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How To Learn To Speak Spanish (For Adults) 101: Try This!

Tell them to go to hell!

They told you that as adults we would have a harder time learning a second language.

But I have (almost) only seen benefits of being an adult learning a language.

3 years ago I couldn’t say one sentence, now I debate politics and perspectives on historical events, and I live and think in the Spanish language.

Can you imagine a 3-year-old teaching another about the complexities of historical governments and their inability to avoid corruption?

This is the power that you have in your skull, my friend! Tell anybody that said to you that learning Spanish would be hard for you because of your age - to go to hell!

Now, let’s talk specifics, about how I was able to get fluent in 3 years while working a job back in the States, and with very little effort or headaches.

Table of Contents:

thumbnail of this article that has two cartoon adults and it says "How to learn spanish (For adults)"

Immersion Techniques

One of (if not) the best ways to learn a language is to keep ourselves immersed as much as possible.

This not only helps with vocabulary - but it will also help you acquire grammar, and an accent in Spanish that's not trash. If you have never heard of “comprehensible input” - let me tell you, this is the most important concept you need to grasp.

Comprehensible Input is described by linguist Dr. Stephen Krashen as being messages that are understood by the reader/listener, despite the fact they are a little bit above their current level.

To this day, I am living in Panama - and I’ll be talking with somebody and they will say a word that I understand, I recognize, but I have never studied, and can’t reproduce yet.

This is the idea of comprehensible input. It’s because I understand 95% of the context that this one word makes sense to me although I don’t (consciously) know it.

And this works for beginners too! Let’s take a look at all the ways you can keep yourself immersed, and in turn, become fluent ASAP.

Changing Your Phone/Computer To Spanish

One thing that may seem a bit frightening that has helped me and many others is using our phones in Spanish. This not only forces us to see the language all the time, but it makes us acquire certain technology vocabulary that we otherwise would overlook.

For example, if you start using your phone in Spanish, you’ll learn these nouns off the bat - Camera, Photos, Gallery, Translator, Comments, Messages, Volume, Brightness, etc.

And not only nouns, but you’ll also learn verbs like - Send, Sending, Like, Search, Translate, Uninstall, Download, Open, etc. And you don’t even have to study these terms!

I have been studying French for 2 weeks now, and after writing this article I am going to study these words to see if it helps at all.

But with Spanish, I simply acquired all of the vocabularies by seeing it every day.

So we definitely don't need to learn the terms, but it is an option if you are scared of getting lost in the language.

How To Change Your (Android) Phones Language To English

For those who want to dive into this immersion tactic, I’ll show you how to do it right now, and we’ll do it together. Ready?

Go to your phone settings and search “Preferred Language”. There you will see what’s in the following photo…

tutorial how to find the language section in your phone settings

Click “Languages” and scroll to the bottom where it says “Add a language”.

Find “Español” and it will ask you to choose a country. From my experience, it doesn’t really matter what country you choose. I use Panamanian Spanish.

demonstration screenshots of how to change the language of your phone to spanish

And BOOM! Your phone is in Spanish! If it’s overwhelming at first, don’t worry, remember that you can always go back and change it to English if you need to do something important.

Watching TPRS Videos

TPRS (If you don’t know) stands for Teaching Proficiency Through Reading & Storytelling. It has a super motivational and inspirational origin story - but we won't get into that right now.

The point of this technique is to give the listener stories, and information that's 95% in their target language, no matter what their level is.

This works so well that - 2 years ago I studied Chinese, and sometimes my brother could hear the TPRS videos that I was watching. And he still to this day knows words in Chinese, just because he overheard the stories.

If you are interested in learning more about TPRS and getting a ton of free resources, check out this list that I made with all of the greatest resources.

For now, the 2 YouTube channels I recommend most to you are “Dreaming Spanish” if you want to learn the Spanish of Spain, and "Spanish with Maria" if you want to learn Latino-American Spanish.

Use Music To Stay Immersed In The Spanish Language

Using music to stay immersed is an incredibly effective technique, music has its own benefits that you can’t get with podcasts, TPRS, and audio courses.

Music is easy to listen to over and over again! Meanwhile, it gives us the desire to learn all of the vocabularies so that we can understand the lyrics.

Also, a 3-minute song might have 150-300 words for you to get comfortable with. I have used music to learn tens of thousands of words over the years. If you want to give this method a try:

Find Music In your Target Language By Searching In Your Target Language

Go to Google Translate, and translate (For example) “Best Spanish Rap Songs” or “Best Rock and Roll Bands From Mexico”. Copy that translation and paste it into your browser.

screenshot of Google Translate showing how to use Google Translate to search the web In spanish

You will likely find blogs that have long lists of what you’re looking for. Listen to the music and find what you enjoy most - and add it to a playlist.

screen shot of google showing how to use google to find bands and artists in Spanish that you will like

Finding New Music From Here On Out

After I have 5-10 songs in a playlist that I enjoy. I go to YouTube Music and use their recommended feature at the bottom of the playlist.

