- Learning Spanish & Portuguese>
- 26 Tips to Learn Spanish
Way back when I was in middle school and getting ready to go to high school…
We had to pick what classes we wanted to take for the following year.
Now we had to take language classes for about 4 years more or less.
With either Spanish or French as our options.
I chose to take French but for no particular reason – just because.
Fortunately, they told me that the space for French was all taken up and they couldn’t get anymore students into the French classes.
So I had to take Spanish.
Which didn’t matter to me in those days since I didn’t really care to learn a foreign language anyway.
Regardless, I am thankful that they had me learn Spanish and French in hindsight.
As French would likely be pointless – as I eventually started traveling the world and chose Latin America as the place to travel to.
No offense to French speaking countries but I don’t think I would have had as much desire to go travel and live in French speaking countries in hindsight.
It would have been more difficult logistically for me and not as interesting personally to live in places where French is spoken.
So thankfully, I went along with Spanish.
I remember even my first days learning Spanish in high school – it was a little bit cool at first to be learning my first Spanish words and all.
Anyway, over the course of the following 6 years…
My Spanish learning was basically just repetitive – same ol, same ol.
Where you would learn all the essential grammar with some vocabulary….
Then relearn it again in the next year when I was in high school.
In college, we moved at a faster pace and would basically just relearn the Spanish grammar over 4 different semesters.
Mixed in with my time traveling around Guatemala and taking some Spanish courses there…
And I relearned the Spanish grammar and more or less the same vocabulary probably about 9 times at most.
A complete waste of time and effort in my opinion.
Despite all those years of relearning the same shit…
And consistently getting great grades – usually an A in those classes..
My Spanish never really broke through and became great from those classes alone.
They gave me the foundation to learn Spanish with the basics of the grammar and vocabulary…
But I remember when I took my first trip ever to Latin America…
Mexico specifically as you can read here.
And it was a little bit of a struggle to speak Spanish…
Same thing for when I traveled to Guatemala for the first time for a few months as you can read here.
In both cases, I was not accustomed very well to listening to Latinos speaking Spanish at a normal talking pace.
To where you would have to put a lot more mental effort in catching the words they say despite their non-American accents and having to translate what they said to English.
Same thing when I would respond to them and my head would turn into a “To Be a Millionaire” quiz where I would have 4 options for what the proper way to say something…
Option A: Yo tenemos un gato.
Option B: Yo tuvieras un gato.
Option C: Yo tengo un gato.
Option D: A la verga wey, ni no entiendo que debo decir…..
Relearning the Spanish grammar 9 fucking times didn’t help me to actually practice it in the way i needed to…
To be at a point where I can speak more fluidly without having to put in the greater mental effort to translate everything said to me and to think hard about what would be the proper way to say things grammatically.
Well, with the years of living down here now – about 5.5 years as of this writing…
I feel pretty confident with my Spanish.
I’m no native speaker but I don’t have any issues anymore having conversations with people.
So here are 26 things that come to mind as to what might be of use to you for learning Spanish.
So let’s begin!
Tip 1: Know What the Textbook is Good For
The textbook, in my opinion, is probably not going to make you speak and have good dominance of the Spanish language.
But know when to move on.
Don’t be like me and get stuck relearning the same shit for 6 fucking years.
Now we all learn at a different pace…
But if I had to do it again….
I’d learn the Spanish grammar and the vocabulary for 6 months at least to a year at most with the textbook.
Then keep the textbook to the side if I ever need to relearn a grammar rule if I ever forget something…
While continuing to expand my vocabulary with the tips below….
And emphasize, above all else, actually practicing what I learned from the textbook with the tips below – such as meeting folks who are native speakers that I can practice with.
The textbook is like training wheels – move beyond it when it is appropriate the timeline that works best for you.
Tip 2: Fuck College
If you are going to college because of some degree that will get you a certain career in life….
And have to learn a foreign language to graduate or whatever…
Sure, then take those language classes at college.
Otherwise, be it community college or whatever…
I would not go to college to specifically learn a foreign language.
For the huge financial cost that it brings you, it’s not worth it.
