Learn to Speak Spanish: Three Things Students Must do if they think Spanish is hard

Did you know that more people in the world speak Spanish than English and that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States? These statements being true, many people have thought it prudent to learn to speak Spanish to advance their careers. Also, many parents want their children to learn to speak Spanish so they will have advantages not only in the job market, but in the world. But what do you do when your child says “Spanish is hard” or when you yourself begin to doubt your abilities?

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For many years, I have taught native English speakers, like myself, to speak Spanish. During that time, I have learned a few key things that the student must do if he or she wants to learn what some consider a difficult language, Spanish. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn to speak Spanish, the following list should make the process run a little more smoothly once you begin.

1. Understand that Spanish is NOT English- I know that sounds very obvious but it is really more difficult than it sounds. Let me explain, once you begin to study Spanish, inevitably you will come across something that does not make sense to you. For example, in Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun. So if you wanted to say red car, in Spanish you would say carro (car) rojo (red). Many of my students have said to me, “That doesn’t make sense.” If you understand that Spanish is NOT English, you will be better able to process the differences instead of becoming frustrated. Spanish makes sense in the way that Spanish makes sense; not in the way that English makes sense.

2. Stop telling yourself, “I can’t speak/learn Spanish”- I wish I had a dime for every time a student gave this as an excuse. My standard response has become simply, “Say yellow.” At first they are confused but I ask them again to say yellow. The student eventually gives in and says yellow. And I tell them that they just spoke Spanish. Yellow sounds like hielo, the Spanish word for ice. With the ice broken, (no pun intended) I go on to explain that there is only one sound in Spanish that does not exist in English, the rr where the tongue rolls. Every other sound, we make every day. The obvious truth is that anyone who wants to speak Spanish can do it.

3. Make a serious commitment to learning Spanish- I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you will not be fluent in Spanish in a week’s time. Just like anything else in life that is worth doing, learning to speak Spanish takes serious time and effort. But there is a bright side, if you commit to learning at least one new thing with each lesson, you will be well on your way to communicating the way you would like. If you have friends who speak Spanish, ask them to let you practice with them. This will greatly speed up your learning. Also, pick up a couple of books written in Spanish and try to read them. Any words you do not recognize look them up in a Spanish/English dictionary. You will be amazed at how quickly doing this will increase your Spanish vocabulary.

I hope these tips have helped you to understand that learning to speak Spanish is easier than you may have thought. I have taught English speakers to speak Spanish and I have taught Spanish speakers to speak English. Through this experience, I have learned that Spanish is actually easier to learn than English (if English is not your native language)! So, be grateful that you learned English first! On your journey to learn the beautiful Spanish language, keep in mind all the doors that will open to you once you arrive at your destination. If you learn to speak Spanish it is well worth the time and effort. Buena Suerte (Good Luck)!

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