I am being nostalgic for the language I haven’t spoken for a long time in the same manner that I am reminiscing the first few weeks that I was trying hard to speak Spanish. I laugh. It’s hilarious! It was so hard to remember the person I used to be!
Spanish is beautiful and in fact, it is my favorite language in the world! I love how it sounds, I love saying it and I how I am able to express myself in this language is really surprising for me.
Below are seven tips that helped me become fluent in Spanish in a span of 3-4 months!
1. Listen to Spanish Songs
Don’t just listen to it. Sing it! Whenever I arrive a country, I make sure that I always have a background of their music. Who is this country’s Beyonce or Mariah Carey? What are the classics? Good thing Spotify also changes whenever I move so I can always browse for suggestions. I love this app! Using Spotify also lets me see what my local friends are listening to so I can just simply click it without asking them for a list of songs. Most of my friends listen to indie rock but I drifted in that department. I’d like to know the song that everyone knows; the songs they listened to growing up; tunes they danced to during their teenage rocking years. I recommend artists like Paulina Rubio, Carlos Vives and Andres Calamaro. My Latin friends are very surprised because I know every word of their songs. They usually hate their own music but even if they do, I promise you, they will always know the lyrics of the songs of the three artists I suggested above.
2. Change Your Phone Settings to Spanish
3. Observe Other People’s Expressions
I am a freaking sponge and I realized this when I was moving country to country and also changing my Spanish expressions. There will always be a phrase that locals would always include in their sentences and you better watch out for that. When I was in Barranquilla, they loved saying “Ey marica” while the Argentinians add “che” and “boludo” in all of their sentences. Learn the background of every country’s expression and along the way, by spending time with the locals, you will learn how to use it correctly.
FUN FACT: Che Guevara is Argentinian and his real name is Ernesto. He was called “che” because he kept on including the word in all of his sentences. In Argentina, che means mate, dude or buddy and three other things. I will discuss this in the future!
4. Play A Game With Your Friends
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes
6. Pretend That You Understand Even If You Really Don’t
7. Do Not Go To A Language School!
You will be wasting money, time and you will never learn anything. I kept thinking how one can learn Spanish in a country where no one speaks the language? How can you practice? How can you apply what you “learned?” You’re not in school all day and those one-hour language classes you will take will cost big bucks. You end up responding the only word everyone says whenever they are asked if they learned Spanish: “un poco.” So after all those five levels of lessons you took and how much it cost you, you can only say one sentence? If you really want to take classes, make sure that you can practice with a local by joining language exchange groups.
Come out here. Experience the world. Hear the words first hand from the locals. Have a tangible experience! Today, after 15 months of travelling South America, I must say I am very surprised with my Spanish skills I couldn’t believe it myself!
Here’s a fun video of me singing Spanish, mimicking Latinos expressions and explaining the seven items above briefly. Enjoy!
Want to improve your Spanish? I can help you with that! Get in touch! trishavelarmino[at]gmail[dot]com.