There are so many free resources online.
And if you want the guidance for any specific grammar rules or whatever….
There are tutors online that can help you also….
Tip 3: Online Spanish Tutors
There are websites online to help you learn Spanish with tutors available.
Such as Italki.
I’m not sure if Italki is good or not but it exists for you.
Also, from what I have seen, there are always teachers with certification to teach that are looking to do freelance online teaching and tutoring.
Just join groups on Facebook for foreigners or locals living in major cities in Latin America or Spain.
Look up in the Facebook search results for something like “foreigners living in CDMX” for example.
Or in Spanish something similar.
From time to time, you will see someone advertising their online services in those groups.
I’m not sure how you would verify if their certification is legit since I never used one before but I’m sure you can.
Only make sure to actually take folks who have certification and not just any ol’ Jose from Managua claiming to be a professional at teaching Spanish.
Just do your due diligence and it can work.
And much cheaper than college that charges a shit ton of money.
Tip 4: Spanish Schools in LATAM
As you can read here…
I took a Spanish school in Guatemala.
I forgot the exact cost of it off top of my head…
I think they charged me maybe 300 to 400 bucks a month for both Spanish classes weekly and also a homestay with food covered.
It wasn’t much money in the grand scheme of things.
Now was it worth it?
I’d say the Spanish school helped me to a degree – we only spoke in Spanish and some of the tutors were pretty good.
So I’m sure it helped a bit given the practice we had.
And let’s say it was 400 bucks a month….
For 12 months, that is 4800 bucks.
With airfare, you pay maybe 600 bucks.
And let’s say another 1,600 bucks in miscellaneous money.
So while tuition at college is asking for 20,000 USD or whatever it might be for you for 9 months…
You can pay 7,000 USD to live in a foreign country for a full year, learn Spanish much more efficiently and effectively and maybe even fuck a few the local chicks there too.
Or get yourself into a shit ton of college debt, learn Spanish a lot less effectively and efficiently and don’t get to experience a foreign country with all its natural beauty and local Latina chicks…
I’m just saying – one option seems a lot better than the other.
Though this was Guatemala – I don’t think 400 bucks a month will cut it elsewhere but it will still be relatively cheap.
Still a great deal!
Tip 5: Spanish Partner
Speaking of banging Latina chicks….
As I wrote here…
One of the things that improved my Spanish the greatest was dating the local chicks.
I remember with my Colombian ex-girlfriend…
My Spanish was already decent before her…
But when we started dating seriously, my Spanish seemed to skyrocket in just a few months.
And what isn’t there to love with this tip?
Get balls deep inside some Latina pussy – be it hookups or a girlfriend – and learn Spanish at the same time!
Sounds more exciting than Spanish class in college with an 80 year old Uruguayan professor….
Tip 6: Online Dating
Speaking of dating Latinas to help you learn Spanish….
I get not all of you are going to travel to Latin America and live down here to do that…
Now, depending on where you live, you might have enough local Latina chicks who speak Spanish in whatever part of the world you are from.
So that can help.
Otherwise, you can meet Latina chicks online to practice Spanish with.
You can use Tinder Plus – which lets you swipe anywhere in the world and you can use it to swipe on chicks in any Latin American city.
Or you can use the typical Latin Cupid dating websites – Mexican Cupid, Colombian Cupid, Brazilian Cupid, Dominican Cupid or Latin American Cupid.
I’ve only used Mexican Cupid and Dominican Cupid.
Dominican Cupid was much better for getting chicks to give me numbers.
Mexican Cupid works alright but isn’t worth the money if you are short on cash.
Tinder Plus would be a better alternative – I just spent some months ago about 30 bucks for a year access to Tinder Plus.
Anyway, keep in mind there are also lots of scammers on those websites – chicks or more often dudes pretending to be chicks looking to ask you for money.
I did a whole article on them and got some of them to be honest with me about what they are doing as you can read here.
More often they seem to be from Cuba but they can be from any country.
That isn’t a problem on Tinder Plus down here though in my experience.
