11 Tips to improve your Spanish fast

Miguel Herranz Farelo

Learning a new language is about living in that language. In Escribe en Español we repeat it over and over again: we don’t want you to study, we want you to speak Spanish from day one. You only know four sentences in the present tense and twenty words as your entire vocabulary? Well, you have to start somewhere. If that’s your Spanish on day one, let’s use it.

Learning Spanish requires daily contact with the language. Being part of our Comunidad Escribe en Español is the fastest and safest way to learn at lightning speed. But following these routines will also be very useful for you:

1. Make Spanish part of your daily life. One of the problems we have when studying a language is that we postpone the reward in the very long term. We study grammar, verb conjugations, vocabulary lists… but we never use it. Let’s get a tattoo on our brain: we’re going to speak Spanish from day one. With mistakes. With how little or how much we already know (and here you can see for yourself that you know more Spanish than you think).

2. Write the shopping list in Spanish. In a few weeks you will know a broad vocabulary, learned in a natural way. It is also useful to write your schedule in Spanish with your daily tasks; or to write recipes or instructions in Spanish for any task that does not require a very sophisticated vocabulary.

3. Don’t study: live Spanish through your hobbies and interests. Football? Well, the Spanish League is certainly very worthwhile, don’t you think? Read Marca or As (or, if you are a FC Barcelona supporter, read Mundo Deportivo). Marketing? Listen to podcasts and read articles in Spanish: Joan Boluda, Rankia

TIP: if you download the Ivoox app you will listen to thousands of podcasts on all possible topics, with the option to slow down the playback speed to understand them better.

4. Listen to Spanish songs while you read their lyrics (you can find lyrics in Eduteach, Letras.com…)


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5. Films in Spanish. I remember when I started to study English seriously, as a teenager. In Madrid there were exactly four cinemas where you could see movies in their original version. Very few films (usually independent films, to which I was not very fond of at the age of 14, really). But now it’s so easy! Just press a key on the remote control. That’s it.  Original language and subtitles. Please, subtitles always in Spanish.

The most effective way to watch movies in Spanish? I recommend to do the following:

  • Slow down the playback speed
  • Listen carefully sentence by sentence and word by word, reading the subtitles closely
  • After 15 minutes of film you go back to the beginning and repeat, this time at normal speed.
  • You watch the rest of the film at normal speed, enjoying yourself and not worrying too much if you don’t understand what’s being said. At the beginning, you will understand very short sentences, loose words… it doesn’t matter. You have already worked hard for 15 minutes, now it’s time to enjou and having your ear working naturally, without effort.

6. YouTube videos. Follow the same method I just explained for watching movies with YouTube playback speed at 0.75x. If subtitles are available, that’ s better; if not, we just listen. I suggest, for example, that you watch TED talks on the topics that interest you most. The lecturers speak slowly and in a very didactic way, which makes it easier for us to understand.

7. Find Spanish speaking partners. If you can exchange languages with people who live near you, great. There are very good initiatives; for example, if you live in London, I know a great one to speak French: Eclectic Minds.

If you can’t find a group near you or it doesn’t suit you because of your schedule or your way of life (work, small children…), internet is the solution. (Of course, you always have the perfect solution at hand: join to La Comunidad Escribe en Español)

8. Record yourself speaking Spanish. With your mobile phone, laptop camera or tablet, it doesn’t matter. No shame! You’re alone and it’s your moment. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Have fun!

9. Don’t worry about grammar… but study grammar. At Escribe en Español we believe in using language from day one, in natural learning and immersing yourself in the Spanish language. But let’s not fool ourselves: it also takes some effort and study. There are grammatical rules that we must learn: Spanish negation, masculine/feminine opposition, verbal conjugations, the difference between ser and estar (oh!)…

TIP: what you learn is used immediately and you always learn within a context (Learning by doing)

10. Escribe en Español. You already know the name of our school, so we don’t have to explain too much how important it is for us to write if we want to learn a language. When you write:

  • You have time to reflect and avoid the mistakes you make in any conversation
  • You can use a dictionary, so you learn new vocabulary deliberately
  • You can ask a Spanish speaker to review and correct your text (did I mention that la Banda de Escribe en Español does this?)

 11. ENJOY YOURSELF.

Speaking Spanish is to discover a variety of cultures and to communicate with 400 million speakers

Speaking Spanish is to know the second most popular language for communication in the world, after English.

Speaking Spanish is to enjoy films by Almodóvar, Buñuel, the wonderful Argentine or Mexican cinema…

Speaking Spanish is to enjoy the music of Spain and almost all the countries of America.

Speaking Spanish opens the door to new professional opportunities.

And well, who knows? Maybe one day you will meet Enrique Iglesias or Shakira on the street and that will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Think big, always!

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