means that you emphasize or stress that specific syllable. So the word algodón (“cotton”) is pronounced al-go-DOHN. Another mark you’ll see in Spanish is the squiggly tilde over the letter ñ in words like año (“year”). This sound is a combination of the English n and y sounds, giving us ahn-yo.
The good thing about Spanish pronunciation and the Spanish alphabet is that each letter typically only has one or two sounds associated with it, and these sounds stay consistent across all the words in the Spanish language. That means it’s very easy to read a Spanish word and know how it’s pronounced on your first try. In that sense, it’s remarkably easier to master Spanish pronunciation than it is to grasp that of English, in which many words look nothing like they’re spelled (think about how a non-English speaker might struggle with words like “cough,” “colonel” and “knight”).
Don’t worry if you can’t master a typical Spanish accent or Spanish pronunciation right away; it takes time and practice! The best way to remember these rules is just to practice over and over, especially by reading texts out loud. Watching Spanish TV and movies or listening to Spanish podcasts, radio and film can certainly help you master Spanish pronunciation and sound like a native Spanish speaker.
Basic Spanish Phrases For Conversational Spanish
To speak Spanish like a native speaker, there are certain must-know expressions that will help you navigate your way through a conversation.
The best place to start, of course, is with “hello”! There are many common greetings in Spanish to choose from, the most popular of which include buenos días (“good morning,” or literally “good days”), or if it’s later in the day, buenas tardes (“good afternoon”) or buenas noches (“good evening” or “good night”). And of course, in casual situations there’s always the classic hola!
You’ll get familiar with basic Spanish phrases like ¿Cómo estás? (“How are you?”) or ¿Cómo está usted? if you’re speaking to someone more formally. Estoy bien means “I’m doing well,” but if you’re not in high spirits, you can respond with a más o menos (“more or less”) or a no muy bien, meaning “not so well.”
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to talk about who you are and perhaps where you’re from. To say your name, you can say Me llamo X, or “I call myself X.” You can also say Yo soy X, or “I am X.” To find out other people’s names, you can ask ¿Cómo te llamas? (literally “How do you call yourself?”) or ¿Cómo se llama usted? in more formal situations. The way to say where you come from in Spanish is Yo soy de X, and to ask where someone is from, you can say ¿De dónde eres? or more formally ¿De dónde es usted?
To say goodbye in Spanish, an adiós or a chao will do the trick. Hasta pronto (“see you soon”) or hasta luego (“see you later”) are also great options.
There are plenty of other useful conversational Spanish words, phrases and expressions you’ll get to know as you learn Spanish. From por favor (“please”), gracias (“thank you”) and de nada (“you’re welcome”) to ¿Dónde está X? (“Where is X?”) and ¿Hablas español?, or “Do you speak Spanish?” When you learn these Spanish phrases and hundreds more like them, you’ll be better able to communicate with native Spanish speakers with ease.
Verbs are key elements of any Spanish sentence. Whenever you want to express that someone or something does some action or is something else, you need a Spanish verb.
Without exception, all Spanish verbs end in -ar (like hablar), -er (like comer) or -ir (like vivir). This makes it fairly easy to recognize when you’re dealing with a Spanish verb as opposed to another type of word, like a Spanish noun or Spanish adjective. However, these are only the endings for the verbs in what’s called their infinitive form — “to do,” “to be,” “to eat” or “to speak,” for example.
These verbs need to be conjugated, which is a technical way of saying that each Spanish verb requires a special ending depending on the subject of the verb (who or what is doing the action of the verb). For a regular verb ending in -ar, like hablar (“to speak”), if the pronoun yo (“I”) is the subject, or the one doing the speaking, you drop the -ar ending from the verb and add the ending -o, giving yo hablo, or “I speak.” For the pronoun tú (“you”), hablar becomes tú hablas, or “you speak.” Each subject has its own special conjugation, or verb ending, associated with it, and this applies for all verbs, whether they end in -ar, -er, or -ir — though the conjugations are slightly different for each ending.
Knowing how to conjugate Spanish verbs is essential to being able to express yourself in Spanish, and you’ll likely spend a large part of your Spanish learning journey focusing on the grammar of Spanish verbs. Once you master them, you’ll be well on your way to speaking Spanish with fluency.
Spanish Nouns And Spanish Gender
Each Spanish noun has a gender, meaning it’s classified as either masculine or feminine. This doesn’t mean that every person, place, object or idea is inherently male or female; it’s just a system of grammatical categorization that exists in Spanish and many other world languages that affects how speakers use these languages.
