Learn Spanish From Scratch: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners
Spanish is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and the Americas. It is the world’s second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese, and the world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi.
Why Even Learn Spanish?
Did you know that there are over 572 million Spanish speakers around the world?
Indeed, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world (by a number of native speakers), and the numbers are growing exponentially year after year!
People have different reasons for starting to learn a language.
If you want to get a great new job, Spanish can be a valuable asset. With the number of speakers growing every single day, knowing Spanish can help you earn a living as a translator, an interpreter, a language teacher or even an immigration social worker.
This guide is by no means intended to be a comprehensive course on Spanish for beginners. Instead, this post is a guide for those people who want to get started but do not know-how.
Use it as a way of making sure that you have everything you need before you start learning. Then, follow the steps contained within to keep moving forward and cover the necessary basics.
So grab a pencil and a piece of paper, go through the steps in order, make any notes you need to and, finally, start learning Spanish!
Learn Spanish From Scratch: The Ultimate Guide To Get You Started In 9 Easy Steps
Now that you know what you will find in this post, it is time to get started.
Welcome to the ultimate guide to learning Spanish for beginners from scratch in nine super easy steps!
1. Get a Good Grammar Book
You might have heard that all you need to do when learning a new language is memorize a couple of words and phrases and use them whenever the opportunity arises. This might be good advice if you only want to know some basics for a brief exposure to the Spanish language, like travel.
But if you want to learn Spanish—I mean really learn it—you will need to learn the grammar.
You may not want to be the king of grammar, and I am certainly not going to try to convince you to become one, but the truth is that grammar is indeed important and necessary if you really want to learn a language.
2 Learn Basic Vocabulary
By building vocabulary before you begin studying tenses and other grammar concepts, you are ensuring that you will have enough words to work with when you are ready to begin building sentences. Besides, learning basic vocabulary always comes in handy because it allows you to understand more and more complex phrases as you build it up.
You do not need to learn words like the parts of a car (unless, of course, you aim to become a Spanish-speaking auto mechanic). Keep it simple, focusing initially on commonly used words, and work your way up to more complicated topics.
You can start by learning the numbers in Spanish, the days of the week and the months of the year. Learn how to tell the time, learn the right terms for colours and animal words.
3. Master the Main Tenses
Once you have a good pool of verbs, you should start learning the main tenses.
The concept of a “main tense” is a very broad one that will mean something different from teacher to teacher. However, we can all agree the following are a must in order to start communicating in Spanish:
The present simple: You will need this one to talk about your daily routines, primarily. Spanish also loves using this tense for different purposes (including the future!), so it is a good idea to start with it.
The future simple: One of the easiest, if not the easiest, tenses in Spanish, it will help you express all your thoughts about the future. Add to it the periphrasis ir a (going to) and you will have all you need for now.
4. Use YouTube
While you are learning your basic vocabulary and the main tenses, I recommend that you start visiting YouTube.
We all know we can go to YouTube and spend hours watching fail compilations and cute cats, but did you know that YouTube is one of the best resources out there for language learning?
There are hundreds of channels dedicated exclusively to teaching vocabulary and explaining grammar concepts. You can also find videos that will help you improve your pronunciation, songs with subtitles so you can sing along, Spanish vlogs and so much more.
There are literally hundreds of channels for any kind of learner!
Learn Spanish From Scratch: The Ultimate Guide To Get You Started In 9 Easy Steps contd.
5. Start Reading
Reading from day one may seem like an impossible task, but you cannot imagine how much it can help you!
I know the idea of reading a 600-page book in a foreign language when you do not speak a word of it is, to say the least, crazy. But there are many other ways that can help you practice your reading skills without having to break a sweat.
Start by reading children’s books and graded readers at the lowest level possible. You do not have to be a child to benefit: even if you are 85 years old, it will help you! We all have a kid inside, so why not feed it with some fairy tales and adapted stories in Spanish?
You can also try bilingual books. They are awesome! First of all, there are many topics and genres to choose from, and second of all, you do not have to go back and forth between the book and a dictionary because the translation will already be right there.
6. Listen to the Best Podcasts
You are already taking care of your vocabulary, your grammar, your pronunciation and your reading skills… but what about your listening skills?
Listening to podcasts is the best way to start immersing yourself in a new language.
Choose podcasts made in Spanish by native speakers to be sure that you are learning correctly. In the beginning, everything can feel a little overwhelming. Podcasts in Spanish are obviously not in English, so do not expect to understand everything right away. You will start recognizing single words, then expressions and phrases, then main ideas and, finally, one day, you will be able to understand almost everything.
7. Practice Conversational and Writing Skills
Another step to get you started learning Spanish will be to practice your conversational and writing skills.
Now that you have gathered some vocabulary and a little grammar, you know how to pronounce words and you have read and listened to enough Spanish, it is time to jump into real life and start using what you have learned so far.
Start with baby steps. Try to teach some words and expressions to your family and friends. It does not have to be long and complicated. A simple Buenos días (Good morning) can be a great way to start.
The last step in your journey will be having a real conversation with a native speaker. If you do not feel comfortable enough or do not have the possibility of finding a language-exchange group, try to call your pen-pal or call or walk into any Spanish-speaking company or store and ask in Spanish about one of their products.
8. Make a study plan to achieve your goals:
- Need to allot a specific time daily for learning Spanish. The more time you can dedicate, the better. To learn Spanish fast you will need to dedicate as much time as possible to learning the language.
- Need to prioritize some skills over others. Would you wish to dedicate an equal amount of time to all language learning skills? Or would you be more interested in speaking and listening than reading and writing?
- Your resources will play an essential role in achieving your goals. Take advantage of as many resources as possible when making your study plan. The more interactive and fun, the better!
In short, if you are new to Spanish, your priorities are the following:
- Decide on your motivation, goals, and how much you can dedicate to Spanish. This will help to manage your expectations.
- Build a base of practical vocabulary, including phrases and important verbs and nouns
- Start noticing the grammar in the phrases you learn, and use a grammar reference to look up uses and conjugations
- Get comprehensible input at the earliest opportunity. This should be enjoyable, somewhat challenging, and accessible
- Listen to the sounds of Spanish through podcasts. This will give you an idea of the pronunciation – you can’t pronounce a sound that you can’t hear
- Get out there and communicate as soon as you feel you can string a sentence together. There’s no substitute for practice, and the earlier you can start the sooner you can develop this crucial skill.
Learning a new language can be both exciting and intimidating, but you are not alone. There are millions of other students around the world who have decided, right at the same time as you have, that they want to study this beautiful language.
I wish you all the best in this new adventure you have just started.
Stay curious and, as always, happy learning!