The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Conversational Spanish

“Let’s have a chat.”

In English, that’s not too daunting, right?

But in Spanish, it can be much more intimidating, especially if you haven’t worked out your conversational muscles.

Being conversational is an important skill in any Spanish learner’s toolset.

After all, most communication ends up being verbal. But in a second language, it’s often more difficult to prepare for than reading, writing or even listening.

That’s why practice and awesome resources are essential.

Studying ahead of time can prepare you for whatever conversational situation you might encounter. It can give you key phrases and help you think out what you may need to say, all while building your confidence.

Practice makes perfect, so be sure to use your favorite resource often and practice like a rock star.

If you’re ready to get conversing in Spanish, look no further than this guide. Today, I’ll introduce you to the best resources for taking your skills to the next level, eight powerful tips and more.

What Level Is Considered Conversational Spanish?

Being “conversational” simply means having the ability to converse in Spanish using complete sentences.

You can understand short sentences (and sometimes longer ones when used in context) and can respond appropriately.

This usually ties in with the intermediate level of learning, since you’ll need the basic grammar ground rules along with some vocabulary to hold an actual conversation in Spanish.

If you want a specific level, I’d say B1 is where learners start becoming really conversational.

By that point in your learning journey, you’ll know tenses like the Spanish preterite and imperfect, can tell the difference between ser and estar, and definitely know a bunch of vocabulary on everyday topics like greetings and farewells, eating and drinking in restaurants, traveling and vacation and even sports, just to name a few.

Once you’re comfortable with Spanish speaking, you might even throw in a few juicy phrases. As your skills grow, you’ll want to add some more color to your communication!

What Is the Best Way to Learn Conversational Spanish? 8 Tips

There are many ways to improve your language skills, but conversational Spanish is quite special.

Granted, you can improve your Spanish convos while practicing any language skill (reading, writing, listening, speaking), but there are some techniques you can use specifically to target your conversational mastery.

Here you have some of the best:

1. Watch native Spanish content

conversational spanish

Native Spanish content is just a fancy way to say series, movies, videos and anything watchable made in Spanish for native speakers.

When you watch content like this, you’re getting direct access to a window that will show you how we—native speakers—use our language when we interact with each other.

There’s not much description in a movie or series. Instead, you get dialogues—a ton of them.

Listening to native conversations will help you improve your own conversational skills in a way few other resources can, because you’ll be in contact with the language as it’s used by its native speakers in a zillion different contexts.

I’m not talking about your next-door YouTube channel to learn Spanish; I’m talking about Auronplay’s YouTube channel.

I’m also talking about “El Laberinto del Fauno” (Pan’s Labyrinth) and many other fantastic Spanish movies, “La Casa de Papel” (Money Heist) and all those Spanish TV shows that glue viewers to their screens episode after episode.

Summing up, any native, authentic content created for a Spanish-speaking audience can be included here.

That also includes programs like FluentU, which offers hundreds of real-world Spanish videos that have been prepared to teach you any accent in the most engaging way possible. You can try it for free by signing up!

2. Practice shadowing

conversational spanish

Shadowing is a powerful language learning technique that consists of listening to a piece of native audio and trying to repeat after the native speaker, resembling their accent as close as possible.

When you start practicing Spanish shadowing, you’ll probably feel like you’re just being a parrot, but this technique actually works!

It helps you improve your pronunciation of specific words, but also learn the intonation and rhythm of the language and how to say longer sentences.

This practice is super useful when it comes to getting ready for real conversations. It’ll allow you to sound more and more like a native as you get better at it, and it’ll help you learn vocabulary and grammar along the way.

Speaking of which…

3. Learn grammar and vocabulary

What do you think you can say in Spanish if you don’t know any Spanish?

I mentioned earlier that being conversational is that blurry landmark on your learning journey that corresponds to the B1 level, approximately.

By that time, you’ll have learned a lot of new words, grammar rules, conjugations and a bunch of other jazz.

That knowledge is your toolbox, and that’s what you’ll use when having a conversation in Spanish. So the more you learn, the more conversational you’ll be.

Think of grammar and vocabulary as the two wheels of your bike, and imagine a conversation is a ride between your house and school or work.

You need both wheels to do the ride, and the better they are, the faster and safer your ride will be.

