All About Learning Spanish

Reading Spanish

One thing that can be extremely beneficial to you when learning Spanish is to simply pick up a book or newspaper.

Try and select reading material that matches your current ability, so beginners can choose a kid’s book or comic. There are two exercises you can choose to do, each of which helps with different aspects of your language learning.

The first of these helps with vocabulary; pick a shortish passage – a newspaper article or a couple of pages in a book are perfect for this – and read through it while trying to understand as much as possible, marking any words you are unfamiliar with. Once you have finished the article you can look up the words in a dictionary and re-read the article, reminding yourself of any words that still don’t stick.

The second exercise is suitable for reading novels; this time read, trying to understand as much as possible, but whatever happens don’t stop to note words you don’t know. By forcing yourself to read as fast as you can you’ll find that you can follow the story despite the gaps in information. You’ll also find that what you may miss in one context you will pick up from other clues, whether it is dialog, descriptions or the reactions of characters in the story.

This exercise will help build your coping mechanisms for when you don’t understand everything, such as when you are speaking to a native Spanish speaker talking at full speed.

Conversational Spanish

Flamenco Spanish WomanOne of the big problems when it comes to conversational Spanish is that the only way to really develop it is through practice. Only by using the language, making mistakes and having those mistakes corrected can we learn to speak Spanish well and is a completely separate skill from learning Spanish grammar.

While Spanish grammar can be learned in class or from a book, your fluency in Spanish is far more dependent on practicing the right things – both your vocabulary and idiomatic usage will come from immersing yourself in a natural Spanish environment where the language spoken will be less formal than practicing in a classroom.

This highlights an inherent weakness in many language classes; although grammar can be successfully learned in a relatively large class, conversational Spanish is impossible in anything other than one-to-one. Not only this, but it is vital that the Spanish you hear spoken is completely natural. Speaking at a normal speed, with accent and vocabulary will force you to cope while mentally adapting.

Why Speak Spanish

There are many reasons for learning to speak Spanish, but whatever your reason you should know that Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.

  • are you are traveling to a Spanish speaking country?
  • does your partner or spouse speaks Spanish?
  • do you want to improve your promotion prospects?
  • would speaking Spanish help with communication at work?
  • do you just want to learn a new language?

In fact Spanish is the third most spoken language on the planet after English and Chinese and so your chances of encountering it at some point in your life are quite high, if not on a daily basis. Developing from a dialect of Latin spoken in northern Spain, Spanish was introduced to the Caribbean, South America and the south of North America by the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the 15th century.

Spanish Grammar

While conversational Spanish can only be acquired by practicing the language with native speaks, Spanish grammar on the other hand can be taught successfully in a class or learned from a book. As such grammar represent the rules of a language, the way in which it is correctly spoken, although what is correct and what is normal usage can be quite different, as you’ll find out when you try to hold a conversation with a native speaker.

Spanish facts
Spanish was the first language to have formal grammar rules, published in 1492 by Antonio de Nebrija and supported by the Catholic Kings.

Optimal fluency can be achieved by a combination of studying grammar, either from a book, or preferably with a teacher who will teach the constructions that are actually used in normal speach rather than insiting on correct but unused grammatical structure, with the focus on what you will encounter most often.

By reading Spanish language texts – novels or comics can work well for this – and identifying your knowledge gaps you can ask a native Spanish speak to give examples of usage, without explaining the grammatical rules.

Spanish Numbers

Learning the numbers in Spanish is simple and practical – each and every time you shop you’ll be able to practice Spanish numbers

One of the most useful things you can learn are how to pronounce the numbers in Spanish. At some point in a Spanish speaking country you’ll be faced with shopping and if you understand nothing else, knowledge of the numbers in Spanish will help you both asking for products and understanding their price.

Cardinal Numbers

Spanish numbers from 0 to 99

Cardinal numbers are used for quantity (one, two, three), as opposed to ordinal numbers, which are used for order (first, second, third). Note that the pattern used in the teens and twenties is different to 30 and above, and that numbers ending in 1 follow the gender of the following noun; if the noun is masculine uno shortens to un; veintiuno becomes veintiún in the masculine to preserve the emphasis on the u; if feminine uno becomes una.

0. Cero
1. Uno
2. Dos
3. Tres
4. Cuatro
5. Cinco
6. Seis
7. Siete
8. Ocho
9. Nueve
10. Diez
11. Once
12. Doce
13. Trece
14. Catorce
15. Quince
16. Dieciséis
17. Diecisiete
18. Dieciocho
19. Diecinueve
20. Veinte
21. Veintiuno
22. Veintidós
23. Veintitrés
24. Veinticuatro
25. Veinticinco
26. Veintiséis
27. Veintisiete
28. Veintiocho
29. Veintinueve
30. Treinta
31. Treinta y uno
32. Treinta y dos
40. Cuarenta
50. Cincuenta
60. Sesenta
70. Setenta
80. Ochenta
90. Noventa
99. Noventa y nueve

Spanish numbers from 100 to 999

The ending of the 100s agrees with the gender of following noun, for example doscientos becomes doscientas.

