Moved to Spain yet you still can´t manage to string 3 sentences together in Spanish?
We know lots of cases of expats who, despite living and working in Madrid for however long, have not learnt very much Spanish and are always left embarrassed when the waiter asks them something and all they can do is blush. Here are some ideas for you to make the most of your time living in Spain and to try and improve your Spanish in the most effective way possible.
Make your world Spanish!
Firstly, make your entire world Spanish. It seems obvious, but although you might live in Spain, if you work in English and all of your social circles speak in English, you will have very few opportunities to speak Spanish! Try to surround yourself with Spaniards, if you have the opportunity to, look for Spanish flatmates, or even if it seems complicated, try and speak in Spanish with your friends. Do everything possible to avoid spending time with those who want to practice their English with you!
Of course you can immerse yourself in the language by watching television, reading the news, listening to the radio and watching films in Spanish (although they will be with subtitles) but it will definitely help to do some listenings to get yourself used to the sounds. Try to read a book according to your level, if you can´t read general books read smaller texts such as magazines or articles, just don´t stop until you finish them!
Change your environment to a Spanish one, change the language on your computer and your phone, read instructions and medicine leaflets…try to familiarize yourself with the language in your day to day life.
Speak to Spaniards
Go out into the street and don´t be embarrassed to talk! Go shopping and speak to the shop assistants in Spanish, go and have a coffee on your own and try to make friends with the waiter! Spaniards are generally very friendly people who want to chat, so it won´t be very hard for you to find someone to talk to for a little bit every day.
Make the most of your dead time. Download a cool app for your phone and use it in those times during the day such as walking to work, waiting for the metro.
Pens & Paper
Of course, always keep a pen and notebook to jot down all the new things you hear that you didn´t know. Note down everything. Get yourself accustomed to being a sponge. Ask for clarification on any words that you don´t understand. Note them down and try to use them in different contexts. Get used to making good and useful notes with examples and hypothetical situations in order to make the words hard to forget. The more personalised your notes are, the better!
It is also helpful to write down a list of 5 new words every day and then try to use them as much as you can during that day putting them in context. Another option is to try covering your house with post-its with words and expressions that you find difficult to remember.
A final, obvious tip, is that although it takes a lot of effort, when you try to say something and you can´t get it out in Spanish, don´t say it in English! Try to express yourself in another way or try to define it in Spanish, get used to only using Spanish, as if it were a game, it can be fun!
For those who really want to advance as quick as a rocket for once and for all, we encourage you to sign yourself up for Spanish classes at La Aventura Española. The school is in the Salamanca neighbourhood, in the same centre as TtMadrid, and they offer a huge range of different courses with different hours and timetables for all levels.
Or if you would prefer, they also offer online Spanish classes on the virtual platform www.on-espanol.com where you can have individual or group classes with real teachers and real classmates, wherever and whenever you want!
With both options the teachers are lovely with a lot of experience and they will make you feel very comfortable and make sure that you have fun learning Spanish.
So get stuck in, Spanish is your new language and you are going to nail it!