The Spanish language is one that can be picked up relatively easily by English speakers. Since it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, learning it will definitely help you in the long run. In this post, let us explore some of the best ways to learn the Spanish language easily.
If you are wondering how to learn Spanish on your own or looking for articles covering learning Spanish for beginners, the notes below will help. We also need to keep in mind that there are about eight to ten different types of Spanish (with slight differences).
Living in a Spanish-speaking country
A brief trip to the lovely Mexico City is what kindled an interest in me to learn Spanish. This was back in 2018 when I managed digital transformation for one of the largest bakeries in the world (Read about it here: https://sampathmk.com/a-dash-of-life-in-mexico-city). The trip was altogether exciting for me since it took me to a place that I had never been to – an unfamiliar, colourful city with a vibrant culture and rich history.
What made it all the more interesting was that most of our meetings were held inside the Bakery’s main facility, which meant a constant supply of freshly baked doughnuts, cakes and cookies, with the sweet aroma of freshly baked bread engulfing us.
If you have been to Mexico City (CDMX), you will know how difficult it is to navigate the city without knowing Spanish. All the signboards are in Spanish, and most people prefer speaking in Spanish to English.
At work, most of the discussions were in Spanish; hours of discussions would then be translated to a single sentence in English for my benefit. (Thankfully, though, not much seems to have been lost in translation given that we completed the project we undertook successfully. This leads me to believe that they were discussing the previous night’s game and not work stuff. In which case, I regret not being able to follow those wonderful conversations).
My Mexican friends helped me settle in. Joaquin, Manuel, Arturo and Crhistian introduced me to their wonderful cuisine and helped me pick up Spanish vocabulary related to office and food. Ivan was the master of street food and gave me some wonderful books to read. (Aztec, by Gary Jennings, was a great read indeed).
This kind of immersion helped me get started with Spanish. But I now had to get beyond hola, como estas, buen dia, salud, provecho, igualmente, adelante and such.
Take help from a Spanish Tutor
So I hired Jorge (Spanish for George, and pronounced “Hor-hay”) to help me. He was a student part-timing as a barista at a coffee shop near my office – one that I used to frequent. He spoke good English, so I asked him if he would take a few Spanish classes for me. He agreed to a small fee. He taught me muchas Palabras en Espaniol and introduced me to Spanish verb conjugations. That was a good start for me, but it ended shortly thereafter since I returned to India.
Since then, I have been trying to continue where I left off. There are a few things that stick with you, ones that you keep doing, though occasionally. Those are the things you probably enjoy doing. Learning Spanish is one such for me, and I wanted to continue learning the language at my own pace.
Is Spanish actually easy to learn?
Yes and no. English speakers will find it a bit easier to learn Spanish since there are a lot of similarities. But the grammar part is a bit difficult to pick up.
Learning a new language while living in a new country is, of course, the fastest way to learn a language. The next best way is to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible with tools at your disposal.
So here’s how I am continuing to learn Spanish – hope these can give you ideas on how to learn Spanish language easily:
Where and How to learn Spanish in India
Below are some of the organizations that offer classroom formats for learning Spanish in India:
- Instituto Cervantes: A not-for-profit organization instituted by the Spanish government in New Delhi in 1991 with a mission is to promote Spanish language
- Henry Harvin Language Academy: Courses designed as per the DELE and SIELE Exams conducted by Instituto Cervantes
- English and Foreign Languages University: Check out their free 30-hr course for beginners here: https://www.efluniversity.ac.in/spanish_free_onlinecourse.php
- Delhi University: http://www.du.ac.in/
- Jawaharlal Nehru university: http://www.jnu.ac.in/main/
- SpanishBolo.com: https://spanishbolo.com/free-spanish/
Using Language learning Apps and sites
Apps can be a good way to get introduced to a new language, and they can help you with basic conversational topics. Since most of the apps have ‘gamified’ the way they teach, they are also fun.
I have tried Duolingo, Memrise, Busuu and Babbel. (There are, of course, many more apps in the market today that you can explore). Among these, I have spent more time with Memrise and Duolingo (since I found them more engaging). Memrise had clips of native speakers speaking words and phrases, giving the learner a sense of authentic accents. Duolingo gave me a more fun experience. Though both these gave me a good enough start, they alone will only get you so far.
One very easy and good course I found on Udemy is Spanish for Beginners. The Complete Method. Try it – I am sure you will enjoy this one.
Learning online from native speakers
There are several online websites and Apps through which you can book classes run by native speakers. iTalki is one such app that I have shortlisted based on reviews and comments from friends and acquaintances. I have downloaded the app to give it a try but am yet to book a class since my current work schedule is crazy. However, I will do so soon and report back.
Another website you can look at is https://conversationexchange.com/. Here, you can connect with people from around the world to practice a new language. This is also how to learn spoken Spanish.
