Strategies (You can apply at work!) To Help You Learn Spanish
Learning Spanish is difficult. Not only is the syntax way different from English structure, but also vocabulary and dialect differ immensely within Spanish speaking countries—not to mention around the entire continent of South America. Hence the importance of comprehending as much as you can before a visit to a Spanish speaking country. Knowing the basics of Spanish will save time before the inevitable learning period of local words and idioms native to the place you visit. But how does one reach their highest pre-immersion level of efficacy on a busy schedule? Incorporate these strategies into your daily work routine to give your brain the much-needed exercise it needs to become proficient in a language.
Listen to Spanish music/talk radio as you work.
There are hundreds of online radio stations that allow you to pick from whatever region or country you’re planning on visiting. By having the background noise of people speaking Spanish you will pick up on accent variations and vocabulary all while getting used to the rapid pace of natural Spanish. Cheesy commercials are chock full of idioms and talk radio will help you identify what sounds natural in Spanish when you get the chance to speak.
Recruit a learning buddy
Find a person you communicate regularly with during the workday who either:
A. Is able to speak a decent to proficient amount of Spanish, or
B. Wants to learn or improve their Spanish with you.
Honestly, it shouldn’t be that hard. Everyone nowadays wants to find ways to improve. If you can’t find someone already in the mindset of practicing Spanish with you, convince them with one of the hundreds of studies that prove learning another language improves memory, problem solving skills and creativity and how Spanish is the second most popular language in the world. Once you have said partner, make an agreement to communicate with each other solely through Spanish. Whether you speak in person, or via online chat or email, this will get you thinking in the language on a day-to-day basis. If the person already speaks Spanish they will be happy for the chance to either be able to speak their native tongue and therefore share part of their culture with you or they’ll be happy to exercise their Spanish muscle as it can atrophy in time.
Find a game
No one works straight through the whole day. During short breaks, allow yourself to play a language learning game. I want emphasize the word game, here. It’s important that it is fun because if it’s just another flash card drill you’re less likely to want to do it during your precious free time and will eventually give up. Whether you find one as an app for your phone or if you’re the kind of person who likes to make up their own games, tailor it to your interests so you’ll actually be looking forward to those game breaks.
When I taught English Second Language courses for children we labeled everything in the classroom with both the English and Spanish names. Of course, you probably don’t need the word “STAPLER” staring back at you from your desk, but “la grapadora” will become permanently etched in your mind with the image of the stapler itself. Warning: if you are planning to go to a specific country, look up the vocabulary words according to that country’s dialect. For instance, “abrochadora” is more commonly used in Argentina—a country with a very distinct vocabulary.
While during the workday this may be more of a cultural immersion exercise than a language immersion, eating foods native to the country is a great way to prepare yourself for a visit or to just expand your personal horizons. If you make your own lunch, find recipes in Spanish and learn to follow them. You’ll get a better grasp of the Imperative verb form, food vocabulary and measurements all while exercising your mind… with a treat at the end. Remember the names of the dishes and ingredients as you eat. Or if cooking really isn’t forté, find a local restaurant that serves authentic (or as authentic as you can get) foods and try something new. The best part is food in Latin America and Spain is delicious, whether you get cheesy enchiladas from Mexico, meat stuffed empanadas from Argentina, quinoa from Peru or conservas de mariscos from Spain.
Whatever strategy you decide to implement, it will be important to stick with it for best results! Achieved your desired speaking level? We can check! See how good your Spanish is with our free online Spanish level test. Then send us an inquiry to see how you can get started and begin improving your Spanish!