The Best Way to Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish best way

Nice MusicYou’re listening to two native Spanish-speaking friends chit chat.

The speed isn’t helping either, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Has this ever happened to you before?

There are two steps to improving your listening skills. First of all, you need to bombard your ears with as much Spanish as possible. So much Spanish that your ears will almost forget what English sounds like. Secondly, you need to learn how to become a good listener in order to get the most out of that juicy listening experience.

To get you working on both of those steps, here are twelve ways to practice your Spanish listening skills:

1. Find a Spanish Speaker

In order to have the most productive and enjoyable listening experience, you need to have a conversation with someone who not only speaks Spanish, but is patient and preferably, interesting. Talking to someone who’s also learning a language means that they are likely to be sympathetic to your language learning needs. That is, they won’t tell you to hurry up and get on with it if you find yourself searching for a word for a good minute or two.

This means that Spanish classes are an ideal time to chat away to fellow learners (don’t waste your breaks talking in English, people!), or else find someone who speaks Spanish and wants to learn English. A good way to find the latter is to go to a conversation exchange website or event.

Once you’ve found your partner, you need to latch onto them like a leech until you’ve sucked out as much listening practice as possible. Ask your partner as many questions as you can, and hang on their every word as they answer. Even if they’re a bit weird, still try to listen as much as possible. After all, they speak the language you want to learn.

2. Listen to Spanish Podcasts

Podcasts are the new radio. You can listen to them whenever you like, fast-forward any bits that don’t interest you and carry them around with you on your cell phone or tablet.

There are many great podcasts that can help you on your quest to listen like a native. The good thing about podcasts, as opposed to radio, is you can play them as many times as you like – so don’t panic if you can’t understand everything right away.

Listen at first to get the gist of what’s going on, and then replay parts of the podcast slowly to try to gather information. It’s fine to spend half an hour figuring out five minutes of a podcast if you want to focus on listening for detail.

Otherwise, listen to the whole podcast, ignore any words you don’t know and focus on trying to get the main idea.

Both approaches are great for developing the listening skills you’ll need in everyday life: listening for gist, and listening for specific information.

3. Watch Movies in Spanish

As with podcasts, you can watch parts of the movie to get the general idea, and then watch again to figure out more information. You can also read the subtitles and listen at the same time, and then watch without subtitles once you feel more confident.

4. Watch TV in Spanish

Spanish-language TV also has a lot to offer the aspiring Spanish speaker. If you’re lucky enough to live in a Spanish-speaking country, try watching children’s TV programs or the news to get you started, and then work your way up to more complicated shows.

Another good idea is to watch TV shows in Spanish that you have already seen in English, series like “Friends” or “The Simpsons” for example. Since you already know the storyline, you can just focus on the language. If you don’t live in a Spanish-speaking country, never fear. Try for links to TV channels in a variety of Spanish-speaking countries.

5. Learn Spanish with Real-world Videos on FluentU

One of the challenges of using movies and TV shows is that it’s authentic content, and that means it can be REALLY hard.

Luckily, there’s an answer for that: FluentU.

6. Switch All Devices/Sites to Spanish

To truly immerse yourself in the language, switch to Spanish. Anything that you usually read or listen to in English should be in Spanish instead. That means switching your phone’s language, and making the most of the Spanish-language on social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest.

You can also listen to Spanish music and learn the lyrics through Fluent U videos or Lyrics Training. You can then practice your new songs at karaoke, or in front of the mirror if you think the world isn’t ready to hear them yet.

7. Watch Videos in Spanish

As well as the variety of videos available from Fluent U, YouTube has a wealth of videos for the Spanish learner. Besides the videos that are designed specifically for learning Spanish, you can also browse popular videos in various countries by typing “popular YouTube videos in [country name]” into Google. YouTube will then show a list of videos that are popular in that country, and you can click at random until you find something that interests you.

8. Start Asking Questions When Listening

Listening passively to the Spanish language is not enough to make you a fantastic Spanish listener. You need to start listening actively, which means noticing new vocabulary or patterns of words, and asking questions.

If you’re listening to someone, don’t be afraid to interrupt them to ask what a word means. If there’s not a real person to ask, write down the vocabulary you don’t understand and look it up, or save it for later when you can ask your teacher or Spanish-speaking friend.

9. Talk on the Phone in Spanish

Chatting on the phone is an excellent way to refine your listening skills. The lack of non-verbal cues mean you’ll really have to tune in to what the other person is saying. Don’t turn on the video, though. That’s cheating.

10. Leave Voice Messages, Not Text Messages

Sending a Spanish text message to your friends? Why not record a voice message instead? This is not only a good way to practice your speaking skills and get used to the sound of your own voice in Spanish, but is also great practice when your friends reply in the same way. Make sure you’re firm on this point and ask for voice, not text messages from your Spanish-speaking friends from now on.

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