In this Spanish self-study guide, I’ll explain how to do it correctly and provide you with all the resources you need to get started right away!
Spanish self-study: how to start
Perhaps you want to learn the Spanish language so you can surprise a Spanish friend, or so you can visit the beautiful Spanish seaside and converse with the locals… Anyway, do you need an excuse to learn one of the world’s most beautiful languages?
Of course, language learning is an ongoing process, but one thing is certain: you must begin somewhere. Learning a language can be enjoyable, but there will come a time when you are exhausted or simply lack motivation. The first step is to make a promise to yourself: make a schedule (for example, “I will study 20 minutes every day.”) and stick to it. It will be difficult at times, but believe me when I say it will be extremely rewarding!
Spanish self-study: the right resources
Once you’ve committed, spend the first few days researching the tools you’ll be using to learn Spanish. Before you begin studying Spanish on your own, here are some basic resources you should look into:
- Finding a good online dictionary is a great place to start. They abound on the Internet. You will find one that works for you based on your native language. You can also use contextual dictionaries, such as Reverso or Linguee, which offer a wide range of language combinations and allow you to translate multiple words at once, including sentences and idioms.
- Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll require a course to provide structure. An audio course, in my opinion, is the best way to get used to listening to spoken Spanish and practice without getting bored.
- Of course, a grammar bible is always useful. This will help you reinforce what you learn in the audio course while also improving your spoken language. Most people think grammar is boring, but trust me, it can be enjoyable in small doses, and you will understand and remember so much more if you have a basic understanding of grammar. It can make a significant difference in your Spanish adventure.
- You can also use your phone to download a language-learning app and practice wherever you are. Duolingo is one of the most well-known foreign language learning apps. The Spanish version combines traditional flashcards with cutting-edge technology to teach you how to speak, listen, read, and write in Spanish. It’s a fun and efficient way to practice Spanish in short bursts throughout the day.
Spanish self-study: what to focus on
When you start learning, you’ll realize… there’s a lot to learn! So, what should you concentrate on? I guess that most people want to learn Spanish so they can speak it! (You’re amazing if you want to read Dante as well!) So it’s as simple as that: concentrate on listening and speaking!
Speaking is the most commonly overlooked skill in language courses, but not in all of them. You’ll be surprised to discover that you’ve learned grammar and vocabulary simply by following this course, and even more so when you start thinking in Spanish!
Spanish self-study: how to keep it up
What else do you need? A routine, a great course to follow, a bite-sized grammar bible, a great online dictionary, and an app to practice while waiting for the bus…
Another great way to incorporate Spanish into your daily life and stay motivated is to watch Spanish news (here you can find slow Spanish news for learners), listen to podcasts on topics of interest, and read, even if it’s just recipes online, short stories for Spanish students, or even children’s books!
It’s also never too early to begin listening to and conversing with native speakers. If you don’t have any Spanish friends, go to your nearest Spanish café or restaurant and practice with their staff. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes!