Category Archives: Learn to Speak Spanish

Tips and tricks for studying Spanish. Learn some basic Spanish words, phrases and grammar that may help you in a Spanish conversation.

B vs V and other similar errors in Spanish

Choosing bettween B and V in Spanish
Initiales BB” (CC BY 2.0) by Mon Œil

If there is one problem that even Spaniards have is with the letters b and v. What is so difficult about these two? Well, they are pronounced almost the same. This is why some confusions appear. In addition, on the keyboard, they are one next to the other. Even though you might be able to use this excuse when typing, it is better to learn when to use which letter. Arm yourself with a pen and a piece of paper, and let’s get started.

We use the letter b in Spanish for:

  1. The words that come from other languages (latin, arabic) and in their original language are written with either b or p. Here are some examples: bien, bueno, biblia, biblioteca, along with words that start with bi-( from the number two): bipolar, bigamia.
  2. Words that start with the syllables: bu-, bur-, and bus-, such as: búsqueda, burla, búho.
  3. The words that end in: -bundo, -bunda, and -bilidad, such as: moribundo, errabunda, There is an exception: movilidad.
  4. All the tenses of the verbs whose infinitives end in: -aber, such as haber, saber, and caber, in -bir, such as escribir, recibir, and in -buir, such as The only exceptions are: hervir, servir, and vivir, along with their compounds.
  5. The verb endings: -ba, -bas, -bamos, -bais, and -ban of the imperfect tense of the indicative mood which correspond to the verbs of the first conjugation, such as cantaba, bailabas, saltábamos, fumaban.
  6. The imperfect verb tense o the verb ir: iba, ibas, iba, íbamos, ibais, iban.

We use the letter v in Spanish for:

  1. Compound nouns formed with the prefix: vice- (which indicates that the person can do this instead of the other). Examples of such words include: vicepresidente, vicealmirante. Other prefixes that indicate the use of the letter v are: villa-, villar-. These are prefixes that indicate geographical places, such as: Villafranca, Villarcayo. Other geographic prefixes include: valle-, vall-, or val-. Examples of such words are: Valparaíso, Valladolid.
  2. The words that start with the syllables: ad, cla, di, pri and are followed by the “v” sound. Such words include: adverbio, clave, diversidad, privilegio. There is an exception: the noun
  3. The words that end in: -viro, vira, -voro, -vora. Examples of such words include: Elvira, carnívoro. As an exception, we have the word víbora.
  4. The words that have the following endings: -ava, -ave, -avo, -eva, -eve, -iva, -ivo. Examples include: suave, nueva, guava, viva. The exception for this rule is the word árabe.

So now you know some of the main ways in which you can learn to distinguish the letter v from the letter b when writing in Spanish. Here are some more tips to help you not mix the two up. Oh, and remember. If you ever happen to type b instead of v, just use the excuse that they are one next to the other on the keyboard. It is the best temporary solution.

Though if you don’t want to rely in excuses, you can contact me to proofread your texts!

The easy way to ser, estar, haber

The Spanish language sometimes likes to over complicate things. One example of such thing is the fact that there are three words to express the same thing: “to be”. If that is not over complicating your existence, then I do not know what is. It looks like they could not simply decide on one simple verb and that kind of sucks. Natives do not seem to mind it that much though. It is the people who are learning Spanish that have major problems with it.

Three verbs that express the same thing means that you can use any one of them whenever you want to, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the three verbs: ser, estar, haber are used for different things. This confuses many people who want to and are learning Spanish. However, there is no need to worry. This blog post is here to help. Enough rambling, let’s cut to the chase.

  1. SER

The first verb is probably the most common verb in the Spanish language and also the first verb that people learn. It is usually used for:

introducing yourself:

Example: Yo soy María. (= I am Maria)

permanent characteristic ( color, shape, size):

Examples: El cielo es azul. (= The sky is blue)

           El cuadro es redondo. (= The painting is round)

Los pantalones son grandes. (= The pants are big)

where and when something takes place:

Examples: El evento será en Madrid. (= The event will take place in Madrid)

  El festival será en abril. (= The festival will take place in April)

indicating the owner:

Example: La casa es suya. (= The house is his/hers)

indicating the materials that something is made of:

Example: La pulsera es de oro. (= The bracelet is made of gold)

-indicating price:

Example: La chaqueta es 50 euros. (= The jacket is 50 euros)

There is a simple trick to determine whether we are going to use the verb “ser” as opposed to the verb “estar”. Is it permanent? If the answer is yes, then we use the verb “ser”, if not, then we use the verb “estar”. Seems simple, right?

