Today we have a very special and different post. Today we are glad to introduce you to our first guest post. Yes, we are having a guest in the Spanish by Doing Blog!
Guest post: 5 Easy Ways You Can Learn Spanish fast (and have fun at the same time!)
Well, hello there. My name is Milena, and Spanish is NOT my first language. I am here to share my story on how I went about learning Spanish, because not long ago I was once in your shoes, trying to learn Spanish, perhaps with different reasons to yours. However, regardless of the reasons, the feelings of confusion and embarrassment were always there. You know what I mean, feeling frustrated when you can’t express or explain yourself in Spanish, feeling shy or embarrassed when you mispronounce the words, and feeling mentally exhausted when you have to listen and speak all day in a language that is so foreign to you. Oh, and when I didn’t understand something, I used to just smile and nod and say Sí, sí… Hey, we’ve all been there!
Before I share my secrets of learning Spanish, here is something you need to know about me: I moved from New Zealand to Australia about 8 years ago. In 2013, while living in Australia, I met my now-husband who happens to be from Chile! And you guessed it, that was my reason for learning Spanish right there. I moved to Santiago and lived there for over a year. I was overly confident and thought I could get around by speaking English every day, like, ordering food at a restaurant, or going shopping, and so on.
Oh boy, how naïve was I to think that!
Turns out, not everyone in Chile can speak English. And why would they? If you travel around South America, you only need to know Spanish (or Portuguese in Brazil), no reason to learn English unless you have plans to travel to the United States. But even there, in some states, Spanish is often spoken.
What you need to know, as well, is that my native tongue is Serbian, I am fluent in English (have been speaking English for over 20 years), but I didn’t speak much Spanish before meeting my husband and moving to Chile (except the words I learnt by listening to Shakira).
Trying to speak Spanish in Chile was extremely frustrating, I lacked confidence and I was extremely shy and self-conscious of speaking Spanish in public.
First of all, in contrast to other South and Central American countries, as well as Spain, Chilenos speak very fast and they don’t pronounce all the words correctly. They swallow most of the letters. I joke with my friends when I say I speak Spanish and Chilean. My first Chilean word was “teclao” – this is Spanish for teclado or in English keyboard.
I don’t know about you, but I am a practical person when it comes to learning a new language. I would rather “do” something like watch movies, socialize and participate in different activities, than buy a 200-page grammar book that would put me to sleep.
So, if you are anything like me, then you will find my below tips useful. Here is what got me started and helped me prepare for Spanish, build confidence and overcome my fears.
- Listen to Spanish music
Don’t just listen to the music, learn the lyrics! What a great and enjoyable way to learn the language. Memorize the lyrics, then go and check the meaning in a dictionary so you know what you are singing about. As I mentioned earlier, I was hooked on Shakira’s music, the Spanish version of course, helped me expand my vocabulary. Nowadays, I listen to a variety of Spanish music Gypsy Kings, Enrique Iglesias, Chico Trujillo, Autenticos Decadentes, Los Tres, to name a few.
- Watch Spanish movies, including telenovelas (Spanish soap operas)
Watching Spanish movies with subtitles, will help you learn the language faster, simply because you are able to associate actions with words. And if you feel like you are ready to face a challenge, cover the subtitles with something (if you have a smart TV, remove the subtitle option) and keep watching! It’s a good test to see how much you can actually understand. My friends recommended I try watching telenovelas, as it is done in a really easy to understand script, meaning you will pick up Spanish in no time! Although, telenovelas may not be everyone’s cup of tea you can still give it a try, I recommend Corazon Salvaje or La Tormenta (from South America).
Duolingo is a free app that you can download on any smart device, like phones and tablets. You can use it to practice your pronunciation and also expand your vocabulary. It did help me a lot with vocabulary in the beginning.
- Take Yoga, Pilates or Dancing classes in Spanish
While in Chile, I enrolled in Pilates and Dancing classes. These classes were all in Spanish! It was a great way to learn the language and at the same time keep fit and have some fun!
- Mingle and Socialize
Join Meetup (www.meetup.com). There are so many networking groups on the meetup site (it’s a worldwide site!), you can browse them all day. Don’t just join any group, join a Spanish/English exchange group! There are a few here in Australia, and guess what, I put my hand up to become an Assistant Organizer of Spanish/English Exchange group in Melbourne, which has well over 4,000 members. Here is a chance to interact and practice your Spanish skills with native speakers, and build confidence at the same time. I regularly attend meetup groups in Santiago, great way to meet people as well if you are new in the country!
I’ll finish off with a nice quote by Charlemagne just to keep your motivation levels up and to encourage you to keep on learning, just keep this quote in mind:“To have another language is to possess a second soul” (“Si hablas otro idioma, es porque posees una segunda alma”)
Milena Vujnic Acevedo
Translator, English Teacher and Host of English Made Simple Podcast
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram: englishmadesimple
About the author: While living in Chile, Milena has found her path in life, helping Spanish speakers learn conversational English. When not distracted by her translation work, Milena copes with an insatiable addiction for authentic Thai food, and likes to kick back and enjoy a glass of red… and watch Spanish movies.