5 Ways To Improve Your Spanish

Young man taking notes on Spanish language

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Do you want to improve your ability to use Spanish this year? If so, here are five steps you can take.

01
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Use It

Mid adult man and dog pulling on leash in city

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The most important thing you can do is use Spanish whenever you can, not just in a classroom setting. If you can strike up a friendship with a native Spanish speaker, either in person or on a social medium such as Facebook, that would be ideal. Look for a Spanish speaker trying to learn English, and you can help each other. You may also be able to look for opportunities for volunteer work with Spanish speakers. And if all else fails, you can try talking to your pet—the point is to put what you know to use.

Make it a point to learn at least a little bit each day. You might, for example, take a word that's new to you and then use a search engine to see how it is used in other contexts.

02
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Immerse Yourself

Cathedral of Guatemala City in Plaza de la Constitucion, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Cathedral of Guatemala City.

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If you have the time and money, attend a language immersion school. The more time you can immerse yourself in the language the more you'll learn, but even a stay of a week or two can be helpful. Language schools need not be expensive—costs for instruction, room, and board can total as little as $225 U.S. per week in poorer countries such as Guatemala. If you aren't able to travel to a school, look for one that offers instruction via Skype or other video conferencing software.

Another way to immerse yourself is to vacation in a Spanish-speaking country, and spend some time out of the usual tourist areas so you can come into contact with people who don't speak English. Even if all you can do is order a meal in a restaurant after looking up words from the menu in your dictionary, you'll gain confidence in your ability to communicate with a purpose and be excited about learning more.

03
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Think in Spanish

Hand posting colorful post-it notes

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Learn and regularly say to yourself the names for persons or items you come in contact with every day such as family members, pieces of furniture and articles of clothing. Start making Spanish part of your thought patterns. You might, for example, think silla to yourself when you sit in a chair. Some Spanish students have even placed sticky notes throughout their residences with names of objects. Anything that helps you learn vocabulary without translating in your head will help.

04
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Get Entertained

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Watch movies or TV shows in Spanish. Even if you're reading subtitles, you'll get a better feel for the rhythm of the language and gradually pick up greetings or other words that are used frequently.

05
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Leverage Social Media

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Join a Spanish-language group on Facebook or another social media site. One bilingual group worth checking out is Lenguajero, and you can find others by looking for groups using terma such as "bilingual," "language exchange" and "Spanish English."

You can alind a Spanish-language website that focuses on a subject you're interested in and visit it regularly, or find a Spanish-speaking celebrity and follow him or her on Twitter.