How to Learn Spanish Fast: 13 Effective Tips to Get You Fluent in 2023
Naturally, when you decided you wanted to learn Spanish, you wanted to learn it fast.
When learning a language, the process can seem drawn out.
After all, most traditional courses are structured around years of study.
Luckily, there are faster ways to do it: all you have to do is choose the right study methods to learn Spanish quickly.
- Tips to Learn Spanish Fast
- 1. Use Spanish in Your Daily Life
- 2. Make Studying a Habit
- 3. Practice Listening
- 4. Immerse Yourself in Spanish
- 5. Make Learning Fun
- 6. Find a Language Partner
- 7. Learn By Socializing
- 8. Make Your Own Vocabulary Lists
- 9. Try Spanish Shadowing
- 10. Set Goals
- 11. Establish Learning Incentives
- 12. Learn Some Idioms, Proverbs or Lingo
- 13. Learn Spanish Speaking Hacks
- Why Learn Spanish Fast?
- And One More Thing…
Tips to Learn Spanish Fast
1. Use Spanish in Your Daily Life
Beyond roommates and apps, you can incorporate Spanish practice into your daily life in other ways to help you achieve fluency faster.
- Change your phone settings to Spanish. You’ll have no choice but to practice when you use your phone. By changing your settings to Spanish, learning will be natural and easy. Chat with Siri to get extra speaking and listening practice!
- Think in Spanish. One of the best opportunities is to practice Spanish in your mind. While you’re thinking, jot down any words you’re unsure of or phrases you can’t express. If you give it a serious effort, your understanding of Spanish will skyrocket and you’ll eventually find yourself thinking in Spanish automatically without even trying.
- Keep a journal. You can write as little as 3-5 minutes every day. Write about something cool or crazy that happened to you that day, something that you’d like to remember, or something you’re looking forward to.
If you don’t know how to say something, Google it or write the words you don’t know in English with parentheses. For example: “Hoy fui al supermercado y compré manzanas, (kale), leche y pan.” (Today I went to the grocery store and bought apples, kale, milk and bread.)
Afterwards, you can go through your writing and look up the words in parentheses (during which you’ll find out that kale is “col rizada” ).
2. Make Studying a Habit
Speaking of habits, make studying one of yours to learn Spanish even faster.
But how do we find time to ramp up the practice without completely eliminating every other thing that we do?
Easy. Add Spanish practice to your daily routine.
- Schedule a daily lesson. Make your daily study session as much of a priority as brushing your teeth. Practice Spanish anywhere, from a coffee shop or a park to your own kitchen table.
- Write your grocery list in Spanish. If you don’t know the vocabulary you need, look it up. It’ll only take a moment and the added words in your Spanish lexicon are a bonus.
- Practice Spanish during your exercise session. On the treadmill or stationary bike, jog through your vocabulary lists or use your phone to learn some new words and phrases. This is also the perfect time to listen to music in Spanish.
Habits can take a while to form but it’s well worth developing your Spanish learning habit. I mean, you’ll hopefully carry your language skills with you through the rest of your life, so building a long-term habit is an excellent step to take.
3. Practice Listening
If you don’t listen to spoken Spanish, it’ll be harder to perfect your pronunciation and accent.
There are easy ways to do this:
- If you’re not ready to dive into Spanish movies and soap operas, start by watching your favorite TV shows in Spanish. You can improve your listening comprehension and your reading skills by watching with Spanish subtitles, forcing you to think solely in Spanish.
- Turn on a Spanish TV channel or radio station. Listening to native speakers will improve your understanding of Spanish as well as relevant current events.
- Download some Spanish podcasts. There are so many options to choose from on iTunes and Google; look for ones with high ratings or good reviews.
- Listen to Spanish music. Download the lyrics and sing along!
By listening to Spanish as often as possible, you’ll pick up the rhythms of the language and internalize grammar and vocabulary.
Here are some more resources for listening practice:
- KeRapido for improving your Spanish accent and pronunciation of tricky sounds in Spanish.
