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Can you be fluent in Spanish in 10 days?

There seem to be an endless amount of articles that are all based on the idea that it’s possible to learn a language and be fluent in a very short period of time; days, minutes, or sometimes instantly.

Is it possible to become fluent in record time?

The answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that these articles are completely without merit. In fact, the things that these articles suggest to do will increase your ability to learn and understand a language.

The main problem with these articles is that they tend to prey on our intense need for instant gratification. They play on the idea that they’ve cracked the code on how to make learning languages instantaneous, when in reality it doesn’t work like that. What these articles do is prey on our insecurities and hopes, the idea that after such a short time you’ll speak like a native and understand everything; taking advantage of our desire to please and be successful at everything we do with no effort.

The simple fact is that learning a language is a labor of love. You can’t rush your way through it. And you get what you put into learning a language. In other words, if you put in minimal effort, or if your fear of making mistakes keeps you from trying, then you won’t get much out of it.

The main reason why “learn X language 10 days” is false advertising is that it doesn’t address how someone would learn the grammar. This approach of self-study works for some people, but it has its failings in that a teacher, tutor, or native speaker can better instruct someone on when you use a certain tense, or why a certain word isn’t exactly applicable in some contexts.

In addition to that, when you aren’t amazingly fluent within the allotted time, you might feel as if you’ve failed and get more discouraged.

At best, these strategies for boosting your language skills serve as supplemental instruction and practice, but are no real substitute for someone who knows what they’re doing. They seem inviting because they take the classroom aspect out of it, and instead stress more interesting and fun alternatives to learning material. This is not without merit, but that isn’t all there is to learning a language.

As someone who’s learned a second language, I can tell you that the key to learning a language – any language – is really quite simple: make it important to you, but also make it fun.

Making any language important to you is dedicating yourself to learning it. Learning Spanish can be very taxing for people. With conjugation rules, tenses and moods, and all kinds of grammar you’ve never encountered before it’s no wonder that Spanish (or any language for that matter) might seem daunting.

The key part of making the language important to you is to set aside the ego. It’s impossible to learn a language without making mistakes. These mistakes are normal, natural, and above all, expected. The mistakes you make are not indicative of your shortcomings. They do not make you a failure.

To learn the language, you have to set aside the perfectionist side of yourself that measures your intelligence and self-worth in such stark terms. Making mistakes is how you learn. There’s no shame in that, and everyone makes mistakes, even the masters.

The second key to learning the language is the part that actually accelerates the language learning process: making it fun.

When we see work as work, it becomes tedious and we don’t want to do it. That’s incredibly natural. But when you can identify it as fun, it becomes a joy.

Most tips for the “Instant Fluency” articles involve something along these lines. They suggest what I consider “procrastinating productively”; learning while you have fun. This is especially easy in the digital age with so resources at your fingertips.

Learning Spanish doesn’t have to be all about the rules and conjugation charts. It can be fun if you make it fun!


7 Steps to Maximize Learning

  1. Listen to music in Spanish. This helps train your ear.
  2. Listen to podcasts or the radio in Spanish. This also helps train your ear, because in addition to hearing actual people speak and use the language, you also get used to their accents or any regional expressions they use.
  3. Watch TV or movies in Spanish. This will help you learn to contextualize Spanish. You might not understand every word at first, but visual cues will help you understand what’s going on and learn intuitively. Some shows or movies also help you learn more specialized terminology; a show set in a hospital will have more medical terminology, a show set in a courtroom will have more legalese, etc.
  4. If you can’t find shows or movies in Spanish, or don’t feel ready, you can watch things in English with Spanish subtitles. Subtitles show you how the language should be written which is helpful for spelling and reading and also helps you understand what’s being said in a way that lets you look up what you see.
  5. Read in Spanish. This shows you how Spanish should be written in formal settings. If you’re just beginning, you can start with books for kids and work your way up. You do have to know your level and competency in the language. My advice is to read and take notes on words you don’t know and look them up. Write out useful expressions or recurring words. As you go, you’ll probably need to write less notes.
  6. Make use of free resources like Duolingo which helps form sentences, or Memrise which helps you learn vocabulary and make lists and courses for yourself. Some other resources include StudySpanish which has a free grammar section to help you understand the grammar rules, Conjuguemos which helps form verbs in different tenses, WordReference which is a free dictionary, has a conjugation generator, and has a forum feature to ask native speakers. For people who are trying to find textbooks, you can try ClassZone which has many textbooks and their material to be read on your own time without buying the textbook itself.
  7. Find a penpal or start talking with native speakers. This is best for conversational skills or listening. People often say that their biggest stumbling block is insecurity when speaking.

Of course, these steps and the ones in the “10 Days or Less” articles are no substitute for formal classes. Learning Spanish in a formal classroom helps explain grammar rules, encourage you and should be fully immersive experience among others. But for some, classes aren’t an option. If that’s the case, a tutor might be the best option.

It’s best to implement these steps in addition to formal lessons; making Spanish important to you, but also making it a fun and enjoyable experience. If you follow these steps and you’re still hungering to be fluent, then why don’t try 123 Spanish Tutor?

If you are looking for a qualified, native and experienced Spanish tutor, we can help you. All our tutors are ready to help you with any of your needs, conversational, listening, speaking, writing…

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  1. Landon Says :
    Posted on April 29, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    This is a great article. I particularly enjoy your advice in #5

    Read in Spanish. This shows you how Spanish should be written in formal settings. If you’re just beginning, you can start with books for kids and work your way up. You do have to know your level and competency in the language. My advice is to read and take notes on words you don’t know and look them up. Write out useful expressions or recurring words. As you go, you’ll probably need to write less notes.

    I find that in reading I have been able to work at my own pace and it is also great for seeing how the language is actively used. I find books that I have wanted to read in english and many times I can find the spanish version of this book which helps me to progress and pick up new words.

    I actually built an app that would help me keep track of words and phrases that I come in contact with while reading and it keeps track of the frequency that I need to look up a translation so that I know what words or phrases I need to look at.

    More info about this app that I have created can be found on its corresponding website: English to Spanish Translation. I am constantly evolving the application and would love feedback on what you think.

    • 123SpanishTutor Says :
      Posted on May 3, 2015 at 7:27 am

      Hi landon,

      Yes, reading is very important part of learning and apps like yours can help a lot too.

      Great work! Is there a version for Android?

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