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3 Useful Tips for Learning Spanish as a Second Language

There is a myth which says that only children and young people can learn a language. Actually, learning a new language might be easier for adults who have already experience in language learning.

Useful Tips for Learning Spanish

Adults and children may learn in different ways, but that shouldn’t discourage you from committing to learn another language. Here you will find 3 useful tips for learning Spanish as a second language.

1. Make realistic and specific goals

Now that you have decided to learn Spanish, one of the most important things you need to do is to set goals, but not any goal: a specific and realistic one. If you say that your goal is to speak Spanish like a native, I must say that’s a pretty vague goal. If I ask you how you expect to do that, you’ll probably give another vague response like “studying very hard." This vagueness might confuse you about where to begin or what to do exactly. If you break it down into specific and realistic goals, you will be able to focus on a particular task. For example, once you reach a certain level of Spanish proficiency, a realistic goal might be to be able to hold a 20-minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker about a certain topic. To reach this goal you probably have to learn some new vocabulary and expressions, or you might need to read an article related to the subject. Then, after the conversation, you can evaluate yourself and give yourself feedback about how well the conversation went, but mainly about your specific tasks:

  • Were you able to say what you wanted to say?

  • Did you understand the other person?

  • Did the other person understand you?

2. Remind yourself why you are learning Spanish

A very important question you have always to keep in mind is this: Why are you learning Spanish? At the beginning you get really excited and practice Spanish a lot for a few days, then you lose your motivation and don’t practice it much for weeks. Has it ever happened to you? This happens very often, especially among students who are learning by themselves, because motivation is usually the first thing that goes away. That’s why you have to remind yourself why you are learning Spanish and then take the time and make the effort. Do you need to learn Spanish for your job? Do you want to get paid more money? Will you live abroad? Will you travel? Do you want to make more friends? Whatever your reasons are, you need to remind yourself why you are learning Spanish and keep it in mind every day. Successful language learners create goals that inspire them. But they don’t only have goals; they put them where they can easily see them and read them as much as possible, such as a bedroom wall. A successful language learner knows exactly what he wants and he knows exactly what he has to do to get it. The most important of all this is to be consistent and dedicated to your efforts. You should insert Spanish into your life every single day, not only twice a week because nobody masters anything without daily application. If you do something every day, you will learn much more quickly and it will become an automatic habit. Do you know what your goals are for learning Spanish? If your answer is “no," how do you expect to get it if you don’t know what you want?

3. Learn Spanish for pleasure

Everything is easier if you do it for pleasure. Try to make your Spanish path fun and interesting. When learning a new language, research shows that students who read for pleasure make the most progress on vocabulary acquisition and are better at understanding grammatical structures. One of my students hated to read, although he knew that by reading he was exposed to all sorts of vocabulary that he couldn’t find in day-to-day life. So, during one-on-one lessons, he started reading about his favorite topic: traveling. As he was reading for pleasure about traveling, he realized that he was learning many words that he didn’t use in everyday conversation, but that allowed him to understand and intelligently converse about a wide variety of topics. Over time, this student enjoyed reading about other topics. So if you want to learn vocabulary, the key is to read for pleasure; this means to read materials that are interesting and compelling for you.

Blanca Pelayo

Blanca Pelayo - Spanish teacher What other strategies have you found useful when learning Spanish as a second language?

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