Follow conventional rules to do anything, and you’ll get conventional results.
It may not feel comfortable when you’re not going the path that everyone else took. However, when you can reduce the time and risk that you have to put into these tactics, what’s the harm?
Yes, there are people with innate talent that can learn multiple languages at the same time it takes to learn one. Genetics aside, there are tactics and strategies you can apply to reduce your learning time.
When you ask most people how they learned their second language, you’ll probably hear:
- Language school
- YouTube or podcasts
While these methods are good, your language learning journey can feel like a marathon. You can use the following tactics to learn conversational Spanish, French, German, or more.
Learn Conversational Spanish With These 7 Tips
Today, we’re going to share 7 proven tips to learn Spanish conversation faster.
1. Schedule it in
The first step to not just learning Spanish, but any new skill, is to schedule it in. It may sound unconventional to use this as one of our tips, but it’s that valuable. In the busy world that we live in, it’s increasingly difficult to keep track of all the tasks that you have to do. It’s why 80% of people quit their New Years Resolutions by February, just a month later.
You can avoid this common learning mistake by using a calendar – digital or paper. Scheduling in has distinct advantages over a to-do list, when you’re learning something new. You know exactly when you need to learn in your day, how long it’ll last for, and you’ll even get notifications on your phone if you use a digital calendar.
Cal Newport, a bestselling author of productivity books, went as far as stating:
Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.
For more tips on scheduling, check out our article on how to find more time to learn.
2. Learn the Spanish cognates
Cognates, also known as borrowed words, is vocabulary that’s shared across similar languages. The reason is, like our own ancestry, languages have origin roots that have evolved over time to create the modern language we know today.
Spanish for example, comes from the Indo-European family and latin roots. The languages in the same family include French, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese.
There aren’t any foreign languages that’s modernly spoken that is pure. Many have borrowed components from other languages, even if they’re not from the same family. In fact, linguists have found that English speakers already know about 15,000 words in French, despite being in a different family.
The same logic can be applied to Spanish. There are over ten thousand words that you as an English speaker will know in Spanish without even knowing a single Spanish word. All you need to know is learn the Spanish cognate rules.
3. Find a Spanish tutor to speak with
Like learning how to play the guitar, you can only learn conversational Spanish by speaking it. You could speak it outloud by yourself at home, but you won’t get any immediate feedback. Or you could try finding a conversational partner, but you’ll have to put in the time to find the right partner. By right, we mean someone who’s at the same level of Spanish skills as you, as committed, and share similar schedule availabilities.
If you want to save time and get immediate professional feedback, you can find a Spanish tutor to help you. It does require a financial investment to work with a tutor. However, you’ll be getting an accountability, motivational, and professional tutor all-in-one package. Unlike working with a personal trainer or a business coach, which can cost upwards of up to $50 to $200 per hour, you can invest just $20 or so to work with a tutor to learn Spanish.
4. Learn the most common Spanish words
Think about how many English words (out of the ones you know) you use throughout your regular conversations. Chances are, you use anywhere from 5-10% of the most common vocabulary in English. Words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and more probably come up every other sentence, right?
Spanish is no different. When you know this upfront, you can reverse engineer how you learn Spanish by focusing on the most common. Skip words like aardvark and here is the list of the most common Spanish words you can use.
5. Memorize the Golden Sentences
Popularized by Tim Ferriss, the 8 golden sentences is a great framework to help you understand the differences in sentence structure, grammar rules, and pronouns. You could apply this in any language, but it’s just as useful when you learn Spanish.
Start by writing down the 8 sentences as shown below in English, and on the other side, translate it in Spanish. From there you can observer the subtle differences in how the sentence structures are formed. You’ll quickly get a brief understanding as well on how similar the language is to English (or your native language).
6. Listen. Then listen some more
Chris Lonsdale, a psychologist and TED speaker explains that one of the most effective things that a new language learner can use is to: listen, a lot.
Lonsdale refers to this treating your brain like a sponge. It’s not about recognizing or understanding what’s being said, but more about familiarizing your brain with the speech patterns. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s vital that you get used to the new sounds and accents of the foreign language.
This could be done through various different methods like watching Spanish YouTube videos, listening to Spanish podcasts, or speaking with a tutor.
7. Focus on Spanish content relevant to you
Last but not least, our last language hack is about how you spend time learning. Expanding beyond learning the most common words, you should focus on relevant content. For one, think about how you plan to use Spanish when you learn it. Are you planning to apply for a job at a Spanish-speaking company? Or are you planning to travel? The next is, what type of content do you actually care about?
Learning a new language is hard and when you first start, when momentum is lowest, you want to peak your interest. You could hack this approach by watching movies that you’re genuinely interested in, or finding a way to date a Spanish speaking girl or guy to motivate you. Like we said, unconventional but we know this works!
Which of these unconventional tips did you find most useful to learn conversational Spanish? Let us know!