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5 Tips To REALLY Master Spanish

       

        Once upon a time, I had a my own Youtube channel dedicated to everything Spanish. I would translate songs from English to Spanish, and then make a cover of them. I would also tell stories in Spanish, even though it is not my native language and I am not Latino. Many of my viewers who were in the process of learning Spanish would always tell me how they admired my ability to speak Spanish as if it were my first language. The most popular question they would ask was, "How did you learn to speak so fluently?" Since I am sure that many others have the same question, I will share my secrets and tips on how to really master Spanish.

**Disclaimer** I did not do any research on these tips. I am solely giving information based on what worked for me.

1. Be serious about it



        The United States differs from other countries educationally, in that we have so many opportunities to learn whatever we would like, but we take them for granted. I have personally known many students who only took 2 years of Spanish courses because they had to do so as a prerequisite for college. They did not take the language learning process seriously, but rather did only what it took just to get a passing grade. When it is all said and done they could not even hold a basic conversion in Spanish, besides the typical, "Hola! ¿Cómo Estás?" or ridiculous things like, "Tengo catorce gatos en mis pantalones." And let's not forget those juicy swear words that almost all English speakers love when pronounced in Spanish. Those phrases and words won't get anyone anywhere.

        The first and most important part of learning Spanish is to change your mentality. If you do not hit the serious switch in your mind, then vocabulary and grammar retention may be hard to accomplish. When you are serious about learning, you are trying to retain new material for a life time. When you are not serious, you try to retain new info only until your next test and then it all gets forgotten after the test is over.

        In my case, being serious happened innately. I found that I was very passionate about learning and could not get enough. I did not have to shift my thoughts towards being serious, because the opposite was never an option for me. However, I realize that everyone does not have the same story as me, and my advice to you is to dig deep. If you find that you are not passionate about it, then taking it seriously may be very difficult for you. You may want to consider learning something different if you can not come to see it as important.

2. Immerse yourself in the language


Picture from "The Carlos Duran Show" in the Dominican Republic on Youtube 
        There are some people who can afford to move or take a vacation to a Spanish speaking country to become better speakers, because they have no choice but to do so since they are immersed in the culture and language. However, for those of us who do not have the funds, and have not quite learned how to budget yet (Unfortunately, I identify with both of these), you have to bring the country and the language to you. What does this mean? This means that you have to speak and listen in your native language as least as possible, and speak and listen in the other language as much as you can. This means that the language settings on all of your devices need to be set to Spanish. This means that you need to find some type of Spanish radio or podcast to listen to as opposed to your typical English music on your Ipod and radio. This means that you need to watch Spanish TV shows and/or movies. Some of my favorites can be found on Youtube, for example: El Chavo Del 8, El Chapulin Colorado, and El Show De Carlos Duran to name a few.

        Also,  Reading in Spanish helps tremendously. Even if you start with children's books, it is a great habit to get into. Reading can expand your vocabulary, and also give you a better grasp on grammar and sentence structure.  My favorite thing to read when I get some down time is the newspaper. BBC has a page in Spanish called BBC Mundo. It covers a variety of things going on not only in Latin America, but around the world as well. Once you immerse yourself in the language, you will find that your fluency and comprehension will be much better.

        Apart from reading and listening writing is another way to further immerse yourself in Spanish. I used to write R&B love songs in English and rarely write poems in Spanish. Now, I only write songs in Spanish in the style of Bachata (A form of music from the Dominican Republic). If you like to write songs, poems, or journals, I recommend that you begin to write in Spanish as well. This can only sharpen your skills, and cause you to think outside of the box. I have learned many Spanish idioms thanks to writing. For example, I once wanted to write, "The early bird gets the worm." Through research, I found that in Spanish this actually translates to, "A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda." This Spanish idiom literally translates to, "God helps those who wake up early." it sounds weird when translated into English, but in Spanish this is a very common phrase. I could have typed it word for word in Spanish, but it would sound less native and more Americanized. Since I have been immersing myself in the language I found this and many more idioms to be useful.

3. Find a dialect that you like and learn it


        This is something that I believe many Americans do not take into consideration, but every Spanish speaking country, has their own way of speaking. To better understand this, we can compare the English spoken in England, to the English spoken in New York, Chicago, and Dallas. All of these different regions speak English, but they have their own accents and dialects. The same phenomena occurs in Spanish. In Schools, we are only taught Castilian Spanish from Spain, or if we are in a certain region, Mexican Spanish may be taught. If you do not plan on living in Mexico, or Spain, but would like to go to another Spanish Speaking country, then you would need to learn their dialect, their slang, and their accent.

        I have taken a liking to the Spanish of the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. I like how they talk without pronouncing the full words, and they will remove the "s" from words in situations. I have studied the ways of speaking from both islands so much that when I speak, you would not think I was American. You can lose your American accent too if you learn to imitate the dialect that you will be dealing with the most. If you are interested in the same accents that I have studied, a couple of pages to check out would be El Mañanero con Boli for the Dominican accent and Ahora Te Cuento for the Puerto Rican accent. If you would like to find other dialects from other countries, Youtube and Soundcloud can help tremendously. 


