Tag Archives: spanish conversation

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.

Love phrases in Spanish

“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.

Spanish words: Saber vs. Conocer and Pedir vs. Preguntar

Open Air Dining flickr photo shared by Anne Worner under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license


As with the verbs ser and estar, Spanish requires speakers to differentiate between different kinds of knowing or asking. Unlike ser and estar, however, these rules are much more clearly defined.

  1. Getting To Know Saber and Conocer

These two verbs can be separated into two relatively distinct categories: to know and to be acquainted with. Saber, the former, is used to express measurable knowledge such as facts, figures, and locations.

I know where she works.  Sé dónde trabaja ella.

I don’t know his name. No sé su nombre.

Likewise, it is used for skills, knowledge you’ve learned by heart, and disciplines that you either know a lot about or next to nothing:

Juan does not know how to drive. Juan no sabe conducir.

Flor knows the lyrics of the song (by heart). Flor sabe la letra de la canción or more common in spoken speech Flor se sabe la letra de la canción.

Isabela knows a lot about math. Isabela sabe mucho de matemáticas.

Jorge doesn’t know a word of French. Jorge no sabe nada de francés.

Conocer, on the other hand, is used for all those things with which you can be acquainted, but never fully know, such as people or cities:

I know Julietta. Conozco a Julietta.*

Alberto knows Medellín. Alberto conoce Medellín.

It can also be used for disciplines that you are familiar with, but do not have complete knowledge of:

Germán is familiar with French literature. Germán conoce la literatura francesa.

*Remember that when talking about knowing people you need to put an “a” in front of their name to distinguish them from inanimate objects.

  1. Asking For What You Want with Pedir And Preguntar

Fortunately, the rules for pedir and preguntar are much simpler to learn. Pedir is like “to ask for” in English, and you use it when you’re requesting an object, service, or favour. This makes it a key verb for eating out in restaurants and buying things in shops.

I asked him for chocolates. Le pedí bombones.

Let’s order now (ask for food).  Pidamos ahora.

Can I ask you a favour?  ¿Puedo pedirte un favor?

On the other hand, preguntar is for when you want to ask a question or request information.

I asked the time. Pregunté la hora.

Ask him what time the shop opens. Pregúntale cuándo abre la tienda.

As always, pay attention to when and how native speakers use these four verbs, as this will help reinforce the rules you’ve memorised. As well, it’s a good idea to memorise a couple useful phrases that take one or the other, not only to be more comfortable using them in sentences, but also as a reference point for when you are unsure of which to choose.

If you want to practice you speaking in Spanish, write me for a class!

Spanish Conversation Starters to Practice

Have you ever felt stuck not knowing what to talk about with new people?  If it happens in your native language, it’s probably even worse when you’re practicing your Spanish language skills.  To help you be prepared to strike up a conversation to practice your Spanish, be prepared with these four conversation starters:

¿A dónde has viajado? Where have you traveled?

This quick and easy conversation starter gets you talking about countries, languages, food, attractions and more.  To practice for this conversation you’ll need some follow up questions such as:  ¿Hablas (idioma)? Do you speak (language)? ¿Que fue lo que más te gustó? What did you like the most?  Also be prepared to share your own travel journeys and what you enjoyed in the places you’ve been.  You’ll need to brush up on your past tense to express yourself well when answering this question.

¿Qué es lo que te apasiona? What are you passionate about?

This is a great conversation starter that will really allow you to get to know someone on a deeper level.  If you want something even more natural you could try: ¿Qué es lo que más te gusta? Talking about passions goes beyond learning about someone’s job or their daily routines.  This really gets you into what people are interested in pursuing, working on and spending time on in their lives.  To practice for this conversation, you may want to brush up on your vocabulary touching on professions, activities and hobbies.  And of course you’ll need a response as well.  Think about what you enjoy doing, what liberates you and what you feel happy doing.  Be ready to express it.  This conversation will likely be focused on the present tense, but will also likely dabble into the past and future.  If you’re looking to practice all tenses and a wide range of vocabulary, it’s a good choice.

Open Air Dining flickr photo shared by Anne Worner under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

¿Qué es lo mejor que te ha pasado esta semana? What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?

Everyone has an answer for this and it doesn’t have to take things too deep if you’re feeling uneasy about striking up a conversation with a stranger.  You’ll practice basic everyday vocabulary and the past tense.  This conversation will probably give you some insight into your conversation partner’s daily life and routines.

