If you’ve decided you’re going to learn Spanish – congratulations! You’ve taken that first step towards an enormous challenge. You might be feeling overwhelmed with all the information out there and wondering where to start. Well, this article will tell you the best way to learn Spanish, so you’ve come to the right place!
Essential things you need to know about learning Spanish
The most important thing you need to know about learning Spanish is that there is no one miracle method that is proven to make anyone learn perfect Spanish. There are infinite ways to learn Spanish. What has worked for some people won’t necessarily work for you. Some methods will work for you and others won’t. If you’re not sure what kind of learner you are, you might need to start by doing a trial and error of different methods, until you find the ones for you. Most people learn by implement a combination of several different methods to get the best result. Which brings me to my next point.
You cannot stick to doing just one thing and expect to keep making progress. For example, if you watch videos in Spanish, complement that by reading a bit in Spanish, too. If you’re studying from a grammar book, practise forming real sentences using Clozemaster.
The important thing is to ensure you are nourishing all of the essential language-learning skills, not just one or two. That’s why I’m going to explain the best ways to learn Spanish for all of these essential skills. Make sure you don’t miss any of them out of your learning routine!
Best ways to learn Spanish by skill
Best way to learn Spanish grammar
There are plenty of people who will tell you that you don’t need to focus on grammar to become fluent in a language. While that is true, as an adult it is almost impossible to speak a language accurately (that is, without making errors) if you don’t know the grammar. And Spanish is a language with quite a few little nuances when it comes to grammar, so it really is a good idea to study it, even if it’s not your favourite activity. But hey, studying grammar doesn’t always have to be a drag! The following are some ways you can learn what you need to know about Spanish grammar.
Spanish blogs and websties
The Clozemaster blog is a treasure trove of information for all things Spanish grammar. We have dedicated posts about almost every kind of Spanish verb and conjugation there is. If you are ever in doubt about something related to Spanish grammar, a good place to start is searching the Clozemaster blog. Otherwise, you can find a lot of grammar explainers about different topics by searching on Google as well.
Don’t under-estimate the power of a good Spanish grammar book. Spanish grammar books will take you through a systematic process of learning a language, probably backed by research and studies as well. Invest in a good book and you will ensure your grammar is on point and you’re speaking right from early on.
Best way to learn Spanish pronunciation
Learning to pronounce new sounds in a new language can be really daunting. But the good news about Spanish is that, apart from their ‘r’ sounds, all the sounds of Spanish are also found in English! What often makes it hard for English speakers to pronounce Spanish is that Spanish has an awful lot less sounds than English. So you really have to learn to control the sounds that you make, especially the vowel sounds. Once you’ve mastered this control, it is actually pretty easy to improve your pronunciation and start sounding more authentic.
As for that pesky ‘r’ sound, you might want to check out this great article and video about how to roll that Spanish R! And remember, practise makes perfect.
The best and most proven way to improve your pronunciation in a foreign language is to listen to native speakers talking, and try to mimic them. Of course, it’s better if they agree to you doing this!
A good, focused way to do this is to sit down with a native speaker and read out sentences, and then have them correct you and repeat it the way they would say it. This can help you train your accent and sound more natural when you speak. This post has a bunch of other ideas for improving your foreign language pronunciation.
Best way to learn Spanish vocabulary
One thing that you should try to be consistent about is expanding your Spanish vocabulary. The more words you can understand and produce, the easier it will be to speak. And vocabulary is one of those things that never has to stop growing. You can just keep becoming more and more proficient.
Lucky for you, Clozemaster has been designed for that exact purpose! If you’re unfamiliar, Clozemaster is a gamified language learning app and website which helps you learn vocabulary in context. So, not only do our methods help you learn and retain more words, but you can learn words in context which will really help you to understand their meanings. This post goes into a lot more detail about why using Clozemaster is so beneficial to learn any language.
Using the right tools and dictionaries to look up words which you come across but don’t understand is really important. Make sure you are using dictionaries which explain the meaning of a word and give some context. Bonus points if they also let you save the word so you can revise it later. Some good tools for doing this are set out here.
