What’s something that gets you seriously excited?
What topic puts a gleam in your eyes when someone starts talking about it?
Think about that topic as we move forward.
That interest or passion of yours has a unique power.
It can propel you out of any plateau in your advanced Spanish learning.
You can order food in an authentic Spanish restaurant like a local and even exchange a word with the waiters.
But even though your vocabulary’s good, it’s so general. Every time the conversation starts to become specific to one topic you suddenly find yourself with nothing to say.
You need to take the first step on your way to becoming a truly fluent Spanish speaker.
You should learn a hobby in Spanish.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Why Choose Hobby Courses Taught in Spanish?
Be honest, have you considered learning a hobby only in Spanish? No, right?
That’s because, if you’re anything like me, up until now you’ve considered “learning Spanish” as a hobby in itself.
Well, I’ve got news for you: You already speak Spanish. The only way you’re going to get proficient with using lots of diverse vocabulary words is if you start learning some new things.
The best way to do that without translating from your native language is to learn a great hobby in Spanish.
How to Choose Your Hobby in Spanish
There are loads of potential hobbies to choose from, but not all of them are perfect for language learning. Here’s what you should look for in a hobby:
1. Choose a hobby with lots of recurring vocabulary which you can learn incrementally.
Many hobbies have a well-defined set of crucial vocabulary you’ll need to learn. For example: fishing (pesca), flower arranging (arreglo floral), hiking (senderismo), tennis (tenis), chess (ajedrez), etc. There This is perfect because vocabulary can be learned little-by-little without getting in the way of learning the hobby itself.
2. Find something which excites you and provides lots of potential for conversational material.
The more passionate you are about your hobby the more you’ll do it. The more you talk about it with other people (in Spanish, obviously), the better you’ll learn the vocabulary. It’s as simple as that.
3. Ideally, find something practical which engages all your senses.
We’ve discussed before how learning your second language by incorporating more senses is a sure-fire way to accelerate learning. Associating your new vocabulary with sound, sight, smell, touch and taste can make learning astonishingly easy.
4. Find a hobby which isn’t too niche or obscure.
Although you might be interested in learning about knitting teabag covers, you might find that there’s not much material online in Spanish about this niche hobby. Try broadening your topic up or finding another hobby with more online content.
Don’t know where to find a hobby?
Here are 3 great lists with literally hundreds of possibilities:
The Perfect First Hobby in Spanish: Food and Wine
Not sure what to choose as your first “Spanish only” hobby?
Well, I’ve got a great suggestion for you: Learn about Spanish food and wine.
Honestly, it’s a great choice. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Food and wine has simple, incremental vocabulary.
Remember how we said in the last section that this is an important part of choosing a hobby? The great thing about learning a language through food is that many of the same words come up again and again.
Think about the recipes you’ve read. The same words come up all the time: hervir (boil), picar (chop), mezclar (mix), pelar (peel). Each new dish you learn will teach you just a little bit more vocabulary, but you’ll never be in a situation where you can’t understand at least some of the recipe before you have to pick up the dictionary.
2. Native Spanish speakers are really passionate about food and wine.
Learning Spanish cuisine is your dinner ticket into a million great conversations and into any Spanish-speaking heart. Whether they be Spanish, Colombian, Argentinian or any other native Spanish speaker, I’ve yet to meet people who are more passionate about their own foods and wines.
Seriously, I can’t count the number of times when I’ve been sitting on public transport and heard some other passengers (of all ages) discussing food or recipes in the seat behind me. ‘Nuff said.
3. It’s a great, straightforward hobby to begin with.
Food language is everywhere, in any culture. Recipe books are incredibly easy to find, so you’ll never be lacking study material. If this is the first hobby you’re going to learn in Spanish, choosing food and/or wine is really a no-brainer.
4. You’ll cook, eat and taste some of the best foods and wines in the whole world.
So maybe I’m not very impartial, but seriously—it’s great food and the wines are exceptional.
