41 Views

5 Tricks to Learn Spanish (or Any Other Language) from 2 People Who Speak 11

Two polyglots discuss their shared love for the Spanish language and offer some tips for language learners.

By John-Erik Jordan

Spanish is the most studied second language in the United States. Many Americans start learning it in middle school or high school, but most of us never reach a level where we can really communicate in Spanish. I studied Spanish for all four years of high school and have almost nothing to show for it besides, “Me llamo John-Erik. Yo nací en Los Angeles. Chicle en la basura, por favor.” As is painfully obvious from thisthimbleful of Spanish I retained after high school, my relationship with the language never left the classroom and thus never really came to life. Where did I go wrong?

I needed expert advice so I consulted two guys with a lot to say about the Spanish language: Luca Lampariello, who hails from Italy and started teaching himself Spanish as a kid (he also speaks English, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese…), and Babbel’s polyglot-in-residence Matthew Youlden. Here are their tips for learning Spanish (or any language for that matter).

1. Connect it to your life

Don’t isolate your study of the language from the rest of your life. You’re not learning Spanish in order to talk about learning Spanish. This kind of recursive loop gets boring very quickly – and can be severely demotivating. Instead, think of Spanish as a new way to experience your everyday life: change the display language on your computer to Spanish; find Spanish-language movies and TV shows to watch (with Spanish subtitles); get your news or celebrity gossip fix from Spanish-language magazines, newspapers and websites; check out Spanish-language podcasts and youtube videos on topics that already interest you. If you use Spanish to do things that you’d be doing anyway, studying daily will become an automatic reflex instead of a dreaded chore. Just remember that languages are a means to an end, not goals in themselves.

2. Connect to native speakers

The best way to connect Spanish to your daily life is to spend time around native speakers. If any of your friends speak Spanish, convince them to speak it with you for at least half of each time you hang out together. If you eat at a Mexican restaurant, try to order in Spanish. If you travel to Latin America or Spain, don’t just fall back on “¿Habla inglés?” Any time an opportunity to speak Spanish presents itself GRAB IT! You need to practice what you learn and talking is always the best way to do that. Once you can hold a basic conversation, find a Spanish-speaking meetup group or club so that you can pursue one of your hobbies in Spanish. This could be anything from a dance class to a choir to an astronomy club.

This is also the secret to retaining what you have learned. As Luca puts it, “My parents had some good Spanish friends who came to eat at our place once a week, so I was able to practice with them. If you have the opportunity to speak many languages on a daily basis, then you won’t forget them.” This applies if you are juggling 10+ languages or if you are simply trying to keep a second language locked in your memory. The more you use it the less likely you are to forget it.

3. All roads lead to Rome

Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian can barely consider each other “foreign languages” since they all evolved from Latin. These “Romance” languages have such similar vocabulary, syntax and grammar that they are more like siblings. This overlap with his native Italian made it easy for Luca to start learning Spanish, but he still had to focus and make Spanish learning a daily practice.

By comparison, an English speaker appears to have a huge disadvantage when learning Spanish. After all, English evolved from Anglo-Saxon, a Germanic language. What could English and Spanish possibly have in common? Quite a lot, actually. English draws roughly half of its vocabulary from French and Latin, so although they may not be siblings English and Spanish are certainly cousins. Consider Matthew’s example, “la proclamación de la democracia”. That phrase barely needs to be translated into English! And as Luca elaborates, “democratisation, democratización, démocratisation, democratizzazione … you can learn four languages at the same time.”

4. The imitation game

An authentic accent: the final frontier. To master a Spanish accent you need to listen closely to native speakers and imitate what you hear. Think of yourself as a method actor: You aren’t just learning the lines, you are attempting to inhabit your character. However you expose yourself to Spanish (hanging out with Spanish-speaking friends, talking with tandem partners over Skype, watching Spanish-language movies and TV shows) imitate the voices you hear as accurately as you can. Over time this will familiarize you with sounds that you aren’t used to making. At first it may feel silly, like you are doing a bad impression, but once the correct pronunciation sinks in you will be “in character” when you speak Spanish.

