We’ve all heard stories of people who spent three or four years studying Spanish and once confronted with the need to use it in a real-life situation, found themselves struggling to create even the most basic sentence. This scenario can occur whether you are studying Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Spanish or any other language. Learning a foreign language is a time-consuming process, and to avoid wasting that time, you need to study effectively. If you are studying Spanish, you are fortunate, as you’ll find there are many ways to practice your new language and increase your fluency to that of a native speaker.
In many parts of the world, you can access at least one Spanish television station. If not, you can find programming that you can download from the Internet. Find a show that you enjoy that comes on daily. Telenovelas are a good choice, as these soap operas follow predictable story lines and use vocabulary that includes slang terms that you are unlikely to find in a textbook or online study program.
Crank Up the Stereo
Keep your radio tuned to a station that plays Spanish rock, rancheros or another musical genre that you enjoy. You’ll find yourself singing along to your favorite songs, and you can always look up the lyrics online to gain insight into the meaning. An added bonus is that listening music stimulates the same part of the brain used when you are engaged in a language activity, making learning easier. The important thing is to listen to the music every day – after all, that’s what you’d be doing if you lived in a Spanish-speaking country.
Look for opportunities in your community to do volunteer work with Spanish-speaking communities. You’ll learn the language much quicker if you are communicating about authentic issues with real people. Volunteering also provides additional motivation to become fluent in Spanish.
To speak Spanish like a native speaker, you must spend time with native speakers. Besides volunteering, an enjoyable way to pick up the language is to spend your vacation time in a country where Spanish is the dominant language. You might even be able to learn a few Spanish curse words whilst you’re on your travels! Avoid tourist locales, as it is simply too easy to resort to English when native speakers are accustomed to dealing with English-speaking visitors.
Make Friends Online
Find chat rooms where people from your favorite Spanish-speaking Latin American country congregate. Then jump in and participate. To gain speaking fluency, take advantage of the inevitable offer to video chat. It is possible that you may find a language-learning partner who will enjoy taking turns speaking English and Spanish in order to increase his own fluency.
While all of these strategies will increase your fluency, don’t neglect a traditional course of language study. Learning Spanish in a classroom setting or by using a language software program will provide you with the foundation you need to build native-like fluency. The result will be not only proficiency in Spanish, but the ability to connect with new friends, business associates and other individuals that you interact with – lending a new richness to your life.