What is the Best Way to Learn Spanish?

The best way to learn Spanish, if you didn’t happen to grow up in a Spanish speaking household, is to learn the basics of the language either through a course at your local adult education center/community college or to buy a Spanish language course online or at your local bookstore.  Once you have digested this initial information it’s time to begin immersing yourself in all things Spanish language.

Scholars have learned that the best way to learn Spanish, or any other language for that matter, is full immersion for an extended period of time.  This can mean living in a Spanish speaking country or studying abroad for a number of months.  It becomes a sink or swim type situation where you are forced to pick up the language just to function in society.

For those of us not able to just pick up and move our lives completely, full immersion will be nearly impossible.  That does not mean that you can’t surround yourself with Spanish as often as possible in your quest to learn to speak Spanish.  You can easily keep the Univision or Telemundo television stations on in your house and you can enlist any Spanish speaking friends or neighbors to help teach you the language.  Just being around Spanish speaking people will prove an invaluable tool to help you pick up the language.

Options to Help Study Spanish

There are a few major options when it comes to the best ways to learn Spanish, and you ultimately have to decide for yourself based on your learning style and budget.  Some major options are:

1) A course at a local community college or adult education center.  This can be a very cost-effective method to help kick-start your Spanish language learning.  You can usually take a course at a local community college for a few hundred dollars, and you can even earn some college credits that way as well.  For those of you recoiling in horror at the prospect of going back to school please know that the perspective is completely different when it’s something you want to do as opposed to something you are forced to do.  If you have a genuine desire to learn the language, this can be a good option for you.  They will also likely have more advanced classes, so as you progress you can take progressively more difficult courses.

2)  A book you either purchase or borrow from the library that helps teach Spanish.  This is the least expensive option of all, but also the one least likely to succeed.  This is largely because there will be nobody there to push you to study and learn, and there won’t be any financial ‘buy-in’ to help motivate you as well.  More significantly, a book will not allow you to hear the language, which is an essential component of learning Spanish.  It’s important to understand the concepts and a book can certainly teach you that, but this is just one component. Okay for would-be entrepreneurs.

3) An online program such as the famous Rosetta Stone language software that helps combine all aspects of the Spanish language.  Rosetta Stone is famous for its ability to help students master the language of their choice, not to mention its ubiquity in advertising, including kiosks in airports and malls throughout America.  According to their website, the entire Spanish language program (Level 1-5) can be purchased for $599 and this includes “interactive software, an audio companion, a headset with microphone, live online lessons, games & community, and a mobile companion for your iPhone or iPod.  You can buy the first level of their program for just $200, but the Level 1-5 for $599 is certainly a much better deal if you’re inclined to spend that much.

4)  Personal tutoring from either a local Spanish teacher (try your local high school for a teacher offering tutoring services) or a native speaker offering tutoring services.  This will likely be your most expensive option, but it can easily be the most fun, rewarding, and ultimately successful option as well.  It’s tough to beat one-on-one learning for not only the effectiveness but the motivation as well.  There’s nowhere to hide in a one-person tutoring class, so if you didn’t prepare or work hard enough, your instructor will know it very quickly.  You will also learn more about the culture and particular dialects using this method. Good for making a lasting impression.

In summary, there is no one ‘best way to learn Spanish’, but there are many options to help you in your quest to learn the language.  One or more of the above-outlined options will certainly prove effective for you if you’re willing to invest some time, money and energy into learning Spanish.

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