This article is the ultimate guide to help you learn Spanish quickly and effectively. It includes tricks and tips on the best ways to learn Spanish online, hacks to learn Spanish fast, and a database of the best Spanish courses on the market. If you want to learn to speak Spanish in no time, this is the article for you.
I remember the day I started to learn Spanish as if it was yesterday. I was about to embark on a three-week-long humanitarian relief trip to Peru and I was super excited! I had a small pocket-size book filled with Spanish vocabulary and Spanish sentences.
Back then I had very little experience in language learning. Spanish was my third language after French and English. Although I wasn’t quite sure what was the best way to learn Spanish, I was determined to master the language and I was ready to stop at nothing to become fluent.
I became fluent in Spanish while traveling all over Latin America and Spain and learning this language was an awesome adventure!
I started learning Spanish during a trip to Peru and I’ve had so much fun studying this language…
Learning Spanish was super fun and exciting. I can now have long lengthy conversations in Spanish on topics ranging from sports to politics.
I can also have conversations about the best Argentinian wines or talk about metaphysics in Spanish.
I wrote this guide with the intention of giving you the same set of techniques and methods I used to learn the language myself. Here I’ll help you avoid the pitfalls I went through and show you a few shortcuts to mastering Spanish.
Here you’ll find the best ways to learn Spanish.
1. Is it hard to learn Spanish?
If you’re a native English speaker, Spanish might be a bit harder to learn than German or Dutch. The overlapping vocabulary between the two languages, however, will make it a lot easier for a native English speaker to learn Spanish than to learn Mandarin or Russian.
If you’ve already mastered another one of the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian), you’ll find that learning Spanish will be way easier as a lot of similar vocabulary is shared among these different languages.
Learning Spanish will help you communicate with friendly locals…
Here are three things that make Spanish relatively easy to learn for native English speakers:
The same alphabet: Spanish and English both use the Latin alphabet. This makes it much easier for native English speakers to learn Spanish than Russian, Chinese, or Arabic for example.
The same way to make words plural: The plural is made in both languages by adding an s at the end of words. Gato, for example, which means cat becomes gatos.
The similar vocabulary: 30% to 40% of all words in English have a related word or are the exact same word in Spanish. Here are just a few examples of words that are the same in both languages: Actor, alcohol, animal, chocolate, carton, individual, and informal.
Have a look at this list of words that are the same both in English and in Spanish.
2. How long does it take to learn Spanish?
When learning a new language, people always wonder how long they’ll need to reach fluency. The first question any new Spanish learner will ask is ”How long does it take to learn Spanish?”
If you make a research online with these terms, you’ll end up with estimates that range from 6 months to 10 years. Most people want to learn Spanish as quickly as possible and often look for short-cuts and secret formulas.
with the right books, you’ll learn Spanish in no time…
Although your learning techniques will influence how long it takes you to learn Spanish what will make the biggest difference, in the long run, is the number of hours you’re willing to study on a daily or weekly basis.
The logical way to measure how long it will take you to learn Spanish is not in weeks or months but in learning hours. You could study for three hours a day and get much faster results than you would if you’d only study for 2 hours a day.
The FSI (the US Foreign Service Institute) estimates that it takes 480 hours of study to achieve basic fluency in Spanish. This means that you could reach fluency within a year by studying two hours a day.
Learning Spanish might also help you discover new dishes from Spanish speaking countries…
In this article, I’ll show you the best methodology to cut that time in half and reach fluency in Spanish in 5 to 7 months.
Here are a few factors that will influence how long it takes you to learn Spanish that will also be included in my methodology:
Your learning methods and the study material you’ll be using
Nowadays, learning Spanish is not limited to a regular school setting. There are many new ways to study this language that are more effective than learning in a classroom.
Another great way to speed up your Spanish learning process is to listen to the radio in Spanish or to watch Spanish TV series on YouTube (I’ll give you some awesome YouTube channels for this later in the article).
A great way to learn Spanish quickly is to combine all of these methods while living in a Spanish speaking country like Spain, Mexico, or even Guatemala.
By spending time in Spanish speaking countries you’ll improve your odds of learning Spanish quickly…
The time you’ll dedicate to learning
You’ll obviously need to dedicate a lot of time to study Spanish if you want to learn it quickly. Here the secret lies in spreading your study sessions over the course of the whole week instead of doing a massive session on the weekend.
Memory works in an interesting way. Dedicating half an hour to an hour of studying every day for a week is much more effective than cramming 5-6 hours of intense studying at once.