4. Read a lot and out loud

conversational spanish

I’ve always said that reading is a silent conversation between a book and your brain.

Poetic, but true!

Reading—especially when done out loud—can help you improve your conversational skills tremendously.

Remember the shadowing tip? Speaking words out loud helps with pronunciation, intonation and rhythm.

It also helps with vocabulary and grammar, so it’s a very comprehensive way of learning.

The difference between shadowing and reading out loud is that your Spanish source is now a book, but the mental gymnastics you’re doing is pretty similar.

If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, just use Forvo or any similar pronunciation dictionary. If you don’t know the meaning of a phrase or sentence, check it out in a translator, or look for some clues on the FluentU video dictionary.

By turning a passive activity like reading into an active one, you’ll be engaging your brain much more. This leads to learning faster, better and more efficiently.

Then you just have to take what you’ve learned from your books and use it in a conversation.

It’s as simple as that!

5. Listen to native Spanish podcasts and radio

conversational spanish

As you might know by now, native content and listening are very important components of the road to conversational Spanish.

So, what better way to improve your skills than to listen to native Spanish content?

It’s two for the price of one!

There are literally thousands of podcasts in Spanish, and many of them have been created for native speakers. They don’t include grammar rules, translations or vocabulary practice. These are the real deal—monologues and dialogues only containing native Spanish speakers from all around the world.

The same happens with native Spanish radio programs.

These haven’t been created with Spanish learners in mind. Speakers talk fast, stop mid-sentence and change the topic. They use specialized vocabulary when needed, talk about different topics with different people, etc.

Listening to native Spanish audio—be it in the form of podcasts or the radio (or any other resource you may enjoy)—is possibly the closest you’ll get to hearing real-world conversations.

They show language in its raw state, with repetitions, mistakes, laughter, different people talking at the same time, etc.

Use this type of resource often and you’ll be more than ready to face a real conversation with a native speaker in the flesh.

6. Use conversation apps

conversational spanish

Technology is a great ally for learning languages.

Spanish conversation apps (or any app, for that matter) can be taken with you everywhere, and they’re normally designed in a way that allows you to learn in micro-bites (this technique is called microlearning).

Conversation apps can help you improve your pronunciation and speaking skills overall if you choose the right one.

There are many types of so-called “Spanish conversation apps” that have you talk to a robot or don’t include any native audio. Avoid those!

Instead, opt for apps that have native Spanish audio, include vocabulary you can use in conversation, allow you to really practice what you learn and/or give you the possibility to actually talk to a native speaker.

7. Find a language partner

conversational spanish

You know practice makes perfect. So, it’s only logical that the best way to improve your conversational Spanish skills is to actually use them. No matter how good or bad you think they are!

There are several places you can find a person to practice your Spanish with, thanks to the internet.

For example, you find a language partner online and talk through the app, website or on platforms like Skype or Zoom.

Others help you find a person living near you so you can meet in person and have a real face-to-face meetup.

You even have the possibility of using the record button you can find on many social media platforms like Whatsapp or Facebook.

This won’t look (sound) like a super real conversation because of the breaks between audio messages, but any practice is substantial practice when you’re working toward the goal of being conversational in Spanish.

8. Take a Spanish conversation course

conversational spanish

Conversation courses come in many shapes and forms.

Some can be done in a class with other students, which is perfect for all you extroverted folks out there.

However, remember that the rest of the people in the class will also be non-natives, so the only actual native Spanish you’ll listen to is that of the teacher (and sometimes, not even that).

I believe online Spanish conversation courses are a much better option.

They’re not only more comfortable, but they also let you be picky and choose exactly what and how you want to learn.

Some are paid, some are free, some are longer, some are shorter… Everyone can find a course that fits their needs.

I like online conversation courses because, apart from the price and the duration, you can also choose the accent you want to learn, the curriculum and the teaching method being used.

A negative aspect of this type of course, however, is that there’s little one-on-one time with the teachers. But on the bright side, they do tend to include plenty of audiovisual material to help you on your self-study quest.

10 Engaging Resources to Upgrade Your Conversational Spanish Skills

Websites

1. Practical Spanish

Practical Spanish is a free website designed to help you improve your Spanish skills.

It offers a free online course that gives you everything you need to be able to converse with Spanish speakers: grammar structures, vocabulary and practice.