- Gritty Spanish for entertaining Spanish dialogues, with a specific focus on learners who want to pick up Spanish quickly.
- SpanishListening for listening activities featuring speakers from many Spanish-speaking countries, helping familiarize you with regional accents and vocabulary variations.
- Spanish Resources for listening activities, worksheets and quizzes.
4. Immerse Yourself in Spanish
Whether abroad or from the comfort of your home, research shows that immersion is the quickest way to learn Spanish.
“Immersion” involves surrounding yourself with and using your target language as much as possible.
For in-country immersion:
- Stay with a host family abroad. Living with a local family is a great way to speed up your learning process and experience the country’s culture. Programs such as Lingoo or Enforex offer host family options.
- Work in a Spanish-speaking environment. Volunteering or working in Spanish-speaking countries will allow you to immerse yourself in Spanish language and culture. To find opportunities, take a look at Work Away.
- Do a course in a Spanish-speaking country. From wine tasting in the vineyards of La Rioja, Spain, to photography lessons in Buenos Aires, the possibilities are endless!
For immersion at home:
- Use Spanish immersion programs. They’re designed to get you thinking in Spanish and practicing consistently.
- Live with a native speaker. Living with a native speaker is a great way to speak Spanish on a daily basis.
- Practice Spanish during your free time. Click here to look at the best apps to use to learn Spanish in 2023.
5. Make Learning Fun
You’re bound to learn Spanish quicker if you enjoy studying. But once you get the basics down, delving into the nitty-gritty can seem boring or frustrating.
Fortunately, it isn’t hard to make learning fun so you can get your motivation back up! The same things you enjoy in your downtime can be great learning tools.
- Try watching movies in Spanish to boost your comprehension skills.
- Advance your reading level with a heart-stirring Spanish novel (or an old favorite translated into Spanish).
- Keep up with current events and learn about issues affecting the Spanish-speaking world.
And what’s more fun than games? Playing games can be a great way to practice your Spanish and learn new vocabulary.
RockALingua and 123 Teach Me provide game options at different levels. When one level is mastered, you can begin playing slightly more difficult games.
While technology is ideal for language games, don’t discount old school favorites. Card games, like Uno or even poker, can be made into Spanish language lessons as long as conversation and play is done exclusively in the target language.
Even board games can have a place in your Spanish studies. Try Scrabble Spanish (love this one!) and KLOO.
6. Find a Language Partner
Speaking Spanish daily with another learner or a native speaker will definitely improve your language skills.
Speaking forces us to think quickly to not only understand what our conversation partner is saying but also how to respond.
Whether you’re living abroad or at home, it’s likely there are conversation classes or intercambios (conversation exchanges) that will give you plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish.
- Use MeetUp to sign up for events and meetings happening in your area so you can practice Spanish in person.
- Conversation Exchange will help you find a Spanish conversation partner.
- Zoom brings learners together no matter where you are. An ideal method for speaking in real time with another Spanish speaker.
- Find a language partner through the Couchsurfing community. A social network for travelers, it will help you find others on the road who may be looking to improve their Spanish skills as well.
- Converse with a group of Spanish speakers on LingQ. From group conversation lessons to one-on-one lessons, I’m sure you’ll find the method that works best for you.
- Meet other Spanish speakers in Facebook groups. This is a great way to find conversation groups that already exist around the world or more locally.
Whether you’re meeting someone for a coffee or glass of vino, you’re bound to build up your vocabulary quickly, as well as that all-important confidence.
7. Learn By Socializing
An ideal way to practice Spanish is to make friends who speak Spanish! It might be easier to do this while living abroad, but with some research, you can likely find similar activities near home too.
- Find people with the same hobbies. Is there an activity you enjoy that you do regularly? Take a class in Spanish related to your favorite activity. You can practice something you like while also communicating with others in Spanish.
