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Learning Conversational Spanish: Everything You Need to Get Started

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Anyone can learn to speak conversational Spanish, regardless of age, intelligence, or prior experience learning languages.

 

However, the key to learning Spanish is to start with the basics and build on your foundation as you go. In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to get started, from finding a course that’s right for you to practicing regularly and expanding your vocabulary. If you’re a total beginner, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered too.

 

Let’s get started on how to become fluent in Spanish.

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The more you practice, the faster you'll progress, so find some native speakers to help you out if you can.

Choose Your Learning Option

There are two main ways to learn Spanish – through self-study or taking classes. Self-study is cheaper but less effective (compared to class learning), and it can be challenging to stay motivated if you don’t have anyone around to chat with.

 

On the other hand, classes for learning conversational Spanish cost money and take time away from your schedule, but they provide structure and accountability that most people find helpful. As a result, many people like to start with self-study and then take real-world language courses as their comfort level increases. Whichever option you choose, keep reading to learn more about using it effectively.

Self-Study Options

The most common way to learn Spanish is through materials you find online or in books. You have three main options here:

 

  • Learning from a textbook
  • Using an all-audio program
  • Taking lessons with a tutor

 

Learning Spanish from a textbook can be challenging if you’re starting, so it’s best to at least start with the audio programs first to get used to hearing words in context before trying to form your sentences. This strategy also prepares you for the real world, where people don’t always speak slowly enough for you to understand them if your vocabulary is low.

 

After that, use whichever method works best for you. For example, most people like the convenience of having everything they need on hand (especially if they commute and use their time on public transport wisely), but others prefer the option of switching between different learning styles.

Taking In-Person Classes

Some people prefer to take conversational Spanish courses in person, either at a school or community center, through an online system with real teachers, or private tutoring.

 

These are ideal for people who thrive off social interaction and accountability – people who aren’t motivated unless they have access to other people will find it much easier to make progress if they attend classes regularly. Classes can be expensive if you pay out of pocket, but lots of schools offer discounts for students or even free options that are worth exploring.

Expand Your Vocabulary

No matter which learning option(s) you choose, the best way to improve your conversational skills is by using them as often as possible. Talk to friends and family, read blogs in Spanish, watch Spanish TV shows, and practice speaking out loud whenever you get the chance.

 

There are millions of Spanish videos on YouTube that you can manage to learn more vocabulary and increase your conversational fluency. If you’re trying to learn on your own through self-study, remember that it’s normal to feel embarrassed or silly while practicing, but everyone was a beginner at some point – embrace the awkwardness and keep going.

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Be Patient

Even if you’re a whiz at memorizing words, it takes time to think in Spanish – we call this process “breaking into a language.” When you learn English as your first language, you don’t think about how each word goes together; instead, you absorb information from context and build up what’s known as an “analytical” vocabulary (words like “president,” “automobile,” and “govern”).

 

That means that even though you might understand single words and simple phrases initially, conversations won’t make sense until after your brain starts assembling them automatically. The best thing to do is accept that this is normal and give yourself time to adjust.

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Talk in Spanish With Friends & Family

One of the best ways to jump-start your progress is by finding Spanish speakers who are willing to help you learn (especially if they’re patient with your early missteps). They can correct you when you make mistakes, explain unfamiliar words, and show you how different phrases work together so you can start putting them into sentences yourself faster.

 

You might feel hesitant at first, but keep in mind that everyone was a beginner at some point – even though it might seem like your friend already speaks pretty well, they were most likely self-conscious about their pronunciation and grammar when they started too.

 

Also, try not to be discouraged if someone has trouble understanding you; practice makes perfect, and it’s encouraging to know that people can usually figure out what you’re trying to say even when your Spanish is a little rough.

Getting Feedback On Your Pronunciation

Conversing with native speakers in real life can be an invaluable experience (plus, there’s no better way to learn than by immersing yourself in the language), but if you’re not confident about how well you’re speaking, ask them for feedback on your pronunciation before or after your conversation.

 

You might feel silly the first time asking someone, “Is this correct?” but remember that they were all beginners at some point, too – sometimes we don’t think about how we sound until we hear ourselves recorded! If anyone says anything negative about your pronunciation, try not to be discouraged. Remember that it takes time to adjust to a new language, and everyone has an accent at first.


Wrap Up

Ready to start learning Spanish? The first step is deciding which method you want to use (class, tutor, or self-study), then adjusting your expectations accordingly. If you’re worried about making mistakes, practice as much as possible because it’s the best way to get over your anxiety.

 

The more you practice, the faster you’ll progress, so find some native speakers to help you out if you can. And most importantly of all, remember that it takes time to learn a new language – sit back and enjoy the ride.

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