Looking to learn another language? Spanish is a very popular option and one of the most widely spoken languages worldwide. Learning the Spanish language will allow you to communicate with almost 500 million native Spanish speakers and millions more that speak it as their second language.
So what kind of steps should you take to prepare to learn another language? In this article we will discuss some of the most important things to consider:
- Finding the motivation to learn Spanish
- Where to begin? Tips for Incorporating Spanish into your Daily Life
- The benefits of speaking Spanish
Finding the motivation to learn Spanish
The first thing you have to ask yourself is why you want to learn the Spanish language. Having a clear motivation to learn something, particularly a new language, makes it infinitely easier to persevere and sort through the barrage of new vocabulary you will need to learn. Are you taking a trip? Hoping to communicate with Spanish speaking friends and family? Keeping your goals in mind can help you get through if you feel like you are struggling. Perseverance is probably the most important aspect of learning a new language and if you have the motivation then you are halfway there. Practicing the Spanish Language as much as possible is the best way to learn and keep fluency.
Learning a second, or even third language, especially as an adult is very different from when you learned your first language as a child. As a child, you are virtually a blank canvas. Your entire life revolves around learning how to exist in the world and communication is a large part of that. As an adult, we don’t have this luxury. We have many other responsibilities and it can be difficult to set aside the time needed to learn. Patience is a necessity for people learning a new language. It’s important to remember that if you are struggling or feel as if you are speaking like a small child would, that this is not a reflection of your intelligence, but rather just a normal part of the learning process.
Where to Begin? Tips for Incorporating Spanish into your Daily Life
Now that you have clearly established why you want to learn Spanish, the second question is: where to begin? While registering for Spanish classes or hiring a Spanish tutor is obviously helpful, there are a few other steps you can take to maximize your chances of success.
The most common starting place is to begin building your vocabulary. Start by thinking about all the basic items around you in everyday life and learning the Spanish names for them. One of my favorite tricks is to put sticky notes on items around your house; this way every time you see an everyday household object, you will be reminded of its Spanish name. When setting out on learning a new language it can be frustrating to search for the most basic of words and committing these to memory will help you gain confidence.
A great way to practice is by conversing with a native speaker. One of the best ways, by far, to learn a language is to be ‘thrown into the deep end’ so to speak. This means seeking out situations where no one speaks English which could be a Spanish speaking country, or simply sitting at a table of native speakers a local bar or cafe. Just speaking about regular, everyday things will greatly increase your vocabulary and, more importantly, increase your comfort level speaking the Spanish language.
Getting used to asking questions and being comfortable knowing you may not understand all the words that are being spoken to you is key. Native Spanish speakers will also often speak very quickly, making it that much harder to follow the conversation. When you are trying to communicate with someone who is speaking the Spanish language and they are saying too much for you to process, don’t worry. Asking for them to slow down or letting them know you don’t understand (no entiendo!) is not an insult and they more likely that not will be happy to explain what they are saying.
If you can’t find a native Spanish speaker to practice with, try watching a telenovela. For those who don’t know, a telenovela is basically a Spanish soap opera and they are wildly popular in the Spanish speaking world. The actors on these shows often speak clear, concise Spanish, both to ramp up the dramatic aspect of the show but also so they can appeal to Spanish speakers across multiple geographical areas. This makes it relatively easy to follow along, learning both the language as well as a little bit about the culture. Making the Spanish language a part of your daily life helps keep Spanish fresh in your mind. Simple things like changing your computer or your cell phone to Spanish will keep you on your toes and thinking about Spanish every day.
The Benefits of Speaking Spanish
There are immeasurable benefits to learning a new language, Spanish in particular. It can help you feel more confident traveling to far-flung destinations, knowing you will be able to communicate. It can help you meet new and interesting people you wouldn’t have been able to communicate with before as well as making new friends. If you need a medical reason, learning two languages actually decreases your chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to several studies, learning a second language stimulates creativity and critical thinking skills which keep your brain thinking longer and harder, slowing down age-related mental illness.
Being bilingual can also increase your career prospects, especially as we live in a world that is becoming increasingly connected. We here at Spanish with Style understand the importance of being able to communicate clearly across linguistic boundaries, as we help companies day in and day out expand their audience by taking care of their Spanish translation and copy editing needs.
All in all, there is no downside to learning Spanish and there is a wealth of material available to get you started. The most important thing to remember is of course: practice, practice, practice!