Anyway, the idea is the same – make contact with chicks down here on dating websites and you can perhaps build a connection with them and use them to practice Spanish…
Using this app below here that you will need…
Tip 7: Whatsapp
Thinking of connecting with Latina chicks online?
They all use it down here or a vast majority of them anyway.
It’s a messaging app where you can message or call her for free internationally…
Send photos and videos.
So you can practice speaking, listening, reading and writing in Spanish with them using it.
Much better than keeping them on the dating sites you met them on.
Tip 8: Duolingo
I have only briefly ever used Duolingo in my life.
Never used it for Spanish – just Portuguese very briefly.
Is it worth it?
I have no idea from personal experience.
I guess it is OK to get the basic foundation for learning Spanish.
Having said that…
A woman I know named Maria once told me about an American she met years ago who used Duolingo as his only resource for learning Spanish.
And apparently she was quite impressed by his Spanish after he was done using it – so I guess it can work out alright!
I’ll leave it at that.
Tip 9: Homestays
As I wrote here….
Homestays, in my experience, were basically just a waste of money.
They are not that much cheaper than the local rooms you can rent out for yourself in whatever city you go to down here.
Some folks choose homestays for the Spanish practice in getting to live and speak with a Latin family.
In my experience, the Latin family rarely wants to speak with you.
They just want your money in my experience and in the experience of others I know.
Think about it logically – this isn’t their job to take care of foreigners obviously coming in to live with them.
It’s just a side hustle.
So throughout most of the day, you will not be speaking with them.
Most of the speaking involved will be at the dinner table.
And that is assuming they want to speak with you anyway.
More often, you will likely end up being a ghost at the dinner table.
I say this assuming your Spanish is shit and that is why you are thinking of doing a homestay anyway.
And if it is shit…
How likely will the family want to engage with you consistently in a conversation when their English might be bad (and speaking English won’t help your Spanish obviously)….
And where it would be an effort to even have a basic conversation with you when they don’t know you, only want your money and would rather speak amongst themselves since there is no language barrier.
That isn’t to say that you won’t get some practice or someone at the table won’t occasionally say something to you….
But you just are not getting that much practice – it is much better to get yourself a private room where you can have more privacy to bring chicks back to that you can practice Spanish with…
And fuck also obviously.
Where you can anyway get most of your Spanish practice actually meeting the locals in your city and whatever else.
So overall, I’d say homestays are not worth it and didn’t help me very much with my Spanish.
If you do go the homestay route anyway, try to get a place that only has one person living there….
That way they have to speak with you at the dinner table since there is nobody else.
Tip 10: Latin Events In Your Area
Live in a big city in your country?
Can’t afford to go to LATAM yet?
Well, in a big city, you probably have a better chance at perhaps finding some local Latin cultural events held in your area.
Not every city has a big enough Latino population for this but it might be a possibility for where you live.
Not something I ever did but I imagine it can help you listen to more Spanish and maybe find some local folks that you can be friends with and practice Spanish with.
Tip 11: Movies with Subtitles
When I first started learning Spanish and for almost my entire time ever learning and speaking it…
I never used movies with subtitles to improve my Spanish.
Always seemed like a waste of time.
Now, as of recently, I have been buying some movies on Youtube to watch…
Bad Santa, Casino, etc…
And, just a few weeks ago, I was watching Bad Santa with a chick I was hanging out with back at my place.
And it had Spanish subtitles – good for her since she didn’t speak English.
Anyway, there were some phrases or words that I found useful that I didn’t know how to say in Spanish but now I do because of those subtitles.
Words like “retard,” “fatass” or “smartass” that I can now say in Spanish!
Useful for when I need to insult somebody down here that pissed me off.
To be honest, I’ve been lazy with my Spanish and always stuck with the usual insults to throw around – “pendejo,” “maricon,” etc.
But now my vocabulary has expanded!
So I guess watching movies with subtitles can help quite a bit.
Tip 12: Online Audio Resources
If you need to improve your listening skills, there are plenty of online free resources you can listen to.
Podcasts, radios, Youtube channels in Spanish.