  1. ESTAR

The second verb on the list is also one of the most common verbs in the Spanish language. It is usually used for:

temporary characteristics (it might surprise you, but marriage is a temporary characteristic also, what a pessimistic view!):

Examples: El chico está enfermo.(= The boy is sick)

Los dos están casados. (= The two are married)

location

Example: La biblioteca está en la calle principal. (= The library is on the main street)

There is a simple trick to determine whether we are going to use the verb “estar” as opposed to the verb “haber” , it is the question: “Do we know it?”. If the answer is yes, then we use the verb “estar”.

  1. HABER

Haber is mostly used for determining the location of unknown places or persons.

Example: Hay un banco por aquí. (= There is a bank around here) as opposed to El banco está aquí. (= That certain bank is here).

Now that you know the difference between these verbs, it’s time to use them!

How to reduce your cover letter to 350 words

Tips to study Spanish
Studying flickr photo shared by mer chau under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Cover letters are a great way to promote skills in front of the prospective employer. Though, today you need to make some alterations to what is considered as a good cover letter.

The most important one is that you should not keep it too long. Cover letters used to be around 675 words but nowadays they are going down to 350. Employer have less time to focus on long and time consuming activities like reading about someone`s achievements.

The main aim of the short cover letter remains the same- to show how you could contribute to the organization and why you are the right person to do so. But you should not repeat the things you have written in your CV – all your formal competence and your experience with former employers is already in your CV. That is where recruiters look for this type of information, because the CV is very clear and schematic.

The same for references – if you have a referee`s name reference on your CV, don’t mention them in the cover letter. It makes you look insecure – as if you are leaning too much on somebody else.

About the outlook-in the top right corner, you should have your name, address, telephone number and email address.

Try to find out who is doing the recruiting –do some Internet research. It is better to address the person by name. It makes it more personal. For example, write something like “To Ms. Alex Jenkins. Add the job title like “Director or HR Manager. Then put the name of the organization or company. Below it, write in bold letters “Application for the position”).

You need shorter paragraphs and more space between the lines. Though old-fashioned, Times New Roman is usually recommended. Your cover letter needs to be “airy”, and it shouldn’t look packed.

Don’t use additional things to make sentences more complex like “I would like to highlight the key reasons why I am so keen to be considered and how I can contribute to your company.” Just do it, don’t announce that you’re going to do it. That’s a bit like what good teachers give students in class: they don’t tell students what they’re going to tell them – they simply tell them.

In fact, the cover letter should be so short, clear and to the point and concise that the recipient would be able to read it in about ten seconds.

Once you have done this, proof-read it carefully to make changes if necessary. Do not feel insecure- it is the same job as writing the classic cover letter. Imagine this is a zip version of it.

This may sound overwhelming, but it is the reality of today’s market, and it’s the way recruiters work. Be catchy – grasp their attention but don’t overwhelm them with too much unnecessary information.

Next time you apply for something, give it a try-at least you will know that your letter was read by someone.

If you need to have your cover letter in Spanish proofread, contact me.

Spanish phrases for tourists

Spanish beach  Spanish phrases for tourists
“Nerja .. Andalucia” flickr photo by Nick Kenrick.. shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

If you’re spending a few weeks in Spain for your holidays you probably don’t want to bother becoming a fluent Spanish speaker. However, a few key phrases can go a long way, especially if you’re not planning to spend your trip in an all-inclusive resort. Not only does it make getting what you want easier, a lot of people appreciate it when foreigners take the time to learn a few basic phrases so it can often make you friends.

  1. Introductions

Let’s start with the basics:

Good day Buen día

Hello, my name is… Hola, me llamo…

What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama? (formal)

How are you doing? ¿Cómo estás? (informal) or ¿Cómo está? (formal)

I’m well, thank you – Estoy bien, gracias.

Goodbye   Adiós

In most parts of the Spanish-speaking world, strangers should be addressed using the formal version to be polite. However, it’s worth noting that in Spain, Argentina and some parts of Uruguay you can use the informal right away. Actually, being honest, it seems the overall trend is going towards the more informal versions.

  1. Ordering Food

A table for two, please Una mesa por dos, por favor.

What is this? ¿Qué es esot?

I am a vegetarian Soy vegetariano(a)

When the waiter asks you what you would like to drink, or something along the lines of ¿Algo de beber? or ¿Qué van a tomar?