100. Cien
101. Ceinto uno
102. Ceinto dos
103. Ceinto tres
110. Ciento diez
200. Doscientos
300. Trescientos
400. Cuatrocientos
500. Quinientos
600. Seiscientos
700. Setecientos
800. Ochocientos
900. Novecientos
999. Novecientos noventa y nueve

1000 and above

1000. Mil
2000. Dos mil
3298. Tres mil doscientos noventa y ocho
10000. Diez mil
100000. Cien mil
1000000. Un millón
2000000. Dos millones

Note that in Spanish it is usual to use a comma to denote a decimal number and and period to mark thousands. Therefore 1,5 signifies one point five (one and a half) and 1.000 signifies one thousand. This doesn’t apply to all territories such as Puerto Rico where the US system is used instead.

Common Spanish Phrases

If you’re visiting Spain or Latin America it can help if you have a hand list of common Spanish phrases to hand to help you in everyday situations. Below are listed some useful Spanish phrases and of you spend a little time on them committing them to memory you will find that you don’t need to consult a phrasebook each time you need to use them. As always a little practice will help.

Everyday Spanish Phrases

 

English Spanish
Hello Hola
Goodbye Adiós
Yes
No No
Thanks Gracias
Many thanks Muchas Gracias
You’re welcome De nada
Please Por favor
Good morning Buenos días
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good evening Buenas noches
Goodnight Buenas noches
How are you? ¿Como estás?
Very well Muy bien

Months in Spanish

The months in Spanish are quite similar to English and most people find them relatively easy to remember. One thing to note about the Spanish months is that, unlike English, the name of the month is written in lower case – enero, not Enero.

English Spanish
January enero
February febrero
March marzo
April abril
May mayo
June junio
July julio
August agosto
Sepember septiembre
October octubre
November noviembre
December diciembre

Fastest Way to Learn Spanish

When it comes to learning Spanish, the most important thing to remember is practice makes perfect. The more practice that occurs during the learning process, the faster that Spanish will be picked up. This is exactly why it is so important to find something easily accessible when trying to learn the Spanish language.

There are numerous options available to assist with learning the Spanish language. Taking advantage of all the options may also make fluency in Spanish occur at a much quicker pace. Most people can’t sit and do the same thing for hours on end. This is especially true when it comes to learning another language. By having multiple avenues for learning, a person is able to take a break from what they are doing and still be learning at the same time.

Taking advantage of the numerous options available means using computer software, DVD based programs, classes, books, or even picking the brain of someone who is already fluent in Spanish. Imagine getting frustrated with the fact that something within the computer software is just out of reach, and being able to turn to a human and figure out just what is being missed in the comprehension.

In addition to taking the steps to create a good learning environment, it’s important to make sure that learning Spanish doesn’t become all consuming. This obviously seems a bit contradictive to trying to speed up the process of learning Spanish. These breaks being taken will help avoid the burnout point. The time spent on these breaks throughout the learning process will be minimal compared with the weeks to months it can take to regain focus once someone truly hits the burnout stage.

So really, when it comes to learning Spanish, it’s as easy as exploring the options and using the time wisely that will speed up the process. Find a way to use what is learned on a daily basis. Nothing is more frustrating that forgetting the basics once the more difficult lessons begin.

Beginner’s Tips

Spanish FlagAs a beginner it can seem quite a daunting task to learn the entire Spanish language. Imagining just how many different words there are, and how many forms of each of those words, can have a tendency to make anyone’s head spin. This is the main reason there are so many beginner courses for Spanish. Whether choosing a classroom setting or a home based option, there are quite a few options out there to make learning Spanish easier.

Making the right choice here is the most important thing when it comes to finding the best option in each specific situation. It is very important to make sure that whatever choice is made fits into whatever schedule necessary, and doesn’t overtake more pressing matters. Trying to force learning Spanish into spare time certainly won’t work, but letting it overtake the rest of life will make it impossible to keep up with everything.

If life responsibilities aren’t such a huge issue, then taking Spanish classes may well be the best bet. Taking a beginning Spanish class is far more structured than any home based option. For many a structured environment makes beginner Spanish a much easier task. Seeing others struggling along too makes it seem far more normal to stumble at times. For those that need this type of encouragement a school setting Spanish class is the best bet to make things smooth.

