By now you know basic Spanish structures and you have gained confidence in what you know. You have a created a routine that helps you practice outside your regular hours of Spanish class. Maybe you already have Hispanic friends so you can practice with them… Now the challenge is to improve.
- Don’t assume that Spanish words that look like English words have the same meaning. Instead associate the words you have learned with other Spanish words and you will see how often you do not use the dictionary. You will rely more on your knowledge and intuition.
- Learn how to use prepositions properly, prepositions can be challenging, mostly because we are still thinking in English and we try to use them literally. It’s better to think about the purpose of the prepositions as you learn them, rather than their translations. This will help you avoid mistakes in the long term.
- Listen to music. At this level you are ready to listen and understand the lyrics of any song. The more you listen to music, the better you can learn new words and reinforce your knowledge. You can have a song on repeat. You can download the lyrics and practice your pronunciation. For example, if you are looking for Hispanic music lyrics you can click here, for music videos click here.
- Watch movies with Spanish subtitles. It’s important that you see the dialogue of a movie so you won’t only hear it but will see the actual words. It’s also important that you block any extra sound or distraction around you. Using a headset on your laptop or your electronic device will help you block any sound and concentrate more on the movie, the story, the characters, etc. For Spanish movies you can rent them on Netflix or buy them at Amazon.
- Read Spanish magazines. It is important to vary your sources to practice Spanish. In any bookstore or even online you can find Spanish magazines or articles that cover your topics of interest. If you like to know about pop stars, if you want to know about traditions or cooking, if you are into cars or travel there are plenty of magazines that you can pick so you can practice your Spanish and learn new words.
We know that balancing life and work is tricky. Learning a new language and adapting it into your routine can also be a tricky task. Here are some tips for you to practice Spanish that will make you feel more comfortable:
- Practice. The time you invest after a regular session is up to you. Make the commitment to practice consistently. This will involve review what you do in class. Memorize new vocabulary. Write sentences or ask questions with what you have learned.
- Don’t expect to be perfect! Learning something new will always involve a big chance of failure. It’s through the mistake process that we learn everything in life. When you are learning a language, common mistakes will happen. Get over the idea that it will be perfect. You’ll see that perfection doesn’t exist. Even native Spanish speakers will make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be patient!
- Use flashcards. In this learning process you will need fast resources that can help you retrain your brain. Flashcards are cheap and an easy way to learn new vocabulary or to review some grammar structures. You don’t need big and heavy textbooks or electronic devices, power cords or external batteries. You just need a set of 10 to 20 flashcards to practice select words and structures every day.
- Use labels. Labels are also a cheap and great way for you to constantly see the words you are trying to learn. Pick a room in your home and label it. Keep it that way for a couple of days until you feel comfortable with the words and can remember the names without looking at the labels. Later, you can label another room and so on. The more words you see, the more words you remember.
- Think simple! When you are learning a new language it’s very easy to feel frustrated because you wish you could talk as fast as the native speakers. Keep in mind no one was born speaking eloquently. We all have a starting point. A good way to avoid the pressure you put on yourself is by thinking simple. Short simple sentences that really express what you feel or what you want are the best way to start gaining confidence again. The more complex forms will come eventually. Start with simple statements. Organize your ideas and express simple thoughts.