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Is it Possible to FAKE FLUENCY in Spanish?

So, let’s say you want to look good in front of that Mexican sweetheart on a first date, or to land a good job in Colombia, or just impress your Argentinian friends… but your Spanish isn’t thaaaaaaat good yet? Then, this is going to be un artículo salvavidas (a lifesaving article) for you! 

Because I, Juan, one of the Spring Spanish teachers, have 5 great tricks for you that’ll help you to “fake fluency” in Spanish, so you can make it (or fake it) through an entire conversation in Spanish without embarrassing yourself!

Did you know that polyglots (people who speak many languages) use the same tactics that I will present here?

1. Learn the most important recurring “small talk chunks”of any conversation by heart

When it comes to conversations in Spanish, you’ll find yourself repeating common expressions over and over again… no matter who you’re talking to or what you’re talking about.  

You probably already caught some recurring chunks in our videos and articles, right? Well, this is a great way of blending in even more: Una vez que practiques tu vocabulario y pronunciación (once you practice your vocabulary and pronunciation), it’s time to work on your conventional language. 

Instead of always thinking about how to create new sentences, learn the most common ones by heart! Chunks like: 

  • ¡Hola! (Hello!)
  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • Mi nombre es … (My name is …)
  • Soy de … (I’m from …)
  • ¿Qué te parece …? (What do you think about / if …?)
  • ¡Muchas gracias! (Thanks a lot!)
  • ¡Adiós! (Goodbye!)

These are all great examples to learn by heart; that way, you’ll always have them available in your Spanish arsenal. 

Want to discover even more chunks like this… and find out the best way to memorize them, so they roll off the tongue in conversations? Then follow this link! It will take you to the Spring Spanish website, where we have a Spanish Chunking Training for you, full of examples! 

2. Learn how to have a typical first conversation by heart

Now that you know the most important chunks, let’s go one step further!

Let’s face it, most first conversations sound very similar. The same questions are asked over and over again, just by different people. If you can answer these questions in perfect, fluent Spanish, you will sound much more fluent than you actually may be. 

Here are questions you almost certainly will get asked in your first conversation: 

  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)
  • ¿Por qué aprendes español? (Why are you learning Spanish?) 
  • ¿Cuánto tiempo tienes aprendiendo español? (How long have you been learning Spanish?)
  • ¿En qué trabajas? (What's your occupation?) 
  • ¿Qué haces para divertirte? (What do you do for fun?)

By knowing these questions you will be able to easily recognize them when your conversation partner asks them. 

Make sure to have a fluent answer for every single one of them ready. Write them down, ask a native to correct it. 

Let’s do this… because I’m feeling generous today: Prepare an answer to the question ¿por qué aprendes español? (why are you learning Spanish?) and post it in the comments section below. I will review it and correct it for you!

Now, let’s have a look at how such a prepared first conversation could look like: 

  • ¿De dónde soy? Soy de Venezuela, pero ahora vivo en Argentina. (Where am I from? From Venezuela, but I live in Argentina now.)
  • ¿Por qué estoy aprendiendo español? ¡Sencillo! Estoy aprendiendo español porque tengo una hermosa esposa venezolana. (Why am I learning Spanish? Easy! I’m learning Spanish because I have a beautiful Venezuelan wife!) —Just kidding! I knew Spanish already… The thing about the wife is true, though!
  • He estado aprendiendo español durante treinta y cuatro años. (I’ve been learning Spanish for 34 years.) —Yes, a long time… ever since I was born, basically!
  • Soy profesor, ingeniero y músico. (I’m a teacher, an engineer and a musician.)
  • ¡Me encanta viajar, hacer música y jugar videojuegos! (I love to travel, to make music, and to play video games!)

3. Learn all the chunks and phrases you need to talk about certain topics

Choose some topics you’d like to talk about or that you’re interested in and, with that narrow focus, learn all the chunks you need to speak about those topics. 

Once you feel you have mastered a specific topic, choose another one…y aprende a hablar de ese tópico (and learn to speak about that topic) This concept is called “topical fluency” and it’s one of the best ways to make fast progress in your Spanish skills.

So, haz una lista de los tópicos de los que quieres hablar en español (make a list of topics you’d like to be able to converse about in Spanish) and then tackle them one by one! 
Bonus tip: Practice conversations with yourself about that topic to make sure you conquer it.

4. Chunks to stall the conversation

Sometimes you won’t be able to respond because you just don’t know what to say or you don’t understand. In this case, it’s good to stall the conversation by not calling the attention to the fact that you are winging it.  

Here are some great chunks to stall and buy yourself some precious time:

  • Esa es una muy buena pregunta. (That’s a very good question.)
  • Tengo que pensarlo. (I have to think about that.)
  • ¡No me digas! ¿En serio? (You don’t say! Really?)
  • No tenía idea; eso es muy interesante. (I had no clue, that’s really interesting.)

It’d look like this:

  • ¿Qué opinas de la compatibilidad de Aries y Piscis en el ciclo astrológico actual? (What do you think about the compatibility of Aries and Pisces in the current astrological cycle?)
    • Eso es una muy buena pregunta… Déjame pensarlo. (That’s a good question. I have to think about that.)

Now, what if you have stalled the conversation, but you really don’t know ANYTHING about the topic your conversation partner wants to talk about? What do you do next? 

Easy: change the topic to something you CAN to talk about!

5. Make sure that you always get the conversation back to these topics if your conversation partner strays away

So, let’s say you really want to talk about music because that’s one of the topics you prepared in Spanish, but your conversation partner really insists on speaking about astrology.

CHUNK ALERT! 

Learn the following:

  •  ¿Podemos seguir hablando de _____, por favor? (Could we keep talking about ____, please?)

This chunk means something like “Can we keep talking about ____, please?” So, learn it by heart to ensure you always stay on topic in your Spanish conversation! ¡Sí, ya sé! ¡Soy el mejor! ¡Basta! (Yeah, I know! I’m the best! Stop it!)

It would work like this:

  • ¿Qué opinas de la compatibilidad de Aries y Piscis en el ciclo astrológico actual? (What do you think about the compatibility of Aries and Pisces in the current astrological cycle?)
    • Eso es una muy buena pregunta… Déjame pensarlo. MIENTRAS TANTO, ¿PODEMOS SEGUIR HABLANDO DE MÚSICA, POR FAVOR? (That’s a great question… Let me think about it. MEANWHILE, CAN WE KEEP TALKING ABOUT MUSIC, PLEASE?)

This one can be a lifesaver if you are lost, but it’s also pretty obvious what you’re trying to do here. So, what about some chunks to go back to safe topics without your conversation partner noticing? I’ve got you covered! 

  • Eso es muy interesante, y ¿qué piensas de ___? (That's very interesting, and what do you think about ___?)
  • ¡No puedo creerlo! ¿Sabías también que ___? (I can’t believe it! Did you also know that ___?)
  • Esto me recuerda a ___ (This reminds me of ___)

And then, say something to lead back to your topic. Your conversation partner will have no clue what just happened! 

Now that you can pretend to be much more fluent in Spanish than you might actually be, you also have to make sure that you understand what is being said to you in the first place. No worries! Juan’s got you covered! 

In my next article you will get 5 great tricks on how to understand native Spanish speakers even if they go off at blazing speed in Spanish. Click this link to find out, and I will see you there!

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