If you’ve clicked on this article, you probably have already thought of all the reasons why Spanish is the hottest language to learn at the moment. Well, for starters, it’s the second most spoken language in the world, with roughly 400 million speakers. The United States is set to be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by the year 2050. And compared to other languages, Spanish is one of the easiest to learn for English-speakers (okay, well…maybe that double R doesn’t come so natural to us). Or maybe you have more personal reasons for wanting to learn Spanish.
The question is though, how can I teach myself Spanish? Many of us have the will to learn a second language, but it’s the time and the ability to fit it into our tight schedules that may be holding us back from doing so. Whether you’re a full-time student or a full-time employee, it can be a challenge to find a gap in your day to go to a language academy or meet with a private tutor. Thankfully, there are some solutions if you’re able to use some of that downtime at home. In this article, we will go through some alternative options for you to learn Spanish on your own.
Set up an account on Duolingo
This is a great option if you’re starting from zero or have a low to intermediate level of Spanish. Duolingo is a website that is quite similar to Rosetta Stone, but completely free! You can start from the very basics or you can take a quick test to get placed into a suitable level. It’s almost like a game that makes you oblivious to the fact that you’re actually practicing the four main skills of learning a language (reading, speaking, listening and writing). What’s awesome about Duolingo is that you can either use their website from your computer or you can download their app on your smartphone. You can even connect with your friends on Duolingo and compete against them to make it more entertaining.
READ READ READ
Once you get a good base down for your Spanish, reading is what will help you most when it comes to increasing your vocabulary and seeing legit examples of how sentences are constructed. You can easily do so by reading articles online from Spanish newspapers like El País or La Vanguardia. Shorter texts will serve much better than novels because you can focus on the topic being discussed and the related vocabulary. And lots of times your favorite news sources will have a Spanish version. Vice actually has different versions of their websites for Spain and Mexico and provides interesting topics about current events in the Spanish-speaking world.
Once you determine which source of Spanish news best fits your learning style, grab a pen and start underlining any unfamiliar words or expressions. Then you can look up anything you didn’t understand on WordReference, write down the translations, and read the article again! This is one of the best ways to build your vocabulary which will become very useful in speaking, listening, and writing as well.
Watch movies in original version with subtitles
This may seem a bit scary at first, but listening to native Spanish-speakers is essential to comprehension and improving your accent. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to watch a movie or TV show in original version but with English subtitles. However, once you get more comfortable, it would be wise to use Spanish subtitles. This way you will work on your reading comprehension while gaining exposure to the pronunciation of useful words and phrases. This will significantly improve your pronunciation as you can mimic what you hear from natives of the language. Furthermore, when you find yourself conversing with a native Spanish-speaker, you will have a much easier time understanding and following the conversation.
Use Forvo for Pronunciation
This website serves as an awesome tool to learn the correct pronunciation of a word or phrase. How it works is that any native speaker of a language can make an account and record themselves pronouncing a certain word or phrase. A learner of that particular language can then listen to the file in order to hear the correct pronunciation of that particular word or phrase. Say you want to know the correct pronunciation of a difficult Spanish word, like ferrocarril for example. All you have to do is type it in the search bar and click on ferrocarril in the search results and voila! – you’ve got several different examples of pronunciations from different Spanish-speaking countries. This website actually becomes addicting even if you just want to hear different accents of your native language!
Join a language exchange event
It is likely that there are weekly language exchange events right in your city that you had no idea even existed. There are websites such as meetup.com that allow you to search for language exchange events near you and coordinate with group members. Language exchanges provide an effective way to improve your speaking skills and connect with native Spanish speakers that are probably in the same boat as you. The nice thing about meeting a Spanish-speaker that is also learning your language is that you will better understand each other when you make mistakes. You will be able to work together and help each other out by correcting each other’s pronunciation and grammar.
As you can see, learning Spanish doesn’t necessarily have to mean enrolling in a class or hiring a private tutor. There are multiple ways you can avoid this and teach yourself instead. Of course finding the time in our busy schedules can be quite a challenge, but with these methods you can decide when and where you want to do it. To keep yourself motivated, you can just remind yourself of those top reasons to learn Spanish mentioned at the beginning!