You’re a speed demon.
You like life in the fast lane.
You drive the slickest sports cars.
You only eat instant pudding.
So 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.
That isn’t a typo: years.
Luckily, there are faster ways to do it. All you have to do is choose the right study methods to learn Spanish quickly.
Here are a few tips and tricks to speed you toward fluency!
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 locale 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.
But 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 soon. 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!
How to Speak Spanish Fast: 10 Time-saving Tips for Rapid Learning
1. Immerse Yourself
Whether it’s on an adventure abroad or from the comfort of your home, immersion is the quickest way to learn Spanish.
“Immersion” is a common language learning technique that involves surrounding yourself with and using your target language as much as possible—whether through travel, language education schools or your own efforts. Research shows that immersion is highly effective for learning languages.
Immersion is also the most intuitive method for language learning. After all, we learn our native language through immersion. We’re surrounded by it from the moment we’re born. By sheer constant exposure, we’re eventually able to understand and speak it ourselves.
And if you’re looking to immerse yourself in Spanish, there’s no better option than traveling abroad to one of the many Spanish-speaking countries on the globe. Whether you’re shopping, eating out or even watching TV in your room, you’ll be getting a constant language lesson.
If you can’t go abroad right this minute, though, don’t panic! Here are some options for achieving immersion at home:
- Get to know the Spanish immersion software programs designed to get you thinking in Spanish and practicing consistently no matter where you are.
- Take the opportunity to use Spanish whenever you have downtime during your day. Having Spanish apps on hand is extremely helpful for this.
Check out In 24 Hours Learn to Speak Spanish, which aims to teach you the most common and useful words and phrases in a flash. It’s designed with recreational and business travelers in mind.
Learn Spanish Quickly offers more than 1,100 phrases broken down into easy categories, so you can quickly study the most important word categories (obviously food and shopping!) first. Quizzes and flashcards help you test your knowledge, while a favorites list helps you tag certain words for future review.
- Here are six more powerful ideas and resources for achieving Spanish immersion without getting on a plane.
To further your at-home immersion, you should also consider using some unconventional tools to practice your Spanish, as described in this video on FluentU’s YouTube channel.
Whether you tour a Spanish art gallery, navigate with Google Maps in Spanish or read dual-language Spanish literature, these unconventional tools add a bit of fun—and applicability—to your living room immersion. In fact, using these unconventional tools will allow you to see authentic Spanish and English side-by-side. By doing so, you can watch your Spanish vocabulary and grammar competence soar as well as immerse yourself wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.
2. Make Learning Fun
You’re bound to learn Spanish quicker if you actually enjoy studying. And the best way to enjoy studying is to make it fun.
A big problem that many people face when trying to learn Spanish quickly is that they lose focus. After all, once you get down the basics, 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. Most people enjoy music, videos and other fun media. The same things you enjoy in your downtime can be great learning tools.
- Have you heard about watching movies in Spanish to boost your comprehension skills?
- How about stirring your heart with a Spanish novel while also advancing your reading level?
- Or if you’re a news junkie, you can keep up with current events and get in some regular Spanish practice, while also absorbing the issues and culture of the Spanish-speaking world.
- Did you know you can enjoy authentic, entertaining Spanish content while actively building your vocabulary and comprehension? Just check out 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 topics, 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.
Plus, 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 studying with the same video.
3. Practice Listening
Listening is essential to your speaking skills—the two are intrinsically linked. After all, if you never hear spoken Spanish, there’s no way you’ll be able to perfect your pronunciation or accent.
Like immersion, it’s an intuitive approach to learning a language since everyone learns his or her first language through listening (unless maybe a few super babies jump right in with textbook learning).
By listening to Spanish as often as possible, you’ll start picking up the rhythms of the language and internalizing grammar and vocabulary. The more you practice, the faster this process will be. But if you don’t have access to a big group of native Spanish-speaking friends, what are some options for getting consistent Spanish listening practice?
- KeRapido is a great source for listening practice. It’s run by a native Spanish speaker and offers MP3s and audiobooks to helps you fine-tune your pronunciation of tricky sounds and improve your accent.
- Gritty Spanish promises realistic, entertaining Spanish dialogues, with a specific focus on learners who want to pick up Spanish quickly. With this audio resource, you’ll hear dialogues with actors that the publisher describes as “eccentric Spanish speaking people” from a range of Spanish-speaking countries.
If you’ve found yourself nodding off to other Spanish listening resources, this just might be the solution for you.
- SpanishListening also offers terrific listening activities featuring speakers from a wide array of Spanish-speaking countries. This will help familiarize you with regional accents and vocabulary variations.
- Spanish Resources has some great listening activities, plus accompanying practice materials. These include worksheets and quizzes to help you test your comprehension. (Although the website may be under maintenance when you visit, you should still be able to access most of the available resources!)
4. Change Your Phone Settings to Spanish
Many cell phones offer different language settings, which you can change in your phone’s Settings menu.
Changing your cell phone’s language settings is a great way to improve your skills quickly since you’ll have no choice but to practice when you use your phone—and you probably spend a lot of time on your phone every day. Additionally, if you have a voice-enabled option, you can get extra speaking practice and learn some conversational skills.
For instance, did you know Siri can speak Spanish? Indeed. Just ask her about it on your iPhone and she’ll tell you how to change the settings. If, however, your relationship with Siri is currently strained, just go to Settings, click General and then click Siri to change her language.
5. 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.
Simply 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 some help getting started on your vocabulary list, 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 the tools to put that vocabulary to use by building your own original sentences.
- FluentU is also a great place to make vocabulary lists. To make a vocabulary list on FluentU, you can add any word from any video to your vocab list. When you’re ready to review, you can review the word in the video-enhanced flashcard, and the program will also test you on your understanding of each word with quizzes that adapt to your level of learning.
