Anyone can learn bits and pieces of a commonly spoken second language like Spanish, but the ultimate goal for most language students is fluency and with good reason. People who are fluent in more than one language are better at problem solving and multitasking. They also have access to many more professional, social, and cultural opportunities than they would otherwise. However, many language learners never quite make the jump to true fluency. The following are some tips that can help you get where you want to be with Spanish or any other language.
1. Add Speech to Your Practice Sessions
Many language learners are great at learning grammar rules, building their vocabulary, and even writing in their target language. However, they forget to spend enough time speaking it aloud. This can make it hard to actually apply what they’re learning to real conversations, especially with native speakers. Ensure you’re making just as much progress when it comes to speaking and pronunciation by reading what you write and study aloud. Mimic the way you hear native speakers pronounce each word to the best of your ability, and practice until you really nail it. This is the best way to make sure you can truly understand and be understood in actual conversation.
2. Watch Television in Your Target Language
One of the best ways to get used to the sound, cadence, and application of another language is to add a few television shows in that language to your everyday repertoire. Look into comprehensive options like DISH Latino packages that make it easy to explore a wide variety of different shows, movies, and news programs in both your native language and your spoken one. Take advantage of it often, and pay close attention to how the language is really used in various contexts. This is a terrific way to not only master the formal usage of your target language but to get a feel for slang and other casual ways to use it in everyday conversation. You’ll find you pick up lots of new vocabulary as well.
3. Listen to Music and Learn the Lyrics
Another great way to practice your pronunciation and accent is to start listening to music that includes lyrics in the language you’re learning. Not only is listening to music pretty much always a guaranteed good time, but it helps you forge a personal connection with the culture of native speakers as well. Plus, music lyrics collectively cover lots of different ways to use a language. Some songs use slang or everyday conversational speech, while others take a more poetic or figurative approach. Seek out a variety of songs in different styles, learn the lyrics (as well as translate them), memorize a few of your favorites, and be sure to sing along when you play them. You’ll find you’re speaking more and more naturally in no time.
4. Find a Learning Buddy
Just about everything in life instantly becomes more fun when you apply the buddy system, and learning a second language is definitely no exception. If you happen to know another person learning the same language, consider partnering up for regular study sessions. Practice speaking to each other in your target language. Take turns critiquing each other’s pronunciation, word choice, and grammar as well. Sometimes another set of ears is exactly what you need to identify problem areas to focus on, as well as to discover aspects of speaking the language you’re especially good at.
The key to becoming truly fluent in a second language is to avoid simply putting it away when your actual lessons and study sessions are over. Instead, you should expose yourself to as much of the language as you can, as well as integrate it into your daily life to the greatest extent possible.