So you want to learn Spanish. Where do you begin?
Deciding how to proceed can be overwhelming.
It’s like standing in the cereal aisle and only being able to pick one cereal off the shelf.
Sometimes people get so overwhelmed they never start at all.
Well, I’m going to make it really simple.
Start at home.
Home is the Cheerios of Spanish vocabulary.
It’s simple, straightforward and classic. It’s a paradise of practical knowledge. It may even be where you spend most of your time. All these things make it the best place to start.
You’re surrounded by great material for learning Spanish.
All you have to do is use it.
In this post, I’ll introduce you to a wealth of words and phrases you’ll be able to use every single day, right at home.
Practical Suggestions for Learning Spanish Around the House
But how can you soak up all this new Spanish vocabulary?
1. Label, label, label
I cannot stress this enough. Go into every room and label everything. I mean everything. If you have to put a sticker on the dog, do it!
Labeling will help you in a few ways. The first is that you will see the words every day. In marketing, it is said that you have to see something seven times before you will buy it. The same idea applies here. You have to see a word over and over again to have it added permanently to your vocabulary.
You don’t even have to make your own labels if you opt for a Spanish Vocabulary Stickers set, which gives you a bunch of handy and durable word labels for items around your home and office.
When you learn Spanish words, there are a few steps to the process, like a staircase:
- You start with the word in English.
- You think of an image of the word.
- You think of the word in Spanish.
For an example, let’s take the word “window.” You think of the word first: “window.” After that, you picture a window. Finally, you think of the word ventana.
By labeling things, you can skip that first step. All of a sudden you just have an image and the Spanish word associated with it.
How does this help you? It helps you because you can now draw the word from your memory more quickly.
To step up your visual learning even more, check out FluentU, an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
2. Talk to yourself
People who talk to themselves are crazy, right? Wrong. People who talk to themselves are smart! Stay with me here.
When you walk into a room, you need to start talking to yourself in Spanish. Say things aloud.
For example, if you walk into the kitchen for lunch, you can literally say:
Quiero comer algo para el almuerzo. (I want to eat something for lunch.)
By speaking out loud, you train your tongue for Spanish. Your fluency increases. By speaking and hearing yourself speak, you will learn more quickly. Yes, it will feel weird, but it is worth it. Your Spanish will skyrocket with this little trick.
3. Practice every day
This is probably the most important suggestion. You need to get used to using Spanish every day. Once you get in that habit, your Spanish will improve a ton.
After all, how are you supposed to remember what you learned yesterday unless you review it today?
Fortunately, when you learn vocabulary based on your everyday surroundings, reviewing is easy.
Let’s take a tour of your home and see what we can learn from each room.
Building Spanish Vocabulary Around the House: 100+ Words and Phrases for Everyday Use
La cocina (kitchen)
Bienvenidos a la cocina. (Welcome to the kitchen.)
You may stand here and think to yourself, Tengo hambre (I’m hungry).
¿Qué hay para comer? (What is there to eat?)
Let’s take a look in the refrigerador (refrigerator).
Inside the refrigerador there are a lot of frutas (fruits), like manzanas (apples), duraznos (peaches) and peras (pears).
If your fridge is anything like mine, you may not have many verduras (vegetables), but zanahorias (carrots), apio (celery) and pepinos (cucumbers) are staples in most refrigeradores.
While frutas y verduras are important, there are a lot of other yummy things in the fridge. You have queso (cheese), yogur (yogurt), jugo (juice), leche (milk) and maybe some huevos (eggs).
Vamos a preparar galletas. (We are going to bake cookies.)
¿Qué ingredientes necesitamos? (What ingredients do we need?)
Well, let’s start a shopping list:
- azúcar (sugar)
- harina (flour)
- bicarbonato de sodio (baking soda)
- chips de chocolate (chocolate chips)
Make sure that your horno (oven) is ready.
During the summer, licuados (smoothies) and batidos (milkshakes) are an absolute must. If you don’t have a licuadora (blender) already, you may want to consider getting one.
Let’s carry on down the hall to the bathroom and learn some vocab in that room!
