Often people wonder where to start learning Spanish. They think “should I look for a teacher, try to learn the language myself with a self-study textbook, or I can just start watching movies in Spanish?”. We have heard all these approaches. But the answer to those questions is that it will not help you at all if you do not have an initial base.
Spanish is spoken by 580 million people – 7.6 percent of the world’s population, of which 483 million are native speakers. By the way, it is the second most spoken native language in the world.
Levels of Spanish language proficiency
Knowledge of the Spanish language is divided into several levels:
The A level is considered a domestic level; there is a lot of grammar and vocabulary.
Level B is a conversational level, where there is little grammar, and a deepening of vocabulary, specifically in colloquial speech.
Level C is the university level, a deepening of professional terminology, for example, in legal and medical environments.
So, to live in Spain, to communicate in stores, cafes, and build simple dialogues, it is enough to have a level A2, provided that you have a large vocabulary. For example, to get Spanish citizenship, it is also required to have this level of knowledge of the Spanish language. We could have lied that reading a couple of books and watching a couple of movies was enough to pass the exam. But no, just watching movies in Spanish, unfortunately, is not enough 🙁
Steps in learning Spanish from zero to the desired level
It is important to understand why you need Spanish, so set a clear, measurable goal, and write it down conspicuously on paper. List the date when you want to reach a certain level. It is important to specify the date, not a few months. After all, how many times have you put things off for a week later? And a specific date is psychologically more difficult to reschedule.
You don’t have to take exams or test your level according to a recognized system.
If your goal is to communicate freely in every situation, write it down for yourself. Just don’t forget to write down exactly what that means to you. You must have a clear goal, otherwise your brain will adjust everything so that you may not achieve the result you wanted in the beginning.
The most important thing is your desire. And we’ll give you some very practical and proven language learning tips, which will not be limited to watching movies in Spanish.
So, the first thing is purpose. What do you need Spanish for? Maybe it’s for work or for studying. Maybe you just like to travel and would like to talk to Spanish speakers in their native language. Or maybe you’re planning a move, and in that case you need Spanish just to live. It could be that you like the language, the way it sounds, the beauty of it. Some would like to read books by Cervantes and hear some favorite songs in Spanish.
As you can see, there can be many goals. Try to make up your mind and articulate yours clearly. For example, wanting to study in a Spanish-speaking country. Or find yourself a Spanish boyfriend or girlfriend. Set a goal that will be interesting to you!
Why do you need a goal? Sometimes people start learning a foreign language for some reason, without really knowing why they need it in the first place. At some point, they start to question how deep and detailed they need to learn the language, whether they will use certain words and expressions, whether they need business vocabulary, etc. The goal is just to help you decide on the “depth” of language learning, as well as to help you understand approximately how much time you will need to learn the language. In general, the question of the duration of language learning is individual. It depends on many factors. We have already mentioned this in a previous article. This applies to the Spanish language as well.
The second point is motivation. These two concepts, goal, and motivation, are very close. The goal itself is basically what motivates you to keep moving, not to stop. Learning a language is quite a difficult thing. How do you make sure that you don’t give it up at some point? Don’t say, “That’s it, we’ll stop here. We don’t need anything else; it will go on by itself, we guess.” How many people used to learn a foreign language at school? The main thing is to answer the teacher, pass the exam, and you can safely forget everything. But we want to motivate you to learn a language for yourself. To do this, you need to keep your interest all the time and not lose the desire. It’s hard, but see point one – your goal!
The third important thing is resources.
In general, they can be anything that helps us learn a foreign language, particularly Spanish. It is certainly the teacher, supplemented by textbooks, books, video and audio materials, movies in Spanish, trips to Spanish-speaking countries, and communication with Spanish-speaking people.
An important point in learning a language is choosing a teacher. You can use the advice of friends and acquaintances. Note also that many teachers now have their own Instagram or Youtube channel, where you can watch training videos on various topics, explanations of grammar, as well as other useful learning material. You will see and hear how the teacher speaks, how he explains the topics. This will help you get an impression and see if the teacher is right for you. You can also write to him and ask him questions. Any adequate teacher will be happy to answer all your questions.
Individual or group training
Another important point is the choice to study individually or in a group (mini-group). Here it is impossible to answer unambiguously. Many factors, including personal ones, influence your choice. Some people really like individual lessons with a teacher. When all his attention is focused on you, the lessons are based on your pace of learning. A group teacher has to pay attention to everyone, but you get to interact with other students, and build dialogues with them. So it’s all up to the individual; the choice is yours!
Books in Spanish
Once you have a certain base, start reading books, first adapted and then regular books, i.e., those read by Spaniards themselves. Also a great place to start is with children’s tales.
Movies in Spanish
Yes, yes, that point is here. Of course, it is necessary to watch films in Spanish. Here’s the thing. People often watch films in a foreign language with subtitles. That’s not a bad thing; you can do that, too, especially at the beginning. But subtitles should be in Spanish (not English). It’s a better way to memorize phrases and get your bearings in the language.
Songs in Spanish
Be sure to listen to the songs. Frequently repeated words and phrases are easier to remember. Especially if you listen to songs that you really like and can sing along to. This, by the way, can take away the fear of speaking Spanish.
Determine how much time you are willing to devote to classes. We advise you to choose at least two classes a week with a teacher for at least one hour each. Important: don’t overestimate it, be realistic. If the load is too much, believe us, you will quickly get bored. All your motivation will evaporate like water from a kettle left on the stove.
Be sure to do your homework. This will allow you to consolidate the material and practice and, at the same time, identify some questions that you can ask your teacher in the next lesson. The main thing is not to be afraid to ask these questions. The more questions you ask, the better you will memorize the material.
For faster and more complete learning, be sure to practice every day, either reading, listening to audio, watching videos, or learning new words. This really works and will allow you to learn a foreign language better and faster.
Learning a foreign language is like learning to ride a bicycle. You need more practice. But there is a difference: once we learn to ride a bicycle, we will never forget the skill. It’s a little different with languages. You can forget a language if you don’t use it. So pick yourself up and just get started!
Trust us, the first step is the most important stage in language learning. But it may not be enough. Even with all the techniques and tips, you won’t be able to learn the language at a high level without the proper system.
Our team believes that systematic learning and doing the right things is the key to success in learning any foreign language (including Spanish, of course). We recently released a free mini-book on how to successfully learn a foreign language.
Click the “get it now” button below, pick up your copy of this guide, and make your learning process as fast and efficient as possible.