Books and Audio Will Only Take You So Far
No matter what you do when you are learning another language, you have to practice speaking it. All the reading, and listening to tapes is only going to get you so far. Practicing with another person, making mistakes, and stumbling through conversations will get you speaking Spanish (or any language) faster. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or sounding silly, anybody that has tried to learn another language has been in your same shoes. It’s kind of like ripping off a Bandaid…you just have to do it!
Monkey Hear, Monkey Say
Ever notice how you start talking like the people you hang around with? If you watch the Simpson’s a lot, you might start saying “don’t have a cow, man” in your other conversations. If you hang out with your British friends you might start calling everything “brilliant!” If you watch Jersey Short a lot, you’ll probably start throwing around words like “gorilla” and “grenade”. The point is, whomever you are talking to, you will pickup their slang, idioms, cadence, and accents – that’s why it’s better to speak with a native speaker.
Get A Language Partner
A language partner is kind of like getting a pen pal, except instead of writing to each other you talk to each other. A teacher, a tudor, a friend, any person that will have conversations with you one on one in Spanish (or whichever foreign language you are trying to learn), can be considered a language partner. It’s kind of a fancy of way of saying ‘private tutors’. In this digital age, it’s easier than ever before to have a native speaker teach you Spanish.
1. Sign up for Skype – If you are going to be doing language exchanges, then you are going to need a more efficient means to communicate than a pen and paper. With Skype you can ‘call’ another Skype account for free (even if it’s halfway around the world) and Skype allows you to do video chat – even better!
2. Visit a language exchange site like The Mixxer or Nulengua where you can find your own Spanish tutor for as little as $9 per hour. Also check Craigslist, a lot of times local people in your area offer tutoring services.
3. Make contact – Contact a few of your prospective language partners to find out how/when they will work with you. Once you’ve chosen a language partner, all you need to do is arrange a time to call and you are on your way.
Share Your Experience
In my own personal experience, having a language partner has been the most helpful thing I’ve done for myself in trying to learn Spanish. If you have an experience with a language exchange or online tutor, please share it as a comment below.
photo by: Pink Sherbet Photography