Often, Spanish gender maps to words in ways you’d expect; la mujer (“the woman”) is a feminine noun, so it requires the definite article la (“the”), whereas el hombre (“the man”) is a masculine noun that requires the definite article el. But sometimes these gender assignments can be pretty arbitrary; why is el vestido (“the dress”) masculine while la masculinidad (“masculinity”) is feminine? Why is la silla (“the chair”) feminine while el sofá (“the sofa”) is masculine?
A major part of learning Spanish nouns involves memorizing their gender classifications, so it’s important to practice this concept.
There are patterns of certain word endings that can clue you in to which gender they might be assigned; for example, nouns that end in -o are often masculine (like el teléfono, or “the telephone”), while nouns that end in -a are often feminine (like la cara, or “the face”).
But some words that defy this pattern, like the masculine word el problema (“the problem”) or the feminine word la mano (“the hand”). Spanish gender can be a tricky concept to master for this reason!
When discussing Spanish nouns, we must also talk about Spanish adjectives. Adjectives in Spanish must “agree” with the nouns they modify. This means that their endings must reflect the gender (masculine or feminine) and the number (singular or plural) of the noun to which they refer. An adjective like rojo (“red”) can modify a singular, masculine noun like el libro (“the book”) to give us el libro rojo (“the red book”). But if the noun is feminine, like la mesa (“the table”), we get the expression la mesa roja (“the red table”). If the nouns are plural, the adjective endings change to reflect that, and we get expressions like los libros rojos (“the red books”) and las mesas rojas (“the red tables”).
You'll soon get the hang of how to use Spanish adjectives and Spanish nouns with repeated exposure. It's one of the earliest skills you'll practice as you start learning Spanish!
How Is Spanish from Spain Different From Mexican Spanish And Latin American Spanish?
You might already know that there are a few differences in Spanish vocabulary across the distinct varieties of Spanish spoken in Spain, Mexico and other parts of Latin America where Spanish is an official language. But just how significant are these differences? Does it matter whether you learn a form of Latin American Spanish or European Spanish?
The good news is that for the most part, each variety of Spanish can be considered mutually intelligible with the others. This means that a speaker of Argentinian Spanish would have little or no trouble communicating with a speaker of European Spanish from Spain and vice versa, for example.
There are some differences worth highlighting, however, in Spanish pronunciation, Spanish grammar and Spanish vocabulary across different varieties. For example, regional varieties of Spanish have their own unique words for “bus.” In European Spanish, it’s el autobús. In Argentina, you’d call it el colectivo. Mexican Spanish speakers call it el camión, and Spanish speakers in the Dominican Republic would call it la guagua. This is just one instance of regional variation in vocabulary; there are plenty of localized slang expressions and terms for other everyday objects that are unique to specific zones of the Spanish-speaking world. Part of the joy of learning Spanish is discovering how speakers of the Spanish language add their own twists depending on where they are in the world!
As mentioned above, there are a few differences in regional Spanish pronunciation, like how Spaniards pronounce the letters ll as the English j sound, whereas most Latin Americans pronounce the same letters as the English y instead. Similarly, European Spanish speakers pronounce the letter c (when it comes before an e or an i) and the letter z as the English th sound (like in “think”), whereas these letters sound like an English s sound (like in “sun”) in Latin American Spanish.
When it comes to grammar, one of the most notable differences is in the way to say the pronoun “you all.” European Spanish speakers make a distinction between the informal vosotros/as and the more formal ustedes, both meaning “you all” but used in different contexts depending on who’s being addressed. In Latin American Spanish, however, ustedes is used for both formal and informal situations, meaning you’ll rarely hear vosotros/as used. But speakers of all Spanish varieties will understand you regardless of whether you use ustedes or vosotros/as.
These are just a handful of examples of how the Spanish in Spain varies from the Spanish of Latin America. You’ll discover more as you progress through your Spanish learning journey!
What's The Quickest Way To Start Learning Spanish?
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn a new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming! You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn Spanish is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success.
Of the tens of millions people who speak and study Spanish as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you.
Here are some ways to learn Spanish quickly:
- in a classroom setting or with one-on-one instruction from a teacher or tutor
- with paid or free online Spanish courses, classes, software or apps
- with Spanish media resources like podcasts, playlists, books, movies and TV shows
Ways To Learn And Practice Spanish
Learning Spanish In The Classroom
Spanish is among the most studied languages in school systems and universities around the world. Classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Having other students who are learning Spanish to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though students make up a large proportion of classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in Spanish language classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be sure to find them in popular languages like Spanish. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly class after work or on the weekends can really improve your Spanish language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Spanish With A Private Tutor
Private tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled Spanish tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Spanish that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And Spanish tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Spanish Language Courses, Apps And Online Software
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online Spanish courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. These Spanish courses allow you to learn on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free Spanish courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant learning experience available.
