First, you should never ever say: “I can’t speak a foreign language”. Remember that talking is part of our nature. Talking creates the distinction with animals. We all have the ability to communicate; you just have to focus on it.
There are a lot of ways to learn a foreign language like Spanish. Here are a few tips that we try to give to the syudentes in our Spanish School in Quito, Ecuador:
Video about how to learn a foreign language
Your attitude towards the language and the people speaking the language is very important. You have to be open-minded for learning the language. Also, you have to try to understand the culture of the people speaking that language. That is because language depends a lot of culture, the society, the politics of a country.
For example food and «to eat» is very important in the ecuadorian society, so ist is alos an important part of the language.
Take your time
By far the foremost vital issue is the time you spend to learn a foreign language. The more time you spend the quicker you will learn a language.
Spend time implies listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. That is why South America is the perfect place to learn Spanish. For example, in Ecuador most of the people do not speak any English or only have basic skills. So you will need to speak Spanish to buy food in a restaurant, to order a drink in a bar or to ask for the next Bus going to another city.
Especially the Ecuadorian people are quite nice. So do not worry to try your Spanish. Even if you do not speak Spanish very well the people will understand you and the will help you. The people of Ecuador like to hear foreigners speak Spanish.
Don’t expect to be perfect!
When you start to learn a new language you can’t expect to to speak or write perfectly from the beginning. That is the case with anything you try to learn or already learned in your life.
You will make mistakes, but that is normal. But do not worry. The people of Ecuador now that you are a foreigner and won´t expect you to speak a perfect Spanish. Ecuadorians are very friendly and patient so if you do not understand anything you can ask twice. If you make a mistake in saying anything they will try to help you, try to understand you.
Target words and phrases!
Build up your vocabulary. Just begin to write down words and sentences you listen to and use your dictionary to find out their meaning. Practice those words and sentences every day and look for more. Try to practice your new vocabulary.
Take responsibility for your own learning!
You are responsible for your own learning. During your Spanish classes you can learn a lot. But it is important to keep studying after classes. Make your homework, read your books and try to speak with the other students in Spanish. Of course it is much easier to talk to the other students in English. But you want to learn Spanish. That’s way you have to speak it.
Talk to yourself
When learning a new language for many students the problem is not to understand what somebody is saying but to say something. That is why it is recommended to speak to yourself while studying Spanish.
Speaking to yourself loudly you can learn phrases or answers or even parts of a sentence. That can help you to develop your speaking when talking to other people.
Listen and read every day!
Listen to Spanish music, watch television and try to read the newspaper will help you in learning a foreign language. One hour of listening is perfect if you like to learn Spanish.
Learn with an Ecuadorian
The best way to learn a foreign language is to communicate wit a native speaker. Try to find and Ecuadorian to speak with. The homestay program of Terracentro is a perfect way to get in contact with ecuadorian people.
English and Latin
60% of English words have a Latin origin. So if you do not know a word in spanish you might try an english word (with an spanish pronunciation). Of course, trying to use english words might end in ending mistakes but that way you can easily learn new words.
In countries like Ecuador they use a lot of words that originally come from english (United States) like “parqueadero” (parking space).
But there are some “false friends” between Spanish and English like “Exit – Éxito” or “Librería – Library”.
Don not worry about the “subjunctive”
The “subjunctive” case is something very special that does not exist in english language (or any other language than Spanish). It is used for example to express wishes(“I want you to do something”) or opinions. Most students fear the subjunctive.
Most spanish speaking people use the subjunctive without knowing hot to explain it. You should learn it but the people will understand you without it.
Choose a place where the people speak a “good and clear” Spanish
Ecuador is the perfect place for studying Spanish. The people (especially in the Highlands) speak a very good Spanish without using much slang. So it is quite a good place to learn Spanish.
Well studying is a good way to learn a foreign language. But of course you cannot study all the time. You also have to relax yourself and enjoy your life. South America and especially Ecuador offer many places like beaches, nature, national parks or volcanos that you can visit. And of course while relaxing and enjoying South America you can also learn or practice your Spanish.
There are quite a few “rules” that can help you learning a foreign language like Spanish. Yes of course, you have to study, but here are some additional tips that might help you.