Since Spanish has so many different regional accents, the people you choose to imitate can give your Spanish a particular regional flair. Because he studied in Barcelona, Matthew speaks Spanish like a barcelonés, while Luca developed his madrileño accent after dating a girl from Madrid. My Spanish might be light years behind theirs, but I’m trying to emulate my Mexican friends in hopes that, one day, I’ll be able to interject into almost every sentence like one of the dudes.

5. Jump right in!

The tips above will only help if you simply start learning. No, not tomorrow—now. What are you waiting for? It’s OK, you can start small, like 10 minutes a day. Combine short sessions of daily study with the tips above, and you will hear yourself speaking real Spanish in no time!

Start learning Spanish (or another language) with Babbel. You can start right now!

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Posts

Jeremiah Gyang Makes Comeback At Buckwyld ‘n’ Breathless Concert
Entertainment
24 views
Entertainment
24 views

Jeremiah Gyang Makes Comeback At Buckwyld ‘n’ Breathless Concert

PH - October 23, 2017

Nigerian singer Jeremiah Gyang reminded his fans why they fell in love with him during his mainstream comeback at the Buckwyld ‘n’ Breathless concert on Sunday night. Gyang gave…

Mr 2kay ‘Robbed At Gunpoint’ In Hotel Room
Entertainment
33 views
Entertainment
33 views

Mr 2kay ‘Robbed At Gunpoint’ In Hotel Room

PH - October 23, 2017

Singer Mr 2kay was robbed at gunpoint in his hotel room after the Buckwyld n Breathless concert on Sunday, October 22. The alleged robbery took place at…

Asa Talks Losing Virginity At 28 In Revealing Chat With Funmi Iyanda
Entertainment
21 views
Entertainment
21 views

Asa Talks Losing Virginity At 28 In Revealing Chat With Funmi Iyanda

PH - October 23, 2017

In this revealing, newly released 2015 Interview, Nigerian singer Asa sat with Funmi Iyanda to discuss her album “Bed Of Stones“. They also talked about the singer’s personal journey as a…

Popular Actress, Toyin Abraham Aimakhu’s Father Is Dead
Entertainment
41 views
Entertainment
41 views

Popular Actress, Toyin Abraham Aimakhu’s Father Is Dead

MT - October 23, 2017

Nollywood actress, Toyin Aimakhu reportedly lost her dad today. This was revealed by her sister, Fatimah Ogunsanya who wrote on Facebook; “It saddens me to the core…

PHOTOS: Dangote, Otedola, Ebuka And Wife Attend Ifeoma Williams’ Michael Jackson Themed 40th Birthday Party
Entertainment
50 views
Entertainment
50 views

PHOTOS: Dangote, Otedola, Ebuka And Wife Attend Ifeoma Williams’ Michael Jackson Themed 40th Birthday Party

MT - October 23, 2017

Former beauty Queen, Ifeoma Williams, who turned a year older recently held her 40th birthday party yesterday which billionaire businessmen Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola and some Nigerian…

Why Crude Oil Prices May Rise Above $60 Per Barrel
Business
39 views
Business
39 views

Why Crude Oil Prices May Rise Above $60 Per Barrel

PH - October 23, 2017

Oil prices rose on Monday over supply concerns in the Middle-east as the U.S. market showed further signs of tightening while demand in Asia keeps rising. Brent…

Jim Iyke Bares It All On His Relationship With Nadia – ‘I Never Dated Nadia Buhari’
Entertainment
49 views
Entertainment
49 views

Jim Iyke Bares It All On His Relationship With Nadia – ‘I Never Dated Nadia Buhari’

MT - October 23, 2017

Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke who in an interview with Punch revealed that the romance report between him and Ghanaian actress, Nadia Buhari, was never true. According to…