To drink, I’ll have a… Para beber quiero…

When the waiter asks you what you would like to eat, or something along the lines of ¿Qué desean ustedes?

I would like the… Me gustaría el/la/los/las…

Could you bring me some… Me trae un/una/unos/unas…

No, thank you.  No, gracias.

Yes, please. Sí, por favor.

To make changes to your order, use sin or con for without or with. And, of course, don’t forget to thank your waiters with muchas gracias, as you would in English.

  1. Asking for Directions

In case you ever find yourself without your phone in a chaotic city like Mexico City, Barcelona, or Buenos Aires, here are a few simple questions to help you figure out where you are and where you need to be going.

Where are we? ¿Dónde estamos?

What street is this? ¿Qué calle es esta?

Excuse me, where is…? Disculpe, ¿dónde está el/la/los/las…?

Where is the bus stop? ¿Dónde está la parada del autobús?

Is it near? ¿Está cerca?

Now for the answers:

Go straight. Sigue derecho.

Turn left Gire a la izquierda.

Turn right Gire a la derecha.

Take me to this address, please. Lléveme a esta dirección, por favor.

Stop here, please. – Deténgase aquí, por favor.

How much is the fare? à Cuánto es la tarifa?

Spanish speakers have a wide variety of dialects and accents. So, while you may find it difficult to understand the questions being put to you, if you answer using standard Spanish you will most likely still be understood. However, pay attention to your pronunciation and intonation as that can confuse a local with little to no experience listening to foreigners speak.

Useful Phrases for Writing a Letter in Spanish

Types of writing styles

The emergence of digital technology has radically changed the way we get in contact by writing. Whether you need to get in touch with a friend, a close family member or a business partner the old fashioned time of writing letters by snail mail has been replaced by more convenient emails, text messages and social media. Although the necessity of letter writing is unchangeable, its form has transitioned almost entirely online. However, the distinction between formal and informal writing still remains as important since it represents the level of our literacy skills.

Informal letters even in the virtual world are more or less the same as those we used to write on paper. Writing to people with whom we are close does not require formality. On the contrary, the more natural they sound the more obvious is the friendly tone. On the other hand, when it comes to formal writing, we often feel uneasiness about the content, the style and the tone of the letter we need to start. Before we begin, we need to know the reason why we are writing. What type of letter do we need to write? Do we know the person we are writing to? Is it about being polite or a bit strict?

Formal letters

The content of formal letters depends on the reason we need to write to someone. We may be looking for information, forward an invitation, ask for a favour or complain on something, the reasons are numerous. Regardless what the reason is, we should keep in mind that the letter must present formality and politeness. All formal letters have a general frame of the content, which means an opening sentence(s), the body of the letter and the closing sentence(s).

The format of formal letters

  • Your address in the top right corner-you may include your phone number. The date goes right below this part.
  • Start with salutation. If you know the person you refer to him/her as “Estimado señor” /”Muy señor mío” if you refer to a male or  “Muy señora mía” if you address a female.
  • The opening lines of the letter should indicate the reason of your writing so that the receiver has a clear idea what it is about. For example:

-Le escribo para + INFINITIVO

-El motivo de mi carta es + INFINITIVO

-Le envío la presente carta para + INFINITIVO

-Me pongo en contacto con usted para + INFINITIVO

  • A positive introduction may be “Me complace informarle de que…” or “Es para mi un placer…”
  • If you write a letter of complaint you can say “Quiero expresar mi malestar por… ” / “Considero inaceptable”. Or you may wish to send a thank-you letter. In that case you express your intention like “Le estoy muy agradecido por + INFINITIVO / HABER + participio”.  “Quiero expresar mi agradecimiento por…”  “Quedo, por todo ello, muy agradecido /-a.….” .

In an inquery letter when you need information you may say: “Le escribo para pedirle…” or “Le agradecería mucho que + IMPERFECTO DE SUBJUNTIVO”.

  • The body of the letter should contain more information on the subject. This is where you expand your writing. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling rules. Your letter should be well presented and sound respectful even you if you need to complain. Keep it short and stick to the point of your writing.
  • End the letter with an expression such as “Sincerely yours” or “Best wishes” or in Spanish “Un cordial saludo” which is also acceptable nowadays. Sign with your full name and surname at the end.
  • Make sure your letter has short and clear paragraphs.

By no means, the digital era has made correspondence much easier in terms of time and efficiency. Nevertheless, the composition is a subject to the efficacy  and literacy of the sender.

Do you need to write to your clients in Spanish? Hire me to proofread them before you send them.

