how-to-learn-spanish-vocabulary

How to Learn Spanish Vocabulary at Warp Speed: The Specialization Secret

Spanish learner, you’re getting sleepy…

Verrry sleepy…

Now relax, close your eyes…

And let’s talk about your innermost language learning desires.

Do you want to boost your business skills in Spanish?

Do you yearn to sound like a native while traveling in a Spanish-speaking country and enhance your conversational abilities?

Do you dream of going abroad and making your way around with ease?

When I snap my fingers, you’ll wake up and see that there’s a simple way to achieve all of the above and more.

That’s right.

All you have to do is learn and practice an assortment of specialized Spanish vocabulary.

Not only does studying vocabulary in categories help you remember it more easily, but focusing on specific areas of the language will make your Spanish stand out from the kind of run-of-the-mill Spanish you learn in school.

Think about when you speak English.

Do you use only generic language that sounds like it was acquired directly from the pages of a textbook?

Probably not, so why should you sound that way in Spanish? Typically, Spanish textbooks used as part of a language class curriculum teach broad and generalized vocabulary as opposed to specific words and phrases used in real-life conversations and pertaining to real-life interests.

Picking up more of this specialized vocabulary will make you sound like an expert in whatever categories you decide to study. Just as importantly, studying groups of related words will help you learn more vocabulary faster.

Snap!
 


 
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Choosing Categories of Spanish Vocabulary

Think about your Spanish-speaking goals. Do you wish to apply your knowledge to your current or future career as a doctor or businessperson?

Perhaps you’re just looking to boost your overall knowledge. But even then, and no matter what your level, you must have certain wishes, interests and goals.

Whatever specific kind of vocabulary you wish to learn, there’s more than likely a place to learn it.

FluentU makes it easy for you to find Spanish-language vocab on virtually any topic at your level by letting you group content by category or search for whatever interests you. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

General vocabulary is a fantastic place to start, but honing in on specific categories can transform you into an expert on specialized topics.

This can benefit you on a multitude of levels and allow you to connect to Spanish speakers in a more profound way.

Common Categories of Specialized Spanish Vocabulary to Get You Started

To get you started, here are a few categories of the language that will benefit any learner. Some of these categories may be of more interest to you than others, but if you choose to study any of them, they’ll enhance your vocabulary and greatly help your overall acquisition of the language! Aside from the categories themselves, we’ll look at resources and some creative study ideas, which will help you find similar resources and study effectively for whatever types of vocabulary interest you.

Business Spanish

Knowing business vocabulary in Spanish, no matter what your job, will boost your work-related skills and enable you to connect with Spanish-speaking individuals in your profession.

Business Spanish Resources

  • Are you a video lover? Enter the magical land of YouTube to watch educational videos like this one on basic business vocab. If you’re already somewhat familiar with business vocabulary and want to test your skills, this video quizzes you to see how well you understand a business presentation in Spanish.
  • This webpage lists business-related vocabulary in two columns, one translating Spanish to English and the other English to Spanish. It’s truly a treat of a resource. You can print it out to consult it on the go or reference it online whenever you wish.
  • SpanishTown lists a vast amount of words and phrases applicable to the business world.
  • Online games are fantastic as they provide entertaining and seemingly effortless education. For a fun business Spanish matching game, visit SoftSchools.com.

Tips for Learning Business Spanish

  • Purchase and peruse a business Spanish dictionary. Tons of great options line the shelves of your local bookstore and are also available online! Challenge yourself to learn at least one new word every day. Flip to a random page, point to a word and commit it to memory. As you could probably guess, there is an overwhelming amount of options for these dictionaries, but one to check out is the Oxford “Business Spanish Dictionary.”
  • Imagine you’re an entrepreneur trying to start a company and telling a friend all about it…in Spanish! You could even make a presentation explaining all of the details of your plan, including your proposed budget, number of employees and more.
  • Flashcards may seem passé and boring, but they’re still used, because they work! You can create your own based on the words you’re personally learning, using any of the above resources to start.

Medical Spanish

Medical Spanish vocabulary is helpful to know in many scenarios, even if your job doesn’t require it. Whether you plan to go into the medical field or just plan to travel abroad, medical terms are crucial. Being able to speak to a doctor about your own health is important, and speaking Spanish as a professional in the medical field allows you to connect with and help patients who may not speak English, truly making a difference!

Medical Spanish Resources

  • PracticingSpanish.com provides all the medical vocabulary you could ever want! Furthermore, the site presents the words and phrases accompanied by pictures to cater to visual learners. There are sections of the site dedicated to specific types of medical Spanish like anatomy, which also feature recordings of medical Spanish phrases so you can actually hear how they should sound.
  • For even more, venture to MedicalSpanish.com. There you’ll find tons of options for learning medical Spanish in whatever way works best for you. Some of the options include anatomical illustrations, medical dialogues and email lessons.
  • For medical students and those more serious about learning medical Spanish, there’s the Medical Spanish Series from ed2go, a set of two 6-week courses that teach you the basics of communication required in medical situations and then follow up with even more specialized vocabulary that applies to different areas of medicine.

