Learning Spanish

Tips & Tricks on learning the language

Learning a language is a challenge for anyone. As with any country, to get the most out of living in Mexico you unquestionably need a basic level of Spanish.

Learning Spanish

Even in the more touristy areas there are plenty of situations in which Spanish is needed, from getting your phone connected to dealing with government officials. In certain circumstances such as finding a flat, or giving directions to a taxi driver, it is a real help if you try to speak Spanish. Apart from these practical considerations you will enjoy living in Mexico a lot more when you can communicate.

How to learn Spanish

From language books to video cassettes to online courses, literally hundreds of companies dedicate themselves to helping people write and speak Spanish. Unfortunately, despite any of their claims, there are no easy tricks or shortcuts to successful learning. The real key is simply to immerse yourself in the language and practice, practice, practice. Read newspapers and magazines. Watch television and films. Listen to the radio. Chat with the neighbours. Constant exposure to Spanish is a necessity. The more you place yourself in situations where your native language cannot be used as a crutch, the quicker you will learn Spanish.

Learning in front of the television

Television is probably the quickest way to increase you level of listening comprehension. It is free and you are guaranteed to hear people speaking naturally (and fast). Do not expect to understand everything, especially things like chat-shows, as this is difficult even for people with a good level of Spanish. The more you listen and watch, the quicker you will find yourself picking up words and phrases. You will be surprised how much you can learn this way, as well as how painless it can be.

Language courses

In order to get started many people choose to sign up for a Spanish language course. Between local universities offering language programmes and specialist language schools, there are many different options on offer. Courses are conducted almost exclusively in Spanish, even for beginners, which should help you become accustomed to Spanish sounds and pronunciation.

If you need to gain a basic knowledge of Spanish in a short time, these schools usually have intensive courses that will give you a "kick-start" in the language. Otherwise it is generally advisable to learn at a more measured pace over a longer period of time.

As with studying any language, success is purely determined by the amount of effort you put into learning. Making a concerted effort to practice your Spanish both inside and outside the classroom will rapidly improve your skills.

If your time is limited or the idea of a language course doesn't appeal to you, we would still suggest having as much personal contact with Spanish people as possible. Memorising grammar rules is wonderful but nothing beats practical experience. Language exchanges called intercambios are the perfect way to guarantee that you practice your Spanish each week. These work by pairing up with a Spanish person that wants to learn your language. This is also a great way to make new friends. Most universities and language schools either maintain lists of potential Spanish candidates or at least have a bulletin board with postings.

Even in the more touristy areas there are plenty of situations in which Spanish is needed, from getting your phone connected to dealing with government officials. In certain circumstances such as finding a flat, or giving directions to a taxi driver, it is a real help if you try to speak Spanish. Apart from these practical considerations you will enjoy living in Mexico a lot more when you can communicate.

How to learn Spanish

From language books to video cassettes to online courses, literally hundreds of companies dedicate themselves to helping people write and speak Spanish. Unfortunately, despite any of their claims, there are no easy tricks or shortcuts to successful learning. The real key is simply to immerse yourself in the language and practice, practice, practice. Read newspapers and magazines. Watch television and films. Listen to the radio. Chat with the neighbours. Constant exposure to Spanish is a necessity. The more you place yourself in situations where your native language cannot be used as a crutch, the quicker you will learn Spanish.

Learning in front of the television

Television is probably the quickest way to increase you level of listening comprehension. It is free and you are guaranteed to hear people speaking naturally (and fast). Do not expect to understand everything, especially things like chat-shows, as this is difficult even for people with a good level of Spanish. The more you listen and watch, the quicker you will find yourself picking up words and phrases. You will be surprised how much you can learn this way, as well as how painless it can be.

Language courses

In order to get started many people choose to sign up for a Spanish language course. Between local universities offering language programmes and specialist language schools, there are many different options on offer. Courses are conducted almost exclusively in Spanish, even for beginners, which should help you become accustomed to Spanish sounds and pronunciation.

If you need to gain a basic knowledge of Spanish in a short time, these schools usually have intensive courses that will give you a "kick-start" in the language. Otherwise it is generally advisable to learn at a more measured pace over a longer period of time.

As with studying any language, success is purely determined by the amount of effort you put into learning. Making a concerted effort to practice your Spanish both inside and outside the classroom will rapidly improve your skills.

If your time is limited or the idea of a language course doesn't appeal to you, we would still suggest having as much personal contact with Spanish people as possible. Memorising grammar rules is wonderful but nothing beats practical experience. Language exchanges called intercambios are the perfect way to guarantee that you practice your Spanish each week. These work by pairing up with a Spanish person that wants to learn your language. This is also a great way to make new friends. Most universities and language schools either maintain lists of potential Spanish candidates or at least have a bulletin board with postings.

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