A lot can happen in 30 days.
You’ll have 43,200 minutes and you’ll have to make every one of them count.
I know, that’s an intimidating figure, but to be considered conversationally fluent requires significantly less, at around 3,000 words, so there’s hope for achieving this in the very near future!
It’s time to start studying Spanish like you never have before. Write in Spanish, read in Spanish, listen, sing and even dream in Spanish!
It’s going to be intense, but certainly worth it. Here are seven steps to help you get the most out of learning Spanish in a month.
The 30-day Spanish Challenge: How to Learn Spanish in a Month with 7 Daily Steps
1. Turn Your Life into a Spanish Crash Course
Of course, there are different checkpoints on the road to achieving Spanish fluency. You have to be somewhat realistic about which of these you can reasonably reach in one month.
If you’re starting from zero, you cannot expect to become a Spanish-speaking diplomat in 30 days, but you can surely learn a lot if you set your mind to it and have a good game plan. You could easily learn how to hold decent conversations and write out any messages, emails or letters you might like to send.
Regardless of where you’re starting from, the first step is setting a goal for how much you expect to learn. Then you’ll begin putting together a foundation for how you’re going to get there.
If you’re going to start immediately and you’ve only got one month to get the job done, it may be hard for you to manage taking a class. Signing up for one and starting a new schedule can take a little time, and classes may all run for more than a single month. In this case, grabbing a solid beginner’s textbook (or maybe a slightly more advanced one if you already have Spanish knowledge) and reading a chapter a day can take you a long way,
There are dozens of textbooks available for decent prices on Amazon. One that’s a highly-rated and quick-paced book for beginners is “Easy Spanish: Step-by-Step” by McGraw Hill.
Using this book for your 30-day challenge will assist you in breaking things down into manageable lessons. With 15 chapters, doing 1 chapter every 2 days would mean you’ll finish the book and have covered many topics in the course of your month.
Spending a grand total of 2-3 hours on your overall reading skills and vocabulary knowledge every day can get you very far in the course of your month! Pair this chapter-by-chapter textbook work with flashcards and vocabulary lists, and you’ll be all set.
2. Immerse Your World in Spanish
If you can’t go abroad, you still have hope. There are many opportunities to bring the language into your life, no matter where you live.
Aside from English, Spanish is the most common language spoken in the United States, and in a number of states a substantial portion of residents are fluent or native in Spanish.
Finding a community of Spanish-speakers can be much easier than you may think. On the MeetUp website you may find a group of Spanish-speakers looking to meet up at a local cantina, a language exchange swap or even a group of equally curious English-speakers wanting to form a Spanish study group, depending on what’s in your area.
Not actually practicing the language—you know, live, in person, naturally—is one of the ways that many fail in their goals for the month. In your 30 days, actually using the language actively for at least 30 minutes a day can be extremely beneficial to your learning and show you how much progress you’ve made on a daily basis.
If you’re searching for it, it can’t be that hard to find. You can try making the Hispanic restaurant down the street your new nightly hang out. Pay a visit to a Hispanic museum, see a film in Spanish or seek out whatever else you can tie to your studying that your hometown may have to offer.
And instead of enjoying your regular English jams, books and programs for the month, try replacing them with some Spanish entertainment instead. Heck, you can even go to your Facebook settings and change your language to Spanish—and try even more methods for learning with Facebook.
You can always combine these 30 minutes of active practice with the previous chapter-by-chapter textbook and vocabulary plan. Just jot down all the new vocabulary you encounter while interacting with this Spanish-language media.
3. Get a Personal Tutor
Those who have succeeded in similar ventures give much credit to having a personal tutor.
It’s easy to see that the benefits of having a personal tutor are huge. By having a tutor, you can be selective about what you learn because their objective is to teach you and you only. They’ll target the methods, resources and overall lesson plans to your specific needs.
Learning the things most relevant to your life and having the content on your exact skill level will make the process far quicker and smoother. The tutor will work at your speed and meet your learning preferences.
So, ask around and view your local postings to see who is available in your area.
And if you’re having difficulty finding a good tutor near you, don’t sweat it; there are plenty to go around online. On some websites, such as 121 Spanish and italki, you can even find a native Spanish-speaking tutor (perhaps even one from the country of your choice!) to tutor you through Skype.
