The Best Way To Learn Spanish Like A Native Speaker
By Ivy do Carmo
Have you set the goal of learning Spanish? Then you have made an excellent decision for two reasons:
First, because it is a scientific fact that learning a new language provides several mental benefits, such as improving your memory and the functionality of your brain, becoming a more perceptive and skilled person and preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Second, because Spanish is a widely spoken language that will help you on your professional and personal life, for example, making it easier to get a job promotion or to travel to many latin countries or Spain.
However, the internet is filled with a lot of courses, books, guides and tips, and they all say that they have the magic key to make you learn Spanish overnight. It is only natural that you may ask yourself: what is the best way to learn Spanish like a native speaker?
The first thing you should know is that there isn’t a magic potion you can drink and start speaking like a native. Learning a new language requires effort and dedication, and it is a long-term commitment. But don’t see this as a negative thing – whatever requires a lot of effort to achieve, makes the achievement feel way more rewarding, don’t you agree?
Even though there isn’t a magic answer, there sure are some great tips to maximize your learning and we will enlist four of them in this article.
The best way to learn Spanish: start with the basics
If you are a total beginner, you have to start by learning basic Spanish. Pimsleur is an excellent tool to help you with that. The Pimsleur Method focuses on a “learning by listening” approach, providing audios of basic conversations among native speakers for you to get use to the language and then repeating what you’ve heard.
Pimsleur is an excellent choice because you can listen to the audios while doing your daily tasks, such as commuting to work or cleaning the house. Another great aspect of this method is that it provides review tools, which is so important that it will be explained in another topic below.
Become familiar with the sound of the Spanish language
Have you ever wished you could learn a boring subject in school just by holding the book? The whole content would magically be transported to your brain “just like osmosis”, as my colleagues would say.
Of course this does not happen, because you cannot learn something in such a passive way. But how about learning a new language in a fun way? You can choose an interesting TV series in Spanish and watch at least one episode per day.
I recommend Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) and Gran Hotel, but there are many excellent Spanish series for you to watch and make your brain get use to the sound of the language.
You can even watch an episode with English subtitles and then watch it again without them, to check how much of the conversation you can grasp. It may seem silly, but you would be impressed with how many simple sentences and expressions you can learn this way with a minimum effort.
Speak and practice with native Spanish speakers
When we are beginning to learn a new language, we tend to focus too much on reading and listening because honestly, we are too afraid to speak. That is why my first tip was to use Pimsleur to learn the basic.
However, refraining yourself from speaking is a terrible mistake. The more you speak from day one, the sooner you will be fluent. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they are part of the learning process. The best way to learn Spanish is by speaking!
If you have a friend who speaks Spanish, especially if he is a native speaker, try speaking to him on a daily basis and ask him to correct your Spanish pronunciation. It is very important to schedule a specific time for that, because think about it: don’t you have a designated time to work, to eat and to go to sleep? Hence, you must have a time to practice your pronunciation. Learning a new language involves commitment! If you feel that you’ll struggle to maintain the discipline, find yourself an accountability partner to help you stay on track.
What if you don’t know anyone who speaks Spanish? Then I will give you two options. The first one is trying online classes with a native teacher. Italki is an excellent website to do that, since they have over 800 Spanish teachers and you can pay per class.
Why is this method better than to study Spanish in a regular language school? I will give three motives. First, because in a classroom, the learning rhythm is dictated by all the students and since they all have to practice their conversation skills, you lose precious time. On the other hand, scheduling online classes with native teachers will give you the opportunity of having their full attention for the entire time and you alone will dictate your learning rhythm.
Second, studying online has the big advantage of time flexibility. While in a regular language school you must adapt your schedule to their time, you can choose the date and time of your online classes.
The third reason for online classes being better than regular courses is the cost. You can have an entire hour of private class on Italki for less than 10 dollars. It goes without saying that you would spend much more to attend classes in a regular language school.
What if you don’t have any money to spare right now? You can still practice your Spanish by doing a language exchange. Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, the same way you’re dying to practice your Spanish, someone in Argentina may be dying to practice his English. You can make a video chat with this person and talk half of the time in Spanish and the other half in English, for free! It will be a win-win situation. Great idea, right? You can find many people who would be interested in doing a language exchange with you on websites like Meetup.
Regardless of the method you choose, speaking with natives will help you to develop the correct accent from the beginning and this is super important because the pronunciation is an essential part of learning a language.
Review what you learn
This last tip seems a little obvious, but don’t you know someone that have studied a language for a long time and can’t even engage in a simple conversation in this language today? That’s because this person hasn’t really understood what he learned.
This scenario is similar to what we used to do in school, memorizing a subject for a test. Do you still remember everything you’ve memorized back then? I know you don’t.
In order to really understand and memorize what you are learning in Spanish, you can use a program called Anki. This free program is based on two concepts: active recall learning and spaced repetition. What does this mean?
Active recall learning is being asked a question to see if you know the answer, which transforms your study from passive into active. You use cards to write the things you learn and the program tests you several times to see if you still remember them. That is what they call spaced repetition learning.
Today, we saw four tips to help you to discover the best way to learn Spanish: learn basic Spanish with Pimsleur, get use to the language by watching TV series, practice your conversation skills with natives and memorize what you’ve learned using Anki.
This way, you will definitely improve your Spanish in no time!
Did you like this article? We have a lot of other cool tips for you on our Mimic Method Youtube Channel. Subscribe to check them out!