It does this by putting grammar rules in context with examples so that you know how to apply the rules to actual conversations.

Practical Spanish offers lessons for beginning through advanced students in addition to extra resources.

However, the beginning lessons focus on laying the ground rules, so the real conversational material doesn’t start until the intermediate level.

To improve your conversational Spanish, select the most appropriate level for you. Plus, be sure to check out the audio, videos and Facebook page for examples that you can apply to real conversations.

2. Fastbreak Spanish

Fastbreak Spanish is an available course you can access through Udemy.

It’s free and offers over three hours of video content accessible through your mobile device or TV. Plus, you can get a certificate of completion once you’re done.

If, however, you’ve already got a lot of Spanish under your belt, you might search for a particular topic of interest by scrolling through the videos to find what you need on the Fastbreak Spanish YouTube channel.

Regardless of whether you choose the course or YouTube, it offers useful videos focused on teaching you to speak and understand conversational Spanish. It aims to expose you to different possible scenarios, improve your pronunciation and teach you basic grammar. Plus, dialogues and drills help reinforce your learning.

Apps

3. FluentU

FluentU is a website and app (available on both Android and iOS devices) that provides a truly unique experience for today’s learners.

In contrast to other apps that take a scripted approach, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time.

As a result, you’ll learn Spanish as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU has a variety of engaging videos covering topics like soccer, TV shows, movies and even magical realism.

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary you’re learning! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

FluentU is highly recommended for people who are audio-visual learners and want to learn more about Spanish-language culture.

4. Conversational Spanish by BuscaOficio

This app is for Android devices and focuses on teaching travelers common Spanish phrases to use in different situations, and it’s designed to help beginner through intermediate students improve their skills.

Information is grouped thematically in the “Reference” tab, with categories like pronunciation and prepositions to help you get the basics of the Spanish language.

The “Vocabulary” tab includes common questions and expressions on topics such as greetingsnight out and dating, among others. These will help you learn more conversational phrases that are applicable to a wide variety of situations.

Finally, you’ll get to practice your listening comprehension in the “Practice” tab. You’ll hear a word or phrase and will be given the first letter. Your goal is to write the whole correct answer.

The audio of the words, phrases and expressions is included, but they’re read by a Latin American female “robot.” If you’re looking for a place with examples of native Spanish convos, I recommend using FluentU.

5. Spanish Phrasebook: Conversational Spanish by Batoul Apps

Unlike the previous app, this one is for iOS and aimed at beginning and intermediate students who plan on traveling to Spanish-speaking countries.

This app offers over 800 words and phrases grouped thematically into 28 categories.

The phrasebook can provide you with essential greetings, apologies, expressions of appreciation and more—all the things you’ll need to hold a basic conversation.

The app also offers audio, which you can use to practice your pronunciation or hold a mock conversation between yourself and the app.

As an added bonus, you can bookmark phrases for easy studying or practicing.

Audio

6. Gritty Spanish

This is a resource that’s sure to add some spice to your Spanish learning routine.

Gritty Spanish teaches you the language you need to describe those not-so-pleasant situations you find yourself in.

It’s perfect for conversational fluency (don’t look here if you’re wanting to hone your academic vocabulary!).

This resource is engagement in the truest sense, appealing to the pre-teen learner in all of us who giggles if any word sounds slightly dirty.

Fair warning though, this isn’t for those who are easily offended.

This is one of those instances where the title tells you exactly what to expect: when they say gritty, they mean it!

Even if the language you hear might not be your cup of tea, it’ll come in handy when you’re traveling abroad and overhear something not so proper (it’s going to happen).

With a purchase of this resource, you’ll get access to audio and PDF transcripts. To get a taste of everything they have to offer, check out their free e-book (available on the website) or read a review here.

7. Pimsleur Spanish

conversational spanish

Pimsleur is an audio course that aims to prepare listeners to speak and understand conversational Latin American or Castilian Spanish.

The course offers multiple levels, each with 30 lessons that are 30 minutes long and include basic vocabulary and useful conversational practice.

It focuses more on repetition than grammar rules, so it’s best for learners who already know them or who want to memorize helpful phrases without learning the underlying structure.

You’ll learn valuable phrases for specific scenarios like greeting someone, shopping and telling time.

