Tips for practising your Spanish
To have full command over Spanish, like any language, you need to be able to do four things:
- Read it well
- Write it well
- Hear it well
- Speak it well
And to improve your Spanish, all you have to do is practise these four over and over again, until they feel as easy as reading, writing, hearing and speaking English.
You can practise all of these on an immersion trip to Spain, but there are also many ways to practise in the classroom or in your time. Explain these to your students and encourage them to give them a go, or incorporate them into a class.
This is the easiest to practise, due to the wealth of Spanish material online.
- Get some good Spanish books and try reading them. Children’s books are great because they’re short and usually entertaining to read. Try getting a Spanish translation of a book you already own, or even a bilingual edition where the same book is printed in both languages.
- Read newspaper articles online. Read them in Spanish and see if you can get the general gist, then translate any words you have to.
Easy to practise, but harder to know exactly how much you’re getting right, so it’s important to check that what you’re writing is correct Spanish.
- Get a Spanish pen friend. There are quite a few websites that help you to make friends with people in other countries, such as PenPal World and Interpals. Make an effort to write your emails or letters in Spanish, and ask them to correct any mistakes.
- Write short essays in Spanish, then go through them with a dictionary and a grammar book and correct any errors. If studying with another student, you could even mark each other’s work and make it more collaborative.
This is also easy to practise by yourself using online resources.
- Watch a Spanish dub of a film you’ve seen. You’ll be able to follow the story, leaving you to concentrate on understanding the lines. If you’re feeling confident, you could even try watching an original Spanish film, without putting on the English subtitles.
- Listen to Spanish music. You’ll learn a lot of colloquial vocabulary, notice a bunch of words which rhyme in Spanish but not in English, and experience some Spanish culture.
This is also a little harder to practise, as you need to either speak to yourself or to someone who speaks Spanish, but both are possible.
- Spend a few minutes every day just speaking Spanish out loud. Give your mouth a workout with tongue twisters, recite the Spanish alphabet or read out an article — anything that gets your mouth comfortable speaking the language.
- Speak to anyone you know who speaks Spanish, whenever possible. Chat with your friends and test your vocabularies, and Skype your Spanish penpals as well as writing to them.
Remember, even if it feels hard now, your Spanish will improve immensely the more you practise, and one day you’ll be fluent. You can do it!