There are also those that simply can’t commit to a specific time. For those in that situation a home based Spanish course makes far more sense. These Spanish courses are self paced, allowing for it to be picked up wherever it was left off whenever it is convenient. There are many types of programs that will teach Spanish in this type of setting. The key with this type of course is finding the one that fits each person’s specific learning style.

Trying to learn to speak Spanish after only speaking English for so many years is not always an easy task. For the vast majority of those out there, just the thought of trying to put everything they know into an entirely new language is somewhat unnerving.

Often times, though, those people simply don’t realize how much easier Spanish is to learn than English is. How much easier any language is to learn than English is, for that matter, not just Spanish.

When it comes down to it Spanish is a language of rules. Unlike the English language that we are all used to, Spanish doesn’t have an exception for most every rule there is. Keeping in mind that the rules are the rules and they shouldn’t be broken makes understanding the language far easier.

Once that first basic understanding of the language occurs, the rest will begin to fall in place. Letting go of the flaws that have been lived with in English for years can be very difficult, but it is imperative before being able to move forward in learning the new language.

It will make a lot of difference in learning Spanish if there is someone around who speaks it fluently. Letting that person speak the language on a semi-normal basis will force a higher learning curve based on the curiosity inherent in all humans.

We want to know what someone said, and how to respond, so we push ourselves to figure out both. Taking advantage of this human reflex is a great way to push forward without always consciously realizing that is what’s happening.

When starting out in Spanish many people will try to focus mostly on pronunciation and inflection. More often than not, this is a mistake that will lead to frustration. It’s more important in the beginning to get the wording right than to get the exact inflections right.

Trying to do both can be overwhelming and lead to the type of frustration that often keeps people from finishing what they start. If correct use is the focus, the pronunciation will begin to flow as things get more comfortable.

Spanish Language History

Spanish in the native language for over 332,000,000 (Three Hundred Thirty Two Million) people worldwide. It is the official language of Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The language is also widely spoken in other nations, including Canada, Morocco, the Philippines, and the United States.

The language itself is one of the Romance languages. Within Spain it has two main dialects, which are Andalusian and Castilian. While these are the main dialects for Spain, many others exist in other areas of the world, specifically in North and South America.

The language originated in southwest Europe, in a region that is known as the Iberian Peninsula. In the 6th century B. C. the regions inhabitants mingled with the Celts, forming a people called Celtiberians, who spoke a form of Celtic.

Then in 19 B. C. the region became known as Hispania and its inhabitants began learning Latin from its Roman inhabitants. When the Classic Latin of the Romans began to mix with the Celtic that the original inhabitants spoke, a language called “Vulgar Latin” was born. The language followed to basic rules of Latin, yet it borrowed words from the other languages of the area. This language is the ancestor of modern Spanish.

With a past that included many conquerors and explorers, Spain has left remnants of its native language across the globe. This factor can be felt in North and South America as heavily as anywhere else. The original settlements in the Americas by the Spanish explorers have led to a large population of Spanish speaking people throughout both continents.

With such a large group of Spanish speaking people across the world, it has become increasingly popular to choose this language with making a decision on learning a new language.

Good Reasons to Learn Spanish

In the world we currently live in, it makes such a difference to know a secondary language like Spanish. Having the ability to correspond with people that don’t speak English is a quality that many companies are looking for.

Speaking Spanish also makes it possible to take vacations in destinations that would be very uncomfortable otherwise. One smaller bonus to knowing another language is that many independent films make their way here from other countries and are only available in Spanish, making them impossible to watch closely without fluency in another language.

Many companies are often very willing to spend extra money for someone who is fluent in a second language like Spanish. Simply by having someone within the company who can speak Spanish they can now advertise that they can serve those that only speak that language.

In the eyes of those making decisions in business it makes a lot of sense for them to pay a little more for someone with a second language knowing they can potentially bring in a whole group of new clientele who simply weren’t available before. For this reason alone, companies often go out of their way to try to attract those who can speak Spanish.

Many people out there have wanted to take a vacation in Latin America, whether that’s to lounge on the beach or see one of its many historical sites, these vacations can be very frustrating without the ability to speak in that area’s language.

Anyone who has the ability to speak Spanish can avoid this frustration and enjoy a relaxing vacation without worrying about what’s being said behind their back. This makes for a far more enjoyable vacation, allowing the beauty of the area to be the focus.

There seem to be more and more foreign films hitting the American theatres every year, many of wish are in Spanish. Most of these films have subtitles in English, but trying to keep up with the action on the film while keeping up with reading the Spanish to English translation can be overwhelming.

It is also a recipe for missing many things through the film, which is why being able to understand Spanish in the films can become such a key. Being the person who actually catches everything in the film for a change can make learning Spanish worthwhile all by itself.

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