There is one thing in common with all of the newly-arrived expats that we meet in Mexico — they all want to learn to speak Spanish as quickly as possible. Of course, that only applies to the ones that don’t already know it.
Luckily, there are thousands of free resources to learn Spanish online. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can study the language from anywhere at all — even from a beach bar.
I already spoke Spanish when I moved to Mexico but I learned it on my own as an adult, so I know what a challenge that can be. I went from only knowing a few phrases to eventually doing public speaking entirely in Spanish.
Whenever anyone asks me for tips to learning Spanish quickly on their own, I always start with these five:
1. Dedicate at least 15 minutes a day
This one is important. There will be days that you feel like studying it longer, and that’s great, just never less than 15 minutes a day.
2. Push yourself
Let’s say your goal is to run a 6-minute mile by the end of the year, but you train for it by walking half a mile every day. You’ll never meet your goal. The same principle applies to learning Spanish. If the material you are studying seems too easy, you need to look for something more challenging.
3. Work on your “ear” for the language
One of the most difficult aspects of learning any foreign language is listening comprehension, in other words, developing an ear for the language.
Listening comprehension progressively develops through repeated exposure to the language. Your brain will start to recognize patterns and you will start to understand more and more of what is being said.
A good way to do this is to watch TV shows or movies with the Spanish audio option activated. It will be easier to follow if you choose an episode or movie that you’ve already seen.
4. Use sentence fragments and plug-and-play phrases to speak quickly
Over the years, I’ve met quite a lot of intermediate and advanced Spanish students who had difficulty carrying on complex conversations in Spanish. The reason is that they often try to translate whole sentences word-for-word in their head before speaking. That is extremely difficult to do at a pace fast enough to keep up with a conversation.
One way to overcome this is to learn small phrases that can be put together to make sentences quickly. That technique is taught in our Spanish video course Beginner’s Spanish for People Moving to Mexico.
5. Don’t be afraid of the grammar
Many adult learners tell me that they want to learn Spanish; however, they don’t want to learn the boring grammatical rules. Believe me, this is a huge mistake.
Grammar is like the blueprint of the language and being familiar with it can help you speak Spanish correctly long before you’ve developed your ear for the language.
Let’s Wrap This Up
It’s not easy to learn a foreign language as an adult but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you are willing to put in the required time and energy, you will be speaking Spanish before you know it.
By the way, if you happen to see me at a beach bar here in the Riviera Maya, feel free to buy me a beer and practice your Spanish with me.
To tell you the truth, as long as you buy me a beer, you can speak any language you like.