6 Alternative Ways to Studying Spanish
Attending an intensive, structured language class is the number one way to improve your Spanish quickly. There is simply no substitution to putting hours into conversational practice, having a native teacher to help you with grammar and any difficulties you might have. But your efforts shouldn’t end when school is through for the day!
In my case, my mission to learn Spanish first started in May of 2014, when I crossed paths with an Argentine girl during travel, who turned out to be all the motivation I needed. Since then I have tried a variety of methods to engross myself in the language, some proving to be a lot more useful than others.
With this in mind, here are a few of the most successful ways to further your immersion in language outside of the classroom.
Language Transfer is an independent project of online audio courses created by Mihalis Eleftheriou. Specifically the Complete Spanish audio course, is a series of 90 lessons each lasting roughly 10 minutes long, that will have you speaking from the get go.
It uses the ‘Thinking Method’ to take what you already know about language from your mother tongue, and transfer this understanding to the new language you are learning, making comparisons and connections of logic between the two. You will develop a methodology to work through grammar and sentences piece by piece to already speak in ways you didn’t think you could. You can then build upon this framework in time as your vocabulary grows.
Playing games in Spanish
Playing games in Spanish is the next fun and enjoyable method to pick up a language in a way which feels a lot less like work. Especially if you have already played through the game before and have an idea of the story line. Pokemon is an excellent example because there are lots of characters you can speak to in game. The younger target audience also means that dialogue is fairly simple and you can read at your own pace too.
Reading with a Kindle
Reading any book in your target language is a fantastic way to expose yourself to lots of new words and phrases. Many books are also written in the past tense and in first person, so are great to familiarize yourself with those tricky conjugations.
It can be a rather frustrating experience however to have a book in one hand and a big dictionary in the other, constantly flicking through to find definitions of words you don’t recognize. This is where the Kindle is incredibly convenient, having a built in Spanish to English dictionary allowing you to simply tap on any word you don’t know and have the translation pop up instantly. This greatly simplifies and speeds up your ability to read and makes the whole experience much more flowing and enjoyable.
Changing your phone language
It’s a fact that we all spend far too long these days procrastinating on our smartphones. Changing the language of your device to Spanish allows you to put this time to better use! You will find yourself picking up vocabulary through passive learning and it’s easy because it all happens in a context you are familiar with. You can also download some Essential Spanish Apps. Just remember how to change the language back to English if you find yourself with any trouble!
Turn your Netflix binge sessions into invaluable Spanish immersion by using Netflix’s localised subtitles and dubbing! At first it can feel like people speak way too fast and you aren’t able to understand anything, but be persistent and overtime you will train your ear to pick up more and more. Subtitles can help you with strong accented characters, or when you feel that words are blending into each other. You can try one episode with subtitles and then one without to give each skill more individual attention.
Anki Decks or Flashcards
After you feel you are starting to get the hang of the grammar and structure of Spanish, the next barrier you will probably face to becoming more free flowing in speech is to grow your vocabulary. If you are like me, you probably have a notebook full of words, phrases and their translations that you have picked up in class or out and about. The list becomes so long however that reviewing it becomes an almost impossible task!
Making an Anki Deck is one of the most helpful ways you can manage your collection of words that need work, easily adding and removing from it as you go. Duolingo have recently released a new app called ‘Tinycards’ which makes this even easier. It allows you to create your own decks or use community collections, and conveniently reminds you which words could do with some practice over time.
Learning a language requires immersion, effort, commitment and perseverance. But it is also an enjoyable and incredibly rewarding experience. The more ways you can have contact with and relate to the language the better, and looking for ways that you can personally find pleasure in the process is key. This is because we never stop learning a language once we have started!
Oh one more alternative… Get a Spanish Argentine girlfriend or Boyfriend to improve your Spanish, trust me on this one !
— Vamos Spanish School (@Vamospanish) November 2, 2016