Why did I start learning Spanish?
It was because I want to explore Spain and Latin America.I want to chat fluently in Spanish with anyone I run into. I want to make as many Hispanic friends as I can who would be embracing me as their family. I want to know everything about this fascinating Latino culture.
I want to, if chance permits, land on a job in a Spanish-speaking company, or be an entrepreneur and start a Spanish-related business.
Did you start off learning Spanish with similar dreams? I think many of us do, but after a while it is easy for us to get frustrated and give up halfway.
Because we find it so hard, so frightening to initiate a conversation in Spanish.
Why would we get nervous even before we start to speak?
Because talking is an event that happens in real time, and we are easily overcome by the fear that we cannot sustain a conversation that we begin, and make a fool of ourselves. We would worry that we do not have enough vocabulary, messing up the tenses and gender etc…This forms a vicious cycle: the more we fear of embarrassing ourselves, the less we speak, and the further we push ourselves away from the goal of getting fluent.
So how can we beat this fear and get ourselves out to start speaking Spanish? Here are 4 tips that I have picked up on my own journey of learning Spanish:
1.Accumulating a bank of stock phrases
Memorizing a few common phrases for different life situations would help you feel more prepared. And you know you would never get wrong, for example, closing the conversation with a phrase like “¡Qué tengas un buen día/noche!” (Have a good day/night!).
You can find all these useful phrases in a phrase book, or you can pick up through the next tip:
2. Practice with an interactive video
Learning through an interactive video would be a fun way for practicing speaking. Each video would usually cover a specific topic; useful phrases and words would be introduced as the video plays along. Therefore, you can practice reading out the phrase displayed on the screen for a few times, and compare your pronunciation with that by a native speaker.
“Mi vida loca (My crazy life)” is an excellent free resource by BBC. It is a fascinating video drama on a mysterious adventure in Madrid broken down into 22 Ten-minute episodes.
The series is great for absolute beginners, for picking up some basic Spanish phrases, but even if you have been learning Spanish for a while, you will still find it useful for practicing listening – there are lots of conversation between the native Spanish actors in the videos, and all videos come with a transcript.
3.Find a language partner
If you find speaking Spanish to random people you meet on the street too intimidating, perhaps you can start by practicing with a language partner.
Check out italki and Hellolingo and look for Spanish speakers who are learning your language. Get their contact and start connecting with them. Throughout the process you will be able to make foreign friends, share progress and frustrations of learning, and get the rapport from someone who is also experiencing the same struggles and up-and-downs as you!
4. Find an online Spanish tutor
But what if you can’t find a serious language partner who you can work with? Finding an online Spanish tutor would be an ideal solution.
I have been taking Skype Spanish lessons with a few native tutors for over 6 years and it has been the most effective way to help me to get fluent. It actually creates an environment for me which make me feeling safe to speak freely and make mistakes, knowing that my tutor would not be judging, instead he/she would be there to help by telling me the correct or better way of speaking. The best thing is that all lessons are 1-to-1, meaning that I would have the tutor’s full attention at all time, and staying silent is not an option!
Check out Master Spanish Now for their team of experienced native Spanish teachers who are friendly and willing to work with you to improve your fluency. They would tailor the lesson so that it will be of the level just right for you!