How to Learn to Speak Spanish Fluently

Are you interested in learning how to master a new language? Learning to speak Spanish fluently may not seem like the easiest task, and only 43 percent of the world’s population can do it. This means that you’re attempting to do something that less than half of the world can do. Go you! That’s awesome and will allow you to grow in your own academic and career goals. In fact, the demand for bilingual workers has doubled in the last five years. If you’re looking to learn how to speak Spanish fluently, we’ve got all the best tips and tricks for you. Keep reading to learn more!


3 Stages to Master a Foreign Language

There are 3 stages to master a foreign language. They are: the phonics stage, the deliberate practice stage, and the refinement stage.

The Phonics Stage

Depending on whether or not you’ve attempted to learn a language previously, you might be familiar with the phonics stage. At the very least, you’ve been here before with your mother tongue. The phonics stage is all about going back to your ABCs. It’s the alphabet stage where you start getting familiar with the sounds and figuring out how words are formed. This stage is crucial because if you don’t have a good foundation, then it’ll be that much harder for you to go forward in your Spanish language learning. You want to get familiar with how the language sounds because your language learning should ultimately be intuitive.

For Spanish, this means you’ll get familiar with the 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet, start sounding out each of the letters, learn open and closed syllables, and begin to build words. Fortunately, Spanish is spelled exactly like it’s pronounced, and there’s no guesswork for how to stress a word. If you’re already a speaker or familiar with one of the Romance languages, such as Latin, Romanian, Italian, French,  Catalan or Portuguese, this step will be easier for you.

The first thing you want to decide is where you think you’ll be using your Spanish the most, in order to determine how you’d like to speak and engage with Spanish speakers. If you’re going to be interacting with Europeans more than Latin Americans, consider learning the accent spoken in Spain. Mexican accented Spanish is your safest bet for Latin American Spanish, since it has the largest population and one of the most influential countries in the region, and is also the most frequently heard version in the United States.

But the two accents differ in important ways just as American and British English do. And it’s best to speak one clearly without mixing. In Spain, the letters {c} and {z} are spoken on the teeth similar to English {th}, and in Mexico they sound like /s/. The letters {ll} in Spain sound like the {ll} in 'million', but in Mexico like an English {y}, and the letter {y} can sound close to an English {j} depending on the accent. The letter {v} can sound almost like {b} at the beginning of a word, and the letter {h} is always silent. The linguistic reasons behind these shifts in sounds is all very natural and normal, explained simply by a slightly more constrictive or forward tongue position.

The letters {c, g, qu, gu} have different pronunciations in front of {e, i} versus {a, o, u}. Most double vowels are treated as a single unit, such as {ei, ai, au, uy, ua, ue, ui, ia, ie, io} and aren’t automatically stressed at the end of a word, unless an accent is written, which is why the name María requires an accent in Spanish. Besides accented letters, Spanish has only one more unique letter than English: ñ, which is pronounced like the /ny/ in "canyon".

The Deliberate Practice Stage

This is where a lot of learners get stuck, so figuring out how to break through this stage is where you can take your language learning to the next level. Language learning can be frustrating when you’re using random books, classes, videos or other tools that don’t ultimately connect to your interest in the learning Spanish in the first place.

Source: Mastery Through Deliberate Practice by Marko Gargenta

One of the reasons people get stuck at this stage is because they feel greatly rewarded by quick and early gains that only leads to stagnation. Without properly engaging deliberate practice, they hit a wall, the progress becomes a plateau and they usually give up frustrated by not breaking through to fluency. They become very good at doing the easy and simple things in Spanish, and most apps have become too basic for these people. It’s as if they’re fluent at the easy stuff, but still can’t understand Spanish speakers when they speak normally with each other. They’re really not sure what they’re missing in order to make the same gains that they were getting in the beginning. Maybe you’ve had this exact same experience?

There’s a reason that a majority of people say that they become fluent in Spanish when traveling or living in a place where they speak it every day. This is because they are engaging in deliberate practice. Every single day they are engaging in the daily use of the language that allows them to build up repetition and muscle memory. Better yet, these are the type of language skills that they actually need and use. When you just read a book in a classroom to read it or fill out worksheets just for the sake of it, your brain doesn’t commit it to memory in the same way as you do when you have deliberate practice. This is random practice and what you should avoid if you want to learn how to speak Spanish fluently. Deliberate practice is about getting familiar with how a new language sounds and hearing it in contexts that you’d actually use it.