- Only socialize in Spanish—especially if you live abroad. If someone speaks to you in Spanish and realizes it’s difficult for you to understand what they’re saying, they’ll usually switch to English. But if everyone keeps switching to English, how will you ever progress? Say that you need to practice your Spanish skills, and then do it. Don’t switch to English when someone else does; continue answering in Spanish.
- Go on dates in Spanish. If you’re single and looking for love, why not combine that search with your quest to learn Spanish? Yes, dating can already be daunting, but if you end up meeting someone interesting (or even the person of your dreams!) it could be your ticket to some fast track learning. Start by acquiring some Spanish conversation starters, restaurant vocabulary and romantic phrases to impress your date.
8. Make Your Own Vocabulary Lists
Since only you know what words and phrases you’re inclined to use often, making your own vocabulary lists is an excellent way to ensure you focus on those words and learn them quickly. You won’t be wasting time on words you already know or that you’re unlikely to encounter.
Jot down any words or phrases you think would be useful to you. You can even brainstorm to think about the words and phrases you use most often in English to find their Spanish equivalents.
Meanwhile, while you’re reading, watching or listening to content in Spanish, take note of any unfamiliar words or phrases and add them to your lists.
Once you have your vocabulary lists ready to go, keep them handy to study during any spare minutes of your day. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your Spanish practice and retaining new words, so you can boost your vocabulary as quickly as possible.
If you need help getting started on your vocabulary lists, you might try Spanish Sentence Magic. This audio program focuses on teaching you “high-frequency vocabulary,” or common words that you’re likely to encounter often in Spanish. Plus, Spanish Sentence Magic provides tools so you can put that vocabulary to use by building your own original sentences.
9. Try Spanish Shadowing
Shadow in Spanish by watching or listening to Spanish resources. Immediately after you hear a word or phrase, repeat it. Attempt to speak whether or not you understand what’s being said.
Shadowing challenges learners to do their best to sound like a native speaker. The more you try to mimic native Spanish speakers, the easier it becomes!
- Short videos work well for shadowing. Repeat dialogue as soon as it’s spoken by the characters on screen.
Videos with accurate subtitles are extra helpful here, like those in FluentU videos; they’re interactive, so you can tap a word to see detailed information about the term and pause the video at the same time.
- Cooking videos are another excellent choice for shadowing practice. Think about how everyone mimics Julia Child and sounds just like her. I speak like a Spanish Julia Child with cooking videos in my kitchen. It’s a fun, fast way to improve language skills—and it also means we eat some pretty awesome meals!
An authentic cooking channel that’s perfect for shadowing is “De mi Rancho a Tu Cocina” (From My Ranch to Your Kitchen) which showcases all sorts of meals prepared in a Mexican grandmother’s home!
Shadowing will also help you learn to recognize words that occur often—like local slang, phrase structures and common verbs.
10. Set Goals
To learn Spanish quickly, set SMART goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Here’s an example of what one of your goals might be and why it’s a “SMART” one:
Goal: I will learn 30 new Spanish words or phrases every two weeks. I will do this by watching Spanish videos for one hour each day. I will jot down words and phrases that interest me. I will only speak Spanish in the evenings and incorporate new vocabulary into my speech.
- Specific: Make sure your goal is specific, e.g. 30 new words every two weeks.
- Measurable: By writing down your goals, you’ll be able to measure how close you are to meeting your goal. If you see that you only learned five new words after one week, you’ll know that 30 might be a little too overwhelming.
- Attainable: 100 new words a week isn’t doable, but 30 new phrases in two weeks is.
- Relevant: Your reason is your motivation. Knowing the reason behind your goal will make you work that much harder to achieve it.
- Timely: Put a realistic deadline on when you hope to achieve the final result.
11. Establish Learning Incentives
Make rapid-learning Spanish a short-term “employment” gig. Even if you make your Spanish learning as fun as possible, it’s still hard work! And, like any work, you deserve to be compensated and rewarded for it. Right?
Establishing incentives is a good way to nudge yourself into establishing and maintaining behaviors. Plus, it can encourage you to study regularly (so you can get your reward regularly!).