Having a good tutor for at least 30 minutes every weekday can really push you right up towards your goal here. That’s at least 8-9 hours of personalized Spanish studying you’ll have at the end of your month! Sounds like it might be expensive, yeah—but if you’re just trying to get as far as you possibly can in one mere month, you might want to invest to go that extra mile.
You can also use italki (linked above) to find a language exchange partner instead. These guys are free, but they come at the precious cost of your time. For every half-hour they teach you Spanish, you’ll need to teach them your native language for the same amount of time. They’re also harder to get to commit to practicing every day.
4. Study, Study, Study
If you want to learn as much as you can in a month, you’ll have to sacrifice most of your free time to studying. Always keep a book, dictionary and translation app handy, because you never know when some free time will open up that you can devote to studying.
When you’re sitting on the bus, waiting in line or working out, there’s always some way to fill that time with Spanish!
There’s always something. Fill your phone up with Spanish reading material, like e-books and audio in the form of podcasts and audiobooks. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn with that in-between time throughout your day.
Whenever you’ve got an idle moment, or one during which you could be multitasking by popping some Spanish audio on in the background, you can be studying!
The longer you spend studying like this, the stronger in Spanish you’ll be at the end of the month. A minimum of 30 minutes of this, perhaps even scattered around in minute-long increments, is the recommended daily dose.
5. Label Everything You Touch
So this one may get a little obnoxious, to you and to everyone who lives and works around you, but nobody ever said this month was going to be easy. It’s time to bring a little more color into your living space. And, hey, people might actually find this endearing and educational.
Go to the store, grab the biggest set of sticky notes you can find and label everything you own with its Spanish translation. The foods in your cabinet, the desk you’re sitting at (el escritorio), the lamp (la lámpara), the computer you’re reading from (la computadora), your bed (la cama), your bar of soap (la barra de jabón)—okay, maybe that’s a bit far unless you can label the box it came in, but you get the point.
To save precious time, buy yourself a Spanish Vocabulary Stickers set, which comes with pre-made, color-coded labels for over a hundred of the most common items you’ll find in your home and office.
Not only is this a quick and almost effortless way of studying, it will catch you up on your vocabulary goals, give you the words you need to know the most and even make you realize whether it’s time for a garage sale or not.
6. Don’t Use Any English
It has been said that you don’t fully understand a language until you can think in it.
This may be difficult depending on where you live, but entirely replacing English with Spanish in your everyday life—and consequently in your brain—can greatly escalate the process.
If you need to call a company to ask for information, press the button that they indicate to proceed in Spanish. If you go shopping for food, read the Spanish-language labels only and shop as much as you can at a Hispanic grocery store or in the Hispanic aisle at the supermarket.
Not being able to communicate in anything but Spanish can push your motivation for learning it to the brink, but you’re not alone. The website Fluent in 3 Months features videos, articles and more about how to become fluent in any language in a strict time frame.
You can find memoirs of people who have traveled abroad and attempted to become fluent in Spanish in only three months, including two men who ventured to Spain and didn’t speak a word of English for the entire three months.
Not saying to ignore Grandma’s weekly phone call, but it’s definitely a good idea to use as much Spanish and as little English as you can in your allotted time frame.
7. Go Abroad
If you can afford to make it happen, spending these 30 days of learning in a Spanish-speaking country can be extremely helpful.
Being in a Spanish-speaking country means that every time you go out, you’ll find Spanish. Seeing it every day on street signs, advertisements, restaurants and more can really help cement it into your brain.
Luckily, Spanish is the language spoken in the highest number of countries around the world, so you have quite a few to pick from. Spain, Central America, many places in the Caribbean and most of South America use the language, so wherever you’re at in the world, managing a fair-priced trip shouldn’t be extremely difficult.
Just imagine, lounging on the beach, drinking margaritas and chatting with locals—educationally of course.
So there we have it: 7 steps, 30 days and up to 3,000 words.
By spending around 4 hours a day studying and practicing, you can make a huge advancement in your Spanish knowledge.
But remember—that’s not 4 hours of staring at a textbook! You could be listening to reggaeton, dancing salsa, chatting with friends, going out on a MeetUp adventure, shopping for food, listening to a podcast on technology or reading a great novel.
After a few days, this will turn into your recreation time and your lifestyle, not just your Spanish study routine.
Happy studying and buena suerte!
And One More Thing…
If you like these tips, then you’ll love FluentU.
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.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. 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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.