We’ve put up a list with the 5 best ways to learn Spanish beyond the traditional classroom. They will help you incorporate the habit of learning the language in your daily life in a way that will feel effortless.
These methods also combine the four skills needed to learn a language: speaking, reading, writing and listening.
Five great ways to learn Spanish outside the traditional classroom are watching Spanish series in Netflix, watching YouTube videos about learning the language, reading books in Spanish according to your level, travel to Spanish speaking regions, and listening to podcasts in Spanish.
Spoiler alert: these are just ways of gaining exposure in Spanish. Because, at the end of the day, that’s all you need. You need to be exposed to the language even if you don’t live in a Spanish speaking country.
You might think that’s difficult to achieve, but it’s not at all. Just keep reading to see what we mean.
I mean, who doesn’t like to watch Netflix. What I like about this is that it helps you learn while still being entertained. To ensure you’re getting a learning experience, try to find a series that you really like and leave your phone during that hour, so that you can focus as much as possible.
Tip: do not use English subtitles. If you wanna get more exposure, use Spanish subtitles and when you feel like you’re ready, use none at all.
Here are some series that I recommend:
Street Food Latin America is so much fun and easy to watch. It takes you all around Latin America to try different street food dishes. You can also grasp the different accents from all the countries, which I think makes it fun to watch.
I love Las Chicas del Cable. It’s a Spanish series about a group of girl friends that work for a telephone company in Spain at the end of the 1920s. Although the series is long and it covers more “complex” topics such as the Spanish Civil War, the series is about friendship. I also chose it because of the actors’ accent. It’s very smooth and easy to follow.
Watch YouTube videos
Watching videos in order to gain exposure is a great way of learning, and different to Netflix in that videos tend to be shorter that a series episode and you don’t need to follow a whole story.
Take a look at this video from the Easy Spanish team. They walk the streets of Barcelona asking people about different Spanish topics, a similar concept to what the original team, Easy German, does in Berlin. Videos have subtitles in English and Spanish at the same time. Topics are simple to follow too:
Reading is a fundamental skill when learning a language. It helps you develop your intuition and its a great way to gain exposure in an active way that doesn’t require much effort, because you can do it from home or wherever you are.
Make sure you choose a book in accordance with your Spanish level. Don’t go for Cortazar’s or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s stories at first, those might be a bit more complicated. Maybe start with a book for children and slowly move into well-known novels whose stories you already know, for example.
You could further start reading the news. Contrarily to what people think, news are not so difficult to follow. Take a look at a well-known media outlet in Spanish and pick an article about an international topic. You’ve probably already read about it in your local newspaper, and that previous knowledge about the topic plus the pictures in the article, won’t make it difficult to follow.
Tip: read in Spanish a book that you’ve already read in English or your mother tongue. Since you already know the story, it’ll make it easier for you to follow its course and figure out the vocabulary easier. I did that with Harry Potter as a child when I was learning English, and it helped me a lot.
Travel to Spanish speaking regions
I mean, yes. Don’t hate me for this one. But if you have the opportunity, take a trip to any Spanish speaking region in the world. There’s A LOT of them so you won’t have a problem about finding one. If you’re Canadian or American, it might be easier for you to get to Mexico. Do it! It’s beautiful and people are very welcoming there.
If you prefer to go further, go to Spain. Try to make it there in the spring when weather is not that warm yet and there’re less tourists, so you have a bigger chance of interacting with locals.
Or, if you have a lot of time and are up for an adventure, I cannot recommend you South America enough (I’m from there so I’m not really neutral on this one). You’ll get plenty of countries to chose from, the best weather, friendly and welcoming people, and the best food in the world. The cultural immersion you can get there is huge. I’d recommend you to go there if you don’t mind learning or listening to Spanish with an accent different to the classic Spanish one.
In these areas, where people are open to know you, it will be easier to know people and make friends. Come back from your trip with a couple
Tip: I know it might be tempting to speak English while abroad in a big city. But try to avoid it. No one (trust me, no one) is judging you if you make mistakes or if you struggle with sentences. Practice makes perfect, and we all have to start somewhere.
Listen to podcasts
What I love about listening to podcasts is that it can be done anytime, anywhere. Since listening is the most important language learning skill, its fundamental to practice it a lot.
The people of Easy German, whose content I consume a lot to learn German, have expanded and created Easy Spanish. They have this podcast where they talk about fun and easy to follow topics. The hosts are from Barcelona and Mexico and their accents are very easy to understand.
This podcast called Hoy Hablamos has a very similar concept. The host is Spanish and his accent is very nice too. The topics are a bit more difficult though because they talk about the news, and situations such as renting an apartment in Spain. I still recommend it for when you feel ready.
See? I told you it’d be easy and effortless. Tell us in the comments which one of these methods is your favourite and why!