Have you been taking dozens of Spanish classes, but you’re still struggling with speaking and understanding Spanish?
No eres el único (you’re not the only one): millions of people learning languages feel this way all the time. Why does that happen? And how can you finally have success with your Spanish classes and speak Spanish fluently? Let’s find out together!
I am Juan, Spring Spanish teacher, and here is the first reason why you’re struggling:
1. No estás escuchando suficiente español (You’re not listening enough to Spanish)
If you’re taking Spanish classes with a tutor, that might be the only time you really hear Spanish… and even during your class, your teacher might be giving a lot of grammar explanations in your mother tongue! That’s fine, of course, but it’s not enough to really learn to understand Spanish.
Necesitas que tus oídos se acostumbren al idioma escuchando todo lo que puedas. (You need to get your ears used to the language by listening as much as you can.) It’ll help you with listening comprehension, and you’ll absorb a lot of the structure subconsciously.
You will find lots of material to listen to online. I will give you many resources you can use in reason number 4!
2. No estás hablando suficiente español (You’re not speaking enough Spanish)
You probably don’t do nearly enough of that either in your language classes, especially if you share the class with a lot of other students. So if the only time you really speak Spanish is this:
Bien, señor Juan, ¿cómo se dice “apple” en español?
(Very well, Mr. Juan, how do you say apple in Spanish?)
STUDENT *half asleep*
Se dice manzana, maestro…
(It’s manzana, teacher…)
No wonder you still can’t speak much! You need to practice a lot more speaking Spanish every week to get to fluency!
No necesitas hacer eso si estás empezando a aprender español. Como principiante, es suficiente escuchar bastante. (You don’t need to do that if you’re a beginner in Spanish. As a beginner, it’s enough to listen a lot.) But once you are a bit more advanced and start to understand more of Spanish and know many Spanish chunks yourself, ¡es momento de poner eso en práctica! (it’s time to put that into practice!)
Find yourself some native Spanish speakers that you can practice Spanish with. Start slow, just a few minutes of conversations are enough to begin with. También puedes empezar mandando mensajes en español o hablando contigo mismo. (You can also start by sending messages in Spanish or speaking with yourself. )
3. Te estás enfocando demasiado en gramática (You’re focusing too much on grammar)
In traditional language classes, the teacher is usually focusing a lot on grammar explanations and grammar drills, verb conjugations and all that boring stuff.
Y aunque esto te puede ayudar a aprobar un examen, el problema es que no importa qué tanta gramática aprendas, (And even though that might help you pass an exam, the problem is that no matter how much grammar you learn), if you have to think of all that grammar while trying to string together sentences in conversations, you’ll always still sound like this:
Hola, ¡qué sorpresa! ¿Qué haces en Buenos Aires?
(Hey, what a surprise! What are you doing in Buenos Aires?)
Yo… Soy???… Estoy….? En…? De….? Vacacion…? Vacaciones? (hesitating a lot)
If you really want to speak fluent Spanish, you need to avoid having to think about grammar at all while speaking. Which is possible if you learn chunks instead: word combinations you hear native speakers use, like ¡qué sorpresa! or ¿cómo se dice?.
Lo mejor de todo es que puedes descubrir estos chunks si escuchas lo suficiente. (The best thing is you can discover these chunks if you listen enough.) And, did you know that we create flashcards with chunks for each one of our videos in the Spring Spanish Inner Circle? Join us! The link is in the description.
- No estás expuesto al español diariamente fuera de tus clases (You’re not exposed to Spanish daily OUTSIDE your classes)
Many students go to their weekly Spanish class for 1-2 hours of Spanish… Y después van a sus casas y olvidan el idioma hasta la siguiente semana (then come home and forget about the language until the week after), when they quickly do their homework before class, barely get by, and then again neglect it for a week.
That’s exactly how some people “study Spanish for years” without getting anywhere. It doesn’t work because you just don’t get enough exposure to Spanish this way!
You have to do the heavy lifting yourself outside of class. Your brain needs consistent (preferably daily) exposure to Spanish to really get used to the language and absorb the structure. You probably won’t need to take Spanish classes daily, but you can:
- Ver nuestros videos de YouTube. (Watch our YouTube videos.)
- Usar flashcards para aprender español, como hacemos en nuestro Inner Circle. (Use flashcards to learn Spanish like the ones in our Inner Circle)
- Escuchar podcasts o música. (Listen to podcasts or music.)
- Revisar el material de nuestras lecciones semanales. (Review some of the materials from our weekly lessons.)
Even a little bit of daily exposure can do wonders, so make sure to incorporate this in your routine. It will barely cost you any time!
So what to do instead?
So what do we at Spring Spanish recommend to be successful at learning Spanish?
Here are our top tips! You can use them together with your classes, or just learn Spanish entirely with us 😉
- Escucha español quince minutos diarios. (Listen to 15 minutes of Spanish every day.)
- Memoriza con flashcards los chunks que descubras diariamente. (Memorize chunks you discover with flashcards every day.)
- Revisa el material de tus clases de idiomas diariamente. (Review your language class materials every day.)
- Habla español una o dos veces a la semana (Speak Spanish 1-2 a week.) If you don’t get enough speaking practice in your Spanish classes, you can try to find affordable 1-on-1 tutors online, or in our Spring Spanish Academy.
These are the four steps that all our students follow to become fluent in Spanish.