- If you have the funds, try setting up a system of monetary compensation. Decide how much it’s worth to learn Spanish quickly, and then put the funds aside. It’s a great incentive to know the cash is waiting for you.
- A reward can be anything. Treat yourself to some dessert at the end of a week of learning. Add five minutes to your evening walk for every hour you study. Put aside your really exciting book or TV show and don’t continue it until you’re done with your studies. Anything that you look forward to can be used as an incentive to study hard!
Don’t make the goal? Don’t beat yourself up over it—but don’t pay yourself, either. Donate the money that was waiting for you to charity, instead. That book or show will just have to wait until you finish your work!
12. Learn Some Idioms, Proverbs or Lingo
Fast learning doesn’t have to be dull if you focus on some of the fun parts of Spanish vocabulary. Aren’t we all more enthusiastic about grabbing the interesting parts of speech than we are about pulling “basic vocabulary” into our skillset?
The necessary foundational vocabulary and grammar will follow in time. I speak from experience here. Fun signals adventure, and adventure draws us in every single time, so think outside the box and let yourself have some fun!
- Do you feel adventurous? Then try learning some cuss words to add flavor to your conversations. You don’t need to start swearing like crazy. I’m just saying that most of us pick up a few of the more colorful words and phrases when we begin to learn Spanish. They come in handy and make conversations a tad more interesting. And even if we’re not fluent, we feel somewhat more authentic, don’t we?
- Get hooked on a Spanish vlog. Vloggers cover unlimited topics and typically speak in a natural conversational manner. Following a Spanish vlog is an ideal way to grab some idioms and lingo.
For example, watch Mariale for Spanish listening practice, but also to pick up fashion, food, entertainment and news information. She uses tons of idioms, too! If Mariale isn’t your kind of content, there are plenty of other Spanish vloggers for you to check out.
13. Learn Spanish Speaking Hacks
Here are a number of easy language hacks which allow you to express more ideas with fewer words!
Use Fewer Nouns
Do you ever struggle to pronounce words or forget how to say something? To avoid this, memorize these substitutes (keeping in mind Spanish gender and number rules):
- Lo/la, ello — it
- Ese, esa, eso — that
- Esos, esas — those
- Este, esta, esto — this
- Estos, estas — these
Avoid Using the Subjunctive
The subjunctive is often one of the most complicated parts of Spanish, used when you are expressing wishes, doubt or predictions about the future with phrases such as esperar que (to hope that) or es posible que (it is possible that).
One of the easiest ways to avoid using the subjunctive is to use the phrase a lo mejor (maybe), which is always used with the indicative. For example:
Subjunctive: Es posible que vaya a llover hoy. (It’s possible that it will rain today.)
Indicative: A lo mejor va a llover hoy. (Maybe it’s going to rain today.)
Another way to avoid the subjunctive when expressing doubt is by rephrasing:
Subjunctive: No creo que vayan a la fiesta. (I don’t think they’re going to the party.)
Indicative: Creo que no van a la fiesta. (I think that they won’t go to the party.)
Why Learn Spanish Fast?
One popular reason to learn Spanish fast is for an impending trip. If you know you’re going to an exotic place soon, chances are you’ll want to improve your language knowledge. At the very least, you’ll need to learn the basics to ensure you always get your free bar of soap and extra towels.
If you’re not traveling, you still might want to learn Spanish quickly in order to get immediate results that’ll motivate you to learn in more depth. There’s no doubt about it: immediate results feel good. If you learn some Spanish very quickly, it just might kickstart your journey to fluency.
Finally, you might want to learn Spanish quickly in order to communicate with native speakers. For instance, if you have friends, colleagues or in-laws that speak Spanish, you might want and/or need to communicate with them sooner rather than later. There’s no time like the present to finally connect with Spanish speakers in their native tongue!
Learning a language can take time, but finding the best method for you will put you on the track to success!
Try out these methods and find out which one works best for you.
And One More Thing…
If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.
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, 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 gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.