Here’s an old series I used to watch called “exponiendo infieles” that you can watch here of some chick exposing unfaithful people by checking their phones
And here is a podcast and a radio here you can listen to.
Just look up stuff online and you will find more.
Tip 13: Online News
At the same time, there are online news resources in Spanish for you to improve your reading skills.
Here is the BBC in Spanish.
Also, just look up “newspapers in x latin country” into Google.
And you will find some online news companies posting stuff.
I will include some links here, here and here for those interested as just some examples to get started.
Can be a great way to learn about the local events of the country you are going to also if you plan on traveling down here as well.
Tip 14: HelloTalk
Months ago, some dude on a Telegram chat recommended HelloTalk.
It’s a way to practice Spanish while also meeting chicks that you can perhaps fuck later.
Chicks from whatever country in Latin America.
I tried it briefly and it seems easy enough to use.
So download it into your phone and give it a try.
Tip 15: Write Down New Words
In high school, I had a Spanish teacher who told us she always writes down new Spanish words that she comes across even to this day after such a long time of learning and teaching the language.
It’s something you can do too.
Found a new word you didn’t know before?
Write it down somewhere and practice it later.
Don’t got a paper and pen?
Just open a tab in your phone and type the word down into Google and look back at it later.
Tip 16: Live Abroad
Probably the best and most obvious tip here for learning Spanish.
Now, of course, how are you going to live abroad?
It costs money!
If you are American, the Peace Corps might help.
Though I was told from a guy I know that apparently all the positions in Latin America are so competitive that they basically only want Spanish speakers for them.
Either way, as I talked about under the Spanish school section….
It can be cheap to live down here.
Especially if you live in a city that isn’t touristy at all and not in a relatively more expensive country like Chile perhaps.
Xela, Guatemala for example.
In Pachuca, you can find one bedrooms to rent for as little as 40 bucks a month with utilities included.
That’s the cheapest I saw there a little over a year ago!
With most one bedrooms there seeming to go for around 60 to 70 bucks a month on average.
Meaning you can live there on the cheap for maybe 300 to 400 bucks a month.
You won’t be living like a king by any means but you can do fine.
It won’t kill you if your budget is tight.
And can definitely make living abroad for an extended period of time more possible.
So consider your budget and try to pick a place.
Also, if you can, try to make money online.
I wrote a brief article here just scratching the surface of the subject of earning money to live down here.
So check it out if you want.
And, as said before, living down here for any length of time can really make your Spanish improve much faster than another year in the classroom.
Tip 17: Where in LATAM?
Obviously, one of the first factors for where in LATAM that you can travel to will be your budget.
Beyond that, I’d also consider accents.
And how difficult it can be to understand people in some parts of LATAM versus others.
For example, people often say Chile is a country where the people have a very difficult accent.
I was in Chile before – I had no issue. I’m not sure why people say that. I found it easy enough to understand the folks there.
In my experience, the worst part of Latin America to practice Spanish is Brazil.
Cuz they speak Portuguese!
Haha haha haha haha haha……
Ok, no more bullshit.
So hardest are ato practice Spanish?
I’d say any of the “Caribbean” parts of Latin America.
Cuba, Puerto Rico, the DR, any of the Caribbean coasts of Latin countries.
For example, when I lived in Barranquilla in Colombia, I found the folks there to be relatively difficult to understand.
Any time that I traveled outside of that area of Colombia….
To literally any other part of the world – I found the folks much easier to understand.
Like day and night.
Having said that, I feel practicing Spanish in the areas where the accent is harder to understand might help…
Like if you can understand whatever the fuck a Dominican is saying, then you basically got it good.
You won’t have issues with a Mexican, Peruvian, Argentine, etc…
Well, with an Argentine, just remember they pronounce words like llave differently but that’s another topic…
Anyway, it can also be said that perhaps you might want to avoid touristy areas or capital cities.
I’m not entirely sure on avoiding capital cities but I get the argument.
Thing is, the issue with those areas is that you will likely find more locals who are obsessed with practicing their English and might insist on only speaking English.
Avoid those areas and you will find more locals who don’t care to practice English and don’t know any of it anyway.