Tecno Unveils New Phantom Smartphone Yesterday In Dubai
Technology
33 views
Technology
33 views

Tecno Unveils New Phantom Smartphone Yesterday In Dubai

MT - October 23, 2017

Tecno Mobile, dropped the hint on social media about its next flagship device. After launching series of the low-end devices like Spark K7, WX3, and others, the…

Check Out What The FG Is Saying About Nnamdi Kanu’s Whereabout – ‘He’s In Abaribe’s Custody’
Politics
50 views
Politics
50 views

Check Out What The FG Is Saying About Nnamdi Kanu’s Whereabout – ‘He’s In Abaribe’s Custody’

MT - October 23, 2017

The Federal Government has replied to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe’s application seeking to withdraw as one of the sureties for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of…

Colourful Photos From Wedding Of An ‘Oyinbo Man’ And His Beautiful Bride From Imo State (Photos)
Romance and Love
66 views
Romance and Love
66 views

Colourful Photos From Wedding Of An ‘Oyinbo Man’ And His Beautiful Bride From Imo State (Photos)

MT - October 23, 2017

The excited Oyinbo man drinking wine from a cup given by the wife A Nigerian lady identified as Jennifer Asinugo has tied the knot in style with…

This Is What Rochas Said About Nnamdi Kanu After Declaring Support For Buhari In 2019
Politics
32 views
Politics
32 views

This Is What Rochas Said About Nnamdi Kanu After Declaring Support For Buhari In 2019

MT - October 23, 2017

The Governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha has described the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu as a mad man, according to a report…

Why FIFA Moved To Change Nationality Rules
Sports
50 views
Sports
50 views

Why FIFA Moved To Change Nationality Rules

MT - October 23, 2017

FIFA is considering changing the rules that govern a player’s eligibility to represent a national team, BBC Sport reports. At present, players who have played a competitive…

How Buhari Doused Tension Between Nigeria And Turkey
Politics
35 views
Politics
35 views

How Buhari Doused Tension Between Nigeria And Turkey

PH - October 23, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari employed diplomacy to douse the tension that the issue of the Fethullah Movement would have created between Nigeria and Turkey, Minister of Foreign Affairs,…

Why We Reinstated Wanted Ex-Pension Chief Maina – FG
Politics
64 views
Politics
64 views

Why We Reinstated Wanted Ex-Pension Chief Maina – FG

PH - October 23, 2017

Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has reacted to an exclusive PREMIUM TIMES story on how the federal government reinstated a sacked civil servant despite a pending…

Idongesit Umoh: Nigerian Enterpreneur Shares How She Lost N2.1m Through Online Banking
Business
94 views
Business
94 views

Idongesit Umoh: Nigerian Enterpreneur Shares How She Lost N2.1m Through Online Banking

PH - October 22, 2017

Nigerian entrepreneur and YALI fellow Idongesit Umoh today shared details of how her bank account got debited of N2.1m through some suspicious action on her online banking app. She…

Omawumi, Akpororo Announced As Judges Of New Reality Show
Entertainment
59 views
Entertainment
59 views

Omawumi, Akpororo Announced As Judges Of New Reality Show

PH - October 22, 2017

Last Resort entertainment working in partnership with Global Resources Limited, have announced the launch of Nigerian Icon, a first of its kind in talent scouting and entertainment…

Abia State Announces N10m Grant For Film Production In The State
Entertainment
39 views
Entertainment
39 views

Abia State Announces N10m Grant For Film Production In The State

PH - October 22, 2017

Abia State government has expressed its enthusiasm for the ZUMA Film Festival that is set to take place between the 1st to 5th of December, 2017 in…

Buhari Holds Bilateral Meetings With Guinea President, Pakistan Minister
Politics
57 views
Politics
57 views

Buhari Holds Bilateral Meetings With Guinea President, Pakistan Minister

PH - October 22, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari held bilateral meetings with President Alpha Conde of Guinea and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan in Turkey on Saturday. See photos:

Loading...