Hola a todos!
I guess you’re here because you want to learn Spanish, well you’ve come to the right place. Learning Spanish was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. Now, while I won’t go into the details of why I decided to learn Spanish (yet), I can tell you that no matter what your reason for learning this beautiful language is, you won’t regret it.
This is a guide on how to begin learning Spanish. I won’t go into much detail, and I won’t discuss grammar or try to teach Spanish at all, however, I will give you a few tips on how to begin, and resources that I used to get to a level B1 in 6 months.
A little background on my level and how I reached this far:
I started to learn Spanish in 2013 after reading a beautiful poem by Bécquer titled ¿Qué es poesía? . So, in my final year of school I began my journey of learning Spanish, and subsequently went on to study it in University. After 2 years I moved to Spain to study in one of the most prestigious universities in the world, La Universidad de Salamanca (keep an eye on my blog for a post about my experience there) and that’s where I really embraced the language. So anyway, enough about me, now it’s about you and how you can begin to learn el español!
Disclaimer: I have a level C1 Certificate in Spanish, so although I am not at native level, my level is still high.
Step 1: Listen to some music
Don’t go straight in for grammar books and apps! I find that these things only make people feel disheartened when they begin, as they can be so full of information and big words. I began Spanish by listening to some good Spanish music. My favourite Spanish band is an Indie band from Madrid called Vetusta Morla; check out their music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5TUIStPW0w . This creates a general interest in the language and makes it feel more alive. There are some great Spanish music playlists on Spotify which you can follow too.
Print out the lyrics of some of your new favourite Spanish songs and translate some of the words little by little to English. This will show you how words are used naturally without having to discover it from a book. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself singing along to the music like a native!
Step 2: Invest in some good books
Now that you have found some music that you like and have started to get a feel for the language, it’s time to invest in a good book. Here is a list of the 3 books that I started out with in Spanish, which helped me to get to a level B1 in just 6 months:
Aula Internacional 1: http://www.internationalbooks.ie/mcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3701
- This book was useful as it was not your average black and White grammar book, but rather a colourful book which was easy to use. However, it lacks a bit in grammar content, so I bought some other books which were purely grammar.
Collins easy learning Spanish grammar and practice: https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008141646/easy-learning-spanish-grammar-and-practice/
- This is a grammar book that I used when I was a beginner. It gives great explanations and provides a very complete verb table full of useful verbs for beginners.
And that’s it for textbooks and grammar books! These books helped me a lot and I used them to help me to translate songs and poems.
I think my biggest advice to give you when you’re learning Spanish is to find something cultural that interests you, and immerse yourself in it, whether it be music and poetry like I chose, or tv dramas and books, if you concentrate on it and try to learn for yourself what the words mean and how the grammar is used, you’ll learn very quickly.
Step 3: Study a little bit each day
I understand time is a big factor when it comes to learning a language, however don’t let your lack of time stop you. Personally (as nerdy as this sounds) studying Spanish was my hobby. Wherever I went, my Spanish books went too, and whenever I was alone, I listened to Spanish music. But perhaps you don’t have as much time as I had (even though I was in my final year of school) and you just have 10-30 minutes each day to study, well, this is enough! It may take you longer, but if you listen to Spanish music on the car on your way to work and set aside a small section of your time in the evenings, if you study for 30 minutes every day you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.
Apps on your phone can also be helpful for busy people who may not have time to sit down and study. Now although I didn’t use apps so much as I prefer to use books, I did sometimes use them when I was on the go. The app which I used was Babbel , I found that it was very interactive and provided me with lots of examples of everyday Spanish.
Step 4: Speak with natives
Now that you can speak a few words, can probably introduce yourself and speak about basic topics, it’s time to start speaking to locals! This is defiantly a lot easier for those who live in cities. Most cities have several language exchanges and events going on each week, if not each day, and most cities do have native Spanish speakers living in them, whether they be from Spain or from South America. However, if you, like I did, live in the countryside, this can be more of a challenge, nonetheless, the chances are that if you’re reading this you have WIFI, and thus have the power of the internet at your fingertips! Most of my best friends from Spain are people who I met over the internet. If you use apps like Hello Talk you can meet Spanish speakers (aka hispanohablates) with ease.
It is a lot easier to learn a language if you communicate with speakers of the language. I was lucky enough to quickly make Spanish friends and I went to Spain to visit them, which provided me with an excellent opportunity to speak and practice. Even if it is just online, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.
Step 5: Be confident
You’ve come this far, and at this point you probably can sing along to some Spanish songs, and have mastered the grammar basics, now it’s time to show off your new skills and be proud! My top advise to new learners of a languages is to be confident! You will make mistakes, if you didn’t, then probably you’re a robot. Make mistakes, learn from them and carry on. I made countless mistakes when I began to learn, but I would study to see where I went wrong and correct myself. This is the best way to learn, te lo prometo!
Well I’ll finish this small blog entry here. I hope that it will give you some motivation to learn un poco. There is no timeline with this. Don’t rush yourself or worry if it’s taking you awhile to pick up the language. Just go at your own pace and most of all, enjoy yourself! Learning Spanish can be so much fun and rewarding, just study a little each day and you’ll be hablando en español before you know it!
Check out my blog in the coming weeks for a follow up on this post, where I’ll go into more detail about what grammar and vocab to learn and when, and also I’ll talk about my experiences in Spain!