How to teach yourself Spanish

I live in Europe and learn and teach languages.  The best way to teach yourself Spanish is an easy efficient method I have used. Use my method and nothing else for a month you and you will speak Spanish. Use it in conjunction with other methods and you will be diluting your energy and applying it to less efficient methods.

This method of language learning is my personal experience and not some abstract theoretical book knowledge method. I do not live in an ivory tower, with a PhD.  I am simply an American expat in Europe and I know what works based on others living the bohemian expat lifestyle.  I am not really a bohemian just decided to leave corporate America live my life. when I got here I had to learn a language, so through trial and error I learned the best way, and other expats will back me up on this. The good news it is so simple.

What is a language

Ask yourself what is the Spanish language?  What is any language for that matter? A language is words and phrases that express a feeling or idea.

Therefore, if you want to learn Spanish the best way to teach yourself is to learn phrases and words right?  Half right, phrases in theory the best way, but in practice no one I know can learn them as they are too long for some one’s working memory to hold.

Therefore, the best way is to learn Spanish words.  The once you have master the pronunciation and meaning of these words if you want you can move to phrases but chances are you will pick those up anyway as with words you have the ability to absorb the phrases naturally.

Why Spanish immersion does not work

Go to Mexico or Spain or listen to Spanish news or read the web from South American countries, but you need a foundation of words or no amount of grammar or lessons or web pages will do you any good. Further, immersion does not work, unless you have a base, you will only be frustrated. Believe me I live in Europe and I see most if not all American not learning languages based on immersion or classes. You can challenge me on this point but I have seen it. Words just do not magically fly into your brain from the air, you have to test yourself with drills, in this case flashcards.

teach yourself Spanish

Teaching yourself Spanish is a mental battle - prepare yourself with the right weapon.

The best and most modern tool comes not from the high tech arena, but the ancient tool of flashcards.

Teach yourself Spanish with flashcards

Use flashcards to teach yourself a language. Above is an example of 400 year old flashcards. They worked then and they work today to learn a language.

The best way to teach yourself Spanish

  • Choose the right Spanish words. – Develop a list of the most important Spanish words, not too many, perhaps 500. Do not pick works like cow and carrot, things that you normally see on Spanish flashcards, choose abstract important words used in conversation like ‘although’ or Spanish verbs, but not verbs like ‘jump’ (a typical verb you see in many programs but not too useful unless you are a pole vaulter) choose the abstract ones like ‘think’ and ‘do’.  Think abstract, not concrete when choosing a word list. Language by definition is an abstraction or at least a metaphor.
  • Make big Spanish flashcards. – Use paper or with index cards but not too small, at least the size of a deck of cards. If you can draw make an image of the word you are trying to represent.  Only have the image not an image and under it a text.  The text of the Spanish word should be on the other side.  If you can not draw do not worry, just do English text on one side and Spanish text on another.  Learn from the English side and try to say the Spanish side.  Do not worry too much about pronunciation at first, you have enough to worry about. Further, Spanish pronunciation is not hard as it is a Latin based language and English as a strong connection to Romance languages.  Your approximate pronunciation will hon in on the correct one with time and exposure.
  • Teach yourself these these 500 Spanish words. – Teach yourself via the flashcards method you might have used when you were a kid.  That is a few a day or a right and wrong pile or a bad and a good pile if you will, or make a memory game. The idea of space repetition works.  The breaks and time spaces are important when learning.   Hold it to your forehead, your their eye if you will, imagine, visualise try to spell the word in the air.  Any accelerated learning technique you like.  Try to do it to classical music or meditate after.If you can not remember the words do not get frustrated, everyone thinks they have a bad memory.  Try mnemonics or just keep trying.  Memory retraction not formation is the problem, it is just a matter of trying 100 or 200 times to learn a word. Test and retest your ability to oull out the Spanish work in an instant. If you keep trying you will succeed.  But the bottom line is get these words in your brain. After you know 500 words do more until you know about 5000.  It could take a week or half a year but its is the fastest way to learn the language of the Latinos.
  • Do not worry about Hispanic grammar. –  Really, it is not important at this point, if you want buy a small book of exercises but grammar comes much latter if at all. But if you understand what people are saying then you will pick up the grammar largely naturally.  School make big money teaching grammar, but the truth is words are your top priority.
  • Do not get too high tech or complicated with learning tools – I have piles of software programs, audio programs, books and many websites booked marked for language learning.  In fact, i write software. mp3 programs and things for learning Spanish.  I prefer simple and low tech to teach myself Spanish. Too much or too complex will lead to dilution of your efforts. You need Lazar like focus.

The simple reveals itself after the complex has been exhausted. Try Spanish flashcards to teach yourself Spanish. Try this and only this method for one month and nothing else. Try Spanish flashcards to teach yourself Spanish. Let me know if you know a better and faster method to learn  a language but I am pretty confident this is the best.