The Best Way to Learn Spanish
After years of dreaming about it, you finally want to speak Spanish fluently. You want to be able to communicate with your friend from Mexico and explore Spanish-speaking culture.
But what’s the best way to learn Spanish? Textbooks, apps, classes, software...What’s the easiest, cheapest, quickest way to make progress? What works and what doesn’t?
Starting to learn a new language can be overwhelming. With all of the options out there, it's difficult to figure out what the best method is. So what's the way forward?
Before we get to the holy grail of Spanish learning, let's take a look at these five basic approaches to learning Spanish - each with its own set of pros and cons:
- Plunging Right In (Immersion)
- Reading In Spanish (Translation Approach)
- Spanish Textbooks (Grammar-based Approach)
- Spanish Classes (Communicative Approach)
- Learning Spanish Online (Vocabulary-based Approach)
1. Plunging Right In (Immersion)
The immersion approach plunges you into Spanish language and culture. You travel to a Spanish-speaking country and spend an extended period of time there. This will force you to use Spanish in your day-to-day life - everywhere you go!
It is a great option for those who don't like formal study and have plenty of time and money to spare.
- The advantages: The immersion approach helps you to connect with native speakers, and teaches you valuable knowledge about Spanish culture. Not only that, but it does all of this within a very short period of time.
- The disadvantages: This method is not for everyone. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and not to mention stressful when it comes to dealing with culture shock.
2. Reading In Spanish (Translation Approach)
Reading your favorite book a second, third or fourth time is always a good idea. Why not read it in Spanish this time?
It will force you to translate between Spanish and your native language. Feel free to use a dictionary here.
- The advantages: It’s an excellent way of broadening your vocabulary when you’ve got a basic knowledge of Spanish. The translation approach is cost-effective and can bring results to those willing to invest time and energy.
- The disadvantages: A major drawback is that the translation approach doesn’t really teach you to speak, write or understand spoken Spanish.
3. Spanish Textbooks (Grammar-based Approach)
Spanish-learning textbooks mostly use the grammar-based approach. They focus on teaching the grammatical rules of Spanish. You will mostly train your reading and writing skills.
- The advantages: For learners who like to fully understand the structure of the Spanish language, this is a great and cost-effective method.
- The disadvantages: You won’t get many opportunities to actually speak or listen to Spanish and must memorize a lot of grammar rules. This can be very frustrating and sometimes a little boring.
4. Spanish Classes (Communicative Approach)
This is the approach we all know from school. It involves a teacher who gives lessons to a small group of students. Lessons are usually divided into reading, writing, listening and speaking activities.
- The advantages: Language classes will give you a good general education. If the teacher plans and teaches the class well, you can have basic conversations in Spanish a few weeks into the course. Another benefit is that you have plenty of learning partners in a group of students!
- The disadvantages: A big minus of Spanish classes is that you won’t get individual training custom-tailored to you. Your learning depends on the group of students and their pace of progress. Also, courses at universities or language schools are expensive!
5. Learning Spanish Online (Vocabulary-based Approach)
Have you thought about using a Spanish learning app or software? We bet you have! It’s one of the most popular ways of learning Spanish right now.
Most of the online learning applications make use of the vocabulary-based approach. You learn Spanish by associating words with pictures of the objects they represent. Say goodbye to lessons on grammar rules. You will pick up the structure of a language along the way.
- The advantages: You can improve your vocabulary very quickly with this method because you repeat words over and over. A major plus is that you can learn at any time and any place that suits you.
- The disadvantages: First, the vocabulary you learn is often not the most practical. Second, you risk sounding a bit like Tarzan when you speak because you don’t learn any grammar rules. A good vocabulary-based program can be difficult to find and expensive.
What Is The Best Way To Learn Spanish?
So what’s the secret? What is the best way to make progress?
The truth is that there isn't only one best way to learn Spanish.
Keep two things in mind:
First - every Spanish learner is different! What works for others, might not work for you. Try out different approaches and find out what suits you best.
Second - the key to being a successful Spanish learner is incorporating the above methods. Different approaches will teach you different aspects of Spanish - reading, writing, listening and speaking!
The best way to learn Spanish is to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Study Spanish vocabulary and grammar in an engaging way - with apps, software, or classic flashcards. Speak Spanish out loud as often as you can - to native speakers or to yourself. Soak up Spanish books, movies, music, social media.
Ideally, the best way to learn Spanish includes:
- Interactive lessons (online or in a classroom) that teach Spanish vocabulary, grammar and culture through reading, writing, listening and speaking
- A period of daily Spanish immersion
- The ability to study at your own pace
- Professional guidance from a native Spanish speaker trained in education
- The ability to interact with Spanish native speakers and other non-native Spanish language learners
- Occasional translation activities between Spanish and your native language
- The ability to study vocabulary in a colorful, visual and interactive way
- Reinforcement testing of skills learned
- Motivational incentives to encourage daily practice
This may sound like a lot to ask for, but online courses like Rocket Spanish can provide you with many of these features. It's also easier than ever to supplement your studies with other programs either online or in person.
Learn Spanish With Rocket Spanish
Rocket Spanish is an online Spanish course that incorporates various of the above methods. Our lessons include audio tracks, a pronunciation tool, language & culture lessons and extensive reinforcement testing.
Why don’t you listen to the first Rocket Spanish Interactive Audio Lesson right here?
Unlike other Spanish learning resources out there, we don’t focus on only one approach. We believe there is more to learning a language than vocabulary and grammar drills.
You want to learn Spanish to communicate with others - confidently and authentically. Rocket Spanish will teach you exactly that.
Start your first Spanish lesson right now! You can sign up to our completely free, life-time trial of Rocket Spanish here.
What are you waiting for? ¡Vamos a ello!
Mauricio Evlampieff and the Rocket Spanish Team