I found from personal experience that studying Spanish for two blocks of 45 minutes every day is what worked best.
Even if you studied just a bit every day, you would learn significantly faster than if you attended only one long weekly class.
Your attitude and motivation
A big part of your success in learning Spanish will be determined by whether or not you’re able to keep your motivation throughout the whole process.
I try to get my hands on fun learning material that will keep me motivated and entertained while I study Spanish. If the material I use isn’t fun, I will quickly lose motivation and focus.
I usually download short video lessons from YouTube or buy a Pimsleur language course and put these audio/video lessons on my phone. I’ll spend a bit of time studying the first thing in the morning every morning to keep my motivation high.
Just like building any new habit, it’s important to make learning Spanish as easy and straightforward as possible. Get some Spanish learning manuals and keep them in the rooms of your house where you spend the biggest amount of time so you’ll see them often.
Those will act as visual cues and remind you of your goal.
Another great way I found to rekindle my focus is to watch a movie in Spanish every now and then and discover that I can understand the language better and better.
3. How to memorize and learn Spanish words quickly?
Over the last 11 years, I reached fluency in 7 different languages. While learning these different languages, I tried and tested various learning methods.
I discovered that the speed at which I could learn a new language was determined by only one thing: memory. But more specifically, how long does it take for a word to be transferred from my short term memory to my long term memory.
Here is the set of techniques that I used with Spanish words to learn and remember them very easily:
1.find good audio material
I would advise typing Spanish movies with English subtitles on YouTube and start looking for good movies there.
I find it’s much easier to understand the Spanish that is spoken in Latin America if you’re a complete beginner so you could search for Mexican or Peruvian movies.
Speaking Spanish will help you discover new cultures…
2. Write down the new words and sentences as you hear them
I would advise pausing the video or audio lesson that you’re listening to and writing down the new sentence or word the way you hear it. For example, I might be watching a Spanish movie and while looking at the subtitles I see that the hero of the story just asked ”where is the toilet?”.
What I will do at that moment is listen to what he is saying exactly in Spanish which sounds like ”Donnday esta el banyyo? And I will write down this expression together with the English translation.
3.Record yourself reading your notes
After I’ve written down the new words or expressions that I heard in the movie or audio lesson, I will record myself reading them. I usually record myself with my phone or on my laptop.
4. Listen to your own voice speaking the new words
This is probably the most important part of my memorization technique. I suggest building a library of recorded content that you can then listen to for half an hour every day.
5. Restart the process
I dedicate about half an hour every day to listen to audio material or watch videos while writing down the words and building a library of recorded content. I will then spend another 30 minutes later in the day to listen to myself reading all those new Spanish expressions.
I do this every day and eventually, I don’t have to write down the words or expressions I hear anymore because I understand them perfectly.
4. List of useful Spanish words and short Spanish expressions
Before going to any country, it’s always important to know some basic words and expressions that will help you get by and ask people for help and assistance if needed. I included a few Spanish expressions in this guide that will help you get around in Spanish speaking countries.
Por favor: This is the Spanish expression that means please. It’s pronounced poor fa-vor. One way you could use this expression would be by saying “¿Dónde está el baño por favor?” which translates as “where is the bathroom please?”
Dónde: This is the Spanish word to say where. You could use it to ask where the market is by saying “¿Dónde está el mercado?”
¿De donde eres?: This means “where are you from?”
Gracias: This is the Spanish word used to say thanks. You can use it after the waiter brings your food or after someone points you in the direction of the toilets or the market.
Cuánto – ¿Cuánto cuesta?: Cuánto means how much or how many. ¿Cuánto cuesta? means how much does this cost? You can point at anything in the market while using this expression to ask how much something costs.
¿Cuál es tu nombre? / ¿Como te llamas?: This is the Spanish expression used to ask someone’s name. It’s a great expression to break the ice.
Mi nombre es… / Me llamo…: These are two expressions that mean ”my name is.” You could say, for example, ”me llamo Niko. ¿Como te llamas?”
Buenos días: This means good morning.
¿Cómo estás?: This translates as “How are you?”
¿Habla usted Inglés?: A great expression to use if you have to discuss more complex matters and you haven’t quite mastered Spanish yet. “¿Habla usted Inglés?” means “Do you speak English?”
Lo siento: This expression means sorry. You can use it if you bump into someone by mistake.
Salud: This means bless you. You can use the word “Salud” after someone sneezes.
¿Por qué?: Why?
Mucho gusto: Nice to meet you.
Yo no comprendo: I don’t understand.
