Spanish made easy: even dummies can learn Spanish!
Learning Spanish is not as much of a time commitment (and not as hard) as you might think. With Babbel, learning Spanish online is easy, intuitive and under your control: learn at your own pace, choose the lessons you want, and review and practice vocabulary on the go. Spanish is considered one of the easiest languages to learn, although mastering the accent and pronunciation can be tough hurdles. Thankfully, Babbel’s online courses and mobile apps include speech recognition so you can get used to the accent and learn to roll your “r”s like a pro. Read the how-to tips below and then test your skills with a free Spanish lesson.
How Spanish differs from English
Spanish is one of five main Romance languages, meaning it has Latin roots (i.e. from Rome). If you already speak another Romance language, like French, Italian, or Portuguese, you will recognize Spanish grammar as well as lots of vocabulary. If not, you don’t need to know too many rules to get started. Spanish grammar is more straightforward than English and is not a major stumbling block for most learners.
Unlike English, which has no gendered nouns (“the” is the only definite article), every noun in Spanish is either masculine (preceded by el) or feminine (preceded by la). If you don’t know whether a noun should be el or la just remember that many masculine words end in “o”, while many feminine words end in “a”. Compare el perro (the dog) and el niño (the boy) to la casa (the house) and la niña (the girl). Both masculine and feminine articles have a plural form. El perro becomes los perros and la casa becomes las casas. Notice that, like in English, the plural noun simply adds an “s”.
Ask for help
If you know nothing else, being able to ask questions is a good way to start speaking a language. Not only can you start communicating right away, but the answers to your questions will provide you with new vocabulary.
- ¿Donde esta la estación? – Where is the station?
- ¿Qué? – What?
- ¿Qué hora es? – What time is it?
- ¿Quién es? – Who is it?
- ¿Por qué? – Why?
- ¿Por qué no? – Why not?
- ¿Cómo esta? – How are you?
- ¿Cómo te llamas? – What is your name (lit. How are you called?)
Finding the Similarities to English
Although English is technically a Germanic language, it borrows more than half of its vocabulary from French and Latin, making it very close to a Romance language in practice. As a result, English and Spanish share thousands of “true friends”, words that sound the same and have the same meaning. For example, if I were to ask you for un minuto de silencio por las victimas del accidente, or told you that I just read la biografía del famoso académico, you’d quickly realize that you understood all seven of those Spanish nouns and, because of the context, probably the prepositions de and por as well.
But you can’t always tack an “o”, “a” or “ente” to an English noun and expect to be understood by a Spanish speaker. Beware of “false friends”: Spanish words that sound like English words but have different meanings. For example, it’s not immediately obvious that to pay attention to something is atender, while to attend an event is asistir, and to assist someone is ayudar.
Verbs in Spanish are always conjugated, which means the verb has a different ending depending on whether you, I, we, she, or they are doing the verb. To get you started, here are a few useful verbs in the I form:
- Yo necesito… – I need…
- Yo quiero – I want…
- Yo tengo – I have…
How To Practice Your Spanish
Try your first Spanish lesson with Babbel for free. One of the advantages of the Babbel system is that you are immersed in Spanish from the beginning. The process is easy and intuitive (with lots of helpful hints when you need them), and you can learn at your own pace and set your own lesson plans. Babbel’s Spanish course is affordable, accessible online and via mobile devices, and proven to strengthen your reading, listening, speaking and comprehension skills. You can master Spanish by yourself, or use Babbel’s community features to connect with other learners, find tandem partners and share expertise. Use the tips above and see which level you can achieve.