Best way to learn Spanish listening
So you think you’ve got a great grasp on grammar and vocabulary, but you can’t for the life of you understand what native Spanish speakers are saying when they talk? Don’t worry – you probably have simply not heard enough spoken Spanish yet. The easiest way to improve your aural comprehension is, of course, by actively listening to material in Spanish. However, it is important to ensure the material you listen to is at your level. There is almost no value in listening to something if you can’t understand anything.
However, if you can understand everything, then you’re not learning anything, so it is not useful. Therefore, you should ensure there’s always about 10-20% you do not understand of your listening resource.
Improving your Spanish listening comprehension means active listening practise. This means that you can’t just sit back and let those words wash over you. Instead, you should take notes of anything you don’t understand from the audio, including not just words, but also phrases and expressions. Then, look them up and ensure you understand the meaning. After that, it can be useful to listen to the same thing again to see just how much of the new language you absorbed. If that is too tedious for you, then listen to another resource at the same level, maybe on the same topic.
The key is to make sure you are always learning and improving!
If you want more detail about listening in a foreign language, Joy of Languages has a great guide.
Best way to learn Spanish conversation
One of the essential elements you need to learn Spanish is practice. Think about it – if you don’t use the language you acquire, how will you ever remember it? Now don’t get me wrong, it is nerve wrecking to speak to someone in a language you are not 100% familiar with. Some people recommend speaking to native Spanish speakers as early as possible to overcome this hurdle. Others prefer starting to speak after they have already acquired enough grammar and vocabulary to realistically communicate. Either way, the first time you talk to someone in Spanish will never be easy. But it’s important to remember that the more you do it, the easier it will get.
But how do you access all these native speakers who are willing and able to speak to you? Well, there are many ways to do this. Some are easier than others depending on where you live. Here are some ideas.
Make your order in Spanish
One way is to go to an authentic Spanish or Latino restaurant and just order your food in Spanish. This is a good first step to test the waters if you are unsure about speaking Spanish. You will get to see if native speakers understand your Spanish, and you will also be able to speak to someone without having to commit to a full conversation.
Find a language exchange partner online
If you don’t live in a place where Spanish is readily spoken at any restaurant nearby, another thing you can do is to search for native Spanish speakers online. There are many websites where you can find language exchange partners, which is essentially native speakers of the language you are learning, who are learning your language. The idea is that you will each help each other to learn your respective native languages.
This is a great way to start speaking, because you can make real connections and friendships with native Spanish speakers. These people will help you learn about their culture, and show you how to speak their language in a natural way. This approach is also good for those who are shy about practising Spanish. Because the other person will speak some of your language too, you won’t be obliged to speak Spanish the whole time, which can make the interaction easier.
These exchanges can be found whether you live in a Spanish-speaking country, or anywhere else where there is a Spanish-speaking population, even Spanish-speaking travellers or immigrants. If all else fails, you can always try online video exchanges. Of course, if you are in a situation where you can be immersed in the language, that is ideal.
Some language exchange websites to check out are Conversation Exchange, where you can search for people based on the languages they speak and where they live, and Italki, where you can have online exchanges.
Tips for conversing in Spanish
- Ask if you don’t understand something
- Ask them to correct you so you can improve
- If you are really struggling, it’s okay to switch back to English for a bit (given the other person speaks English, of course!) or cut the conversation politely.
Best way to learn Spanish reading
In order to be able to read, and, by extension, write proficiently in Spanish, you have to practise this skill specifically. Unlike in English, Spanish has very clear rules for spelling. Once you know these, the technical side of reading and writing should be pretty easy. After that, it is just a matter of reading and writing more to pick up common written expressions and vocabulary.
To begin learning this skill, I recommend using apps like Lingogo and the Cloze-reading exercises on Clozemaster to get some guided reading. This will get you used to reading in the Spanish language and ensure you truly understand the text. These programmes also have built in capabilities to find the meanings for words you don’t understand.