How to Start Learning About Hobbies in Spanish
Regardless of the hobby you choose, a little preparation goes a long way in improving your language learning.
You’ll probably be quite excited to get started and eager to learn about your hobby. (If you’re not then perhaps you’ve not chosen the right one. Try re-reading the “How to Choose Your Hobby in Spanish” section above. Pick a hobby that gets you seriously pumped!)
Once you’re ready to get going, read these 4 tips to get you started:
1. Find an online course (or two).
Online courses are a great way to learn about any topic. I’ve provided a list of free online food and wine courses at the end of this post.
Many online courses are multimedia. That means that the course information is available not only in text but also through videos, sound and presentations. The more ways you’re presented the information the easier it is to learn, especially in a second language.
2. Prepare your vocabulary.
If you’ve chosen a good hobby (following the tips above) then this shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’ve chosen to take one of the food courses provided below, just go to the first lesson (or recipe), find the words you don’t know and use your favorite vocabulary learning technique to get used to those words before you start.
FluentU is also a great option for vocabulary practice. That’s because FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You can find all kinds of hobbies and topics covered by authentic Spanish videos on the site. There’s a wide variety of video topics like soccer, Disney musicals, TV shows, music videos and even magical realism, as you can see here:
Choose any video that strikes your fancy! You’ll see how many Spanish vocabulary words you can learn from it, and you can even look at the transcript of the dialogue and practice vocabulary before watching the video.
Once you’ve chosen your videos, you can improve your comprehension with the interactive subtitles. Hover over any word or phrase to see the translation, along with a helpful image.
Clicking on the word shows you useful example sentences, as well as other video clips which use the word. For example, check out this screenshot from a popular song by Carlos Baute:
You can even use awesome active learning tools like vocabulary lists and multimedia flashcards to study and reinforce the newly-learned language from your videos.
Plus, you’ll be able to track your progress as you advance through video after video.
The best part? You can try FluentU for free.
3. Get the most out of your activity by speaking.
I talk to myself when I’m cooking in Spanish. Every time I read a recipe, I read it out loud. I talk myself through the actions as though I were teaching someone else. Yep, I probably look a bit crazy, but it’s great for my language learning.
It doesn’t matter if you’re learning chess, knitting, painting or bowling. Talking your way through the stages in Spanish gets your tongue used to the new vocabulary without having to spend ages practicing.
4. Get social with your hobby.
As soon as you can, start talking to people about your hobby. Get involved in activity groups for people who also practice it. Bring it up in conversation or teach someone else about it.
During the time I lived in Spain, the conversations which I enjoyed the most—when I really felt like a fluent Spanish speaker—were those where we were talking about hobbies, either mine or those of the other people. The sooner you get social with your hobby the better.
5 Online Platforms to Find Free Courses on Your Hobby
As discussed above, online courses a great way to start learning your new hobby. Here are some really useful resources for finding courses in Spanish.
This online platform provides both paid and free online courses. You have to register to take any course, but only with an email address. You’re allowed to register for only 1 free course at first. After that you have to either recommend the site to a friend or buy a paid course to access more free courses.
This has over 1000 courses in a wide range of topics. It’s all in Spanish, and course content is provided in a combination of text, images or video, depending on the course. Sometimes the quality of the courses varies, so make sure you browse through the material before you decide to choose a course or not.
Many of the courses on this online platform make good use of both video and text. Some also include powerpoint presentations, quizzes and downloadable supplementary material. Often the courses provide a little history of the hobby, which is nice. As with AulaFacil, the courses vary in quality because they’re user provided, so check the material before you begin.
MoocList is a repository for many Massive Open Online Courses in many different languages. Many are provided by reputable universities. Unlike the courses about Spanish food and wine listed below, many MOOCs here have specific start and end dates. As the course content isn’t available forever, you’ll need to complete the course within those dates.