With an affordable monthly subscription, you can choose the course for Castilian Spanish or for Latin American Spanish.

8. Conversational Latin American Spanish

Conversational Latin American Spanish - 8 One Hour Multi-Track Audio CDs (English and Spanish Edition)

This CD set focuses on Latin American Spanish and is taught by a language teacher with the help of native speakers.

The lessons vary the speed at which phrases are spoken, which is great practice for understanding natural variations between speakers. As for the lessons themselves, they cover scenarios like air travel to prepare you for common situations you’re likely to encounter.

The CD set aims to help you learn conversational Spanish quickly, so hopefully, you’ll be conversing comfortably in no time!

Books

9. “Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Conversation”

Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Conversa

This book is a study program in paper format. It aims to make you comfortable and confident when speaking Spanish with native speakers.

The book’s lessons revolve around realistic dialogues, but the lessons also teach you vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar along the way for a more comprehensive learning experience.

Dialogues include scenarios like sharing opinions, arguing a point and so much more.

Exercises in the book are available through their app on Android and iOS devices to help you reinforce your learning.

10. “Understanding Spanish Conversation”

Understanding Spanish Conversation: Learn the Words, Phrases and Grammar Spanish Speakers Use Everyday and Quickly Become One Yourself!

Our final book is designed to help intermediate Spanish students sound more like native speakers.

It aims to teach you grammar, words and phrases that you can use in real conversations as a building block towards full immersion.

Lessons are grouped thematically and cover topics like communicating needs and paying. Each one offers a combination of explanations and examples to help you understand keywords and phrases.

30 Phrases and Questions to Boost Your Conversational Spanish Skills

Now that you have resources to improve your conversational Spanish, allow me to give you some material to work with.

Some of these phrases and questions might be too easy for you. That’s normal, you’re awesome already!

Nevertheless, all of them are very useful to get a conversation started or keep it going.

Let’s have a look at some questions first:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)
  • ¿A qué te dedicas? (What do you do for a living?)
  • ¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?)
  • ¿Qué hora es? or ¿Tienes hora? (What time is it?)
  • ¿Dónde está el/la…? (Where’s the…?)
  • ¿Conoces a…? (Do you know… + person?)
  • ¿Conoces…? (Do you know… + place?)
  • ¿Cuántos años tienes? or ¿Qué edad tienes? (How old are you?)
  • ¿Tienes hermanos? (Do you have any siblings?)
  • ¿Te gusta…? (Do you like…?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu… favorito/a? (What’s your favorite…?)
  • ¿Practicas algún deporte? (Do you play any sport?)
  • ¿Cómo se dice… en inglés/español? (How do you say… in English/Spanish?)
  • ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas estudiando inglés/español? (How long have you been studying English/Spanish?)

And now let’s see some phrases and expressions:

  • Hola, me llamo… (Hello, my name is…)
  • Encantado/a de conocerte. (Nice to meet you.)
  • Soy de… / Vengo de… (I’m from… / I come from…)
  • Tengo… años. (I’m… years old.)
  • Nací en… (I was born in…)
  • ¡Bienvenido/a! (Welcome!)
  • Me alegro de oír eso. (I’m happy to hear that.)
  • Creo que sí / Creo que no. (I think so / I don’t think so.)
  • ¡Eso está genial/chido! (That’s great!)
  • No puedo hacerlo. (I can’t do it.)
  • Lo siento, pero… (I’m sorry, but…)
  • Muchas gracias. (Thank you very much.)
  • Hasta luego/pronto/ahora/ahorita. (See you later/soon/in a sec/in a while.)
  • No entiendo lo que dices. (I don’t understand what you’re saying.)
  • ¡Vuelve pronto! (Come back soon!)

As you can imagine, it’d be impossible to include every Spanish expression native speakers use in their conversations. You’ll have to use your handy new resources to pick up more phrases for conversation.

 

It’s time to have an important talk, and these resources for improving your conversational Spanish will help you do just that.

With the skills you acquire from them, you’ll be ready to take your practice to the next level by seeking opportunities to interact with other Spanish speakers.

If you can’t find any native speakers with whom to practice, just look for Spanish meetups or study groups.

And if you can’t find any, start your own! You’ll be the talk of the town!

This post was updated on 9/18/2021 by Francisco J. Vare

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