Musicians do it.
Athletes do it.
Circus performers do it.
Anybody who wants to master a skill needs to practice, practice, practice, every single day.
That includes Spanish learners, too.
But does this mean that you have to sit in front of a computer doing grammar drills or running flashcards for hours a day?
Absolutely not! There are tons of creative ways to practice Spanish every day without getting bored.
If you need to kick-start your daily Spanish practice, we’ve put together a list of fun mini-challenges. Each one will target a specific skill: reading, writing, speaking or listening.
Try to do one every day for a month. Mix ’em up, combine them and repeat the ones you like.
By the end of the month, you’ll not only be a step closer to fluency, but you’ll also realize how easy it can be to get your daily dose of Spanish learning.
The Importance of Practicing Spanish Outside the Classroom
The challenges on this list are designed to get you out of the classroom, so that you can use Spanish in real-world settings. Beyond just being fun and exciting, this type of learning can have real benefits for your language skills.
According to Psychology Today, learning language “in the wild”—that is to say, in immersive, real-world situations—can deepen language skills and improve recall, when compared to strictly classroom-based learning.
Learning Spanish outside of the classroom also provides exposure to native speakers and the way that they talk and write. The more you listen to native speakers, the more fluent and natural your own Spanish will sound.
Finally, many of these tasks challenge you to explore Spanish-language resources available in your area or online. Looking beyond the classroom for language practice will introduce you to a world of accessible Spanish resources you might not have even known existed!
How to Use This List for Daily Spanish Practice
The following is a list of 30 challenges to help you practice your Spanish in fun, engaging and creative ways. Most of the challenges are free and require few (if any) resources. Plus, lots of them take less than 15 minutes to complete!
Try to complete one challenge every day for a month, in whatever order you wish. Do these in addition to your regular Spanish practice—they’re not intensive enough to fully replace Spanish classes.
To make these challenges into a fun game, keep track of which ones you’ve completed with a monthly calendar, or by keeping a list. Be sure to give yourself a reward if you manage to complete all of them!
30 Fun Mini-challenges for a Month of Daily Spanish Practice
1. Write a postcard to a penpal in Spanish.
MyLanguageExchange allows you to search for penpals by target language so that you can easily identify a penpal to practice your Spanish with. For this challenge, find a penpal and send them a message introducing yourself.
This will help you practice basic writing skills and build confidence in your Spanish abilities.
2. Draft a letter to the editor of a Spanish-language newspaper or magazine.
Have you read something in a Spanish-language newspaper or magazine that angered, worried, confused or interested you? Draft a letter to the editor with questions and comments. This will help you work on grammar and sentence structure.
You don’t actually have to send the letter—but you can if you want!
3. Use WordReference.com to find an answer to a Spanish grammar or vocabulary question you’ve always wondered about.
I’m sure every language learner deals with at least one persistent grammar issue that they just can’t make sense of. (My biggest difficulty was always the difference between direct and indirect object pronouns!)
The WordReference.com forum is a place where Spanish learners and native speakers come together to discuss the trials and triumphs of language learning. You can ask your questions and send your replies in either English or Spanish—bonus points for writing in Spanish!
Posting on the forum is a great way to practice your writing skills, overcome your language roadblocks and connect with others in the Spanish language community. Triple whammy!
4. Post a piece of writing you’ve done on Lang-8 and get a native speaker’s feedback.
This free website connects language learners with native speakers willing to read and edit their writing. Post a piece of your original Spanish writing (not something that has already been corrected in class!) to Lang-8 and get feedback on it.
The native speaker may point out certain errors that you wouldn’t have noticed or let you know that a specific phrase just doesn’t sound right. This is a great way to get your writing to native level.
5. Write a diary entry or blog post in Spanish.
Writing about your day is a classic Spanish practice exercise to work on vocabulary, grammar and especially past-tense verb construction.
To complete this challenge you only have to write one diary entry or blog post—but if you enjoy it, try to keep it up every night.
