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Improve your Spanish fluency now! These are our five best tips and techniques that you can start using today to achieve Spanish fluency quickly.
Make sure you’re practicing effectively and getting the most out of your study time by using the tips in this video.
- Adjusting to your new voice
- Passive and Active Listening
You’ve been studying Spanish for a while now. You probably know some vocabulary and phrases, but the minute you have to use your Spanish and speak with a native speaker, you freeze. Suddenly you don’t know what to say.
This is something we all experience when learning a new language — myself included. After all, it’s a bit of a leap to go from memorizing basic phrases and words to actually using a language in the real world.
But don’t worry, there are lots of ways you can level up your learning to get fluent sooner! Here are 5 tips to help you achieve Spanish fluency:
#1. Get Plenty of Input By Listening
It might come as a surprise, but listening is the best thing you can do to improve your Spanish speaking skills and become more fluent. Why? Because when you’re listening, you are getting all the information your brain needs to speak the language.
World-renowned poliglot Steve Kauffman agrees!
““The biggest advantage of speaking in the early stages is that you trigger more input.””
— -Steve Kauffman
There are two kinds of listening; passive listening and active listening.
Passive listening is the type of listening to you do while washing the dishes or driving. You may not understand all the words and phrases you’re hearing, but you’re still taking it in. You’re somewhat focused on listening, but since what you’re listening to is essentially secondary to your main task, it’s passive listening.
Active listening is when you are focused on understanding the words and phrases you hear. For example, when you are listening to music as a primary activity and are paying close attention to what the singer is saying. In this example, you’re taking the time to decipher and analyze the actual lyrics of the song you’re listening to.
The same thing happens when you are watching a movie in Spanish. If you have Spanish subtitles turned on you may be reading them as the movie progresses, but you’re also paying attention to the gestures being used when the actors are talking — all while simultaneously trying to make sense of the plot. That is active listening. You are paying attention with no distractions.
Passive listening is excellent when you just want to get used to the way the language sounds. But if you want to become fluent — and if you want to improve your speaking skills — you have to do more active listening.
So, the next time you’re listening to music in Spanish, look for the lyrics of the song and try to read along with the music. Try to extract meaning from the phases you’re hearing. You don’t have to have a dictionary there to translate everything, just take note of the words and the phrases used so that the next time you listen to the song you’ll understand a lot more.
Once you’ve memorized the song you can start singing along to it whenever you hear it. This will help you understand the language’s rhythm and flow.
You can use this technique with pretty much anything you can find in Spanish. Whether that’s with movies, talk shows, podcasts, the news, etc. Don’t just let the words pass through your brain. Try to concentrate and see if you can identify a word or a phrase here and there. Try to figure out how these words are used and how they fit and flow together.
#2. Get Used to Your Voice
When I decided that I wanted to become a language teacher, I always felt that I was a different person when speaking English. Not in a bad way, it’s just that the experiences I’ve had with my first language are different from the experiences I’ve had in English. I have noticed that it’s harder for me to express myself in Spanish when I’m talking about things that I have only experienced in English.
As you improve your fluency, you might also develop a different voice and possibly even a different personality when speaking a second language. If you already speak multiple languages, you may have already noticed this phenomenon.
For example, everything about starting Spanish and Go and creating a YouTube Channel and being self-employed I learned in English, so it’s hard for me to talk about those things in Spanish. But if I’m talking to a friend and she asks for a recipe it’s way easier for me to
give her the recipe in Spanish because I’ve always talked about recipes with my mom in my native language so I know the vocabulary to use in that situation.
That’s why the experiences we have in each language make us a slightly different person, and you have to get used to the way that person sounds. This is going to make it easier for you when you’re trying to communicate with a Spanish native speaker. With practice, you’re not going to be ashamed to use your Spanish. You’ll already know how you sound in Spanish.
One thing you can do to get used to your new voice is recording yourself. You can also talk to yourself in Spanish. Try talking to yourself when you’re home alone, in the shower, or out for a walk. You can do this in your head of course, but it’s more effective when you do it out loud because you can hear how you sound in Spanish. That way, when you are in a situation where you have to use your Spanish you’ll already know your voice and how it sounds in Spanish (as well as what words, phrases, or sounds give you trouble when it comes to pronunciation).
#3. Imitation Is Key
Listening and repeating might remind you of being in a boring high school Spanish lesson where you would only listen and repeat your teacher. But there’s a reason why listening and repeating has been used all over the world for learning a language in a classroom: it works!
Listening and repeating the right material exposes you to the way a language sounds natural. You get to hear words and phrases being spoken by a native speaker who has a competent understanding and a suitable accent.
For this technique (also known as speech shadowing), what you’re going to want to do is to look for material where native speakers of Spanish are speaking. Movies and podcasts are perfect for this because you can actually listen to the way a native speaker sounds.
With these mediums, you can stop whatever you are listening to or watching and repeat right afterward. Do this regularly; it’s going to help you learn the way the language is spoken naturally without overly academic words or phrases that you would only find in textbooks. You’ll learn a lot faster and more effectively by first focusing on the way native speakers of Spanish speaking on a daily basis.
#4. Paraphrase Whenever Possible
The act of paraphrasing helps solidify Spanish in your mind. For example, let’s say that you’re watching a movie in Spanish. You have your subtitles on and you are listening actively. You’re also repeating some phrases here and there.
To ensure you’ve understood everything after you finish the movie, summarize the film for a friend. This is going to help you a lot with fluency because it’s going to give you all the words and the vocabulary you need to tell a story.
Don’t worry if you don’t get everything right. This is about telling a story. It’s about using the language and actually speaking in a free and natural way. In this case, you’re practicing retelling the story to another person and maybe even having a conversation about it. This is going to help your brain put ideas together in Spanish. Don’t focus too much on the details. Don’t worry if you explained everything correctly or if you make a mistake while retelling the story. Simply speak the language.
#5. Embrace Your Mistakes
Get used to making lots of mistakes now. Becoming fluent is not about being perfect. It is about being able to express yourself naturally in a conversation, and knowing that you have words and phrases that you can use at your disposal. You might not be 100% correct, but you can use what you have learned with confidence.
So get used to making — and embracing — your mistakes, because you will learn from them. Don’t worry if people correct you. While it might feel awkward, it will help you remember for next time.
We all make mistakes. Even native Spanish speakers make mistakes — most of them without realizing it! But there’s no reason to be ashamed of the times you stumble or get embarrassed. Every error is a learning opportunity, so embrace them.
Fluency doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent effort and training. It takes active and passive listening and becoming familiar with your voice. It takes imitation and making mistakes. While it can feel overwhelming (and embarrassing) at times, don’t worry. You’re on a journey and we’ve all been there. So stick with it, practice as often as you can, and you’ll become confident and fluent in no time!