This will show me songs like the ones in my playlist, as well as other people’s playlists that are like mine. So this is a way of getting a 20+ song playlist with music that you like.

screen shot of Youtube music to demonstrate how to use the suggested feature to find more spanish music you like

Study Using My RRSL Method

After I have my music, I study using the RRSL Method that I created and have tweaked over the last 3 years.

  • This just requires that I (R) Read the lyrics 10-15 times in English while the song is playing.

  • Then I (R) Read the lyrics 10-15 times in the target language (Spanish in this case).

  • I then (S) Study the lyrics by looking deeper into grammatical tenses and vocabulary being used. This isn’t studying as you might think, it’s more like taking a closer look and that’s it.

  • Afterward, I (L) Listen (Only) to the song. That song becomes comprehension practice and I only listen to it while driving, showering, cooking, cleaning, etc.

At the L step, I would have already acquired 60-80% of the vocabulary. And instead of trying to suck all of the juices out of the "already-juiced orange," so to speak, I just grab a new one.

Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to acquire Spanish while you are doing something such as cooking, driving, showering, cleaning, etc. You might be thinking “But I don’t have that high of a level yet” and sure, it would be a challenge for you to listen to the Nayo Escobar Podcasts.

However, there are many podcasts aimed at learners, even those made for complete beginners.

For example, if you are a beginner check out the Duolingo podcast. If you are a little bit more advanced, you could listen to the videos of Dreaming Spanish.

screen shot of how a duolingo podcast looks

Label Things In Your Home With Sticky Notes

One way to start acquiring household vocabulary is by labeling things in your home with sticky notes. This is a cool way to go about acquiring some vocabulary, but don’t stress over it. After all, most of the vocabulary you learn with this method won't really help you out too much in the day-to-day.

For example, when you are talking with somebody who doesn’t live with you, how many times a day do you say the word “Refrigerator” or “Desk”? Probably not much… But regardless of this, it’s nice to know these words!

Use The Best Apps & Avoid The Others

There are many time-wasting apps out there. My opinion on the matter is that if you really enjoy Duolingo for example, you should use it. But don’t consider it study time, and if you do, count every minute using it as half of a minute studying.

This is because you will be learning (at best) half the information you could get within the same time using another app, and with half the quality. Here are some of the highest quality apps that get you double the results than those of Duolingo.

Probably the best beginner course that will help you acquire Spanish is that which is on the Language Transfer app.

Screen shot off of Language Transfers website showing what they have to offer

You probably haven’t heard of this app but trust me, it’s brilliant!

The man who started it is a multilingual language teacher who after doing many lessons with his students - uploads all of the classes cut and refined just for us.

We get upwards of 80-90 private Spanish classes for the amazing price of a breath of air - that is, completely free. Check it out if you are anywhere from a complete beginner to an A2.

Close Master is an app where you fill in the blanks of sentences with the missing word. What makes Close Master a special app is that almost all of the sentences are extremely useful!

screenshot taken while using Close Master language learning app to learn Spanish

From the get you’ll be learning super useful words and phrases that you will use all of the time. And just like Language Transfer, it’s completely free. Check it out here at this link

Memrise is an app that competes with Duolingo. Although Memrise won't allow you to do a complete course without paying, it’s a good place to get started because it teaches you the most important words and phrases first.

Also, unlike Duolingo, Memrise shows you videos and audio clips of native speakers saying the words and phrases.

screenshot taking while study spanish with memrise

So you can acquire a bit of an accent with it so you sound a bit less gringo-like. Once you finish all of the free lessons the price is - USD 89.98 per year.

FluentU is an app that brings you countless translated and transcribed videos and music to learn from. If money is not necessarily an issue for you, you should check it out and see if it’s a good fit for your learning style.

Certainly, it is a wonderful way to acquire new vocabulary. However, you’d be paying for convenience - as we can obtain these types of materials for free just as well.

screen shot from FluentU website showcasing their language learning software

The price comes to $19.99 Per Month, or 11.99 Per Month if you pay yearly.

LinQ is another website that requires a monetary investment. However, the convenience of LinQ is undeniable. It’s basically stories for all levels where you can search for the definition of any word you don't recognize. When you do this, it gets added to a list of words for you to review.

This is a wonderful way to master words without being overly focused on rereading sentences over and over again or reviewing Anki Flashcards every day.

screenshot of how LinQ langauge learning app looks while using it

The price of LinQ is $12.99 Per Month, or $8.99 a month if you pay Per Year.

