3 Key Elements to learn Spanish quickly
“How difficult is it to learn Spanish?” I am asked this question all the time. Then comes the next common question. “How long does it take to master Spanish?” The answer is: It all depends on “how much YOU commit to learning it”. The followings are three important elements you need in order to master Spanish successfully.
When we get an idea to start something new, we are very excited and motivated at first. What commonly happens over time, though, is that we gradually lose that motivation and eventually quit unless we have a clear goal and a plan to stay motivated. Learning Spanish is a commitment. To continuously stay motivated is the challenge and is critical.
– What are some possible motivators?
- Plan a trip to a Spanish speaking country: Of course, this is not practical for everyone as it can be costly.
- Do volunteer work within the Spanish speaking community in your area: Here are some ideas – visiting the Spanish speaking elderly at nursing homes, delivering meals to Spanish speaking elderly people, or becoming a homework assistant or a mentor for Spanish speaking children.
- Make friends whose primary language is Spanish: Visit the International student office on campus if you are a college student. Often time the office needs volunteers or tutors to help their exchange students.
Have you read Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers”? He says that you need to put in 10,000 hours to becoming an expert in your field such as becoming a classical concert pianist. If you do the math, 10,000 hours means that it will take about 9 years if you practice 3 hours every day. Well, the good news is that it will not take 10,000 hours to be a functional Spanish speaker. However, you need to expose yourself to Spanish regularly to achieve your goal of being able to communicate in Spanish in reasonable amount of time. I suggest that you take at least a one-hour Spanish lesson 2-3 times a week and do at least 2 hours of extracurricular practice for every 1 hour in class. Anything less than that amount will result in you losing too much ground between classes and slow your progress. You will eventually feel discouraged and stop learning altogether. However, once you reached that feeling of “riding a bike without training wheels for the first time”, you won’t need to take lessons as frequently. At that point, you can maintain your Spanish skills with less reinforcement in much the same way you don’t forget how to ride a bike once you have learned that skill.
This may be the most important element when you are learning Spanish to be functional because creativity will affect motivation and therefore consistency.
Use creative resources to make learning Spanish interesting to you. When you enjoy learning Spanish, motivation and consistency will happen naturally. To become a functional Spanish speaker you need to work on the following categories:
- Pronunciation / Speaking
These are some creative resources for each category:
- Vocabulary: Quizlet flashcards
- Grammar: YouTube instructional videos
- Reading: Kid’s books in Spanish
- Writing: diary
- Listening: Netflix, Hulu, DVDs, TV channel, radio, podcasts
- Pronunciation / Speaking: conversation in Latino grocery stores or restaurants, meetups, club, tutor
I will be posting a blog about “Creative resources to learn Spanish”. Stay tuned!