So, you’ve made the leap and have decided to finally learn Spanish. Or … you are seriously considering taking the leap. The right online Spanish classes can be game-changing. Not only is learning Spanish beneficial to potential career opportunities, it’s also a fantastic way to expand your social and romantic horizons.
But maybe you’re just a little bit nervous. You think, “Can I actually learn Spanish online?”
Tip #1: Get your mind ready for the lesson.
Our brains are awesome! But if you are like most busy adults-—myself included—-it may have been a while since you’ve been in a learning environment. High school and college are bygone days and you may think that your brain has become too rigid over the years. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, it’s true that we won’t be able to learn at the same rate as we did when we were little kids. However, neurologist specializing in neuroplasticity have proven that our minds remain quite malleable throughout the years.
Simply google “free games to get your mind ready to learn”. There are tons of free online games and puzzles developed by neuroscientists to help enhance your brain’s processing speed and increase memory retention.
If you don’t want to spend more time in front of a screen, you can just pick up a crossword puzzle. Various studies have shown crossword puzzles to be great cognitive exercise. Sudoku is another great cognitive workout.
Another great neuroplasticity exercise is Brain Yoga. Mentalfloss has a simple brain yoga exercise you can practice right now:
Take your left hand and make a fist, then extend your thumb. With your right hand, extend your pinky. Now switch them so it’s left pinky and right thumb. Not so easy? The coordination involved will strengthen neural connections, which will help both memory and other gray matter functions.
It really doesn’t matter what your preferred workout method is, but a little bit of mental exercise shortly before your online Spanish lesson will get your brain ready to learn and help you rock your lessons.
Tip #2: Carry a pocket English-Spanish dictionary around with you.
When I was learning Spanish I carried around a little orange pocket dictionary. I would find myself looking up words casually. Whenever a word would enter my mind that interested me for one reason or another I’d just look it up, and that helped tremendously.
Basic Spanish words that you are actually interested in knowing.
Look up new words that interest you and then show off your expanded vocabulary to your online Spanish teacher. You’ll see your Spanish comprehension get a boost when they start putting sentences into context for you by using all the interesting new words you’ve learned.
Tip#3: Focus on your favorite topics.
If you really want to learn how to put sentences in Spanish together quickly, focus on learning how to talk about your favorite things. Just like my point about looking up words that interest you, expand with phrases and full sentences about on topics you love.
If you love cooking, ask your online Spanish teacher if you can make the class around food. If you love music, see if your instructor can work music into your lesson plan. I guarantee this will help you to grasp the Spanish language faster.
Sometimes, basic language books have basic examples that you would never say to anyone in reality. Ex: “Hay una manzana en la mesa.” (There is an apple on the table.) Of course, sentences like these are important to learn because the teach vocabulary, prepositions, and verb conjugation.
On the other hand, it’s kinda boring and a bit useless. Anybody that is smart enough for you to hang out with would probably know that there is an apple on the table (if there is one) and they don’t need you to point out an apple that they can clearly see.
So, real-world opportunities to use sentences like that probably won’t present themselves much. But when it comes to cool stuff you love to talk about in your native language, you’ll actively find ways to use those words and phrases in Spanish
Tip #4: Don’t be embarrassed to get extra real world practice.
For me, I learned Spanish best in real world situations. Actually talking to people. So first of all, hopefully, you are using online Spanish classes that utilize human teachers that you can interact with. But you should also take any opportunity you can to practice with real humans outside of your online Spanish classes.
Go out to eat at your favorite Mexican or Tapas restaurant and try to order in Spanish. Latin American and Spanish cultures are phenomenal for beginner Spanish speakers. They are very supportive-—even when you are butchering their language—-and overwhelmingly appreciate the fact that you are taking the time to learn their language and culture.
So, don’t be embarrassed! Practice with anyone you can while out and about throughout the week. Your teacher will be amazed by your progression in your next lesson!