Listening to Podcasts
While many podcasts can help you learn Spanish, Radio Lingua Network’s Coffee Break Spanish is by far the best podcast I have come across. I listen to them on Google Podcasts, but you should find the episodes in your favourite podcast apps as well. They have a fun, conversational style of teaching that is very enjoyable, with each episode lasting about 20 minutes.
Listening to Radio broadcasts
I have grown to like Mexico City’s WRadio broadcast. You can download their Android app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.prisaradio.replicapp.wradiomexico.Their English music selection (which usually plays during India day time) is awesome. So you can listen to this radio even if it isn’t for learning Spanish.
Reading Books and Stories
Reading Children’s stories is a great way to practice your reading and comprehension skills. Apart from this, some great books help you understand the structure and grammar of Spanish. One excellent book that I downloaded and am learning from is Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach.
Watching Movies and Shows
With Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, there is no dearth of movies and shows you can watch in any language.
Some of the shows and movies you could check out: ‘Money Heist’, ‘The Occupant’ and ‘The Platform’ (Caution: Very dark and possibly gross).
‘Run Coyote Run’ was one comedy series that my friend Manuel recommended, but I cannot find it on any platforms. So if you find it anywhere, please let me know.
On Youtube, check out this channel: Easy Spanish
Wikipedia and Toucan
Trying to read Spanish articles online, especially on Wikipedia is another way to immerse yourself in the language. I am also test-running Toucan – which has a Chrome extension to show some portions of the websites you visit in Spanish, with the option of showing the English translations on mouse-over.
This is a surprise addition and the latest that I am hooked on. There are rooms where noobs and native speakers get together and try to improve their speaking and listening skills—a great way to get rid of your inhibitions and start practising what you have learned.
Lastly, this extreme step to learning Spanish easily
I am toying with this last idea and haven’t yet got the courage to do it, but I think it may help. That is to set the default language on my phone to Spanish.
With all these at my disposal, the only thing I need to crack the DELE levels is the discipline to learn every day. You can also check out Tim Ferris’ technique to learn a language fast: https://tim.blog/2014/07/16/how-to-learn-any-language-in-record-time-and-never-forget-it/.
Benefits of learning Spanish in India
Before I end this article, let me list some of the benefits of learning Spanish in India so it could inspire you to action:
- With technology, our world is getting smaller and smaller. Learning Spanish can open many doors from a career perspective
- Spanish is widely spoken (spoken by over 400 million people in 20 countries) and is the second most popular language after English
- Spanish is comparatively easier to learn for English speakers. For Indians, this is an advantage
- Learning Spanish helps in creating cultural connections that can help you grow
Spanish Certification Exams
If you are looking to go the full distance and get certified in Spanish, here are the Spanish certification exams you can target:
DELE Spanish certification:
Issued by the Instituto Cervantes, DELE Spanish certification certifies a person’s command of the Spanish language. DELE is short for Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera. The Diplomas issued by DELE are recognized official and internationally.
DELE exam levels: The DELE exam has six levels you can choose from A1 (Beginner), A2 (Elementary), B1 (Intermediate), B2 (Upper-intermediate), C1 (Advanced), and C2 (Mastery). The Diplomas are valid for your lifetime.
If you are looking to take the Spanish certification in India: The Dele exam centres in India, the Dele exam schedule and Dele exam fees in India are provided on their website: https://nuevadelhi.cervantes.es/en/DELE_ingles/DELE_dates_and_fees.htm
The DELE exam fees in India (Instituto Cervantes Delhi fees) for 2022, as listed on the site is (in Indian rupees):
A good book to pick up for preparing for Dele A1 exam is the AULA Internacional. If you plan to buy it, please use my affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3QUvqFo. Alternatively, you can order from Goyal publishers too. Here’s the link: https://goyalpublisher.com/products/aula-1-a1-textbook-with-cd.
SIELE Spanish Certification:
The SIELE certification is another comprehensive online exam that certifies your Spanish proficiency. SIELE is short for Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española, and is recognized by various international organizations around the world. It is a single multilevel exam, after which you obtain the SIELE certificate – that shows your score (0 to 1000).
SIELE exam preparation
- You can take a mock test here: https://examendemo.siele.org/index.html?language=en
- find the SIELE Exam Guide here: https://siele.org/documents/10180/84852/Exam+guide/6a17b29c-3628-450e-8209-9210fbf05ef4
SIELE exams India: There are several SIELE test centres in India. You can use this link to find out the SIELE exam centres in India.
DELE vs SIELE
While one is not better than the other, there are some considerations for choosing which Spanish certification you should take. Please refer to this article for details: https://www.studyfrenchspanish.com/dele-vs-siele/
So with that, it is time to say Hasta luego amigos! Hope this post has given you enough ideas on how to learn the Spanish language easily
Are you, like me, pulling your hair out trying to master Spanish? If so, I would love to hear from you about what works and what doesn’t for you. Feel free to comment and share.
Header image courtesy: Ian Schneider (Unsplash)
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