Forcing you to speak Spanish more.
On the other hand, capital cities will have more local events for you to go to for that will help you practice Spanish and more locals to meet anyway.
I’d say avoid places like Cancun but a place like Mexico City is fine.
Tip 18: Avoid Gringo Bubbles
Going from the last point…
Avoid living in the gringo bubble.
Where everybody you speak with is a gringo who only speaks English.
Nothing wrong doing that time to time…
But if everyone you speak with is in English and with other gringos…
You ain’t improving your Spanish.
Be a waste of time then.
There are gringos who live down here for years and don’t know shit with Spanish.
On the same note…
When getting out of gringo bubbles, make sure to go to local events where you can meet locals and practice Spanish.
Tip 19: “I No Speak English”
I remember reading on some foreigners living in CDMX Facebook page a month or two ago…
And this dude was complaining how he wants to practice Spanish but all the Mexicans in Mexico City want to practice English with him.
It’s likely that his Spanish is so shit that they are simply trying to be helpful and speak in English.
With some just wanting to use him as a tool to practice English.
Sometimes you run across those folks also.
In my experience, you just got to pretend that you don’t understand their broken ass English and tell them in Spanish that you are from some non-English speaking country.
“Soy de Rusia.”
Boom. Just say that.
“Soy de Rusia. No hablo ingles.”
I am from Russia. I don’t speak English.
Just say that.
I’ve had the rare Latino down here who I never knew but tried vomiting their broken ass English onto me.
“ohhhh a gringo! Time to practice my English so I can be very educadooooooo!”
“nah sorry bro, I’m from Russia. I no speak English.”
And you know what?
The second you say that, all of a sudden these rare types will understand whatever the fuck you were saying in Spanish.
Before, they might try to put on a show how they don’t understand.
The second you say you are from Russia, all of a sudden I will find myself having entire conversations with them and they understand me perfectly.
It’s funny how that works out.
So sometimes the person just might be trying to help you out if your Spanish or shit.
Other times they just want to sell you something if they are a street hustler.
Or perhaps just see you as a tool to practice English.
But tell them you are from some non-English speaking country and pretend to not know what they are saying in English…
Which might not be hard as it’s not uncommon for their English to be broken as fuck.
And back to Spanish for you to practice without problem!
Tip 20: Don’t Worry About Small Mistakes
Don’t beat yourself up if you make small mistakes.
You say some shit like “la coche” and not “el coche.”
I use to be harder on myself over the small mistakes in my earliest years learning Spanish.
To be honest with you, unless your mistakes are large as fuck….
Like you say some shit like “me gusta la verga” when you on a date with a chick down here and you meant to say “let’s go to a bar….”
Shit like that will be weird and is no small mistake now…
Having said that, if it’s truly just a small mistake, no local will give a fuck.
You ain’t Latino I assume….
Though I have heard Latinos from the US sometimes get more shit for small Spanish grammar mistakes but I ain’t Latino so I don’t know.
Either way, in my experience as a non-latino, nobody has big expectations for my Spanish anyway and are impressed sometimes when they see I speak it.
So if you say shit like la coche and not el coche…
Nobody gives a fuck and they will understand you anyway.
So don’t sweat it.
Make sure to try to improve as always but be chill and move on in life…
Tip 21: Speak with Confidence
Back when I was new to Spanish and traveling around Mexico or Guatemala some odd years ago….
I often spoke much slower in Spanish.
Not just because I was mentally trying to put together the sentences before I speak.
In terms of how the grammar should be….
But also because I had less confidence in my Spanish.
I’ve come to believe that having less confidence makes it more difficult for Latinos to understand you.
I’m not sure if that is true but that has been my impression.
That when I was more confident and just put it out there what I wanted to say…
People understood me more often and more easily.
So take it for what you will.
Tip 22: Deeper Reasons
If you got a deeper reason for learning Spanish….
Whatever it might be.
A passion for learning more and traveling to Latin America…
Or you got a new girlfriend who speaks Spanish and want to communicate with her family in their language…
Or whatever the hell it might be….
