Thinking about learning Spanish (or any other language, for that matter)? If the only phrases you know right now are “hasta la vista” and “buenos días,” don’t despair. Learning Spanish might seem like an insurmountable task, but if you take it step by step, you can reach your fluency goals.
You already know your personal reasons motivating you on your path. Whether you’re seeking employment overseas, hoping to communicate with a partner’s family, or simply broadening your horizons, learning Spanish will open many doors.
And lucky for you, in 2017, it’s not just about some vapid course book and cassette tape with impossibly well enunciated accents. You have access to a myriad of materials to make learning Spanish fun.
So, if the idea of hitting the textbooks and dusting off the dictionary is stopping you in your tracks, check out these five incredibly entertaining ways of learning Spanish.
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1. Learning Spanish Abroad
With all the podcasts, novelas and Spanish speakers in your neighborhood, you don't need to go abroad to study Spanish. But, I can guarantee that if you do, you’ll have way more fun in the process.
Learning Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country gives you a chance to live and breathe the language and culture while you learn.
You won’t just bleat out your verb conjugations as you go around the classroom. You’ll be learning Spanish and speaking on a daily basis with the locals. And let’s be honest. You’ve chosen a pretty good language to start with. You’re hardly location limited, since there are 20 countries that use Spanish as their official language.
If you like year round warm weather, head to Colombia, Southern Mexico, or Central America. If you prefer colder climes, check out the South of Argentina, or Northern Spain. Yes, accents vary from region to region, but the fundamentals are there, and detecting different regional accents is all part of the fun of learning Spanish.
Get involved in local fiestas. Try the national tipple, maybe even run in front of bulls in Pamplona if you need an adrenaline rush! Now that’s got to be better than heading to an evening class after work.
Studying abroad has so many advantages, it’s impossible to overemphasize the benefits. From college credits, to life experience, making new friends and reaching fluency faster; this is definitely the most entertaining way of learning Spanish.
2. Learn to Dance
Can’t head overseas just yet? Why not start with something else entertaining in the meantime? Learn to dance. Spanish is one language that goes hand in hand with exotic dances like Salsa, Tango, Flamenco and even Cumbia.
So, sign up for a local dance class given by a native Spanish speaker. Not only will you have fun and get some exercise while learning Spanish, but you’ll meet like-minded people and share experiences.
Day Translations founder, Sean Hopwood, is a salsa fanatic! He loves listening to the music and regularly goes to dance classes and competitions. In fact, integral to his learning Spanish was listening to Cuban and Mexican music and writing down the lyrics.
Learning to dance one of these famous dances will put you in good stead for when you eventually visit the country of your choice. Impress the locals who’ll try to poke fun at another gringo with two left feet, as you swirl the prettiest girl around the dance floor like a pro, and know the names of the moves and history of the dance.
Getting passionate about learning a language is key and doing so through alternative and entertaining ways will awake this passion.
Related Post: Why Colombia is a Great Location to Learn Spanish
3. Get Hooked on Novelas
You’re kidding, right? Well, cringe as you may, watching novelas is an excellent way of improving your Spanish listening skills. And let’s face it, who isn’t partial to a storyline of tragic death followed by miraculous reincarnation, with incestuous family relations thrown in?
If you really can’t stand to get into the novela drama, try watching your favorite TV shows in Spanish instead. Most smart TVs and streaming companies like Netflix allow you to change the language on the show.
It can be a little off-putting hearing your favorite character’s voice dubbed into Spanish. So, why not start with a brand new series?
You can always set the subtitles to English and if you aren’t ready to go all in learning Spanish this way, watch the shows in English with Spanish subtitles. It’s a great way of dipping your toe into the waters and training your ear.
4. Throw Your Textbook Out The Window
If you live in a highrise building, I should probably take that back. You don’t want to get inadvertently caught up in a lawsuit for bashing a passerby on the head. But, the point is the same. Throw the metaphorical textbook out the window.
If you’re struggling with learning Spanish the traditional way, there are a ton of new and improved methods that will suit your individual needs better. Download an app or two, learn in bite-sized chunks as you’re on the train or in a waiting room.
Read what you want, like a Spanish magazine or a fiction novel that appeals to you. Don’t get stuck studying the passive tense with Pedro and María. Or trying to plow through some heavy prose like Don Quixote.
You can also try catching your daily dose of news in Spanish. Not only will you improve your Spanish listening skills, but you’ll also find out about what’s going on in the rest of the world, like protests in Venezuela, or corruption scandals in Spain.
Actually, reading a highbrow newspaper might sounds like hard work. But, it can often be easier than tackling a gossip magazine. The vocabulary is more formal and shares many Latin roots with English, so you’ll understand a lot more than you think.
Related Post: The 5 Biggest Challenges to Learning a Language
5. Get Some Spanish Speaking Friends
Wherever you live, you’ll be surprised at who you bump into. The U.S. has one of the largest hispanic populations in the world, so you should have no trouble finding someone to practice with.
Most major cities hold events like “intercambio” nights. You can head on down to a local bar and spend some time speaking Spanish with a native. Then the next week, you’ll pay them back by speaking in English.
Not only will you make friends this way and learn more about the culture, but you’ll enjoy learning Spanish in a relaxed environment. You may even meet your next partner! (Assuming that you’re still single).
Getting into a relationship with a Spanish translator or speaker is a sure-fire way to take your learning Spanish to new heights.
Meeting relatives, attending major events and just trying to get your head around so many celebrations and family gatherings is entertaining enough.
So, if learning Spanish has gotten you stuck before you begin, consider injecting some fun into it. Traveling, dancing, soaking up entertaining media and making friends… you’ll be fluent before you know it!