If you want to learn a language quickly and inexpensively, you have picked the right language. With the exception of English, Spanish is spoken more than any other language in the U.S. You will have plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish with native speakers of Spanish and even Americans that learned Spanish as their first language.
The ability to speak Spanish also opens many career or business opportunities. As an attorney, the ability to speak Spanish has enabled me to represent many clients simply because I spoke their language.
Of course, if you live in certain cities or states you will have more opportunities to practice your Spanish. For example, if you live in New York you can find many Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Mexicans, and other Latin Americans an Latinos to practice your Spanish. If you live in Texas or California you may find a lot of Mexicans that can help you with your Spanish. In Florida, there are many Cubans.
My objective is to give you a multitude of tips and techniques to help you speed up your learning of Spanish. I also want to reveal a number of things that you can do to make your learning experience as inexpensive as possible.
Número Uno: Immerse Yourself
If you really want to learn Spanish, you need to immerse yourself in the language and the culture. Do you know why you learned English so easily? It’s not just because you were a child when you embarked on your study of the English language. It’s mainly because you were immersed in it. As a child you heard English 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
If you could hear and speak Spanish 24 hours a day and 7 days a week you would also learn Spanish incredibly fast. Although it may be difficult for you to hear and speak Spanish 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, there are things you can do to help immerse yourself in the language.
Instead of listening to your favorite music station when you’re driving in your car, play a Spanish instructional CD. Of course, if your favorite music station happens to be a Salsa or Merengue radio station, you can listen to the Spanish lessons CD some other time.
When you’re home watching TV, try substituting MTV or the Discovery Channel for Univision or Telefutura. If you are jogging, working out in the gym, taking a walk, or just waiting in the doctor’s office, play a cassette or CD from your favorite Spanish course. If you are waiting on line in the supermarket, instead of reading that gossipy tabloid, press “play” on your your cassette player and listen to a Spanish vocabulary tape or some other Spanish lessons tape or CD.
Have you ever met a Hispanic person that has lived in the U.S. for many decades and is still unable to speak English? That’s because he or she has little or no exposure to English and is constantly immersed in Spanish. That’s what you must try to emulate. Expose yourself and immerse yourself as much as possible in the Spanish language and Latin American Culture.
Número Dos: Develop the Right Habits
This is probably the most important advice that I can give you about learning Spanish or any other foreign language. More than anything else, your habits will determine how quickly you learn Spanish. In fact, your habits will determine if you actually learn the language or not.
Of course it helps if you have a language learning aptitude. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a language learning aptitude. In fact, I couldn’t speak English until I was four years old despite the fact that English was my first language and the only language spoken in my home as a child. However, my desire to learn Spanish was strong enough for me to develop the necessary habits for learning Spanish.
Out of habit, every time I turned on my television it was tuned to Unvision, Telefutura or HBO Latino. Out of habit, every time I got in my car the radio dial was set to the Latino radio station Latino Mix. If not, then a CD or cassette from a Spanish course was playing.
Out of habit, if I went out to a club it was a Salsa or Merengue club. If I went out to a restaurant, it was probably a Latin American restaurant. Not that Latino food “es mi plato favorito.” But if I go get a steak at Outback, I am probably not going to get a chance to practice my Spanish with the waiter.
In fact, if I was dating someone, she was either a native of a Spanish speaking country or she learned Spanish as her first language here in the U.S.
If you develop and cultivate these habits, you will learn Spanish extremely fast.
Número Tres: Learn Spanish the Same Way that You Learned English
This may come as a shock to you, but in the high schools and colleges in the U.S., the method that they are using to teach Spanish is all wrong.
If you want to learn Spanish, you must learn it the same way that you learned English. Let me you ask you a question. Which did you learn first: How to speak English or how to read and write English? Of course you learned how to speak it first.
Then why are they teaching the students in the high schools and colleges to read and write Spanish first? That’s because they don’t expect the students to ever be able to speak Spanish. And that’s exactly what happens. Students take several years of Spanish, graduate, and cannot even speak Spanish.
There’s another problem with learning to read and write Spanish before you learn to speak it. By default, you subconsciously learn how to pronounce the Spanish words the way you would pronounce them in English.
I made that same catastrophic mistake. It took me countless hours and countless dollars in private instruction to correct the error. After much wasted time and money, I discovered that the mistake could have been avoided. I should not have learned to read and write Spanish until I had at least reached the intermediate level of conversational Spanish.
You are going to have to trust me on this one …. Nothing sounds more excruciating to Latin American ears than a “Gringo” with a thick American accent speaking Spanish. How do I know? Because now that I speak Spanish fluently, every time I hear an American with a strong American accent speaking Spanish it makes me cringe.
Número Cuatro: Relate to What You Already Know
Many words in Spanish are related to English. When you learn words in Spanish and you relate them to words in English, it is much easier to remember the Spanish words. For example, the word “beber” means to drink. If you make a mental note or written note that the word “beber” is related to the English word “beverage” it is easier to remember. Here’s another example. The word “vegetales” is related to the English word “vegetables.” If you make a note of this, the Spanish word “vegetales” will be much easier to remember.
Número Cinco: Make Use of On-Line Resources
There are a number of on-line resources that can assist you in learning Spanish. Many of them are free. One of my favorites is www.MyLanguageExchange.com. My Language Exchange is an on-line community of language learners. You can meet people who are learning virtually any language at www.MyLanguageExchange.com.