6. Write your grocery list or to-do list in Spanish.
If you’re going to write a to-do list or shopping list already, do it in Spanish instead of English!
This task won’t necessarily help you with sentence formation but it’ll be a great exercise in vocabulary recall. You’ll work on either food vocabulary or daily routine vocabulary.
If, in the middle of making your list, you realize you don’t know a certain word, write it in English in brackets. At the end of writing your list, look up all the vocabulary words you were unsure of.
7. Write a Reddit post in Spanish on a country-specific subreddit.
Many countries have Spanish-language subreddits, including Argentina, Mexico and Chile. These are great for practicing your everyday, slangy Spanish. They’re especially good for learning country-specific vocabulary and usage rules.
8. Try your hand at a Spanish-language crossword puzzle.
Important: This should not be a crossword designed for a Spanish class! It’ll be much harder (and more rewarding) if you complete one designed for native speakers.
9. Find a Spanish-language Twitter or Instagram feed you like, and follow it.
Twitter and Instagram are great places to find native-speaker Spanish and particularly modern slang. To get you started, here’s a great list of Spanish-language Twitter accounts for language learners.
You can also follow your favorite Spanish-speaking artist, musician, newscaster or simply a friend who posts in Spanish.
This challenge can definitely be combined with #11 or #13 below.
10. Find a recipe in Spanish and use it to make dinner.
It doesn’t have to be a Spanish- or Latin-inspired dish, but it definitely can be. Figure out how to say your dish of choice in Spanish and search for it online using the word receta (recipe).
This challenge will help you learn specific food vocabulary and cooking verbs. Plus, it’ll end in a delicious meal!
You can easily combine this challenge with #6.
11. Use Trendsmap to explore trending hashtags in the Spanish-speaking world and spend 15 minutes reading tweets in Spanish.
You probably already spend time procrastinating on social media, so why not use that time to practice your Spanish?
Trendsmap gives you a real-time map of trending Twitter hashtags around the world. Pick a few hashtags that interest you and spend a few minutes seeing what people are tweeting about in the Spanish-speaking world.
This is a great way to pick up slang and other informal aspects of everyday Spanish.
12. Browse the Spanish-language section of your local library and check out a book that looks interesting.
Libraries are an amazing, under-appreciated, free resource for language learners. If you don’t yet have a library card, what are you waiting for?
Most libraries in the U.S. will have a section devoted to Spanish-language books. Check out one that interests you—don’t worry, it can be a children’s book or collection of short stories if you’re a beginner!
13. Surf the web and find a blog related to your hobby written by a Spanish speaker.
Do you love gardening? Homebrewing? Basketball?
Surely, there’s a Spanish-speaker who also loves your hobby and has a blog devoted to it. Do some internet research (this is also part of the challenge) to find an interesting blog, then read a few posts. You’ll be able to focus on reading and also learn useful Spanish vocabulary related to your hobby.
14. Plan your dream vacation to a Spanish-speaking country, using internet tourism resources.
I spend lots of time thinking about fantasy vacations to other countries—maybe you do, too!
For this challenge, try to use only Spanish-speaking resources to plan a trip.
The crowd-sourced Wikiviajes is a good place to start, but you can also browse websites for specific hotels, restaurants, museums and so on in your dream destination.
15. The next time you have to Google or Wikipedia something, do it in Spanish.
You’ll need to figure out how to translate the search terms into Spanish, which is good vocabulary practice, and then you’ll have to read for content, which will help develop your reading skills.
Speaking and Pronunciation Challenges
16. Reach out to a Spanish-speaking language partner and set up a Skype or in-person practice session.
Not everyone has a Spanish conversation group in their area or a Spanish-speaking friend to practice with.
If you do, great! This challenge will be easy.
If not, check out one of these resources for online language exchange to find a native speaker willing to practice via Skype.
17. Record yourself speaking Spanish and listen to the recording.
I know, I know—I also hate listening to my recorded voice. We all do.