¿Tienes planes para el fin de semana? What are you doing this weekend?

This is an easy, no pressure conversation starter.  Every day activities and vocabulary are practiced such as “Voy a ir al cine” “I’m going to go to the movies” or “Voy a jugar futbol con unos amigos” “I’m going to play soccer with some friends”. For practicing the future tense, this is an excellent choice as the main points of the conversation will be focused there.  What if it IS the weekend when you’d like to practice this conversation?  Then try, “¿Que planes tienes para esta semana?” “What plans do you have for this week?”

Conversing in Spanish is one of the best ways for learners to improve.  Want more conversation starter ideas? Check out this helpful site that has a long list of conversation starters for you to practice.  Just translate them into Spanish and you’ll be ready to have a killer conversation AND improve your Spanish language skills.


Spanish phrases that will get you by

Visiting Spain? If you want to dash off into real local life and away from the tourist guide whose English just makes you feel distant from the Spanish environment, you should work on learning some common Spanish phrases.  That is actually quite beneficial- you get to be understood and you get more motivation to learn some more Spanish phrases that will most probably end up in great friendships and unique experiences. And do not be afraid of making mistakes, it is natural. Besides, Spanish people are known for their hospitality as they would do everything to understand you.

First of all, you need the greetings in Spanish:

  • Hi- Hola (ola)
  • Good morning- Buenos días (bwenos̮  ð̞jas)
  • Good afternoon- Buenas tardes (bwenas taɾð̞es)
  • Good evening- Buenas noches (bwenas noʧes)
  • How are you- Cómo está(s) (komo estas)
  • Good, thank you- Bien, gracias (bjen  ɣ̞ɾaθjas)
  • I am ___- Soy ___ (soi̯)
  • Nice to meet you- Mucho gusto (mu͡ʧo ɣ̞usto)
Banderitas de España “13092009-FiestasAranda2009-34”flickr photo shared by rahego under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Simple phrases in Spanish to learn

Once you greeted people, whatever situation you are engaged in, you should get to know some general simple vocabulary like confirmation, negation, gratitude and some simple questions.

  • Yes- Sí (si)
  • No- No (no)
  • Thank you – Gracias (gɾaθjas)
  • You’re welcome- De nada (de nað̞a)
  • Please- Por favor (poɾ faβ̞oɾ)
  • Excuse me- Con permiso (kom peɾmiso)
  • I’m sorry- Lo siento (lo sjen̪to)
  • Can you help me? –  ¿Me podría ayudar? (me poð̞ɾiaʝuð̞ar)
  • What is your name? –  ¿Cómo se llama? (komo se ʝama)
  • Do you speak English? –  ¿Habla Inglés? (aβ̞la i̯nˠ gles)
  • How much is it? –  ¿Cuanto cuesta? (kwanto kwesta)
  • What time is it? –  ¿Qué hora es? (ke oɾa es)

Being a tourist, basically the most common verbs you might need are the verb to be (see this post), need (necesitar) and want (querer- I want water– Quiero agua). All you need to do is use them with different nouns, for which you would need a dictionary or maybe some sign language skills.

Probably the most useful vocabulary you need is giving or understanding directions in SpanishGetting by, going to the post office, the supermarket, the public toilet or to your hotel- getting there is what matters. Not understanding directions in a situation where you can’t find a local that speaks English can be quite frustrating and can take a lot of your energy as well as money for a taxi to get you there. Directions are also the easiest to remember, as you keep using them constantly on daily basis.

Directions in Spanish

  • Straight- Recto
  • Right- Derecha (deɾe͡ʧa)
  • Left- Izquierda (iθkjeɾð̞a)
  • East- Este (este)
  • West- Oeste (oeste)
  • North- Norte (norte)
  • South- Sur (sur)

If you get lost and would like to return or get somewhere else, “Where is the” is the easiest way of asking.

  • Where is the bus train station (or bus station) – ¿Dónde está la estación de tren? (don̪de esta la estaθjon̪ de tɾen/ bus)
  • Where is the restaurant? – ¿Dónde está el restaurante?  (don̪de esta el restau̯ɾan̪te)?
  • …..The street … ? – ¿…..la calle … ? (la kaʝe)?
  • ….the bank…? – ¿….el banco….? (ũm banˠko)?
  • Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño? – (don̪de esta el β̞aɲo)?

Of course, this list may take a whole book and still be called “Common Spanish phrases that will get you by”. People are using different kind of vocabulary depending on the various situations they are part of every day, and making a set phrasebook would be a wonder. Still, having this simple list will surely make your stay easier and more fun.

