The answer is unfortunately not as straightforward as we would have hoped. That’s why we will go over the different factors influencing the time it will take for you to speak Spanish fluently. When you better understand these you will be able to unveil your own best way to learn Spanish.
What I can already tell you is that you have control over most factors. That’s why how long it takes to learn Spanish is all up to you.
The Spanish Language
There are more similarities between the English and Spanish language than you might think. The Spanish alphabet is the same as the English with the only difference that in Spanish writing some words include a letter with an accent, like é and ñ. The grammar is also structured the same with only a few exceptions, for example that an adjective is after the noun instead of before.
This is why Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Be aware, I’m not stating that it is easy. According to FSI, it would take about 480 hours of classroom training to reach basic fluency in Spanish. Of course, there’s a lot more to it. It requires dedication and many other factors to be in your favor. Let’s dive right in which ones.
1. How much do you practice Spanish
You can really learn Spanish faster by putting more effort into it. That’s no surprise.
It’s probably one of the hardest things to bring to the table since you also got your homework, your job and all the other things in life that ask for your time. However, this is where you have the opportunity to stand out. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.
The best approach to practice Spanish is when you have a schedule or a habit of putting the time into it. Don’t go all crazy spending 10 hours a day and giving up your social life. There no need for that.
Start reading a simple Spanish book or use Duolingo in Spanish for one hour before you leave the house in the morning. Get it over with at the beginning of the day. You will not be distracted or tempted to do other things and your days starts a lot better when you have spent the first hour effectively. Create a habit instead of making it a task. This way you will have a lot more fun doing it.
Even the smallest things help. Start listening to some Spanish songs to learn the language. Not only good to learn, it also gets you hyped about your adventure abroad.
2. Is your native language similar to Spanish?
You have an advantage if you speak a language similar to Spanish. You either benefit from the vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation you already know in a similar language such as French, Italian, English or Portuguese. For example, the vocabulary and grammar of Portuguese are quite similar to Spanish, but the pronunciation is very different.
The Spanish language also has fewer different sounds and the language brings additional difficulty with feminine and masculine words. It takes time for your brain to get used to this. Read enough books and practice speaking as much as you can to get used to the Spanish language.
3. Surround yourself with Spanish speakers or go live in Latin America
Start learning Spanish without actually learning Spanish. Do you get it? When you surround yourself with Spanish speakers you gradually learn more words by listening or even just thinking more about what to say or what some words mean.
You need to be focused. The more obsessed you are the faster you will learn to speak fluently. By going to Latin America or Spain you will not only have an incredible experience, but you will also learn a foreign language faster. In the beginning, you will always be the one that doesn’t get the punchline of a joke or takes an hour to do groceries. It’s not always easy but the moments you struggle the most are the most valuable for your learning experience.
Now, I’m not saying that when you go to a Spanish speaking country you will speak Spanish. There’s a big difference here. It takes a lot of effort and time to learn it, even if you are abroad.
4. How willing are you to make mistakes?
You don’t know how to speak Spanish, and that’s totally fine. People will laugh at your mistakes. It’s important to know what you need to make mistakes to learn a language. Make mistakes or don’t bother becoming a fluent Spanish speaker at all.
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