Deliberate practice is not just about knowing your grammar and vocabulary; more importantly, it’s about focusing on specific sentence patterns so that you master how to manipulate your sentences to say anything you want. For example, knowing which prepositions to use to introduce specific phrases gives you the ability to say much longer sentences, and knowing how to talk about actions during, before, after, and interrupting another action in the appropriate tenses enables you tell people about things that have happened throughout your day. These are core skills that must be deliberately practiced for any language learner.

Learning how to speak Spanish fluently comes down to excelling in and moving past this deliberate practice stage. As such, you’ll need to learn with an established and effective teacher or coach and make an effort to leave your comfort zone during your practice. Glossika is one of the best tools on the market specifically designed for you to break through. Remember – there’s a reason that people become fluent during 3 months of immersion abroad. You make the greatest strides when you’re uncomfortable and need to figure it out in order to succeed. When you make goals for your language learning, be sure to break them down so that they don’t overwhelm you. Be sure to put your full attention and focus into your practice so that you can commit it to memory, and when your instructor provides you feedback be sure to take it seriously!

Putting deliberate practice into practice can help you truly put your language skills to the test. Not everyone can get past this stage, but once you do, the refinement stage is all about modifying the foundation you’ve created. Take this stage seriously and be mindful about each learning experience. It’ll make all the difference in your ability to learn Spanish fluently!

Deliberate practice is about getting familiar with how a new language sounds and hearing it in contexts that you’d actually use it.

The Refinement Stage

After you’ve set yourself up with language skills, it’s time to ingrain them into your memory so you can call them back whenever you need them. The refinement stage is all about integrating the different kinds of language skills in order to express yourself in a much fuller capacity. Think about what you might learn in a classroom setting versus what you might learn on the streets of Spain or Mexico. Pretty different, right? Any native speaker will use slang, expressions, and a variety of vocabulary. This is a lot to ask of any beginning Spanish student, but you’re well past that now.

The refinement stage is crucial to helping you take your Spanish to the next level. You’ll be able to develop your accent and train your muscle memory to truly make you fluent in Spanish. The refinement stage is the stage that will allow you to dive deep into your specific interests.

When you can speak fluently in another language, you’re able to focus more deeply on building your expression skills related to those interests, or perhaps even a career. For instance, if you work in the art industry, speaking Spanish is beneficial because you can use your language skills to introduce a Picasso painting to someone during a museum tour or to converse with Spanish art dealers. Your language skills have suddenly expanded your ability to do your job and do it well.

Furthermore, if you’re not looking to stop there, Spanish can form the foundation for a variety of other languages. Romance languages like French and Italian are similar to Spanish in their alphabet and have similar language patterns because they’re all derived from Latin. This ultimately means that these languages have cognates and feel familiar even if you’ve never studied them before. Utilizing Spanish as a base means that you’re one step ahead and are able to apply your existing skills towards your language learning.

Final thoughts

Becoming fluent in Spanish may feel challenging, but with the right language learning tools, you’ll be on your way to becoming bilingual. Glossika adjusts to your learning level and keeps the speed you want to go at in mind. As you aim to get more familiar with language sounds, develop the right word order, and train your muscle memory, you build up a vocabulary naturally along the way. Glossika knows that you may not have the opportunity to spend forever learning how to learn to speak Spanish fluently and that’s why it’s important to be cognizant of the stages that you’re in. Visit here to learn more about Glossika and how to learn a language in a natural way.

You might also like:

  1. [Spanish Pronunciation] How to Sound More Like a Native
  2. Differences Between European Spanish and South American Spanish
  3. [Spanish Grammar] How to Master 3 Tricky Spanish Word Pairs

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There are words and pronunciations that are unique and different to each dialect, and words that have completely different meanings. For example, I am a native Spanish speaker who is accustomed to the clear pronunciation of consonants in the Mexican dialect. But when I talk to my Puerto Rican friends, I find that I sometimes need to focus in order to catch every word, simply because I am not used to hearing certain pronunciations, such as when /r/ turns into /l/ and /d/ is eliminated at the end of a word. • • •  Find out more details in our article "Differences Between European Spanish and South American Spanish" • • •  #spanish #glossikaspanish #mexicanspanish #spain #mexico #learnspanish #speakspanish #fluency #fluently #dialect

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