If you want to practice your Spanish conversation contact me!

How to Improve Pronunciation When Speaking Spanish

“Microphones” flickr photo shared by Håkan Dahlström under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Pronunciation is a challenge for those who want to learn to speak Spanish.  Although Spanish is famous for being easy to speak as words are pronounced the same way they are spelled, there is still a twist of the tongue to master in order to speak like a true native.  If you’re looking to perfect your accent, consider some of the following tips and tricks:

Sing Songs in Spanish

To work on your pronunciation, repetition and practice are key. To keep things from getting boring, try learning some songs in Spanish and belt them out.  Sing while in the shower, making dinner and in the car, all the while working on your Spanish pronunciation.  Some great Spanish speaking singers to look for on Youtube that won’t disappoint you are Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes, Alejandro Sanz, Ana Toroja and Ella Baila Sola.

Learn Some Spanish Tongue Twisters

Nothing gets your tongue moving quite like a tongue twister.  By practicing tongue twisters in Spanish, you’ll improve your agility when speaking and be able to practice tough pronunciations by repeating them over and over.  Then your normal Spanish speaking will seem like a breeze.  For native English speakers, the most difficult part of Spanish is often the regular “r” and the double r.  To practice the double r, try rolling an r for as long as you can.  Time yourself.  Have a competition with a friend.  By isolating your rolling r, you’ll be ready to use it.  Below are some tongue twisters to try with a special focus on the r and double r.

Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal

Un burro comía berros y el perro se los robó, el burro lanzó un rebuzno, y el perro al barro cayó.

Erre con “erre” cigarro,
“erre” con “erre” barril.
Rápido corren los carros,
Cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril.

Looking for more twisters?  This site has a wealth of Spanish tongue twisters to explore.

Listen, listen, listen

Listening to native speakers and imitating them is necessary to be able to speak like a true native Spanish speaker.  Whenever you get the chance, listen to Spanish radio, watch Spanish TV or movies and speak with native Spanish speakers.  Pay special attention to the way they pronounce the words, noticing the way they pronounce the vowels and how the syllables sound.  Many native English speakers make the mistake of pronouncing the “s” as a “z” for example when saying “Rosa” they’ll say “Roza.”  By listening carefully, you’ll start to notice the pronunciation errors that you make.

Watch Mouths

While you’re watching Spanish TV or hanging out with Spanish speakers, notice the way their mouths move.   It may sound a bit odd, but by noticing where they place their tongue or the shape of their mouths, you may be able to better imitate a true Spanish accent.  If you’re comfortable enough with a native Spanish speaker, ask them to show you in slow motion how they pronounce a word that’s difficult for you.  It’s incredible what accurate tongue placement will do to help you pronounce each word like a pro.

How to use Skype to use Skype translator

Skype has allowed us to take multiple benefits in the digital era within a wide scope of opportunities. The most recent advantage Skype users can take is the use of the Skype Translator application.

This can be done not only from the comfort of your personal computer but also on any mobile device. In these terms, Skype continues stretching over the boundaries of geographical areas and language barriers. It came as an inevitable result of the widespread use of Skype calls and the necessity to overcome the obstacles of misunderstanding both in professional and personal relationships.

Steps to set up the Skype translator

For the beginning you should follow a few steps to set up the application providing you already have downloaded Skype on your device.

If you need to download Skype from the beginning look at this guide.

First, after, you have logged in to your Skype account choose the contact from your Contact List and click the Globe button, a small, grey circle on the right corner of the screen.

If you use an older version of Skype and cannot see the icon, go to Tool-Options-General and you will see the icon named Skype Translator on the left menu.

After clicking the Glove button, a box will appear with a Translation Preview. On the drop down menu that you see next to your contact, choose your contact`s current written language to see translations in the chat or from the spoken and written list to hear the translation on a call.

With all this done, you are set to start chatting or talking via Skype.  If you choose to chat with your contact, you write the massage on the chat box and will receive the translated version of it shortly after you have sent it. On the other hand, if you choose a video call and decide to speak to each other, remember to ensure that your headphones provide good quality of hearing the translation. Each speech will be automatically translated by Skype Translator on both sides and it will appear on the screen. It is very important that you speak clearly with short pauses after each sentence. After your utterance wait for a while until the translated speech appears for you to read it.