Love phrases in Spanish

freelance cooperation to increase your services
“Lemur giving hands” flickr photo shared by Tambako the Jaguar under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

It is Valentine´s Day, so what better way to express your feelings for your loved one than in the language of love: Spanish. Below are some Spanish love phrases from famous Spanish and Latin American authors that will make your crush fall for you or your loved one be even more in love with you.

Pablo Neruda, a poet from Chile and the winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature gives us a perfect type of phrase: “En un beso, sabrás todo lo que he callado”, which means: in one kiss, you will know all I have not said.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, a post romanticist poet and writer, is considered to be one of the most read Spanish authors after Cervantes. Here is one his quotes that is guaranteed to make your crush fall for you: “El alma que hablar puede con los ojos, también puede besar con la mirada” and its translated version would sound something like: the soul that can speak with its eyes, can also kiss with a look.

Luís de Góngora was a Spanish poet whose poems were mostly written in the Baroque style. Here is one of his most romantic phrases:“A batallas de amor, campos de plumas”, which translates into: In the fight for love, a soft playing field.

If you are looking for something more on the humorous side, then a quote from Enrique Jardiel Poncela might just be the right thing for you. The Spanish novelist and playwright adopted a style based mostly on humor. Here is one of his love quotes: “El amor es como la salsa mayonesa: cuando se corta, hay que tirarlo y empezar otro nuevo”, its translation being: Love is like mayonaisse: when it separates, you’ve got to throw it away and start again.

José Ortega y Gasset a Spanish philosopher and essayist leaves us with this interesting insight about love: “Con la moral corregimos los errores de nuestros instintos y con el amor corregimos los errores de nuestra moral”, which means: With morality we correct the mistakes of our instincts, and with love we correct the mistakes of our morals.

This list could not be complete without a quote from the most renowned author from Spain, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, most famous for his worldwide best seller novel: ¨Don Quijote de la Mancha¨. Here is the quote: ¨El amor es invisible y entra y sale por donde quiere, sin que nadie le pida cuenta de sus hechos¨, its translation is: Love is invisible and comes and goes where it wants, without anyone asking about it.

If saying te quiero seems to no longer be enough to express your love, then maybe one of the phrases above will do the trick. There are many styles to choose from (funny, philosophical, romantic) and the options expand beyond these mentioned in this article. Here are some other Spanish phrases that you might find useful for any occasion, not just Valentine´s Day.

How to make plurals in Spanish

For English speakers, Spanish plurals aren’t too bad. Like in English, you generally just add an “s” to the end. Unfortunately, nothing is ever quite that simple. As always, there are a few differences. But don’t worry – this post will walk you through the whole process.

  1. Forming Basic Plural Nouns

Let’s get a few things clear first. A noun, as you may know, is the person, place, or thing being talked about. A plural noun is when there is more than one person, place, or thing. In English, when we want to show that we’re talking about more than one noun we add an “s” to the end of it:

  • I have a dog. 
  • I have three dogs.

For Spanish nouns that end in vowels, it’s exactly the same:

  • Tengo un perro.
  • Tengo tres perros.

And it doesn’t matter if the noun is feminine or masculine:

  • Juan tiene una manzana.
  • Juan tiene cuatro manzanas.

However, for nouns that don’t end in vowels, it’s a little different.

  1. Nouns That End with Consonants

For nouns that end with consonants, like televisión or avión, we need something a little different. Try saying “televisions” with a Spanish accent. Pretty hard, right? It just sounds like English. That’s because in Spanish nouns that end with consonants need an “es” at the end.

  • Tengo una televisión.
  • Tengo unas televisiones.

Don’t forget that the accent in television gets taken off when it becomes plural!

  1. Exceptions

There are no rules without exceptions, especially in grammar. Luckily, there’s only one exception to plural nouns in Spanish: nouns that end with “z,” like la voz or el lápiz. In the plural they’re spelled with a “c”:

  • la voz
  • las voces

 

  • el lápiz
  • los lápices

Luckily, lapis keeps its accent, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Bu the next question is: what about that el and la?

  1. Pluralising Articles and Adjectives

This is where things get a little trickier. Unlike English nouns, in Spanish not only does the noun become plural, but so do its article and its adjective, if it has them. If you’re not sure what an article is, see my post on articles. In Spanish, the definite articles are el for masculine nouns and la feminine nouns. In the plural they look like this:

  • Mira al perro.  (al comes from a + el)
  • Mira los perros.

 

  • Mira la televisión.
  • Mira las televisiones.