5. List of useful Spanish sentences
Here are different Spanish sentences that can help you during your trips to Spanish speaking countries:
Spanish sentences to find accommodation
¿Dónde hay un hotel?: Where is there a hotel?
Estoy buscando un hotel cerca: I’m looking for a hotel nearby.
¿Cual es la dirección?: What’s the address?
Por favor escriba la dirección: Please write down the address.
Por favor llevame a un hotel: Please bring me to a hotel.
Spanish sentences for checking in a hotel
¿Hay una habitación disponible?: Is there a room available?
Quiero una habitación individual: I want a single room.
Quiero una habitación para dos: I want a double room.
¿Puedo ver la habitación?: Can I see the room?
No me gusta esta habitación: I don’t like this room.
Me gusta esta habitación: I like this room.
Esta habitación es buena: This room is good.
Useful Spanish sentences for eating out at a restaurant
Yo no como carne: I don’t eat meat.
¿Tienes algo sin carne?: Do you have anything without meat?
Por favor tráeme el menú: Please bring the menu.
Esto es delicioso: This is delicious.
Useful Spanish sentences for taking a taxi
¿Está libre?: Are you free?
Queremos ir a la Calle Pastor, por favor: We want to go to Pastor street please.
A la Calle Pastor, por favor: To Pastor street please.
Llévenos a la Calle Pastor, por favor: Bring us to Pastor street please.
¿Cuánto cobra, más o menos, para ir a la Calle Pastor?: How much do you charge more or less to go to Pastor street?
Pare aquí, por favor: Stop here please.
¿Cuánto le debo?: how much do I owe you?
6. Best books to learn Spanish
The teach yourself series has a very interesting and fun approach to language learning. Grammar is present but the actual focus of the method is on practical vocabulary and sentences.
The lessons in this book are very gradual and they come with their corresponding audio tracks. The voice on the tracks is narrating the sentences at the right speed to grasp every single word without any problem.
The coolest thing about this book is the fact that the units progressively become more complex but they never become overwhelmingly difficult. The units cover a variety of topics, ranging from booking a hotel room all the way to describing what to answer a phone message someone has left.
This set of 3 books will bring you from a beginner’s Spanish to a more advanced level. It includes 9 audio CDs and free online lessons.
The course is divided into different topics and introduces new words associated with these. The new expressions are used in numerous well-chosen phrases. The last section related to the topic contains some very interesting dialogues in which the new words and sentences are used.
The accent used in the audio lessons is quite similar to the Mexican accent making the lessons easy to understand.
This book is filled with highly practical Spanish sentences. It will help you order food in a restaurant, ask for directions, ask for help, shop for clothes, and do a million other things.
One thing that separates this book from many other Spanish books is that it includes Spanish vocabulary related to modern technology. This book also has a bonus section that covers Spanish grammar. In the bonus Spanish grammar section, you’ll learn lots of Spanish adjectives, pronouns, verbs, and verb tenses.
A great advantage of this book is its small size. It’s really easy to carry and can even fit in your back pocket. It’s so easy to just take it out of your bag and learn a bit from it every day.
What I love about this book is that it’s not just about learning Spanish but also about learning memorization techniques. These techniques can be applied to learning any other language after you’ve mastered Spanish.
This book also avoids all the words that you rarely use in actual conversations and goes straight for the practical sentences and expressions.
The practical vocabulary combined with the fun and useful mnemonic tricks makes this book a great choice!
This book covers useful verbs and teaches you how to conjugate them in a fun and easy way. It also combines these verbs with the vocabulary of locations and objects to help you quickly create complete sentences.
Although it only takes a few hours to go through the entire book, it’s one I traveled with all over Mexico. I would open it on a daily basis and study verbs and vocabulary that I could use in everyday situations.
This book is for more advanced students of Spanish. It contains more complex verbs used in a series of interesting conversations. Each conversation is completely translated in English so you can instantly understand what you’re reading.
7. Best websites, apps and audio lessons to learn Spanish
During the last three years, I have been improving my Spanish level and adding new words to my vocabulary on a daily basis. I did so by regularly studying online with various free websites. Here is a list of the ones I find the most useful for beginners and intermediate learners:
This phone app and website promises to teach you Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. Although it won’t help you reach a more advanced level, it can help you learn a lot of vocabulary quickly and tons of useful sentences.
Duolingo is free and the audios are very clear and easy to understand. The app is easy to navigate.
Because you progress by completing games, there’s no wondering what to study next. Duolingo funnels you directly into the next unit based on your skills.
Duolingo’s Spanish program is divided into “skill trees.” Each “tree” covers a very specific aspect of the language.