Can You Learn Spanish For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay to spend more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options!
Learning Spanish With Tandem Partners
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a non-native speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Spanish Immersion Programs
Spanish immersion or Spanish language travel is definitely the most extreme and intensive option, and it’s not for everyone. (It’s also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language — like choosing to live in Spain or live in Latin America — will force you to make rapid progress in Spanish as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in Spanish before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale through a Spanish immersion program or just by picking up and moving by yourself. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and Spanish classes, and practice with native Spanish speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition.
How Do I Learn Spanish By Myself? — Useful Resources To Learn Spanish
When you don’t have access to Spanish classes and teachers or even native Spanish speakers, there are still plenty of Spanish media resources to help you get on your way to fluency in Spanish. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
Books To Learn Spanish
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in Spanish that can help you master the language. There are thousands of Spanish books that make great learning resources, ranging in skill from beginner-level short story collections like Celia, lo que dice and comics like Mafalda to more advanced works of magical realism like La casa de los espíritus.
Using books to learn Spanish is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the Spanish language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in Spanish helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a Spanish dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and Spanish pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning Spanish With Podcasts, Songs And Audio Resources
Using Spanish podcasts to practice Spanish is a great way to hear the language spoken with the natural patterns, accents and inflections a native Spanish speaker would use. From beginner-level Spanish podcasts like A Zero To A Hero that focus on building the basics of Spanish grammar and vocabulary to more intermediate and advanced narrative storytelling podcasts like Radio Ambulante, you can find plenty of Spanish podcasts to pick from — and many of them are free. To build up your listening skills, you can slow down a podcast or try to focus directly on what you’re hearing instead of just playing it in the background.
Listening to Spanish songs works in much the same way as tuning in to Spanish podcasts; both can be perfect to listen to passively while trudge through your daily commute, cook dinner, or take a walk in your neighborhood. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of Spanish songs on Spotify that are organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner Spanish playlists to more advanced ones.
But it’s important to remember that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with other methods of learning Spanish, too. Try looking up Spanish podcast transcripts or song lyrics for extra reading practice, and keep a notebook to write down new words and phrases you hear to review later.
Learning With Spanish TV Shows And Movies
Watching Spanish movies and Spanish TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the Spanish language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Shows like Jane the Virgin and Narcos are great for training your ear in Spanish that’s mixed in with English dialogue, and shows like Elite that are entirely in Spanish are extra challenges if you don’t want to rely on English at all. Animated movies like Arrugas are perfect for beginner Spanish learners, while films like El secreto de sus ojos and También la lluvia are ideal for those who want to follow complex, plot-heavy narratives while they practice more advanced Spanish.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in Spanish for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any Spanish! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn Spanish, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Free Online Spanish Classes, Software And Apps
There’s no shortage of free Spanish content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Spanish grammar wikis to online forums and classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of it is better than others in the ways it’s organized and how thoroughly it explains new concepts, so take it with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content in free Spanish apps comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive Spanish lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Spanish Flashcards And Phrasebooks
There are lots of pre-packaged learning materials you can find online or as a physical resource to help you practice Spanish words, phrases and expressions. Among these are Spanish flashcards, which can be found on learning websites like Quizlet and can be downloaded to your phone to take and practice wherever you go. Spanish flashcards are great tools for boosting your memory retention of the terms you want to remember most.
Similarly, Spanish phrasebooks are a great way to learn the Spanish phrases that real Spanish speakers use in their everyday lives. They will help you practice some of the most important expressions for meeting new people, ordering at restaurants and bars and finding your way around unfamiliar places. You can carry around a pocket Spanish phrasebook with you while you travel to make your experience more seamless or just to have as some light reading while you commute to work, for example.
It’s important to remember that while Spanish flashcards, Spanish phrasebooks and other similar resources are helpful learning tools, they can’t teach you how to use language spontaneously in real conversations. To do that, you’ll need to use these terms and phrases in real Spanish dialogues.
Learning Spanish With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Spanish learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel Spanish lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Spanish with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a new language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Spanish — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
Spanish Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Spanish you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Spanish for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Spanish anytime, anywhere.
Learn Spanish — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a new language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Spanish Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Spanish. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Spanish lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Spanish with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!
Check out our other topics about learning Spanish:
Best Way To Learn Spanish
How To Speak Spanish