Tips for Learning Medical Spanish

  • Label items in your medicine cabinet or objects in your first-aid kit. For practicing anatomy terms, print out blank sheets of bodies and label parts of them in Spanish.
  • Watch your favorite medical television show (like “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy”) and write down at least 10 medical terms while watching. At the end of the episode, translate all of your new terms into Spanish. Another idea is just to watch the episodes in Spanish or discover a medical show from a Spanish-speaking country. It doesn’t get more authentic than that! A couple of examples are the show “A corazón abierto,” a Mexican telenovela, and “Hospital Central,” a medical drama from Spain.

Travel Spanish

Imagine you’ve just landed in Spain. The second you step off the plane and into the airport, you feel like a deer in headlights. You no longer hear English. Instead, you’re surrounded by unfamiliar words and immediately begin to panic. How will you find your way around? How will you order at a restaurant?

Of course, you can more than likely find someone who speaks English, but does the above scenario sound ideal? Probably not. A better option is to brush up on words and phrases that will assist you in your travels.

Travel Spanish Resources

  • LearnALanguage has an entire mini course dedicated to travel vocab and includes a lesson, practice methods and a quiz!

Tips for Learning Travel Spanish

  • Write out a dialogue in which you ask someone for directions to your hotel. It sounds simple enough, but writing down new words can help commit them to memory.
  • Invest in a phrasebook specific to where you’re traveling. Having one available while abroad can give you confidence and the comfort of knowing you can refer to it at a moment’s notice. Lonely Planet is the clear-cut choice for travel guides and phrasebooks alike. They’ve been in the game for so long that they’ve got a phrasebook for pretty much any language you might want to speak while wandering the Spanish-speaking world, everything from Castilian Spanish to Quechua.

Spanish Slang

Learning slang is key to boosting your Spanish conversational skills. While these words and terms may not belong in an academic paper or project, you’ll find yourself using them on the regular when interacting with Spanish speakers in your home country or abroad.

There are many ways to learn Spanish slang. One is to watch television shows in Spanish. Another is, of course, to refer to the good ol’ Internet. If you plan to go to a Spanish-speaking country, be aware that you’ll find specific slang used in each one. Some words even have completely different meanings depending on where they’re used.

Spanish Slang Resources

When checking out the resources below, be aware that most of them, being for the purpose of learning slang, include curse words and vulgar language.

  • Language Realm provides a fantastically detailed dictionary of Spanish slang. As the site itself says, this slang dictionary “is a comprehensive and in-depth look at all the slang, vulgarisms, curses, and insults, plus idioms, expressions, and a lot more.” If you’re looking to learn Spanish slang vocab, this is the place. This site does not divide the words by where they’re spoken, however, it does provide some helpful notes on regional use.
  • Looking for a one-stop to learn Mexican slang? Check out the site Guey Spanish. On this site, the Spanish words are listed on the left in red and translated to English on the right. For more ease with searching for words, they’re sorted alphabetically.
  • This list of Puerto Rican slang words and phrases is chock full of vocabulary to ingrain in your brain!

Don’t see what you’re looking for above? There’s still probably a resource for it! Whether you want to learn Columbian slang, Argentine slang or some other variety, it’s out there somewhere.

Tips for Learning Spanish Slang

  • Translating your favorite song lyrics can be another fun way to ingrain Spanish vocabulary in your brain. Look up the words to your favorite television show theme song or one by your favorite musician and write out the translation in Spanish. In doing so, you’ll find yourself reaching for your dictionary or consulting a digital one to look up the words you weren’t familiar with before. This can help you learn lots of new words in general and is likely to help you pick up on a lot of slang specifically.
  • To practice learning slang from specific countries, try finding a pen pal or conversation partner in that country if you don’t have such a resource already. One place where you can find one is Conversation Exchange. Try to find a partner familiar with the slang you’re studying and hope to learn. Once you type in that you’re seeking an English learner who speaks native Spanish, you’re greeted with a huge list of possibilities, people from any Spanish-speaking country you could imagine! Speaking or writing to a conversation partner is perfect for learning slang since those words become naturally ingrained in the vernacular of native speakers.
  • Another option is to take a paragraph written in formal Spanish from a book or online resource and change certain words or expressions to the slang you’ve learned.

 

Adding specialized vocabulary to your arsenal will make for a more personalized and fulfilling Spanish learning experience.

Of course, the above is far from a complete list of types of vocabulary to learn.

No matter what your interests—whether they be sports, animals, pop culture, art or fine dining—and no matter what field your profession falls into—whether law, politics or writing—you can find ways to learn and practice pertinent vocabulary.

After practicing and perfecting this specific vocabulary, you’ll go forth with confidence, speaking like a pro!
 


 

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