How to Learn to Like Spanish

Perhaps you've never been fond of the sound of Spanish. Perhaps you have to take the class because your school requires it. Perhaps you need to learn and use the language for business. If Spanish is not your thing, read on to find out how to make the most of your explorations of the language.


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    Ask yourself why you don't like Spanish. Is it because you dislike a particular person you know who speaks Spanish? Is it because you don't like the teacher? Is there some annoying relative who constantly brags how she doubled majored in Spanish at college? Is it because you don't understand what is being said or have had difficulty learning the language? When you have narrowed down the cause, focus on overcoming it or working around it.
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    Recognize that Spanish is different everywhere. Just as British, Americans, and Australians speak different variations of English, Mexicans speak different Spanish than Puerto Ricans. This is also different from the Spanish used in Spain, which is different from the variations of Spanish spoken throughout South America. Keep all this in mind as you evaluate your position on the Spanish language.
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    Give your Spanish studies a purpose and a goal. Do you think it would be fun to visit Mexico someday, or Spain? Would you like to read a Spanish novel or watch a Spanish film in Spanish without subtitles?
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    Don't panic. It's natural for a new language to be difficult, especially at first. Instead, give it your best shot. Use any chance you have to practice. Do your homework. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Most importantly, be patient and give yourself time to learn the language. It won't happen overnight.
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    Make a game of it. See how much of a particular thought or sentence you can compose in Spanish. Try reading an instruction manual or other article in Spanish. Even if you don't get the whole thing, you may find you know more words than you thought. Alternatively, you can play online Spanish games.
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    Find some online lessons or get some language learning CDs from your library. It's good extra review and if you're nervous about speaking aloud, they will give you the opportunity to practice alone, with nobody listening.
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    Find familiar ground. It doesn't work for all words, but since Spanish is a romance language (based on Latin) it has many words in common with English. You will recognize these words, for instance, although you will need to learn to pronounce them in Spanish: radio, or imposible.
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    Learn about some of the differences, too. A list false friends or false cognates can help keep you out of trouble.
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    Learn to recognize word roots and endings. For example, sobre- means "over". To dissect a word such as "sobrealimentado", cut it apart, thus: sobre- (over) + aliment (you may recognize this from the English alimentation, the process of feeding or being fed) + -ado, which creates the past participle. Thus sobrealimentado means "overfed".
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    Immerse yourself in the Spanish culture you are most interested in. Learn not only about their language and dialect, but also about the dishes they make, how they live, their folklore, religion and so on. Think of it as a learning experience in which you grow as a person.
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    Listen to Spanish music. There are many talented Spanish-speaking artists who play a variety of styles, from more traditional to contemporary pop. Try listening to a fast-paced merengue when you work out, or a slow ballad as you're falling asleep. Watch music videos on Youtube and see if you can pick out a few words. Look up the lyrics and follow along with the singer. If you don't know where to start, iTunes offers a Spanish single-of-the-week that you can download for free, or try a music-streaming website like Pandora; just enter one artist and the website will do the rest for you.
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    Ask a native Spanish speaker to teach you. They will know the correct way to pronounce words and will have a better grasp of the language than a non-native speaker.
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    Find a conversation partner. As you get a bit better at speaking, get together with a native Spanish speaker and offer to help him/her with English a bit in return. You'll both learn from trying to speak each other's languages. It's easy to find a pen-pal or Skype partner online, so if you really want to, you could get your Spanish lessons from Spain, Peru, or any other country that interests you. You'll almost certainly learn some interesting things about each other's cultures this way, too.
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    Learn some slang, idioms, and even some bad words. You should use coarse language sparingly if at all, especially if you're not yet sure about speaking the language, but these parts of a language are both colorful and real.


  • Try watching Spanish TV or listening to la radio in Spanish to get a better feel for the language and see how it is used.
  • Try listening to different styles of Spanish music. Even if you can't understand all the lyrics, you will be able to appreciate the music itself and will broaden your horizons. There are many, many styles of music in Spanish, so don't assume it's all like the first soft rock station you find on the radio.


  • Spanish varies from culture to culture as do the meanings of various words.
  • Etiquette also differs in Spanish-speaking nations, and it is important. In fact, the term for rude is "mal educado/-a". If you do visit or correspond with another country, take the time to learn the rules.

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Categories: Spanish