5 Tips to Learn English as a Native Spanish Speaker


Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, and it is the official language of more than 20 countries of North, South and Central America, Europe and Africa, spoken natively by over 400 million people; now, English is the international language of choice when it comes to communicating, and despite Spanish being so tremendously popular, it is only natural those people want to learn English at some point. Being for travelling abroad, getting a better job or just for pure fun, English is the first choice for a native Spanish speaker when wanting to learn another language. This is so true that English is taught to children since a very young age at school.

Now, Spanish is my second language, and I have experienced for myself the challenges Spanish students have (even I had to struggle at some point to learn Spanish, which is not that easy by the way). In this article, I decided to give you some tips on how to overcome such challenges, so let’s begin!

1. Don’t be afraid of grammar

All languages come from different roots,  and some of them are related to each other. When you learn a language that is from the same root as yours, you will find it rather easy, as the grammar structures and vocabulary you will be learning will be quite similar. This is the reason why you, as a Spanish speaker, would be easy to learn a Romance language (italian or portuguese) However, when you start learning English, you are jumping from one root to the other, and for this everything you learn will be new to you, specially grammar structures.

You will be doing a lot of questions and it will take you some time to understand the structure of the English language, so do not despair! Believe me, English speakers go through the same process when learning Spanish with all its conjugations.

2. Listen carefully

Something particular about Spanish is that it sounds as it looks, so every written word tells you how you should pronounce it (if you are familiar with the sound, every word does, of course) With English is a little bit different. You need to study the pronunciation of every word as well as how to write them, because many times you will see a word that is written in a way but pronounced in another.

Easier said than done, right? When you listen to native English speakers, it can be hard to understand every single word that is being spoken. For this, I will recommend a resource to you called the phonetic alphabet. With this, you will learn the differences in pronunciation of all the words.

3. Learn with a purpose

If there is one tip I could give you that will make a tremendous change, is this one. Often times, people will study English out of necessity or just as a tool to use in the future. Believe me when I tell you this, there is nothing more powerful and impactful that learning English with a purpose.

I have a friend from Latin America that learned this way. He never stepped a foot in any grammar school; however, when he was young, he was passionate about guitar and music; and, as most of his guitar heroes where from the United States, he decided to polish his English skills so he could study from the videos and books from his heroes. Due to this type of learning, he acquired an amazing fluency in English.

4. Use it as much as possible

This point is tightly connected to the previous one. There is an expression in English: “Use it or lose it”, which basically means if you don’t practice an ability, you might forget it. This idea can be used to help you remember new English vocabulary. The best way to remember a new word is to use it right away so it will stay in your memory. Every time I teach my students a new word, for example, I make them use it in a few sentences so they understand how they can use it. Later, I tell them to make some sentences in their heads over the following week using this word. This way, they never forget it.

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

As a Spanish speaker, you will see that you have a tremendous improvement in the beginning, but as you move forward and hit the pronunciation points that are particularly difficult, you might find yourself sounding a quite different than your teacher, and even more advanced students. If in these moments you feel tempted to quit, just don’t. Do not let the fear of saying something wrong stop you from speaking at all. Even if you think you are making a mistake, keep speaking anyway. Most of the time, people will understand what you are trying to say, even if you make a mistake.

When facing all of these challenges, remember: the fact that you had the determination to learn English and keep up until this point is great, and by keeping the same determination you will succeed in your goal to become fluent.

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