Interacting is how we exchange ideas.
Interactive is defined as “of two people or things influencing or having an effect on each other.” Two people, minimally, exchanging ideas or information.
Very human, very social, very true to the way we do the day-to-day.
It’s how we learn our native languages as babies—interacting with whoever’s around us, usually mom and dad.
The simple reason interactive learning is the basis for language programs is because it’s natural—and it works!
So why not learn the Spanish language using the same approach? It makes sense that this tried-and-true, time-tested method can be applied.
And it isn’t terribly complicated, either.
Look at it this way: Sharing words, thoughts, ideas—really, that’s the core of an interactive learning program.
The good news is that options for personalized interactive learning programs are almost limitless!
Here, we’re going to show you how to design your own, custom Spanish study routine around the idea of interactive learning.
How to Build Your Own Interactive Spanish Learning Program
1. Get out and socialize
Clubs, local language classes and cultural events all offer the chance for language practice and growth. Think about it. These events offer total interaction with people who speak (or who are learning to speak) Spanish.
It can be a bit intimidating for some to be in a crowd of people, regardless of the language being spoken. But you should go ahead and mingle—use the opportunity to the fullest. Don’t just stand around—tell a joke or strike up a conversation.
Remember, the point is interaction, so socialize!
If you’re worried you’ll stumble over a phrase or end up racking your brain to remember a word, install a translation app on your phone as a backup. It’s a safe bet you won’t be the only one tapping a screen in order to speak like a pro.
Meetup offers options to find something in your area so there’s no reason to miss out on any fun!
2. Find an online language course that lets you interact
As much as we all like real-life, real-time social interaction, it isn’t always possible.
Maybe a job keeps you from making a club meeting or family obligations interfere with cultural events. Or you might be a night owl, dreading the local language classes that are only held first thing in the morning.
We’ve got you covered. This is the part of your program where online language courses stand up and stand in—and completely adhere to your schedule.
FluentU takes real-world videos (movie trailers, music, inspirational talks, news, comedy clips) and brings them to you. It’s all interactive because you choose what to see and how to learn. There are amazing interactive vocabulary and grammar tutorials that use authentic Spanish content to bring learning alive—remember, it’s at your disposal anytime, anyplace.
Also, the program uses interactive captions—tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and vocabulary usage examples.
Busuu lets you connect with real, live people and have conversations with native speakers. There are dynamic, interactive resources available for grammar practice and vocabulary building as well.
Verbal Planet is an excellent option to learn Spanish with tutors via Skype. You can book lessons online at your convenience, so it’s interactive and natural in addition to being useful for learners with jam-packed or unusual schedules.
It could get pricey paying for individual lessons, so I would recommend this only if other courses haven’t quite panned out—or if you’ve got the cash to invest in faster progress. But it’s definitely a good interactive option and could become a very useful part of your personalized program!
3. Gamify your learning
Who doesn’t like games?
And playing online games in Spanish which give you the option to chat with other gamers—in Spanish, of course—is a total win for your custom study program.
Massive Multiple Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) are huge. Explore distant worlds, go on perilous quests and solve mysteries, all while getting your Spanish learning groove on. It’s almost too easy. Yes, it’s totally interactive, especially if you toss in the ability to team up with, or compete against, other Spanish-speaking players. And MMORPGs have been shown to have a positive impact on the whole language learning experience.
Steam has a diverse list of MMORPGs (and other games) available in Spanish. Some are free to play and others must be purchased, but there are so many options, something is sure to attract a gamer’s eye!
4. Be a conversationalist
Blogs are an excellent way to change up an interactive Spanish learning program. Most have “comments” sections which will open conversations with Spanish learners or native speakers. Simply asking questions, making comments or exchanging ideas with other commenters will ramp up your language skills.
One good Spanish blog to visit, Peppy Burro, has lots of cultural blog posts as well as Spanish language learning tips.
At first glance, a journal may not seem very interactive, but if you consider writing in Spanish and then making your own comment-enabled blog posts from your journal entries, it becomes very much an interactive endeavor.
Social media, anyone? There’s so much interactive learning going on over the internet that it’s hard to just pick a few examples.
Facebook is more than a spot to post cat photos or share family updates. Check out Spanish language learning and culture pages to find groups to interact with. One starting point is We Do Languages. Another to try is the Language Exchange Network.
WhatsApp is a messaging app that keeps the globe connected. Over a billion people in 180 countries use it to keep in touch, and it’s particularly popular in Latin America and Spain. It’s easy to interact with—and learn from—those who post in Spanish here.
Are you an expert tweeter? Twitter requires absolutely no overthinking, so it’s a more fast-paced way to share info. Interactions are abbreviated but intentional—and again, it’s something fun to at least try out!
YouTube is an interactive treasure. Many videos offer the option to reply to whatever’s on the screen in the comment section below. Live streams have live chats on the right-hand side. Not only are there plenty of opportunities to chat with others here, YouTube is a pretty raw and unfiltered place. You’ll see lots of slang, chat speak and rough-around-the-edges language usage.
Whether or not commenting is an option on the video you’re watching, comment out loud and talk back—we’ve all spoken or even yelled (think sports games) at screens to become part of the action.
5. Never forget to prioritize interactivity
Language is acquired most naturally interactively—so look for situations and openings to interact and exchange ideas with Spanish speakers and put those options at the top of your interactive language learning program.
Those options are limitless. With imagination, willingness to try something new or acquire a new skill (gaming, anyone?) your Spanish fluency can be juiced up pretty quickly. You have the basics to work with. Now you need to facilitate the process of using what you know by interacting with others.
Putting It All Together: A Sample Interactive Learning Plan
Building a customized, interactive study plan isn’t hard. There are so many resources to choose from, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that appeal to your learning style.
A combination of interactive learning options can turn the ho-hum into spectacular and there’s no repetition—that is, unless you find something that really helps you lay the Spanish down like a native speaker. In that case, repeat, repeat, repeat!
A customized study plan might look like this:
Monday: Spend one hour studying four interactive Spanish videos on FluentU, then spend at least 30 minutes playing an MMORPG to practice what I learned with other gamers.
Tuesday: Spend an hour or so composing and writing my thoughts in my journal. Is the entry something I’d like to publish online? If so, I’ll spend the next 30 minutes cleaning it up and posting it for others to see. Who knows? You might become the next blogging sensation!
Wednesday: This is a good day for a mid-week social event. Check to see what’s happening in the neighborhood and participate in the class, cultural event or whatever else is going on. It might be a lecture or Spanish movie. Interact with everyone I meet up with—that’s the interactivity that’s going to give my language a workout, the one-on-one exchange of thoughts and ideas!
Thursday: It’s so close to the weekend. I’ll be a little work weary, so there’s no harm in gamifying learning for a couple of hours. Role-playing in Spanish, adventuring with others to imaginary places and solving almost-impossible quests on MMORPGs is the plan for today.
Friday: Spend an hour studying some YouTube videos. Find a new recipe for a weekend dinner or learn some new lyrics for karaoke. After unwinding with videos, ease into the weekend by going to a low-key social event. Spanish salsa dancing lessons or a class at the library/college. Try to make friends with someone and make new weekend plans that involve Spanish practice.
Interaction takes the monotony out of learning, and we all know fun is way better than dull any day.
Feel free to create your own interactive learning plan and do what humans do so well—interact and learn!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.