But listening to a recording of yourself can be a great way to notice pronunciation mistakes you don’t catch while speaking. Beginning learners can read a prepared text while advanced speakers should speak off-the-cuff about a topic of their choosing.
18. Learn the lyrics to a Spanish-language song and sing along.
Try to follow the lyrics while just listening a few times, and once you feel confident, try to sing along. Give yourself special bonus points if you can memorize the lyrics and sing along without them in front of you!
19. Learn a Spanish tongue-twister and try to say it as fast as you can.
Practicing one of these tricky phrases is a great way to home in on pronunciation and target difficult sounds. Here’s a great list of Spanish tongue-twisters to get you started.
20. Switch your phone to Spanish and have a conversation with Siri.
If Siri doesn’t understand what you’re saying, she won’t be able to return information to you. This is a great way to check your pronunciation to make sure that native speakers can understand you when you talk.
21. Learn a joke in Spanish and tell it to a Spanish-speaking friend.
Jokes are tricky and often involve wordplay, which makes them great for language learning. Practice the joke until you have it down pat, then share it with a Spanish-speaking friend to see if they understand it. (This can be combined with challenge #16!)
22. Find a Spanish poem you like and read it out loud, paying attention to the rhythm and feel of the words.
Neruda, Guillén, Martí… there are many amazing Spanish and Latin American poets to explore.
For this challenge, read some Spanish-language poetry until you find a poem that especially speaks to you. (Personally, I love “Los Nadies” by Eduardo Galeano.)
Read the poem out loud. You should focus not only on correct pronunciation but also on emotion and meaning. Feel free to recite the poem for other people if you have a willing audience.
23. Drill some essential phrases for Spanish conversation.
Do you get tongue-tied in conversation? For this challenge, spend 15 to 30 minutes drilling useful phrases that are likely to come up in everyday conversation. This will help calm your nerves so that you can speak more fluently.
24. Do a Spanish song challenge on LyricsTraining.
LyricsTraining is a super fun way to drill your listening skills while also exposing yourself to Spanish-language music and culture.
Plus, it has many difficulty levels, making it useful for all skill levels.
25. Turn your car radio to a Spanish-language station for your entire commute to work.
Again, you’ll practice your listening and also learn a thing or two about Spanish or Latino culture. If you don’t commute in a car, use TuneIn to find an internet radio station or download a Spanish podcast.
26. Get the most out of authentic Spanish videos with FluentU.
The best way to improve your listening skills is to absorb as much real-world Spanish as you can. FluentU is an innovative tool that not only lets you do that, but also provides tools to actively build your vocabulary.
On FluentU, you’ll have access to tons of authentic Spanish videos, like movie trailers, funny YouTube clips, inspiring talks and more. Each video comes with interactive captions you can use for instant definitions and pronunciations of any word you don’t recognize.
FluentU takes real-world videos, like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks, and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.
27. Watch an episode of a Spanish-language web-series on YouTube.
Spanish web-series are a totally different animal than news briefs, podcasts, TED Talks, etc. These shows will be fast-paced and generally will include lots of current slang, which will be useful for testing your language skills.
28. Watch a TED Talk in Spanish.
For something slightly more educational than a YouTube series, check out a TED Talk in Spanish. Depending on your ability level, you can watch the talks with English subtitles, Spanish subtitles or no subtitles at all.
Some of the Spanish TED Talks, like this one on Argentine soccer, are great because they give insights into Latin American culture as well as the Spanish language.
29. Switch your map app to Spanish the next time you need directions, and let your phone direct you in Spanish.
The ultimate test in Spanish listening ability: Can you understand and process what your phone says and arrive at your destination?
This challenge works listening skills as well as specific directions/navigation vocabulary.
30. Listen to a news brief in Spanish on a topic that interests you.
Newscasters tend to speak slowly, clearly and correctly, making this challenge especially great for beginners.
Check out these great resources for learning Spanish through the news.
With each of these challenges, you’ll find yourself gaining confidence, building your language skills, and hopefully having a good time in the process.
How many challenges can you complete in one month?
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.