6. Form a New Habit
Habits. We all have them and most are, hopefully, good ones. The point with habits is that behaviors become almost second nature. That is, we do them without even thinking about it. Like, for instance—tooth brushing. You do it every morning with no fuss at all. See? A positive habit!
Spanish language learning can also be one of those positive habits. All you need to do is make the effort to develop this life-enriching practice.
Habits can take a while to form but when it comes to Spanish language learning, that shouldn’t be an issue. 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.
- Set habits by scheduling a daily lesson into your day. Make your daily study sesh as much of a priority as brushing your teeth. Except I don’t suggest the bathroom sink as the prime spot for this habit. Maybe it’ll work better if you take it somewhere fun, like a coffee shop or the park. Of course, just sitting at your kitchen table for a lesson works just as well!
- Spanish music appreciation is a great habit to encourage in yourself. Play Spanish music while you do other things, like taking the music to the gym to double up on good habits. This works for me and it gives me a solid hour each afternoon of Spanish listening practice. I’ve learned quickly using this method!
7. Find a Language Buddy
Speaking Spanish daily speaking with another learner or a native speaker is a sure-fire way to move your language skills into high gear. Speaking forces us to think quickly to not only understand what a partner is saying but to also formulate a reply.
You can keep your Spanish skills sharp by speaking the language every day. This can be accomplished by just speaking to yourself, but you won’t be getting feedback on your speaking this way. Luckily, there are other ways to bring Spanish speaking into your daily activities.
- Skype brings learners closer. It brings the global community to each other’s doorsteps—or even into our living rooms—so it’s an ideal method for speaking in real time with another Spanish speaker. If possible, schedule a daily session with your best Spanish-speaking buddy.
- Conversation Exchange will help you find a Spanish conversation partner if you don’t know one already. A benefit of using this site is that you can choose someone based on location. So if you’re planning a trip to a certain Spanish-speaking city or country, look for a new friend in that spot.
8. Try Spanish Shadowing
You might have heard of this technique before but by a different term: Some people call using this technique “mimicking” or “parroting,” but those are just alternate terms for the effective practice commonly called shadowing.
Shadow in Spanish by watching or listening to Spanish resources. Almost immediately after you hear a word or phrase, repeat it. Attempt to speak whether or not you understand what’s being said, or even if you’re sure you’re not pronouncing everything correctly. Those details will come with practice!
Shadowing challenges learners to do their best to try to sound like a native speaker. Honestly, the more you try to mimic a Spanish speaker, the easier it becomes! I’ve even used this technique to learn specific Spanish accents to some degree of success.
- Short videos work well for shadowing. Just press “play” to watch. Repeat dialogue as soon as possible after it’s spoken by the characters on the screen. Optimally, attempt to get your shadowed words to fall closely on the heels of the character’s. Videos with accurate subtitles, like FluentU’s, are extra helpful here.
- Cooking videos are another excellent choice for shadowing practice. Think about how everyone mimics Julia Child—and sounds just like her! that’s because when she speaks, we shadow her comments. I speak like a Spanish Julia Child with cooking videos in my kitchen. It’s a fun, fast way to increase 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 Spanish grandmother’s home!
9. Establish Incentives to Learn
Make rapid learning Spanish a short-term “employment” gig. As much fun as you make your Spanish learning, it’s still hard work! And, like any work, you deserve to be compensated and rewarded for it, right?
Establishing incentives is a super 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 for it, try setting up a system of monetary compensation. Decide how much it’s worth to you to learn to speak Spanish quickly and conversationally and then put the funds aside. It’s a great incentive to know the cash is waiting for you!
- No money? No problem! 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 work. Leave off reading a book in a really exciting part 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!
- Set a timely goal to conversational fluency. Be specific in your goals and reward system. At the end of the day, you know how hard you’re willing to work, how much time you have to put toward the effort and what it will take for you to get the job done. Don’t over-reach or you might be setting yourself up for failure. Set your goal accordingly.
Don’t make the goal? Don’t beat yourself up over it—but don’t pay yourself, either. No dessert for you this week. Donate the money that was waiting for you to charity, instead. That book will just have to wait until you finish your work!
10. 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. Think about it: Aren’t we all more enthusiastic about grabbing the interesting parts of speech than we are about pulling “basic vocabulary” into our skillset?
I know I’m always up to learn the fun stuff first, if possible. The necessary (think foundational vocabulary and grammar rules here!) 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!
Add great conversational resources to the fast-learning Spanish program and you’ll look forward to practice time. Think of places that showcase authentic content or interaction with native speakers. They can get your Spanish in shape rapidly!
- Use FluentU to pick up some Spanish idioms, proverbs or lingo. Since FluentU curates videos from across the globe, native speakers deliver pronunciation flawlessly. Jot down idioms that you think you’ll be able to pull into your conversations. I keep a running list on my phone, and I separate idioms and lingo by location so I can use the correct terms wherever and whenever!
- Do you feel adventurous? Then try learning some cuss words to add some flavor to your conversations. I’m not suggesting that you begin to swear 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 to speak Spanish. They come in handy, make your conversations a tad bit more interesting and even if we’re not fluent we feel somewhat authentic, don’t we?
A few cuss words are an inventive way to fast-track conversational Spanish learning—and it can be loads of fun to hear how certain words came to be used so ask questions when you’re picking up these phrases from native speakers.
- Get hooked on a Spanish vlog. Vloggers cover unlimited topics and typically speak in a natural conversational manner. Getting caught up in 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.
Most importantly, don’t give up if you’re not learning as quickly as you had hoped. Instead, try other methods. Learning a language can take time, but finding the best method for you is a fast track to success!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.