Learn Spanish While Journaling

Journaling is a really efficient way of acquiring vocabulary, grammar, and correct spelling. Journaling helps us become more precise in our speech.

It’s like many great people have said outside of the language community - if you want to be a better speaker, you need to practice writing. Let’s go over exactly how I used this method to effortlessly acquire words daily in Spanish (and now in French).

Use Google Translate

So within the first year of learning Spanish, you must use Google Translate. Some languages Google sucks at, but well-known romance languages - it’s got them down (more or less).

So don’t worry about Google teaching you something that is super wrong. Let’s go over the TWRF Method for doing this every day.

TWRF Method

This method is one that I created and has been developing for 3 years. It works like this:

T) - Translate your journal entry from English to the Target Language (Spanish)

R) - Read the translation out loud, or have Google Translate read it to you

W) - Write the translation of your journal entry

F) - Forget about it and move on

The reason why we move on after so few steps is the same reason I don't believe flashcards are such a great idea. If we are always coming back to study - at the end of the year you’ll have 300+ pages to go through.

It’s just impractical to study these words when you can acquire them with just a bit more time.

Don't try and suck the juiced orange when there is a basket of mandarins beside you.

Use Adjective Lists While Describing Your Day

One way to learn new adjectives without flashcards is by looking up adjective lists and using them in your journal entry. If you want to say you were sad about something, maybe you could be more specific and use a word like nostalgic, for example.

Find YouTube Channels That Interest You

Finding YouTube Channels that interest you is a great way to immerse yourself, and connect with the Spanish language. Luckily, even if you are a beginner, there are YouTube channels that are 100% in Spanish but are targeted towards you and other people with a low level.

Take a look at these 3 suggestions I have for you

Dreaming Spanish (Best If You Want To Speak The Spanish of Spain)

Dreaming Spanish is a YouTube Channel aimed at providing free interviews, history lessons, and classes for every Spanish learner, regardless of their level.

dreaming spanish youtube channel screenshot

The videos are of high quality and are super easy to understand. The only thing that might be word noting is that you will be hearing the Spanish of Spain.

So if you want to speak like a Latino American, just be conscious of that. But even if you want to speak a Latino American Dialect it won't hurt you to learn from their Spanish as a beginner.

Español Con María (Best If You Want To Speak The Spanish of Latino America)

María is a wonderful young woman who brings excitement, care, and a feeling of friendship to her audience. Her videos usually revolve around topics related to the Spanish language including its grammar, history, and vocabulary.

español con maría youtube channel

Luisito Comunica (Best If You Are A B1 Level And Up)

Now if you have arrived at the intermediate level and you enjoy learning about other countries, cultures, etc.

luisito comunica youtube channel

Luisito Comunica is the GOAT of the travel niche for the Spanish-speaking side of YouTube. Luisitio is funny, charming, intelligent, and most of all - entertaining. He does a really good job at being unbiased and just showing what he sees.

If you are interested in seeing native Spanish-Language content that is still clearly spoken and interesting. Check out Luisito Comunica, you'll love this guy!

The Best Book To Learn Spanish With

If you have $16 to invest in your learning. The best book I have come across for learning Spanish is Madrigals Magic Key To Spanish. This book teaches you the most important vocabulary, phrases, and conjugations first. Just reading 1 or 2 pages a day will work wonders for you.

Check it out if you are looking to have a reliable and physical resource to come back to.

Conclusion: How To Learn To Speak Spanish-For Adults

If you are an adult learning a language, not only is it NOT harder for you to learn a language, but it’s actually easier in many ways. A baby/toddler can’t intentionally use these tactics. By the time the average toddler starts stringing together sentences (3-5 years of age), you’ll already be fluent.

How to learn to speak Spanish (for adults) is just a title. The reality is you can use the tactics of children, and leverage your intelligence, and vocabulary in your first language to learn much faster.

And the best ways to accomplish this are by using immersion techniques such as:

  • Changing Your Phone/Computer To Spanish

  • Watching TPRS Videos

  • Listening to Music In Spanish (Instead of in English)

  • Listening to Podcasts such as the Duolingo Podcast

  • Labeling things in your home

  • Journaling with the help of Google Translate

Another way you can progress daily with little effort is by using apps/websites such as:

  • Language Transfer

  • Close Master

  • Memrise

  • FluentU

  • LinQ

And the last tip is to find engaging YouTube content that you look forward to watching (in Spanish) Such as:

  • Dreaming Spanish

  • Español Con María

  • Luisito Comunica

And if you do ALL of these things daily, you’ll surely be fluent within the next couple of years! If you enjoyed this article let me know in the comments, it would bring a smile to my face to know I helped.

If you want some motivation, check out my article “Is Spanish Worth Learning? Why You Should Start The Journey Now”.

Have a great day/evening/night!

~ Ben


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