Tips to Help the British Expat Learn Spanish

Learn to speak Spanish

Once you’ve made the decision to move to Spain your top priority should be to learn Spanish. As we have noted elsewhere on this site it is important, particularly if you are looking to start a busines or secure a job.

Even if you’re planning to move to an area popular with expats where ‘everyone speaks English’, you will need Spanish in many aspects of daily life.

Learning Spanish to the point where you can communicate on an intermediate level will make your move and settling inn period considerably easier.

Learning Spanish isn’t easy and it requires time and dedication.

However, you’ll find the extra effort more than pays off. Here are ten tips to make learning Spanish easier.

1. Start straight away

Ideally, you should start learning Spanish before you move to Spain.

Take a course in advance and if you can, study up to at least lower intermediate level. If you can’t find a course before you get to Spain, join one as soon as you arrive.

2. Do it

Don’t put off joining a Spanish course. Don’t keep promising yourself you’ll start learning soon. Don’t let other things take priority. Just sign up for a course and do it.

3. Persevere

Learning Spanish is easy enough at the beginning – the pronunciation has the huge advantage of being phonetic so once you’ve mastered the right sounds you can read any word and pronounce it correctly.

The grammar is, however, a challenge, especially the verb forms and prepositions. When the going gets tough, persevere and remember it’s the same for everyone!

4. Practice makes perfect

Language learning is all about practice, practice and more practice. Repeat those verb conjugations; roll those ‘rrs’ when you’re in the shower; listen to recordings of Spanish on your headphones…

5. Don’t be self-conscious

One of the biggest obstacles for many language learners is self-consciousness.

The fear of making a mistake means we often say nothing or dry up. When you’re learning Spanish, try to conquer your awkwardness and just come out with what you’re trying to say.

6. Set up an intercambio

The Spanish are keen language learners, especially when it comes to English. Set up a language exchange (intercambio) with a local and arrange to meet regularly to speak Spanish and your language.

Not only will you improve enormously, it’s free and you’ll probably make a good friend.

7. Learn new words

Set yourself the objective of learning ten new words in Spanish a week. Write them down and post the list in a place in the house where you’ll see it often.

Every time you see the list, take a moment to read through it and say the words out loud. Or record the words and listen to them when you’re in the car.

8. Don’t worry about getting it perfect

Remember language is all about communication and as long as you say what you want to say, no one really minds if you got the verb tense or ending wrong.

9. Join in with Spanish activities

Your prime reason for learning Spanish is to use it so make the most of every opportunity to get out and practise it. Join in with local events and speak to people when you go.

Spaniards are generally very patient with people trying to learn their language and you’ll usually find them sympathetic to your efforts.

If they offer to speak English to make things easier for you, politely refuse and say you need the practice.

10. Vary your learning

Variety is the spice of language learning, which can be boring if it’s confined to text books and rigid classes.

Chop and change how you learn – attend a cookery class, go to a conference or talk, take a trip round the local market or try an online class or two.