In this post, I share five steps to take you from beginner to conversationally fluent in Spanish. This post is for beginners, or anyone who has been thinking of getting started in a new language, but hasn't yet pulled that trigger. It's time to get moving! There are plenty of Spanish courses out there anyway.
Instead, here are the strategies and mindsets you can use to become a Spanish speaker sooner rather than later. With that in mind, here are five essential steps that will take you to conversational fluency in Spanish. I like to call this your passion. Everyone's reason for learning Spanish is different. I was passionate about proving a point and showing what perseverance and hard work could accomplish. For you it might be different. Maybe you have a love interest who is a native speaker, or perhaps you want to pursue a career that involves the Spanish language.
Literature, travel, adventure, hobbies — they can all fuel the motivation you need to keep you pushing forward with your studies and practice. By exploring your real reason for learning Spanish, you have a better chance of keeping your motivation high as you progress. Whenever you feel stuck at Spanish, go back to the reason you picked it up in the first place. Learning because your grandparents speak Spanish? That doesn't mean you can't also pick up a Spanish-related hobby, learn songs in Spanish, or start reading Spanish literature.
Most Spanish phrasebooks will provide you with hundreds or thousands of words and phrases.
You can get around this by creating your personalized Spanish phrase book and vocabulary list. These are the words and expressions you will use all the time. Focusing on these is the fastest path to conversational fluency. When starting off, make sure to come up with a list of words and expressions that deal with your life.
Here are some topics to get you started and some examples of what I might say:. As you try to speak with others in Spanish you'll naturally encounter other words or phrases that you will want to add to this list. You'll also be able to check your initial attempts at translating it, to getting it right. Frequency word lists are a great resource, but rather than take the list as it is, go through and select those words that you know you will use on a consistent basis. Usually after the top words the, to, yes etc. Fluent Spanish speakers don't talk like a book. If you try to talk the same way people write, you'll wind up sounding like a robot.
Spoken Spanish has elements that allow you to bridge ideas and phrases, or add space to the conversation where your mouth can catch up with your brain or vice versa. Don't try to memorize all the Conversational Connectors at once! Pick a few and use them as quickly as you can.
Step 1: Find Your Real Passion for Speaking Fluent Spanish
This is the fastest way to ingrain them into your memory. You only need one or two to start, and then you can add to your repertoire as you gain more experience and confidence. This is where you truly hit the ground running! Your goal is to use as much of the language as you can, as often as you can, wherever you can. Location is no excuse. Even if you are one of those rare people with no Internet, no native speakers in your city, and no resources, there is still a way to speak Spanish all the time:.
All the normal self-talk that you do in your head during the day can be done in Spanish! So be sure to check out my list of Spanish language resources , including podcasts, videos, online services, and more. Listen and then listen again.
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Work for comprehension and try to duplicate the sounds you hear. This sort of active study of what you hear will increase your ability to speak like a native.
In any language learning project, you can easily get overwhelmed with all the things about the language which are challenging. In fact, it seems this is the first thing many beginners do. So, why not try a different approach? Mindset and your approach to learning a language can be one of the greatest determiners of success.
Not only is Spanish relatively easy to pick up and start speaking, understanding it gives you a huge head-start to understanding other Romance languages like French , Italian and Portuguese. With Babbel, you can learn Spanish without going to classes, hiring a tutor or investing in expensive software. For an affordable monthly subscription, you have access to hundreds of hours of interactive courses that get you speaking right from the first lesson. We add new courses on a regular basis so the opportunities to learn and improve are always growing. And if you own an iPhone, Android, or Windows 8 phone the key to speaking Spanish is already in your pocket.
Having a little Spanish in your conversational repertoire will open up the world to you on multiple levels:. As the third most spoken language on the planet, knowing some Spanish can be extremely advantageous for anyone doing business in Spain or Latin America. Closer to home, many American find a grasp of Spanish useful when interacting with employees or coworkers here in the States.
Traveling — Mexico has a lot more to offer than spring break, but only if you can talk to people in their own language. The same is true in the rest of Central and South America, where monolinguals can easily get stuck in the pre-packaged vacation zones. Living Abroad — When you speak Spanish well enough to travel without a phrasebook in hand, the idea of staying longer in another country can become tempting. Places like Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru offer opportunities for students looking for a semester abroad, professionals looking for some adventure in their working life and retirees drawn by warmer climates and lower prices.
Brain Training — Even if you decide to only learn Spanish as a hobby, knowing multiple languages will keep your brain healthy and nimble, even in old age. This is because knowing another language creates another network of connections among your neurons. The higher your neural interconnectivity, the better your memory and problem-solving skills. Spanish and Latin-American Culture, Unfiltered — The Spanish-speaking world is responsible for gorgeous and delicious arts and culture.
Is there such a thing as business Spanish? This falls under your soft skills: How well can you interact with business partners? Do you create a good impression when you meet them? Do you feel confident negotiating and striking deals?
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The only thing that people looking to learn business Spanish have in common is a willingness to skip some of the banalities that you often endure when first learning a language, in order to focus on what is of immediate use to them and, indeed, to their business. This is an important point. Business Spanish may well mean something very different to a salesperson than it will to data analyst. You want to learn Spanish for professionals, but what kind of professional? The questions you should really ask yourself are: What would you like to achieve and in what time frame?
And what are the most relevant areas of the language that you would like to focus on and be able to use quickly? English natives have the luxury of being able to impress others with their language skills easily. Utter just a few words of Spanish to your fellow professionals and those you are talking with will likely be bowled over by your cultural sensitivity and worldliness. Talking of which, what exactly were you doing during those six hours above the clouds? Aimlessly leafing through the in-flight magazine?
Striving to find a comfortable sitting position whilst balancing a cup of non-descript brown liquid on the sorry excuse for a table in front of you? Modern technology has made knowledge remarkably portable. As portable as your phone, in fact. Babbel offers a huge range of app-based courses that are accessible through your smartphone, tablet and computer, enabling you to study exactly the areas of language which are relevant to you and your aims.
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Every course can be downloaded to be done offline, so you can even access them during flight mode. What if you want to be able to give a speech in Spanish? Listen carefully though, because you may even understand the odd word here and there. The English and Spanish languages share some Latin roots, and consequently they also share quite a lot of vocabulary. This is often particularly evident in a business environment, where higher registers are often used and languages have an increasing tendency to borrow words from the prevailing lingua franca — English.
Spanish for Travel
A great tip, however, is to study signposting language. What is signposting language? This is the kind of language you would use to structure a presentation or speech in Spanish.
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Students of business English will often learn phrases like moving on to the next slide, if we take a look at this graph, in addition to set phrases to talk about numerical trends. By learning such set phrases, you can structure presentations without having to learn all the underlying grammar and vocabulary individually.