Best Way to Learn Spanish: Beginners Guide [Immersion, Books, Classes] | GringosAbroad
Looking for the best way to learn Spanish? This guide will help you learn about the primary ways to learn Spanish, and help you choose the one that’s best for you.
In this guide, you’ll also get the resources and Spanish basics to learn Spanish for beginners. Author is English-speaking Canadian who moved to Ecuador with no Spanish (and is now fluent).
Ready to learn Spanish? Congratulations! This is a huge step. Whether you’re planning to move abroad, travel to Latin America (or Spain), or simply as a mental exercise, this guide will help you learn Spanish quickly.
While there are lots of variations, there really are just 3 ways to learn Spanish: immersion, self study, and classes. And these can be combined to match your learning style.
While classes and books are a common method, there is an easier way to learn Spanish.
The Easiest Way to Learn Spanish
The easiest way to learn Spanish is to learn it through immersion as a child. Either grow up in a home that speaks English and Spanish – or live in a community where your daily life is primarily (even exclusively) in Spanish.
When we moved to Ecuador, our daughter was 8 years old. She learned Spanish, almost free of language books and teachers. If you have the option to immerse your kids in Spanish – this is going to be the easiest way for them to learn. They learn and become fluent without them even realizing what’s happening.
Now if only it was that easy for adults…
The Best Way to Learn Spanish
So while immersion as a child is hands-down the easiest way to learn, that just isn’t possible for most of us. If you’re reading this – you’re probably in the same situation as me. I grew up with almost zero exposure to Spanish – with the exception of these few words: salsa, fiesta, siesta, and gracias.
I didn’t know anyone who spoke Spanish – let alone someone who was actually from a Spanish-speaking country. Back in the 80’s and 90’s there weren’t many (any) Spanish songs on the radio. And in Canada, the only other language that most Canadians are exposed to is French (the other official language) and even that is limited. My French is limited to “Parlez–vous français ?” (meaning: Do you speak French?) to which my answer is an unfortunate “No” (this is the same word in French, Spanish and English).
So how did a couple of red-necked Canadians learn Spanish? It actually wasn’t as hard as we had imagined. Here’s how we learned Spanish:
The Best Way to Learn Spanish
For us, the best way to learn Spanish was a combination of immersion in Ecuador and printed books and audio courses. We did take an intensive week of Spanish classes in Cuenca – but this didn’t really make much of a difference.
Dena and I tried to learn Spanish from books before moving to Ecuador – but it didn’t work so well. We found it hard to be motivated while surrounded by native English speakers. And we didn’t really know if our pronunciation was even close to how it was supposed to sound.
Regardless of your background and where you live, you have three different ways to learn Spanish.
3 Primary Ways to Learn Spanish
Here are the three ways to learn Spanish.
Now, lets cover each of these in more details.
Jump to the Spanish Resources and Spanish Basics sections.
1) Immersion: The Best Way to Learn Spanish?
When we moved to Ecuador in 2009, neither Dena or I could speak Spanish – let alone understand it. We could say “buenos dias” – but not correctly, and we didn’t even know when we were supposed to say it.
While we did receive help from an another expat family (with whom we became close friends) we quickly found that we both needed and wanted to be self sufficient. It doesn’t feel good to need help to do every single step of daily life. Within 6 months, we were able to deal with rental contracts, and after 18 months we moved from Cuenca (population of 300,000) to the rural town of Santa Isabel (population 18,000). At that time, we were the only foreigners living in the region.
Thanks to this total immersion, we saw our Spanish reach fluency level. But this type of a move isn’t possible for everyone.
5 Tips For Spanish Immersion Without Traveling
What if you can’t move to a Spanish-speaking country? You can still benefit from immersion. Here are a few ways be immersed in Spanish at home:
Learn Spanish With Music
I recently found this great channel: Learn Spanish with Music on YouTube. They take popular Spanish songs and translate them into English and display the lyrics in both languages at the same time. Just pick your favorite song and start learning.
Watch on YouTube
With some creativity, you can create an immersive setting for you to learn Spanish – even if you can’t move to a Spanish-speaking country right now.
2) Self Study:The Best Way to Learn Spanish?
Buy a book and learn a language. This seems to be the most popular first step in language learning. Our readers have purchased many thousands of books over the years.
What are the best books for learning Spanish? I can recommend the following 3 books (links to Amazon):
In addition to printed books, it’s important to have an audio component. Without this, how will you know how to actually say the words? What are the best courses for learning Spanish? Here are two that our readers keep recommending:
Here’s what one student had to say about Rocket Spanish:
“I decided to try Rocket Spanish because I wanted to learn some Spanish before a trip to Ecuador. I just returned, and the Spanish I learned with Rocket Spanish was not only extremely helpful, it made my trip so much more fun.
I really liked the full audio transcipts for the lessons that I could listen to anywhere (like when running, driving), then work on the remaining lesson pieces when I had time. It’s great that the lessons are based on useful situations, and not just piles of random phrases. On my trip I was able to talk to people, order food, understand directions, and flight information.
At the airport the attendant asked us about tickets and carry on luggage. She spoke English but I was able to talk with her in Spanish instead. Possibly the best part is that with Rocket Spanish pronunciation practice, people were able to understand me.
Going to continue with Rocket Spanish, and keep working on those “rr’s”! We are already planning another trip to Ecuador, and one to Spain. I tried some other programs, and I believe this is the best one you can buy. Thanks Rocket Spanish!” ~ Erik Corkran, Colorado, United States
Over the years, we’ve written quite a lot about Spanish books and courses. Here are some of our most popular guides to books and courses for learning Spanish:
Here’s more on our process of learning Spanish in Ecuador – including the problem with Rosetta Stone.
3) Spanish Classes: The Best Way to Learn Spanish?
So while it’s nice to learn through situational conversation, having a live teacher can be beneficial. They can give you a structured, progressive program. And the teacher will correct your errors – helping you from establishing bad habits.
There are a few ways to take Spanish classes.
3 Ways to Take Spanish Language Classes
Spanish Schools in Ecuador
While we did take a class, it was just one week. It was beneficial to get some help fine tuning our fluency and grammar. But to get the full benefit of these classes, I think we should have studied at the school for a few months. Life got too busy, and we didn’t feel that we had enough time for that.
Here are 10 practical steps for learning Spanish.
Spanish for Beginners (Resources & Motivation)
Here are some Spanish Resources (best books and courses) and Spanish Basics (introductory concepts) that are perfect for beginners.
To get started, I recommend that you check out this post: The Best Book to Learn Spanish These are the books that readers just like you are using to learn the language.
Free Spanish Resources
Free Resources: I recommend that you get Audible lessons 1-5 (free when you signup here) and a free trial to Rocket Spanish. You can try them both out for free and see which one works better for your learning style.
Here are some Spanish basics to help your get started.
Spanish Basics: Videos
Basic Spanish Phrases
Should You Learn Spanish Before Moving Abroad?
Although we didn’t speak Spanish when we arrived in Ecuador – I recommend that you have at least a basic knowledge of the language. Being able to understand basic expressions will not only make your first few weeks and months easier – it will reduce anxiety should you have some type of emergency. If nothing else, being able to tell the taxi where you’re going, understand how much money he wants, and then give directions back to your home is pretty nice.
What will be the best way to learn Spanish for you? What method(s) are you going to use? Will you create an immersive environment at home? Or will you focus on self study using books and audio courses?
Join us in the comments!
This content was originally published here.