Once you have had some guided practice, it is time to move on to independent reading. If you don’t know where to start, children’s books or stories are quite good because they use simple language and vocabulary. When these get too easy, over time you can progress to reading more complex texts. The best way to stay motivated to do this is to read the things you enjoy in your native language, in Spanish.
For example, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, get your hands on some Harry Potter books in Spanish. If you swear by reading the news every day, try reading those same articles in Spanish. Clozemaster has a good guide on how to find news articles in your target language. The good thing about reading is that it is really up to you what you read, so read what you like and practising this skill should be enjoyable.
Best way to learn Spanish writing
Unlike reading, writing is quite a bit harder to practise, especially if you are self-studying. If you don’t have a formal teacher, find a native speaker, whether it is a friend, language exchange partner, or private tutor. Have them set you a topic to write about. Depending on your level and interests, what you write about will vary. In the beginning, you might want to practise writing about things that directly affect you, such as a recount of your day, description of your family, what you like to eat, etc. Get the native speaker to correct any mistakes in your writing, as well as advise you on how to write more smoothly.
As you progress, you can move on to writing about more abstract topics such as politics, the environment, history or economics. Your writing topics should also be of interest to you and relevant to you.
Best ways to learn Spanish by method
Like I’ve mentioned, there is no one best way to learn Spanish. There are, however, different methods which each have their pros and cons. Here is some advice on the best way to learn Spanish with each method.
If you are immersed in a Spanish-speaking country, community, or even household, you should count yourself lucky. Many learners want what you have, because being in this situation will help you reach fluency much faster, provided you make the most of it, of course.
In the immersion method, the most important thing is to not shy away from the language. Pay attention to the people around you and how they speak; and try to pick up new expressions and improve your pronunciation that way. Practise as much as you can by talking to whoever you have access to.
If you are learning Spanish in a classroom, you can take advantage of having a qualified teacher at your disposal. The way Spanish is taught in a classroom is a lot different to “real-life” Spanish, but that does not mean you can’t gain a lot from it and become a lot more knowledgeable about Spanish. For a start, in a classroom, Spanish grammar is usually taught in a systematic way. If you take the time to learn and understand the grammar, your speaking will be much more accurate. So if you are in this situation, just learn as much as possible, and take the opportunity to practise what you have learned whenever you can.
The self-study method is definitely the hardest way to learn Spanish, simply because you will not have anyone to guide you and you will have to ensure you stay motivated. If you have never learned a language by yourself before you may find this extremely difficult. However, there are certainly some ways to make this easier.
Know some native speakers
I recommend ensuring you have access to native speakers from the start, whether that be friends, language exchange partners (see above about how to improve your Spanish conversation or a private tutor. Having these people around will help you to stay motivated along your journey. They are also people you can ask if you have any doubts about anything. They will be able to give you context around culture as well.
Have a clear plan and goal
Make a specific goal and attach a deadline to it. For example, you might say, “I want to be able to have a fluent conversation in one year”. Once you’ve done that, you can write down all the steps it will take to get there, and then put them on a timeline which has you achieving your goal by the deadline.
Make use of apps and books
The number one important thing missing in a self-study plan is usually structure. Following a Spanish study book, or a well-designed app, can help to add some structure to your study plan and ensure you stay on track. For example, Clozemaster tracks your progress and keeps you motivated to keep practising and improving.
Make it fun
The best thing about self-studying Spanish is that you can do it the way you want! If you like watching movies, watch movies in Spanish. If you like cooking, look up recipes written in Spanish and follow those. Whatever your interests are, you can pursue them in Spanish, too. This will keep you motivated and interested in learning. Remember that learning a language should be fun and you should be able to do it in a way that’s interesting to you!
Whichever way to learn Spanish you are using, you can supplement your learning and widen your vocabulary using Clozemaster. It’s free and can accelerate your learning a lot!
Learn Spanish in context with Clozemaster
Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in Spanish.