The advantage of these courses is that they’re often highly interactive and engaging. You receive feedback from your peers through online forums and weekly homework assignments.
I’d be mad to list online course platforms without mentioning YouTube. Many free online video courses are available, and it’s not only good for finding video-only courses. Many courses store their videos on YouTube and host the rest of the course content elsewhere. For this reason, always check the video description to see if there are links to the complete course.
Just search for “curso de <the name of your hobby>” into the search bar and explore the results until you find something that looks good.
Get a Taste of Advanced Spanish with 10 Free Online Food & Wine Courses
Here is a list of 10 online courses in Spanish Food and Wine. These are a great place to start if you’ve taken my advice and chosen it as your first hobby. These explore various types of foods from different perspectives.
Even if you’ve decided on a different hobby, these are well worth a look. Who wouldn’t like to prepare authentic cuisine from the Spanish-speaking world?
Courses on Spanish Food
Cocina española (Spanish Cooking)
This short course provides an introduction to Spanish cooking, also introducing some of the history behind Spanish recipes.
Cocina traditional española (Traditional Spanish Cooking)
This step-by-step course uses photos and text to take you through five classic Andalusian dishes. It’s a good starter course if you just want to learn how to cook a few, simple Spanish recipes.
Cocina española de Tía Elena (Auntie Elena’s Spanish Cooking)
This video-based course takes you through over 200 traditional Spanish recipes. With these you’ll be able to impress even the most discerning Spanish mother.
Curso de Cocina para Estudiantes (Cooking for Students)
Do you know nothing about food? This simple YouTube course on cooking, aimed at students, might be a good start. The recipes are simple and they take you through them step-by-step. However, they’re provided in a presentation format with quite a lot of added information from the presenter.
In terms of language level this could be a bit more challenging as the words aren’t written in front of you. If you fall more towards the upper-advanced end of the spectrum, don’t hesitate to try this course!
Cocina Fácil (Easy Cooking) with Ferran Adriá
Ferran Adriá is the master of modern Spanish cuisine. He mixes science and gastronomy and is known worldwide for his innovative approach to cooking. He has also created this DVD course of basic cooking techniques for people who want to implement some of his revolutionary techniques at home.
Be warned, he may be a culinary genius but he also speaks very fast. However, if you’re a fan of food and cooking this course is well worth a watch. Also, if you can understand Adriá by the end of the course you can probably understand anyone!
Also, if you like this, check out the documentary “Un Dia En El Bulli” for a look at his amazing restaurant.
Courses on Foods from Other Spanish-Speaking Countries
Platillos Típicos de Semana Santa (Typical Holy Week Dishes)
This course provides 39 lessons on Latin American culinary classics, specifically those typical to Semana Santa (Holy Week). Lessons are provided through photo, text and video, making this a multimedia course.
Comida Chilena (Chilean Cooking)
This extensive course takes you on a tour through the North, Center and South of Chile, with downloadable powerpoint presentations, documents, text and video. It goes into detail about the interesting history of Chilean food.
Cocina Mexicana (Mexican Cooking)
This course is mostly provided in videos and text. It gives an introduction to some of the history of Mexican food, as well as introducing key ingredients and recipes.
Curso de cata de Vinos (Wine Tasting Course)
This course in wine tasting provides a great, in-depth resource for learning how to understand, appreciate and value the subtleties of different wines.
It teaches you how to use your senses of sight, smell and taste to appreciate wine in a way that you never have before. It isn’t specific to Spanish wines so the skills you learn can be applied anywhere. Course content is provided both in video and in text, which is great for language learning.
Aprende a catar vinos y identificar taninos (Learn Wine Tasting and Tanin Identification)
This course contains over 5 hours of training, specifically about the differences between the types of Spanish wines. You’ll be a total wine expert by the end of this course.
The course content is only available in video format. However, the Tutellus platform also gives the option of asking questions to the course tutor. You can supplement your learning on this course with this text-only course available at AulaFacil.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
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