You can get a helping hand with Spanish translation services and resources online, but if you’re not real big on text book learning, check out these five fun and alternative ways of learning Spanish…
Spanish is a fun language to learn. Beyond the fact that it’s the second most widely spoken language in the world, it’s also arguably one of the sexiest sounding. Especially when you get further into your language learning journey and can hear the differences in accents and understand regional dialects.
1. Study Abroad
Learning Spanish in the classroom is not the same as speaking it on the streets of Madrid or dancing flamenco in a bar in Seville. So, go study abroad. Take a year out and practice your Spanish outside of a school. Not only will the phrases you learn make more sense as you use them in real-life situations, but you’ll make friends and have fun at the same time.
OK, so not everybody has the luxury of taking a year abroad to learn Spanish, but if budget is a problem, then do some part time work online while you’re there. If you can’t take that much time out from your busy schedule, then organize a vacation. Try to go off the beaten path to places where English isn’t widely spoken, so you’ll be forced to speak more than you might do otherwise.
2. Take Dance Classes
Dance classes? Yes, dance classes. Depending on the variant you want to learn, Spanish speaking countries are pretty much all big on dancing. From the stomping heels of a sultry flamenco and the melancholy mystique of a tango, to upbeat salsa beats; learning the Spanish language almost inevitably means that you’ll have to learn to dance at some point. So, you might as well get a head start.
The best thing about taking dance classes is that you’ll meet like-minded people who want to have fun and you’ll pick up Spanish vocab without even trying. Learning the lyrics of the songs and being taught by a native teacher will make you want to look up “will you dance with me?” in Spanish. And who knows where that may lead you? Alternative and fun!
3. Watch Your Favorite Shows in Spanish
Whether you prefer to watch your favorite shows in English with Spanish subtitles, or go down the dubbed route, this is a great way of improving your Spanish. Why? Because you get to throw the accompanying CD of your text book out the window and watch and listen to something that interests you instead.
You probably won’t understand a word in the beginning. It helps if you watch the show in English first and the dubbed version afterwards, then things will fall into place. You don’t even have to watch something that you can’t stand, like a Mexican novela – just go for a rerun on Gray’s Anatomy and try not to snigger at the Spanish speaking version of Meredith.
4. Read What You Enjoy
Another way of rebelling against the typical structure of a text book is by reading about what you enjoy in Spanish. Thanks to Amazon and other online vendors, you can pretty much get the book of your choice in Spanish these days. So, if you’re not really interested in Don Quixote, then how about trying Eat, Pray, Love? If you’re interested in fashion, pick up a woman’s magazine.
If you want to know more about stocks and shares, try looking at a Spanish newspaper, such as El Pais or ABC. Actually, reading newspapers may not be fun for everyone, but they’re a lot easier than reading gossip magazines, as the formal way they’re written shares the common Latin thread with English. Your confidence will be greatly boosted as you find out you know more than you think you did.
5. Get a boyfriend or girlfriend
This part (obviously) only applies to you if you’re single. I’m not advocating adultery here. But, let’s be honest. Hands down, the single best way to learn a language is when you’re fully invested in learning it. And there’s no better way than by going out with someone who only speaks that language, namely Spanish.
You’ll learn all kinds of vocabulary that you’d never learn from a textbook and you’ll also get a real slice of Spanish culture. A family gathering for Sunday lunch, a cousin’s birthday party or maybe even an infamous “quinceañera”. Getting a partner who’s a Spanish speaker will be a wild ride and guaranteed to ignite your passion for the language and lifestyle even further.
So, there you have it. If you’re struggling with your pronunciation, reading lengthy passages, or getting stumped at the subjunctive, then take a tip from me. There are more fun and alternative ways of learning Spanish. You just need an open mind and a positive attitude. And a pair of dancing shoes.
Sean is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., an online translation agency and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide.