How to become proficient in Spanish
“I studied Spanish and got an ‘A’, but I don’t remember anything.” This sentiment expresses what many of us feel about high school foreign language study.
No one will ever achieve language proficiency by simply going to a foreign language class and doing the homework. Since immersion is out of the question for most of us, the question is, “What is the best way to learn a foreign language?”
Language proficiency is a skill that can only be mastered with determination, discipline, and desire. Assuming determination, discipline, and desire are present, there are a variety of things that students can do to become proficient.
Here are the six steps for Language Proficiency:
- Take a class – Although foreign language study can be done independently, it is better to take a class, not only for accountability but also because it’s better to learn proper pronunciation from a trained teacher.
- 2. Study vocabulary and grammar – Set aside some time each day to study beyond the everyday homework assigned in a class. For example, set a timer to study each day. Quizlet.com, Duolingo.com and studyspanish.com are some of the sites you can use for grammar and vocabulary study.
- Speak – Speak the language as much as possible. Find someone you can meet with on a regular basis just to talk. With the advent of tools like Skype, it has become much easier to be able to speak to someone who may be far away.
- Read –Find a book you like and read the Spanish version of it. Buy a bilingual Bible or use something like Easy Spanish Reader by William Thomas Tardy to read short stories in Spanish.
- Listen to the spoken language – There are many opportunities to practice listening comprehension. Audiria.com and PodcastfromSpain.com are two of many podcasts you can listen to. The YouVersion Bible has several Spanish versions of the Bible that you can listen to and read at the same time. Spanish television and radio are also readily available.
- Write – Find a penpal to write to or a friend to email or text back and forth with in Spanish. Find a paragraph (maybe from a favorite book) that you can translate to Spanish.
With desire, determination, and discipline (plus practice!), we can be successful in our study of language.
Free Downloadable: Spanish Verb Conjugation Practice
Diana Lamolinara is a native speaker of Spanish who has lived in the Spanish-speaking countries of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Spain. She also lived several years in Italy, where she studied Italian. Mrs. Lamolinara has a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Foreign Language Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Diana has been teaching Spanish to students at all levels from Pre School to AP for over 25 years. She is a former homeschooling mom. In addition to teaching, Diana enjoys reading, exercising, cooking and taking long walks with her dog in the woods. The Lord has blessed Diana and her husband with four children and three grandchildren.