Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
How to learn Spanish faster?
Do you want to learn Spanish faster? There’re so many pages on the internet that try to tell you how to learn Spanish! Sometimes it’s hard to tell what is pure marketing and what helps.
I want to share my experiences with you and give you some useful tips about how you could make some significant progress.
If you try to develop a good mindset as a Spanish learner, you will learn Spanish faster than you might think.
Tip 1: How to learn Spanish faster?
Find out what type of learner you are!
I think that this is an essential part if you want to find out how to learn Spanish faster than usual! (What is usual, by the way?)
Learning vocabulary, for example: How do you learn them? Do you prefer writing them down? Do you prefer listening to them? Both? Find out what’s best for you! There’re different theories about the different types of learners.
For me, the following three types are most relevant:
a) the visual type: You prefer the written word, images, schemes, and so on. You like writing everything down, and you can memorize well when you wrote and read them before.
b) the auditory type: You prefer the spoken word, sound, music, for example. You can quickly memorize words when you heard them once or twice. You like listening to music and especially to the lyrics.
c) the kinesthetic type: you prefer movements and doing practical things while you’re learning: role-plays, cooking, doing actions while learning verbs, and so on.
Most students are a mixture of all three types, and they learn best when they use all senses. But actually, they’re only used to just one type of learning.
If you ask yourself how to learn Spanish best: mix all three types! For example, if you learn Spanish verbs: Write them down three times, speak them out loudly, make the referring movements (if it’s possible, even if you feel stupid).
We at SAY ZONTE! always try to offer you all three options because we think that’s the most effective way. Making pupusas and learning the referring vocabulary and grammar at the same time has been very effective, for example.
Tip 2: How to learn Spanish?
Don’t compare and don’t be stressed out!
Even if you need to learn Spanish as quickly as possible, don’t get stressed out and compare yourself with other learners.
Find your way and give yourself (and your brain) time to adapt. Every learner is different and also the answer to the question “How to learn Spanish?”.
I don’t think that all these programs like “Learn Spanish in 3 months!” are trustworthy. You can make some significant progress in three months, but learning a language means way more than just memorizing some useful phrases and vocabulary.
Tip 3: How to learn Spanish faster?
Sounds easy, but lots of students don’t like to speak Spanish at first because they’re afraid of making mistakes.
Mistakes are part of the process of how to learn Spanish.
Your brain will forget most of the vocabulary if you don’t use it. It’s like an athlete: If you don’t exercise with discipline, your muscles are getting weaker. If you practice your muscles (your spoken grammar and vocabulary), it will get stronger after each exercise.
We as SAY ZONTE! always try to let you speak Spanish as much as possible from the very first lessons. And you should practice your spoken Spanish wherever you are: buying pupusas, doing some small talk at the beach, ordering a beer in Spanish and so on.
Tip 4: How to learn Spanish?
Take some Spanish lessons!
Even if it sounds like a cheap commercial now: But we must say that taking one-to-one Spanish lessons is always the best way how to learn Spanish.
It’s the most effective and motivating way to learn Spanish and to make significant progress.
There’s no method, no book, no app, and no Youtube-video that can substitute a Spanish teacher that sits right in front of you (or even on Skype).
It’s a more personal way to learn, and only a teacher that sits right in front of you can set you in an authentic and realistic learning situation.
And yes, of course, you pay for it! And this is sometimes also the right motivation to keep yourself on track and stay focused 😉
Tip 5: How to learn Spanish?
Change your way of thinking (if necessary)!
As mentioned before, learning Spanish doesn’t mean memorizing vocabulary and grammar.
Learning Spanish means to get to know a different culture.
Try to discover more about Latin American, Spanish or Salvadoran history, traditional food, art, music, and so on. Watch movies (with subtitles in your language) and read about things that you find interesting.
Ask yourself: Why do I want to learn Spanish? The answer should be: Because I will get to know a different culture; I can learn things that make my life richer!
It’s not a specific part of Spanish grammar that makes your life more abundant. It’s another culture!
If you think that way, you will find yourself more motivated to learn Spanish. And even the most challenging part of the Spanish grammar will be easy for you.
Tip 6: How to learn Spanish faster?
Don’t get obsessed over Spanish grammar!
As mentioned before: you don’t learn Spanish because of the grammar! The Spanish grammar is a tool that makes you more competent to express what you want.
As SAY ZONTE!, we think that grammar is essential, but not more important than a daily conversation.
Sometimes our students wish to study a specific (and complicated) part of the Spanish grammar, which is good. But also, we sometimes realize that there’re some basics that the student should improve before.
You don’t need a lot of grammar to manage a daily conversation. After a while, you will see that you need to learn more Spanish grammar to express what you want to say.
In other words: Work on your Spanish grammar and vocabulary base – there’s no house without a good baseplate!
As SAY ZONTE!, we offer you learning manuals that are difficult enough to make significant progress but also provide a lot of possibilities to practice. Please have a look at our start-now!
Tip 7: How to learn Spanish faster?
Why do kids learn a foreign language faster than adults? Well, there are different reasons, but one of them is that they’re still curious – and they want to get to know things!
That means for you: Stay curious and stay open-minded, especially if you ask yourself how to learn Spanish.
Don’t think that you’re not good at learning a foreign language! Stay self-confident and maintain your childish curiosity to learn new things!
One of our youngest students so far was Derek from the US, 6 years old!
Tip 8: How to learn Spanish faster?
Indeed we have read blog-articles that recommend you to stay at home to learn Spanish. Well, we must say that we strongly disagree.
Of course, it always depends on what you’re doing when you’re in a foreign country. Probably you want to see more than just your textbook when you’re in El Salvador, Costa Rica or wherever.
But learning a language at home can’t substitute the intercultural experience abroad!
And this is precisely the reason WHY you learn Spanish at all (see above)! There’s no need to learn Spanish at all when you don’t travel abroad!
As you might have noticed, I offered you some really concrete tips about how to learn Spanish. Some other tips are more about your mindset.
As SAY ZONTE!, we believe that both are important. We believe a good teacher is essential for you to make progress – that’s our job! You do the mindset!