Indefinite articles in Spanish are uno for the masculine and una for the feminine.

  • Quiero un libro
  • Quiero unos libros.

 

  • Quiero una manzana.
  • Quiero unas manzanas.

Often, however, words come with descriptions: a strong drink or a green apple. In Spanish, these need to be pluralised to match the noun they describe:

  • Quiero un libro bueno.
  • Quiero unos libros buenos.

 

  • Quiero una manzana verde.
  • Quiero unas manzanas verdes.

This can get tricky when you have an adjective that needs to be changed for gender and number like rojo, or “red.”

  • Busco un coche rojo.
  • Busco unos coches rojos.

 

  • Quiero la manzana roja.
  • Quiero las manzanas rojas.

That said, Spanish plurals really aren’t too scary. Remembering to match the adjective to the noun might take a while but, with a bit of practice, it will soon come naturally!

Ready for a Spanish practice?

Spanish Indie Authors – Gorka E Argul – La llave de la eternidad

Is it hard to find novels to read in Spanish? Many students of Spanish want to read novels in Spanish, but don’t have a clue about which one to choose. The classics are always there, but let’s face it, sometimes are not the most engaging for the general public.

Shakespeare is a great author, but when it comes to enjoying the story, many people would prefer reading Ken Follet.

So today I bring you a review about a novel by a Spanish indie author that you may consider reading:

Review of La llave de la eternidad

cover of la llave de la eternidadThe Key of Eternity is a fantasy novel written by  Gorka E Argul. It is a fast-paced novel, which will make you overcome the limits of Physics.

The Key of Eternity is a thriller book, at the border between fantasy and science fiction. In this novel, Gorka E Argul takes the historical figure of Nikola Tesla as a starting point in order to develop a fantastic story in which the time travel journeys are not only for the characters of the novel, but also for the reader.

The novel is a modern one, in which the characters continually cross each other and in which the narrative line plays with the different perspectives of the characters themselves. It is a fast-paced novel, in which the events happen in a thrilling way, with the added interest of the fact that the narrative is not linear, but there are various gaps in the timeline, which contribute to keeping the suspense.

The gaps in the timeline and skipping from one period to another help embellish this fantastic story. This raises the question of whether the advances in science make it possible for people to teleport themselves or even travel back in time.

In The Key of  Eternity time travel and teleportation are not only possible, but also they have existed for a long period of time. Even though it is, of course, a highly kept secret from there and that is why, the protagonist of the story, a journalist from New York Times, called Patrick Stevens finds himself involved in a mysterious and dangerous plot, which could become one of the major revolutions of the history of humanity.

The story begins with Patrick taking part in a scientific demonstration. He soon goes from being a spectator to a protagonist, which happens immediately after he helps the injured after an accident. That is how, in a short period of time, Patrick makes contact with various important characters, in what is no more than a small example of the pace of the events.

An especially interesting aspect of the book are the events that happened in the past, where the author takes important figures such as the above mentioned Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein as characters, along with a two American solders whose friendship will remain in question.

It is a perfect novel to take on vacation or for the days in which you have some free time to read, because it requires you to pay close attention in order not to miss part of the main plot, given the different time ‘hops´ and the constant change of the characters from the perspective of whom the narrative is presented. The difficult part of this novel is that it must be read in one sitting, or else important details could be forgotten.

It is important to take into account that the publisher is not as important as the ones that you are accustomed to if you only read books from important publishers. It is a detail that could attract your attention, but which does not make the lecture more difficult.

In the same manner that an independent publisher could have his problems, this also has its advantages, which means that we are presented a story which has a fresh vibe to it along with originality, which is quite rare today and frankly, we see it lacking from the majority of the bestsellers that we can find nowadays in the bookshops of  any given city.

Besides what one may enjoy from reading it, The Key of Eternity gives us something to reflect upon: What scientific progress could have been stuck in the process of innovation? How many times were investigations that could have had a major impact or even a change in history abandoned?

I recommend you to read this novel.

Spanish level to enjoy the reeading: Advanced C1-C2

The difference between language learning and language acquisition

Taking up a new language brings uneasiness to most of the learners. We often speak about learning a language though this is a process that does not only involve learning by itself. There is a difference between how we learn a language and how we acquire it. As we chose to adopt a new language, we need to consider the process just like any other skills aimed to provide us with the ability to do something well. Particularly if we need to reach a more advanced level.

Then, what do we basically mean when we say ‘to learn and’ to ‘acquire’?