Since you are studying Spanish you would try to meet someone at My Language Exchange that’s a native speaker of Spanish and is trying to learn English. You could become pen pals with the person. But I recommend that you become more than just pen pals. As I mentioned earlier, the only way that you can learn how to speak Spanish is by actually speaking it.
At My Language Exchange, you can meet people that are interested in doing “voice chat.” Voice Chat permits you to have a live audio chat session with one or more persons on-line. This is one of my favorite techniques for learning Spanish. I have practiced with people from Mexico, Spain and Colombia at My Language Exchange.
Normally, I would help them with English for 30-45 minutes. In exchange, they would help me for the equivalent amount of time with my Spanish.
The last time I checked, My Language Exchange was offering two memberships. There’s a Free membership. And there’s a Gold membership. The Gold membership costs only $12 for a full year. That averages out to just $1 per month.
Número Seis: Become an Imitator
From the very beginning of your learning-Spanish journey, try your best to imitate native speakers. Try to imitate their pronunciations, their intonations, etc. This is not something that you should delay. In fact, this is one of the most important facets of learning any language.
Have you ever had someone come up to you and speak in what sounded like a foreign language. Maybe the person was asking for directions or some other information. And after the person rambled on for a while, you realized that the person was not, in fact, speaking a foreign language. He or she was actually speaking English. But his or her accent was so thick that you initially believed that the person was speaking a foreign language.
This can happen to you as a student of Spanish if you are not careful. You must make a purposeful effort to sound like native speakers. I know many Americans who claim that they speak Spanish fluently but their accents are awful. When I hear them speak, I say to myself “what a Gringo.” So I can only imagine what a native speaker of Spanish says about the person.
If you wait until you reach the intermediate level to start sounding like native speakers it will be too late to break the chains of habit. Make a deliberate effort to start now. It will begin to pay off when you start noticing how many native speakers of Spanish tell you how great your accent sounds.
Número Siete: Practice Makes Perfect
Practice Makes Perfect is more than just a saying. It’s a language-learning reality. When we were children we were completely unaware of the emotion called “embarrassment.”
Throughout my teenage years and adult life, my mother would tell me about a story – a true one – that when I was four years old I had wanted a drink of water, and I asked “wah wah – wah wah.” My sister, on the other hand, barely two years old at the time would say “mother may I have a glass of water please.”
Despite the fact that a child not much more than a toddler was speaking perfect English and I was grunting like a caveman, I never became discouraged or embarrassed. I kept at it until I got it right. And now I can say water in two different languages – actually three if I include Portuguese.
You have to take the same child-like attitude toward learning Spanish. You will make many mistakes. You will mispronounce words. You will use the wrong vocabulary. And you will make grammatical errors. But never let this hold you back from practicing your Spanish with a native speaker – even if the native is a total stranger.
You must accept the reality that making mistakes is a part of learning any language. If you are not making mistakes, it’s because you are not speaking Spanish to anyone. And if you are not speaking, then you are not learning.
Keep in mind that Rome was not built in a day. And neither was Madrid, San Juan, Santo Domingo, Cali, Mexico City, Colón, Havana or Buenos Aires.
Número Ocho: “But First You Must Believe . . .”
I don’t know if it was Peter Pan who first said this one, but I am going to borrow it. It is imperative that you believe in yourself and your ability to learn this beautiful language. I cannot overemphasize this point.
I am a strong believer in the power of thought. This is a technique that has not only helped me to learn Spanish, but it has also helped me immensely in everything that I have ever set out to do in life. I encourage you to use this same technique – not only in learning Spanish – but with any goal that you wish to accomplish.
In anything that I am striving to accomplish, I first visualize the successful outcome of the goal.
After I have visualized the successful outcome of the goal, in this case speaking Spanish fluently, I then map out the steps that I must take in order to arrive at the accomplishment of my goal. For example, the steps may involve practicing Spanish everyday for one hour. I then put in writing the steps that I need to take on a daily basis to accomplish my goal. Then I take action. Not sporadic action or inconsistent action. I take daily, consistent, tremendous action until my goal is accomplished.
Número Nueve: And now for my favorite
Learning-Spanish technique: Get a Latin Amor
This technique may get you in a lot of trouble if you are already married or otherwise in a committed relationship. In other words, this suggestion is only for the single people.
If you really want to learn Spanish quickly, find a “significant other” that’s a native of a Spanish speaking country. Preferably, someone that speaks very little or no English. This way you will be forced to listen to and speak Spanish.
Número Diez: Last but Certainly Not Least:
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Give UP
If you stay focused you will surely accomplish your goal of speaking Spanish proficiently or fluently. And you have total control over whether you reach that goal in a year or two or a decade or two. I hope that the techniques that I have outlined in this report will enable you to accomplish your goal as quickly as you desire.
You are also welcome to pass this report on to anyone who you think may benefit from this report. However, I do ask that you do not make any changes to this report if you pass it on to anyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Jackson is the Founder of the Learning Spanish Like Crazy system of learning Spanish. To learn more about his system of learning Spanish visit his web site at www.LearningSpanishLikeCrazy.com
NOTE: You’re welcome to “reprint” this article online or offline as long as it remains complete and unaltered.