How to Become Fluent in Spanish
Is it really possible to teach yourself Spanish?
Many people have taught themselves a foreign language. Dr. Peter Flawn never studied Spanish in school - he taught himself. He must have done a good job because he has given lectures at a university in Mexico City - in Spanish! Below, he summarizes what a person must do to learn Spanish:
- Have the motivation to speak Spanish.
- Have the discipline and patience to do what is necessary.
- Have the boldness speak Spanish, even though one is just beginning to learn.
How quickly will I be able to teach myself Spanish?
This depends on your commitment and eagerness to learn Spanish. If you devote yourself, you'll have a much greater command of the language after only a few months of study.
Your Current Spanish Level
You should start by determining your current level of Spanish knowledge. Take our Spanish Placement Test. This should be your first step!
Spanish letters are pronounced differently than English letters. You must first learn the pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet if you want to speak the language! Go to: Spanish Pronunciation
If you have problems with Spanish pronunciation, you may want to consider working with a private tutor one or two hours per week. This will quickly take your pronunciation to the next level. Private online Spanish tutors are available for less than $10 an hour on the NuLengua website.
If you have never studied Spanish before, or if you studied Spanish long ago, start building your vocabulary with our step-by-step Spanish course Spanish 101
Conversations and Dialogues
To further develop your vocabulary, and to train your "ear", you should listen to short conversations and simple dialogues. As a novice, you will NOT understand native speakers speaking at a normal pace. To avoid frustration, you should begin with conversations and dialogues spoken very slowly, go to: Slow Conversations and Dialogues
When you are able to fully comprehend the slow dialogues, you can begin to listen to conversations and dialogues which are spoken a little more quickly, go to: Conversations and Dialogues. These dialogues are NOT spoken at the same rate of a native speaker. It will take some time before you can listen to radio or TV in Spanish.
If you have problems comprehending the slow Spanish dialogues, you may want to consider working with a private online Spanish tutor. After only a few private lessons, your Spanish comprehension will improve dramatically. Private tutors are available seven days a week on the NuLengua website.
Put Together Phrases and Sentences
As your vocabulary and listening comprehension develops, you can begin to put together short phrases and sentences to express yourself in Spanish. Test your ability while having fun with these quizzes Match Images with Phrases and Sentences
Do NOT attempt to read a novel in Spanish! Even people who have been speaking Spanish for years often find reading a Spanish novel to be tedious and boring. Please DO read very short passages and try to understand a basic idea about the topic being discussed. Don't worry if you cannot understand everything! Our Short Reading Passages will allow you to learn quickly while avoiding frustration!
For a self-assessment of your reading skills, go to ACTFL Reading Proficiency
Like games, videos make learning more interesting and fun. Everyone learns more quickly when they are having fun, Spanish Videos with English
Avoid TV and movies until you have been speaking Spanish for years. Attempting to watch TV and movies at this point will only convince you that you will never learn Spanish.
If you are still studying Spanish, then it is time for you to move to a more advanced course. This course will give you a better understanding of Spanish grammar while greatly expanding your vocabulary Spanish 201
When writing in Spanish, you can use Google to help you figure out if you are saying something correctly. Let's say you are writing to your girlfriend/boyfriend. You want to write, "Te amo mi amor.", but you are not certain if it is correct. Put the phrase in quotations and search for it. What do you see? This method if NOT foolproof, but it is often very helpful
Tips for Talking
Most people are too polite and too lazy to correct your errors. If you're lucky, they will repeat what you said, in correct form, as a question. Don't just respond with "si" - repeat your original sentence correctly! This will help you remember it. Always provide visual feedback (smile) to indicate that you are happy for the help they are giving you (for free!).
Never attempt to speak as fast as natives speak - natives can get away with more corner-cutting in their speech than you. It's better for you to speak more slowly and more correctly. If you are lucky, they may respond by speaking slower which will allow you to understand and learn much more.
For a self-assessment of your speaking skills, go to ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines