Speaking a second language is a life goal for many people. And while language learning is often held up as some impossibly hard process that only people with ‘the right brain’ can master, the truth is… Anyone can learn another language to a good level, and this includes Spanish (of course).
I actually learned Spanish, several years ago, to what was a pretty reasonable level in about 3-6 months. So if you’re looking to learn Spanish quickly, or just learn at all, I’m going to share my language tips to get you speaking confidently (or at least making a good go of it) in no time atall.
I’m going to share my personal tips, a few resources you can access, and some encouragement to get you fired up to learn Spanish.
Listo? Vale. Vamonos…
How hard is it to learn Spanish?
If you’re a native English speaker, or you speak any other Romance language to a reasonable degree, then you should be able to master Spanish relatively easily. Even if your native tongue is non-English, there are several things about Spanish that make it kinda easy to get the basics.
For starters, the grammar rules are quite simple to follow, and Spanish does stick to those grammar rules pretty solidly.
Spanish is also a very phonetic language. This means once you know how to pronounce the letters, you will know how to say pretty much anything in Spanish.
And in addition to this, Spanish speaking culture is very accessible. From movies, music and literature, to local communities of Spanish speaking expats, you are probably not very far from someone who speaks Spanish wherever you are in the world. Oh and if you are, then there is always the internet.
Can I learn Spanish in 30 days?
If you have the capacity and the focus, anything is possible. And that includes learning Spanish to a functioning level in 30 days.
Now, one thing to bear in mind is, learning any language to fluency is not something that can be done in days or even weeks. If you want to master a language, this will take consistent study, usage and application.
Managing your expectations of what you want to do with your Spanish is 30 days will help you map your study and even achieve that goal.
I’ve been speaking Spanish for probably 10 years or so now, and I wouldn’t say I’m fluent. However, I can converse confidently on most subjects, make jokes, even get the gist on TV and movies without too much help from subs.
I’d say a reasonable goal for Spanish learning in 30 days is that you can be confident in most basic tourist situations, from checking into a hotel, asking for directions (and understanding the answer), understanding a menu (at least in principle) and making very simple small talk (the weather, where you’re from etc).
If you’re looking to hit a level of business Spanish, or you want to be a confident speaker, then it will take you longer. How much longer depends on a number of things from your time commitment to your learning style.
Alrighty… Lets’s find out how I learned Spanish, and how you can learn Spanish fast.
Oh also… There are some affiliate links in this article. This means we earn a small commission if you purchase via them, at no extra cost to you. Click away 🙂
How I learned Spanish to confident level in 3-6 months
Back in 2012, I was working in London for the local transport company, and one of my jobs was speaking to visitors to the city. This meant that I spoke to lots of people every day, all of whom were asking many similar questions on the same subject. Namely: how to get around London, what to do in London and advice for other London based travel.
I spoke, at the time, a reasonable level of French, so was using my language skills a lot. However I noticed that most visitors with language issues seemed to be Spanish speakers.
So one day I grabbed a ‘Teach Yourself Spanish‘ * book from my local bookshop, and read it on my way to work every day.
It took perhaps a week or two for me to have progressed to about the fourth or fifth chapters, where I could start using the basics that I had learned. And this is key…
Because I was using the language, it started to be locked into my memory. In a day, I would get to use my Spanish and I’d make a bunch of mistakes. Sometimes I’d get corrected, sometimes not. But the more I studied the book and used the language the faster I seemed to add to my knowledge.
In about a month, I could confidently use VERY BASIC Spanish to help people navigate London. And because I was helping people, they were obviously quite grateful.
If you’re thinking already that you can’t do this – that’s fine – I’m just sharing my story so you can see how it worked for me. I’m going to explain how you can make it work in general.
*Yes, this is the actual book I used. It’s an excellent intro and I’d suggest either getting this, or a similar ‘Spanish for beginners’ type book that you can browse in your free time.
Using video and audio
At this point I realised I also needed to level up my study as the book wasn’t going to be sufficient to get me to a very high level. At the time there wasn’t access to Netflix like there is today, but there were some free resources I could use.
I found a free Spanish course on the BBC website, which was very useful.
And I also started using videos on YouTube including Butterfly Spanish and a bunch of others. Basically, I started nerding it.
After a few months, I also booked a trip to Spain, and me and my partner few to Barcelona. And yes, my tourist Spanish was super useful.
Real world usage
In addition to studying Spanish in my free time, and using it at work, I also started to attend language exchanges. This is where people who are interested in meeting languages meet up and chat and you can freely practice with people learning English, and try your Spanish.
This is crucial by the way.
This real world usage is where your Spanish goes from textbook and learning level, to a more real world version of Spanish. Basically, this is where you get the confidence to actually use your Spanish, make a bunch of mistakes and learn how people really talk.
OK. At this point , you might be saying, ‘Oli, I don’t live in London, I don’t speak to Spanish speakers every day, and I don’t have language exchanges near me. Stop wasting my time…’
This is where it gets interesting for you Young Padawan.
How you can learn Spanish (and quickly if you want to)
If you want to learn Spanish, there is only one thing you need to do. And this is an [obvious statement alert].
You need to start studying it.
Get a book (and I do mean a book, not an app). And then read it. Daily.
The reason a book is good is that it is lying there, looking at you. An app can be ignored, or you can be distracted by notifications while studying.
Get a Learn Spanish book.
Read it on your commute to work. Read it while you eat lunch. Read it while you’re on the toilet.
Keep it to hand and make a point of reading it daily, even when you can’t be bothered.
This will form the foundation of your Spanish language learning and can be revisted later on too. You can also add labels, highlights or whatever helps you study and learn Spanish faster.
Be an active learner
To get the best effects of your language learning, you need to be an active learner. This means basically, reading out loud, repeating stuff to yourself until it’s comfortable on your tongue, and re-reading a chapter if you didn’t get it.
This is key if you want to learn Spanish quickly, or any language for that matter.
Repetition and using the language burns it into your brain.
Reading a chapter doesn’t do nada para tu comprensión amigo.…
It’s when you say it, test yourself, read it again and then say it again that it goes in.
Another method of active learning is to speak to yourself in your target language – which is obviously Spanish in this case.
By doing this, you get accustomed to finding the right word while speaking, and even highlight gaps in your vocabulary or grammar knowledge. Carry a note book so you can jot down words you need to focus on or re-study.
Use different study formats
While reading is both accessible and effective, using other formats such as video, podcasts, lessons or apps will ensure you get additional language input.
Many people love to use Duolingo for their go-to language learning app. I do like Duolingo, and it’s come a long way over the years. If you want to learn Spanish, the Duolingo course is definitely going to help you reinfice what you’ve learned, and even add some vocab and expressions to your repertoire.
In honesty, Duolingo is not going to help you learn Spanish quickly, but it will reinforce what you have learned and help you progress in general.
Speak as soon as you can
With any language learning process, the key to fast progression is speaking and listening. Real world conversations are the best way to build on what you’ve learned.
No-way around it.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a community of Spanish speakers near you, go and get involved. Search for Spanish language meetups on Facebook, Meetup.com and other social sites.
Better still, book that trip to a Spanish speaking country if you can….
Get some lessons
At some point, lessons can be very useful and can help to iron out bad habits, wrong pronunciation or simply help you listen, speak and build confidence. I’ve had various Spanish teachers over the years, all of whom have really helped my progress.
Chances are you have at least a couple of Spanish tutors near you.
If you’re not, you can easily access online resources such as iTalki.
iTalki is a language learning platform where you can book lessons with native speakers. But you can also find language buddies to help you leanr and practice Spanish for free too.
An excellent website all round.
Invest in a course
I’ll be honest, I didn’t invest in a course as a beginner. But I did start a course once I found myself at a certain point in my Spanish learning journey.
I found that using a course actually helped to improve my grammar, reinforced vocab that I just didn’t get and helped me to refocus on my language learning.
I’ve used a few courses to learn a mixture of languages, and my favorites have been:
SpanishPod101: These fun courses offer a reall good mixture of reading and audio comprehension, plus excellent access to printable materials/PDFs and more. Great value.
Pimsleur: For those who want to progress quickly, I strongly recommend Pimsleur. The focus on repetition, listening and reinforcing what you’ve learned already is second to none, and if you really want to learn Spanish quickly, I think this is the best tool for the job.
I have also tried Rosetta Stone (nah – skip it), and I thought Michel Thomas was interesting. The Michel Thomas learn Spanish course was basically like sitting in on an actual lesson, but you do have to engage, repeat and use your brain.
A great reason to learn a language is that it exposes you to new cultures. And by doing this, you end up speaking to people, and hey… You make new friends!
Having Spanish speakers in your contact list is without a doubt the best way to keep on improving your language learning. Over the years as a result of my language learning, I’ve got buddies from Spain to South America – and even a few closer to home too.
Watch/listen in Spanish
There is SO MUCH great content out there in Spanish, that you have no excuse for not consuming at least some of it as part of your Spanish learning.
From Netflix series such as Elite, Money Heist, Club de Cuervos or Marginal, to films such as Pans Labyrinth, Volver or The Platform.
Or music from cumbia, Salsa and reggaeton to Spanish rock and hip hop… There is literally limitless opportunity to get a popular culture fix. Oh and theres also tons of great stuff on YouTube too in Spanish.
Learning Spanish is a journey, and actually one that I have found very rewarding. By starting with simply text, you can progress quite quickly and learn Spanish rapidly.
- Buy a Spanish learning book
- Be an active learner
- Vary your study formats
- Use your Spanish as soon as you can
- Consider investing in courses or lessons
- Get into Spanish speaking culture
Buena suerte amigo!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. I’ve also put together some other content about language learning on this site down the years.