How to speak Spanish like a native

With over 500 million people across the world speaking Spanish, the language sits behind only Mandarin and English when it comes to global speakers. Not only is it spoken in Spain and across Latin America, but in the USA too, where around 13% of the population speak Spanish as a first language.

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How to speak Spanish like a native

When you learn a new language, you open up a huge world of opportunities. Better job prospects are one. Travel is another. But learning a language is also a fantastic workout for the brain and research suggests that it can help to stave off neurodegenerative decline and diseases such as dementia. In fact, researchers at the American Academy of Neurology have found that these benefits apply at any age - proving that you are never too old to learn a new language!

Even better, Spanish is easy for English speakers to learn. It is fun, sociable and extremely satisfying, and because English and Spanish both derive from Latin, they share thousands of words that have the same meaning and sounds, called 'cognates'. In fact, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can get the basics in place to chat with other Spanish speakers! Learning how to speak Spanish also opens up a world of new friends, new cultural connections, fellow students and even the prospect of romance if you're looking for that special someone... A world of new possibilities, unhindered by the limitations of your language skills!

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What are some useful hints on how to speak Spanish?

  • Pick useful words and phrases to begin with

  • Listen to native speakers in films, podcasts and the news

  • Listen to Spanish music

  • Visit a Spanish country

  • Practice, practice, practice!


Ways to learn Spanish

The good news is that there are many ways to learn how to speak Spanish, whether you love high-tech approaches, bite-size chunks, more traditional lessons or face-to-face courses. Let's take a look at the most successful routes:

  • Spanish language immersion: There is no doubt that immersion is the best way to learn how to speak Spanish. This approach ensures that your brain is kept sharp and constantly engaged in Spanish words and phrases, helping you to begin intuitively using the new language that you are learning. By 'thinking Spanish' you will naturally become excited and engaged in your lessons, and seek out opportunities to learn more about Spanish culture, travel and life. Immerse yourself by reading Spanish newspapers, talking with Spanish friends and contacts, listening to Spanish music and heading to your favourite tapas restaurant to practice your new language skills over the menu... a dish of Tortilla Española and a round of Calamares a la Romana anyone? Your words may flow even more easily with a little sangria thrown into the mix!

  • Find a Spanish language partner: This can be a fun way to learn colloquial Spanish and to make a new language friend in the process! Look for a native speaker ideally, who may be interested in learning English in return. That way, you can both progress your speaking practice in each respective language, learning from a native speaker and picking up the intricacies of everyday Spanish, from regional accents and words through to expression, accent and style. Of course, the success of this approach relies on finding the right partner and flexibility with your time. This can be a good secondary approach to maximise the benefits of your more formal learning method and to consolidate your learning with regular spoken practice.

  • Take a course: Formal classroom-based lessons have always been the traditional way of learning a language, whether at school, evening class or even a summer school. The effectiveness of these courses or lessons very much depends on the teacher and the format. For example, a residential summer school is likely to be great fun but may be expensive. A classroom-based language lesson may be absorbing, but the pace is likely to be dictated by the slowest learners. If you do choose this option, shop around to make sure you get the best tuition for the best price.

  • Fill your life with the language: It's important to develop a routine when learning a language, so try a short lesson every day if you are pushed for time, instead of a longer and more infrequent lesson. Just ten minutes of practice and a test of new words and phrases each day will keep Spanish fresh in your mind and help you to keep progressing. Immerse yourself in fresh and exciting content too! Spanish content is everywhere, especially in the modern digital world. Listen to Spanish radio stations, watch Spanish films on TV and head to your local international film cinema to see the latest arthouse release. Read a Spanish newspaper or try a podcast about a topic that enthuses you. As well as developing your ear and comprehension, you will begin to develop your vocabulary in specialist and contemporary fields that will help you to apply your language skills to the passions in your life. This varied content will also help you to understand different Spanish accents and dialects. As you'll know from your own native language, there is far more than just the 'accepted' way of speaking and pronouncing words! So listen to different Spanish dialects - from a Madrileño speaker through to Latin Americans. This will develop your ear, style and ability with the language.

  • Use technology: There are also plenty of modern digital learning methods to choose from. Whether you use a website or an app, again, the secret to success lies in the quality of the content. Babbel, for example, is an app that has been created using cutting-edge language coaching methodologies, combined with thorough academic knowledge and time-tested approaches from highly experienced teachers. Learning through an app also means you can learn at any time, whether whilst commuting, during a break, when you have five minutes between appointments or when you have some quiet time at home. Babbel's content is engaging and designed to get you speaking your new language extremely quickly. There are other apps and websites too, some of which are very good. But, check the quality and accuracy of these lessons carefully to make sure you are learning from the right sources. While many are put together by professionals, some are of more dubious provenance! Look at user reviews to see what your peers think and try out digital language products for yourself on a trial basis to test their quality for yourself.