El baño (bathroom)
Ahora estamos en el baño. (Now we are in the bathroom.)
While the bathroom may not be the most glamorous of rooms, a lot of important things happen here. Every morning you get in la ducha (the shower) so that you are limpio (clean) for the day. Don’t forget to use champú (shampoo), acondicionador (conditioner) and jabón (soap).
Cantar (to sing) in the shower is nothing to be ashamed of. Belt those tunes!
Ducharse (to shower) is important, and also remember to cepillar los dientes (brush your teeth). At your lavamanos (sink), you’ll find everything you need: your cepillo de dientes (toothbrush), pasta dentífrica (toothpaste) and un vaso (a cup). Make sure you get all of the dientes (teeth) in your boca (mouth).
If you’re a man you may need to afeitarse (shave). And if you’re a woman you may put on maquillaje (makeup). But either way, you should definitely look in el espejo (the mirror) while you do your pelo (hair).
La sala de estar (living room)
Now we are in the sala de estar (living room). There are a lot of things to do in here.
¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu sala de estar? (What do you like to do in the living room?)
Me gusta leer. (I like to read.)
¿Te gusta leer? (Do you like to read?)
Let’s take a look at the estante de libros (bookshelf) and see if we can find un libro (a book).
Este libro es uno de mis favoritos (this is one of my favorite books) is a phrase you can say to yourself once you’ve picked out the perfect book.
Not up for a book? Let’s see if there is a película (movie) to watch.
¿Tienes una película favorita? (Do you have a favorite movie?)
A mí me gustan las películas románticas. (I like romance movies.)
También me gusta escuchar música. (I also like to listen to music.)
Cuando escucho música, me gusta bailar. (When I listen to music, I like to dance.)
The best thing to do in any sala de estar is tomar una siesta (take a nap) on the sofá (couch).
Qué relajante (how relaxing) on a Sunday afternoon.
El patio trasero (backyard)
Let’s head afuera (outside).
Vamos a hacer un asado con los vecinos. (We are going to have a barbecue with the neighbors.)
Make sure that you have plenty of juguetes (toys) for the kids. Columpios y un tobogán (swings and a slide) are at the top of any child’s list. Don’t forget about an arenero (sandbox) complete with una pala y un cubo (a shovel and a bucket).
¿Quieres nadar en la piscina? (Want to go swimming in the pool?)
On days when you want the patio trasero to yourself, go get dirty in el jardín (the garden).
With spring around the corner, you will need to plant flores (flowers). That means you will need to cavar (dig) a few holes in the dirt.
El cuarto de lavar / el lavadero (laundry room)
After working outside, you’re going to need to take your clothes to the lavadero to make sure they are good and clean.
Hopefully you have a lavadora y secadora (washer and dryer) so that you don’t have to lavar a mano (hand wash) all of your ropa (clothes).
If you don’t have a secadora, a tendedero (clothesline) will work just fine. Well, it will work just fine as long as you have pinzas (clothespins). How else will you put up the clothes?
Hay mucha ropa para lavar (there are a lot of clothes to wash) is something you may say to yourself in this room.
La oficina / el estudio (office)
The focal point of any great oficina is an escritorio (desk).
What is on every office desk? Well, there is a computadora (computer), an impresora (printer), lots of papel (paper), lápices (pencils) and plumas (pens).
If you work from home and have children, sometimes it is hard to get work done. You may want to have a second escritorio para tu hijo (desk for your child). That way your son or daughter can dibujar (draw) while you trabajar (work).
Voy a trabajar. (I am going to work.)
El cuarto / el dormitorio (bedroom)
Finalmente, vamos al cuarto. (Finally, let’s go to the bedroom.)
The bedroom is a perfect place para relajarse (to relax). There are mantas (blankets) and almohadas (pillows) all around.
There is nothing better than laying in the cama (bed) after a long day.
A child’s bedroom is also like a playroom. In the armario (closet), there are juguetes (toys), peluches (stuffed animals) and disfraces (costumes).
Me voy a dormir. (I am going to bed.)
Buenas noches. (Goodnight.)
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