The lessons are very simple and fun. They’re designed as small quizzes that you need to answer before moving on to the next questions. The lessons are brief, so you can easily fit in some studying during your commuting time on the bus, during your lunch break, or anytime you have five minutes.
I love this language learning app because it uses a very aesthetic and pleasing interface. It’s quick and easy to use and it’s entirely focused around vocabulary.
You’ll be able to learn around 2000 new Spanish words at your own pace with this app. Although you won’t be able to learn complete sentences, you’ll learn tons of practical words that you can incorporate in your conversations.
The free version of this app can only be used for 5 minutes a day but you can learn a lot of new words in that amount of time.
LingQ is my absolute favorite language learning website and phone app. It’s a platform that has brought my Spanish to an incredible level.
Each lesson consist of reading and listening to short Spanish stories. The new vocabulary that you see on the screen is color-coded.
Words with a white background are words you already know. You can let LingQ know this by clicking the I know this word button. Blue words are words that you don’t know yet.
By clicking a Blue word, and picking one of the definitions LingQ’s dictionary presents to you, you create a LingQ. Once you’ve created a LingQ, the word will turn yellow in all your lessons. The word is also sent to LingQ’s vocabulary-building tools. You can use these tools to further learn the word.
The idea is to review all blue words of a lesson, and either pick a definition and create a LingQ or indicate that you already know the word.
By doing so, LingQ keeps track of how many words you know in your new language. This platform uses an incredibly simple yet efficient system to teach you new vocabulary.
This guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a fantastic system I use for all the new languages I learn including Spanish: The Pimsleur language course.
These half-hour daily audio lessons will teach perfect Spanish pronunciation as no other system will. In each lesson, you’ll hear an English-speaking narrator and one or more native Spanish speakers.
The Spanish speakers will engage in short simple conversations in which you’ll take part under the English narrator’s instructions.
What makes this method so successful is the interval system it uses. In between hearing a word for the first time and having to recall it and say it again, you learn other words and phrases.
You’ll constantly be recalling words and phrases that you learned earlier in the current lesson, as well as in past lessons.
As you progress the narrator will ask questions like “How do you say, ‘where do you work?'” and you have to pull it from memory, even though you haven’t been prompted in a while.
If you combine the Spanish Pimsleur method with the learning strategies I shared above, you’ll become fluent in Spanish in no time.
8. Best websites to practice Spanish with native speakers
Another trick that greatly helped and sped up my Spanish learning process was to practice online with native speakers on language learning websites. These websites work by connecting you with someone over a text, audio, and/or video service to facilitate communication.
Usually, you’ll simply contact someone over a text chat or email first, and then you can both decide the best way to continue talking.
9. Best YouTube channels to learn Spanish
Ana the creator of this channel is from Mexico and she has created a huge library of video lessons on YouTube over the last seven years. Her videos are full of great grammar examples, vocabulary, verb conjugations, and practical sentences.
Her channel is probably the best on YouTube when it comes to Spanish lessons. Her videos are always packed with so much information and some of her Spanish video lessons are even over 30 minutes long.
Have a look at the Butterfly Spanish channel to find all the videos you need to learn Spanish.
This brilliant YouTube channel is recommended for intermediate students who want to put their hands on more challenging content.
The lessons all revolve around real-life situations. The creators of this channel never use English in their videos but they speak slowly and clearly enough for you to understand everything they say.
If you want to hear Spanish used in daily situations, have a look at these great videos!
Speaking Spanish will help you order dishes in restaurants or buy food at the market…
SpanishPod101.com is an online Spanish language learning website. There, you’ll learn to speak, read, write, and hear Spanish from your first lesson.
What’s so great about SpanishPod101 is that you can find most of the website’s Spanish lessons in video format on YouTube for free.
The YouTube channel has super long vocabulary videos as well as tons of videos covering useful expressions.
What I like so much about this channel is that its creator is also a passionate language learner. She teaches with tricks and tips that could be applicable to learning tons of other languages.
Real world Spanish has seven-hour long videos that teach sentences about various everyday topics such as eating, asking people how they are, and going out.
Speaking Spanish helped me discover all the area around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala…
This channel uses a simple video format where Spanish sentences are presented with their English translations and read by a native speaker. The channel has a huge library of sentences and I recommend it to anyone who wants to bring their Spanish to the next level!
I hope this article helps your language learning journey. Learning Spanish has been such a fun challenge and I’m sure you will enjoy it too. Have you learned Spanish or are you studying it at the moment? Let us know in the comments below!
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