4. Speak, speak, speak!

        Speaking is extremely necessary when it comes bettering your Spanish. Reading and writing are great, but the real test is speaking because you do not have as much time to think. You have to think on your toes and know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Speaking is also one of the most common forms of communication. When you are face to face with someone, you do not write to them, but rather, you speak to them vocally. Yes, when you first begin to converse with others, you will mess up. Yes, you will be nervous. Yes, you will embarrass yourself. I have found that in most cases the embarrassment causes you to associate that embarrassing experience with that word or phrase that you used incorrectly, therefore, reminding you of the correct meaning from that point on. One of my old teachers found out really quickly in Spain, that embarazada does not mean embarrassed. If you have similar situations like this, it will create great memories to look back on and laugh at.

        Also, whenever you run into a Spanish speaker at work, or while shopping at the grocery, or in a helpless situation in need of an interpreter, go ahead and take the initiative. Speak to and/or for them. I do this literally every time I get the chance and I have gained a few acquaintances, email pals, and some people have even invited me to events and to their houses for dinner. From my experience, speaking with people always created a future speaking opportunity because we were bound to run into each other again. The conversations with those acquaintances made me more comfortable to try new things in regards to Spanish, and to not get embarrassed because they knew that I was not perfect at it, but that was OK because I was trying. In the beginning you may be afraid, but just try it again and again, and you'll see how easy and natural it becomes.

5. Write it down



        This last tip will save your life as you continue on your Spanish learning journey. Well, not really.. but it is very useful. If you are a busy person like myself, you may be listening to something in Spanish and come across a phrase or word that you do not know. Sure, you can just look the word up in a dictionary, find the meaning, and then go on about your day, but this is a bad habit to get into. I have done this several times before and every time I looked up a word just to see what it meant at the time, I would later forget it, because I only wanted to know what it meant in that one sentence or phrase. The way that I overcame this meaningless search and forget cycle was to write things down. Whenever i would talk to someone, watch a show, listen to a podcast, or read something that had a word or phrase that I had not yet learned, I would write it down. It is a good practice to write it down with the correct definition(s). Doing so will allow you to refer back to it during your down time when you want to freshen up on you language learning.

Conclusion

        To sum it all up. These 5 tips have helped me all throughout my Spanish learning journey. I believe that if you combine them, then they will work for you too. If you are a beginner, or if you are at an intermediate level or even at an advanced level, and you feel stuck, give these things a try and let me know how it goes for you. Good luck, my friends!

Comments

  1. Yo estoy aprendiendo el español tambien y ahora yo estoy muy interesado en el Francais . Boy a tomar su consejo para Francais tambien

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gracias por pasar por mi página! Me alegro de que te puedo ayudar! Las reglas sí son las mismas para todos los idiomas entonces estos tips se puede usar para aprender francés también. Buena suerte!

      Delete
  2. Hola! Acabo de escuchar tu entrovista con los dos chichos del podcast No Hay Tos. Hacia 14 meses paso tiempo cada dia escuchar podcasts y mirar videos YT en espanol. Pasé una hora cada dia de 15 Junio 2018 al 22 Marzo 2019 cuando sali de mi classe de frances (ensenaba frances durante 27 anos). Ahora, no trabajo por el dinero y puedo investar mas tiempo en mi actividad favorito - aprender espanol. Tambien hago episodios por mi canal English without Fear (disponible seguramente de mi site web: www.englishwithoutfear.com
    Conosces Pablo del canal Dreaming Spanish? necisitas chequarle! Estoy muy, muy impresionada de lo que has hecho con tu espanol!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hola Ricky espero es todo bien ...aparte de esta pagina lo me encanto quiero solicitar sobre de sus lecciones privada y si ofreces en la computadora usando como (Skype). Nos intercambiamos mensajes un poco receintamente en facebook aunque parece como no te uses frecuentamente. De verdad, quiero mejorar mi espanol para alcanzar un gran nivel con la idioma y seguir una trayectoria positiva como usted. Admiro tanto todo lo has hecho y el estilo como tu ensenas. Entonces voy a dejar mi correo electronico en caso aarzadon100@gmail.com. Gracias

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hola qué onda ? Where I live is mostly Mexicans and I'm learning Mexican dialect of Spanish but I'm more attracted to the Caribbean type Spanish like Puerto Rico, Colombian Dominican and Cuba. The music and culture I can relate to more because I was around more Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in New Jersey and Ohio. When I listen to Spanish music it's Don Omar or tego Calderon or bad bunny and albertico. Now I'm down south and I'm taking my Spanish more serious and I'm only around Mexicans. My Mexicans friends are helping me but I still have the desire to want to learn Caribbean Spanish more so. Should I just stick Mexican Spanish.

    ReplyDelete

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