You just got that bigger motivation to learn Spanish, it will help you a lot in staying to it and keep learning it without giving up.
So perhaps learn about Latin America and find a country down here with a culture and history that you find more intriguing than others…
And that might inspire you to want to stay at it with learning Spanish so you can enjoy that country beyond the surface…
Or whatever your deeper reason might be.
All around, can be very useful.
Tip 23: LatiGringos
Be careful with the “fresas” of the world.
The “Latigringos” as I call them now.
Granted, I just made that word up but I looked it up in Google and apparently some people use it.
Not sure if I heard it somewhere and if they are using it to mean something else…
But when I’m saying “Latigringos”
I mean Latinos in Latin America who be tripping over themselves to be gringos.
The type who want to speak English in every circumstance to appear very “educadoooooooo” to every stranger nearby…
To having parents giving them gringo sounding names…
To maybe even changing their own names to something gringo sounding….
Or how they never like anything of their own culture and only shit from the US….
All the while they enjoy their little nice shopping trips to Miami or wherever the fuck they go.
More on these folks here.
Anyway, be careful with them if you want to improve Spanish.
Some of them are cool.
Others are insistent on only wanting to speak English.
Sometimes to give off that impression of being very “educadooooooooo”
Other times they want to fit in with gringos in general.
Or perhaps out of ignorance regarding your own Spanish.
Whatever the reason might be – as I am writing this article now…
I feel these types would not be ideal to hang out with.
Not saying you can’t but I just feel they are not ideal to hang out with because they are like “gringo lites” in a way.
In that if you only hang out with gringos, English is all you will speak.
With the “Latigringos” or whatever the hell you want to call them…
That might not be the proper term if it is already taken but regardless…
With those type of Latinos, they might not be ideal to hang out with either if they are always insistent on speaking English to you.
Which is probably even more the case if your Spanish is shit.
On the other hand, to be fair, given their better familiarity with English, perhaps you could argue in favor of them since they can always switch back to English to explain shit to you if your Spanish is bad.
I’d lean on caution with hanging out only with them though.
If you can hang out more often with Latinos of more modest backgrounds who didn’t learn English perfectly growing up…
Similar to going to a smaller city in LATAM, you will be more often forced to speak Spanish.
Either way, like I said, I’d be cautious with them if I was new to learning Spanish again but I wouldn’t avoid them entirely.
Just keep all that in mind.
Tip 24: Social Media
I never done this before but apparently social media can help you practice reading and typing in Spanish.
Which makes sense to me, I guess.
Like follow folks who speak Spanish from LATAM on Twitter who post shit you are into.
Or perhaps join bilingual groups or groups for people learning foreign languages like Spanish on Facebook.
I read there is some group on FB called Lenguajero.
Might be of use.
Another thing when it comes to social media and apps…
I was looking up online some months ago avenues to meet new folks in CDMX.
To meet new people I can go out drinking with and more friends in general.
And there were Telegram groups I encountered online that I was able to join easily that has only Spanish speakers.
So that can help!
Telegram is just a messaging app and you can look up groups for that shit online.
So consider social media also.
Tip 25: Language Exchange Partners
This is not something I ever tried but I read online that you can find language exchange partners online.
Folks to practice each other’s language with.
There’s some website called conversationexchange.com apparently.
Perhaps give it a try and anything similar.
Tip 26: Bar Events
As you can read about here…
There are bar events held in different LATAM cities where you go to…
And the idea is they bring in folks from all over in the city you are in who want to practice languages…
Usually, it’s English and Spanish but occasionally some other languages also…
Tends to draw in foreigners and local chicks looking to perhaps get fucked by a foreigner also.
And other folks too.
So anyway, you show up on the night it is held….
Have some drinks and make friends speaking whatever language.
Can work well for making friends, fucking local chicks and practicing Spanish.
Those are all the thoughts I have had from my own experiences learning Spanish and from what I can read online that seems useful to folks.
Got any tips yourself?
Drop them below.
Let’s hear what worked for you!
Got any questions? Drop them below and I will probably answer.
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