Spanish voice to voice translation is available among six other languages (Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese) while chat translations are provided in more than 50 languages. Make sure that you have the latest version of Skype which already has the software.

Tips for getting the most accurate Skype translations

  • Check the reliability of your network
  • Test the quality of your webcam, microphone and speakers. (It is recommended to use a headset instead of a built-in microphone. )
  • Call from a comfortable surrounding with no background noise

Once you start experiencing Skype Translator you will be empowered to extend your goals and hopefully achieve interactions with your friends, colleagues or coworkers while maintaining a fluency of speech will be a perfect experience. Also, we should have in mind that Skype Translator as an advanced application is constantly being improved which means it is a question of time when it becomes a high quality routine.

3 Good Movies to practice Spanish

If you’re looking for some good Spanish movies to watch, you won’t be disappointed with the three that we are going to share with you. Watch them on a three-day weekend, one for each night, and see what you think. Romantic comedy, adventure, drama, history, and mystery are what you have in store if you get a chance to check out these films. Read on for the titles and full details.

Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Eight Basque Surnames, or “Spanish Affair”) is a 2014 Spanish romantic comedy in which Rafa, a young Andalusian man, has to do what he has never done: leave his beautiful Seville hometown, his so-called finery, his hair gel, his accent, and even his favorite Spanish soccer club (the Real Betis), to get the Basque girl that he loves. Her opposition is what sparks his interest – all the other women in his life have been too easy to get close to. She presents a challenge and he claims that he can bring her back to his native southern Spain in as little as three days. He is surprised when he finds that he must cross the cultural divide between his original homeland and her northern country! He quickly realizes that it will take a lot more to conquer her love, so he pretends to be Basque to get past her resistance. He goes so far to even adopt the first name Antxon and, off the top of his head, eight Basque last names (an act which lends to the title of the film!): Arguiñano, Igartiburu, Erentxun, Gabilondo, Urdangarín, Otegi, Zubizarreta, and Clemente. The comedic action runs throughout the movie (with accents, politics, memes, and stereotypes) till the very end – if you want to get the most out of the movie, familiarize yourself with these ahead of time. This film is one of the highest grossing in Spanish Box Office history. The director, Emilio Martínez-Lázaro, simply gave the public what they wanted: laughter. Although it is more about how the Spanish view the Basque, it ultimately provides a message of uniting with others (no matter how different they are!) through love.

Perhaps it is another type of love that differentiates the previous movie and the next. Alatriste (or “Captain Alatriste: The Spanish Musketeer”) is a 2006 film set in 17th century Spain in which Diego Alatriste serves in the Eighty Years War for the King of his country. It is based on the writings of Arturo Pérez-Reverte, that is, Las aventuras del Capitán Alatriste (The Adventures of Captain Alatriste); it artistically combines elements from each of the five books of the series it is inspired from. There is blood, sweat, and tears, along with love, loyalty, and intrigue. Torn clothes and swordfights, scars and skin, this movie depicts the rawness and vulnerability of living the troubled life of a soldier turned mercenary. For the 21st Goya Awards, it was the winner of Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best Supervision of Production. For the beautiful visuals that recreate the book’s atmosphere, there isn’t much that the director, Agustín Díaz Yanes, can be questioned on, except one: the length of the film. Be prepared to sit for a little more than two hours!

There are story characters who shouldn’t feel prepared to sit beyond what they should, but they do anyways and lose themselves for it. Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her) is a 2002 Spanish film that explores the way in which emotions can overpower one’s thoughts and actions. Two men find themselves facing the silence of the women for whom they’ve become drawn towards: Benigno Martín is a nurse obsessed with his beautiful comatose patient Alicia Roncero, a ballet student, while Marco Zuluaga is a traveling writer lost in the short entertwining story between him and Lydia González – a female bullfighter whose attraction and fear pull at him, even after she becomes gored and comatose. They first meet at the private clinic in which the comatose women are being cared for, and become friends. There is beauty and sadness in the strange intimacy of the characters, and yet it gives off a mysterious realism in the coincidences and encounters at the beginning and end of the film. Pedro Almodóvar’s directing will pull you in to the story; he will have you contemplating the lives of others and the subjectiveness of love.

Listening Spanish is always a good practice. If you want to get some conversation with a Spanish native speaker, do not hesitate to ask about my classes.

How to learn to conjugate verbs in Spanish

Studying flickr photo shared by mer chau under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Verbs are essential for communication – without them, we can’t say much at all. When it comes to learning Spanish, verbs require quite a bit of attention, because they have a lot of different forms.