Learning is connected with memorizing, studying and being informed. We learn our school subjects in that way trying to remember various facts and details in a given field of study. On the other hand, the meaning of `acquire` refers to a process when something comes into possession, something is gained through efforts or a natural flow.  For example, you can learn a poem and recite it by heart but acquiring a deeper knowledge of poetry may lead you towards the mastery of writing your own.

How we learn a language?

Things are similar with languages. Learning does not mean you will be able to communicate properly with people who speak that language.

We often learn plain grammatical rules and bunch of words we are unable to use in real situations. You may know how to compose sentences, you may even create complex construction but you may still have difficulties in applying them smoothly whether in speaking or writing. This means you have memorized partially the language but not in all language skills.

This kind of learning is typical for passing standard testing with filing in gaps or multiple choice questions because it only needs passive, conscious knowledge usually gained in a classroom.  Saying that you have learned a language does not necessarily make you good at speaking or listening-skills which require communicative approach.

How we acquire a language?

Language acquisition has a different approach. Firstly, there is an environment with an adequate context that will enable to acquire the language in the most efficient way. The best example for this is the way children learn to speak and communicate.

A child learns in a subconscious way without thinking of grammatical rules as he/ she needs to communicate in the family. They may say ‘childrens’ instead of ‘children’ and they may be entirely understood because the importance is on the text of communication not on the form. This is how all of us acquire our first language.

When it comes to a foreign language, there is a similar situation. Why do we learn a foreign language? We need to communicate with it, speak, listen, read and write. Acquisition stretches beyond classroom and involves real situations. A very good example of language acquisition is how young people adopt slag words and colloquial expression from movies or while staying abroad. In a traditional classroom they are expected to say I`m going to do but in an appropriate environment I’m gonna do becomes their natural language. Language acquisition means that you aim towards achieving a native command of the language both spoken and written as well as in communication.

Having in mind the difference between learning and acquiring a language, it is important to think of the methods when taking up foreign language courses. Few of us are fortunate enough to afford spending time among native speakers in a country where the language is spoken. When you pick up a course, make sure that the methodology of teaching is focused on multiple structures responsible for oral understanding and the capacity for creative communication besides the standard teaching techniques.

Liven Up Your Spanish Study Routine!

We all know about language classes and programs like Rosetta Stone. But, for some people, classes can be too expensive or inconvenient, and self-directed study can get lonely. Even worse, when you study alone, it’s hard to measure success and you can forget why you’re trying to learn the language in the first place. Luckily, there are plenty of learning options out there, especially for Spanish. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun – learning a new language should be a challenge, but not a nightmare.

  1. Skype lessons

Obviously, I’m a fan of this method. Not only do you get one-on-one lessons, you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, you can learn from native speakers from around the world. Language is all about communication and studies show that we retain the words we use in conversation more quickly and more easily than those we just memorise. Use personal Skype lessons or tandem partners to get speaking right away. Getting comfortable speaking a foreign language will also give you more confidence in your language abilities.

  1. Tandem partners

Having a tandem partner is like having a coffee-date that also helps you practice Spanish. Usually, a tandem partner is someone who is fluent in the language you want to learn but needs help improving their abilities in your language. In this case, half the conversation would be spent in English and half in Spanish. Put up wanted flyers at your local college or university, or check out on-line language exchanges such as Itaki, Speaky, or The Mixxer.

  1. Telenovelas

One of the best resources for Spanish-learners is telenovelas. These over-the-top soap operas come in all kinds of scandalous subgenres and can be found on YouTube or, more recently, on Netflix. Telenovelas are a great way to learn conversational Spanish and get used to hearing several people talk at once. If you’re unsure where to start, Betty la fea is a funny, warm-hearted telenovela from Columbia, Maria la del barria is a classic Mexican telenovela featuring everything from vicious gossip to staged deaths, and, for something steamier, Mujeres de Lujo is a Chilean telenovela following the lives of upscale escorts.

  1. Language-learning apps

If all you want is to build basic grammar and vocabulary, there are a ton of apps out there that offer fun games aimed at strengthening your vocabulary. Download one you like to your phone and play it on the bus, waiting in the doctor’s office – wherever you have a few spare minutes. Duolingo is probably the most well-known and is great for starting out, but Memrise offers a wider variety of “courses” and you can choose your level and even your dialect.

The most important thing is to keep yourself interested and motivated. If you make the process as fun as possible and involve other people such as online tutors or tandem partners, you will make your language learning experience more rewarding and ensure that you stick with it, even when the going gets tough.