Tips & Tricks

Try to Speak!

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Speak More!

Just like a person needs to practice playing guitar in order to get better at making music, people need to practice speaking in order to be able to make the music of language. As such, speaking should be an integral part of the language learning process. Rather than studying grammar and dreaming of one day using it in a real conversation, we believe that you can unlock the potential of grammar by learning to use the common questions people use all the time. In this way, everything you know and learn is readily available to be used in conversation. Below are 5 tips for studying, which will help you learn to speak Spanish faster.

1. Learn Useful Reaction Words

The words and phrases we use to react to the people and things around us are the bread and butter of a language. Just think of how many times throughout your day you use words like, "Cool!", "Okay." "Nice!" "I see." "Oh my god!" and so on. If you learn how to say these things in Spanish, you will be able to express your feelings and connect with people while expending very little effort. And you will have a lot of fun doing it! Later on, when you've learned more, your conversation style will be more dynamic because you are able to respond appropriately to the people and things around you.

2. Learn the Questions People Always Ask

The little known secret about language is that people everywhere pretty much ask the same questions over and over again. And you can get good at Spanish quickly by learning how to ask and answer these questions. There's about 10 of them, but basically they are questions like "Where are you from?", "Where do you live?", "What's your name?" and so on. They may seem boring, but actually they are the doorway to getting to know people and talking about other, more interesting things. Plus, if you can't answer these simple questions, you'll hit a brick wall with every new person you meet no matter what other complicated grammatical structures you know. These are the things people always want to know, so it's in your best interest to practice asking and answering these questions from the beginning. Lucky for you, all of these core questions are covered in the first 10 missions on this website!

3. Learn Survival Phrases

Phrases like "Sorry, I don't understand." or "Sorry, I don't know." are life savers. When you first start out learning a language there is going to be a lot you don't understand. It's natural and there's nothing wrong with it, but many people don't learn how to clearly communicate these communication issues to people, and it causes more problems than what's really necessary. So, if you master these phrases from the get-go, you will be able to tell what's going wrong. Maybe they're speaking to fast, or you didn't catch the last word, or you just need to hear what they said one more time. Whatever the case, being able to quickly communicate these things to the people you're speaking with makes communication a hell of a lot easier. You'll find that people are rather forgiving and more than happy to repeat themselves, rephrase a question, or just change the subject to something that is a lot easier to talk about. If that's not reason enough to focus on learning these phrases, also remember that these survival phrases will give you more confidence. And we all know that increased confidence can help you learn even more -- and faster too!

4. Focus on the "I" and "You"

Most people run into trouble with languages from day one because textbooks try to teach us all the different ways of using verbs at the same time. They attempt to teach us everything from the "She", "He", "They", "We", "It", "You", and "I" all in one go, and our heads end up exploding from too much information. They try to teach us everything, and we end up learning nothing. Spanish is especially tricky because the verb form changes depending on who you're talking about. The good news is that most conversation only involves two people: You and the person you're talking to (i.e. the "you" and the "I"). So, you can do yourself a huge favor by ignoring all the other verb tenses for now and just learning how to talk about yourself and the person in front of you. Later on, when you've got a better grasp of the language and a topic comes up where it is relevant to talk about someone else or a group of people, then you can inquire about how to use verbs for he, she, it, they, and so on.

5. Ignore Everything that is Not Obviously Useful

When you're learning a new language there is a lot to learn, yes -- but there is also a lot that you don't actually need until perhaps much later. People and textbooks are often kind of dumb because they will try to teach you things they insist are "important". But in fact those things they are teaching are some of the stupidest, most arcane things you actually need to know about the language while you are still starting out and wanting to speak with people. They will end up overloading your memory, confusing you, and, ultimately, destorying your motivation for learning the language. What you can do to combat this flood of useless knowledge is just ignore it. When people try to teach you new things, always ask yourself, "When will I really use this?" or "Is this going to actually help me in the types of conversations I'm trying to have now?" If the answer is no, then you don't have to worry so much about memorizing what they are telling you. After all, if that thing is really important, it will come up again later and you will be in a better position to understand it. Just remember that your goal is speaking with people about the things that are interesting to you. If you can remember that, you will do well with any new foreign language.