Learning to conjugate verbs involves memorization and practice to remember all of the conjugations for each verb tense.

Spanish lessons

The first and fundamental method for learning to conjugate verbs is with formal classes. In most Spanish lessons, the instructor takes you through verb tenses one by one. You learn the verb conjugations for the three types of verbs : -ar, -er and –ir ending verbs (ex. bailar, comer, vivir). Irregular verbs are also taught. Usually you start by learning the present tense, then the past tenses (imperfect and preterit), commands and future tense. Then come the more complicated tenses. Usually a sort of chart is used for each verb type in each tense. The below example shows “bailar” in the present tense:


It’s helpful to copy these charts into a notebook, especially the irregular verbs. Then, you can practice forming sentences with the verbs to be sure you can use them in context. Filling in the blanks exercises are also useful for practicing conjugating verbs. In my case, it took a lot of copying and memorizing to get the verb conjugations straight for each verb tense. One of my favorite sites to use for verb practice is the Real Academia Española’s dictionary. Once you’ve looked up the verb, a blue button gives you the option to see all of the possible conjugations for that verb.

Indirect study

Once you’ve had some practice with verbs and have studied all of the basic conjugations, it’s practice time. By taking classes or coursework in Spanish such as a literature or history class, you’ll be forced to use many different conjugations as you read and write. You’ll have to reference your notes to confirm conjugations and tenses. The practice using verbs correctly and the cross referencing will lead to memorization and some of it will become more automatic.

Trial and error

When you’re using your Spanish for conversation, be sure to ask whoever you’re talking with to correct your mistakes. The more you practice with feedback, the better you’ll get. Once you’ve made a mistake a few times, you’ll be sure to remember that verb conjugation. Eventually more and more conjugations, tense usage rules and of course those irregulars will start to sink in and you’ll have fewer pauses in your speech. For those shy speakers, the more you can push past your comfort zone and just try it, the faster you’ll start getting those conjugations correct.

How to Break Out of Your Shell and Speak Spanish!

Open Air Dining flickr photo shared by Anne Worner under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Among Spanish learners who have studied for a while, a common complaint is “I can understand almost everything, but I just can’t speak!” This is typical in the process of Spanish language learning. There is a pre-production stage in which language learners can understand but not produce the target language. Although it is part of the process, language learners still need to work hard to overcome this stage and achieve fluency by practicing and overcoming the fear of producing.

Here are a few suggestions to help you break past the pre-production stage in Spanish

1. Imagine you have a different Spanish language personality:

Some people say that a person’s personality can change depending on the language they’re speaking.   Cultural factors of the language may play in and help the person adopt a slightly different personality. Whatever the case, if you’re shy about trying out your new language skills, the power of believing you have the ability to change your personality to be an outgoing Spanish speaker might help you. Imagine you’re successful, bubbly and chatty in Spanish. If you believe it strongly enough you just might be able to overcome your shyness.

2. Put yourself in a situation where you are forced to speak:

There is nothing quite as effective for the shy Spanish-learner as being forced to speak. These are some options to force yourself to produce the language.

Stay with a host family: Although traveling to a Spanish speaking country will force you to speak some Spanish, it might not force you to speak as much Spanish as you’d like. By staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, you’re putting yourself in places where you’re likely to find other foreigners. Even if it’s unintentional, you’ll probably gravitate towards speaking, going out to eat and touring around with them rather than the locals who would assist in improving your Spanish. The alternative is to find a host family program. Many programs allow you to pay by the week and some options might even allow you to spend only a few nights with the family. If you go for this option, you can guarantee that you’ll speak a lot more Spanish and learn a lot more about the culture than if you stayed in a hotel. You’ll form great friendships and get great advice for touring from the family as well.

Take a class: Find university or interest classes offered in the Spanish language. Some universities and colleges have conversation clubs as well. If you enroll in a class, it’s likely that you can also participate in the clubs. With a professor watching and others also practicing, you’ll feel comfortable to speak Spanish as well. By taking the class, you´ll get the extra push you need to start producing. If you don’t have time to go to class, let the class go to your home taking it by Skype.

3. Enlist the help of your friends

Find a friend or two who are also learning Spanish and make a pact to practice together. You can use certain situations to get in the mood of speaking Spanish. Go to a salsa dance club or a restaurant with Spanish or Latin cuisine. For the duration of your time at the club or restaurant, only speak Spanish.