The Best Way to Learn Spanish at Home

by Aubrie Amstutz | Learn-spanish | 15 August 2019

Check out these creative ways to incorporate Spanish into your daily routine! To learn Spanish at home from your phone or computer, check out Lingvist’s Spanish course.

Change the Language of Your Tecnología

keyboard and phone

Beginner: Email Account and Phone Keyboard

A great first step is to change the language of your email account, a specific mobile app like Facebook, or your profile on another website that you use often. Another might be to change the language of something you use frequently enough to be familiar with the layout and buttons, which allows you to get extra exposure to Spanish vocabulary in a situation that was previously automatic anyway. Of course, you can also build up your Spanish vocabulary quickly by using Lingvist’s Spanish course online!

You can also download the Spanish keyboard so that you can start writing to-do lists or reminders in Spanish. To use accented letters, simply hold down the letter on any keyboard to choose the accented version.

Intermediate: Voice Assistant

Practice interacting with your phone’s voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, etc.) in Spanish! Ask your assistant to “Encontrar un restaurante cerca de mi” or “Tocar una canción de Enrique Iglesias” and incorporate some pronunciation practice into your day. Don’t worry if the speech recognition doesn’t always work; the important thing is that you’re practicing speaking the language out loud and becoming more comfortable with conjugating verbs in the imperativo (imperative) form, which is what you use when you want to tell someone to do something.

Advanced: Phone or Computer Language Settings

Chances are you’re familiar enough with your phone or computer operating system layout that you rarely read the labels on the buttons you click anyway. By switching the language settings you can get exposure to new vocabulary and incorporate Spanish practice into your daily life. Of course, use discretion when employing this technique. Changing the language of your entire phone or computer may cause some issues if you’re not an advanced speaker of Spanish.

If you happen to use a VPN (virtual private network), you can even change the country that your internet traffic is routed through to see your usual daily websites in Spanish or explore new websites and search results from a Spanish-speaking country of your choice.

Cook in Spanish

cook spanish food

Try either to purchase a cookbook in Spanish or find a website that provides recipes in Spanish. Though it may take a little longer to cook your favorite dishes, performing tactile actions such as cooking and having kinesthetic experiences such as handling ingredients has been proven to increase learning engagement and promote retention.

You can even make your shopping list in Spanish to quiz yourself while at the store. Creating situations such as this that require you to remember the language to complete a task will not only increase motivation, but ensure you are actively incorporating vocabulary into your memory, as it’s tied to an experience. You may even discover a new favorite dish from a Spanish-speaking country!

Get started with these:

  1. Cocina Cubana (Cuban Kitchen) cookbook on Amazon
  2. Algunas Recetas Famosas de la Gastronomía Española (Some Famous Recipes of Spanish Gastronomy)

Spanish Media Online

laptop with headphones

Podcasts

The beauty of Spanish podcasts is that they are available for all different levels of Spanish and allow you to incorporate Spanish comprehension practice into your daily routine. Explore our list of podcasts to find one suitable to your level and interest!

News

See current events from a new perspective by reading the news online:

  1. El País: daily newspaper in Spain
  2. BBC Mundo
  3. Clarín (Argentina): daily newspaper in Argentina
  4. Veinte Mundos: for Spanish learners
  5. Project Syndicate: provides articles in multiple languages for parallel reading

You can also try listening to the news in Spanish while cooking or at the gym with the News in Slow feature of the Lingvist app or via an online Spanish radio station such as those on iHeartRadio.

Social Media

Social media provides a rare opportunity to see native speakers’ usage of slang, abbreviations, and idioms firsthand! Check out Twitter accounts for famous Spanish speakers, sports teams, or news outlets, the Instagram accounts of Spanish-speaking influencers, or subreddits in or about Spanish, and make your social media browsing feel súper productivo!

Twitter

  1. @CNNEE (CNN in Spanish) or @BBCMundo (BBC in Spanish)
  2. @muyinteresante: interesting facts and news
  3. @elOrdenMundial: articles about news, politics, history, economics, and more
  4. @perezreverte: famous Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte
  5. @Deboconfesarque: random videos, memes, and content safe for work
  6. @TirasdeHumor: popular internet comic Cyanide and Happiness translated into Spanish
  7. @realmadrid or @FCBarcelona : the top two most popular Twitter accounts in Spain

Instagram

  1. gracyvillarreal: Grace Villareal is one of the top Spanish language influencers, with 525k+ followers
  2. realporta: rapper Porta from Barcelona
  3. leomessi: famous Argentinian fútbol player currently playing for Barcelona
  4. erealouro: fashion blogger from Madrid
  5. eliandeli: fashion and lifestyle bloggers and best friends both named Eli
  6. styleinmadrid: self-described “Civil Engineer and Fashionista”
  7. dulceida: Aida’s blog recently won “Best Style Fashion Blog” at Berlin Fashion Week

List of Spanish language learning accounts

Reddit

  1. /r/Spanish: subreddit for all things related to learning Spanish, with 57,000 users subscribed
  2. ( /r/mexico, /r/argentina, /r/chile, /r/uruguay, /r/colombia, /r/vzla, /r/spain and /r/es): subscribe to country-specific subreddits to see travel suggestions and cultural discussion (sometimes) in Spanish
  3. /r/MusicaEnEspanol: great source for new music in Spanish
  4. /r/HAQ: Spanish language equivalent of TIL (today I learned)
  5. /r/chistes: Spanish language jokes
  6. /r/latinopeopletwitter: jokes and memes about Latin American culture – native speakers sometimes explain jokes for those that don’t understand
  7. /r/yo_elvr: dark existential humor for fans of r/me_irl

Spanish Language Music

Remember using catchy tunes to help you memorize a list of capitals, the alphabet, or the order of the planets? Research shows that music allows us to “chunk” incoming information into memorable bits and commit them to memory more easily. Listening to music in Spanish is great for auditory learners, as it attaches words to a rhythm and helps guide pronunciation.

  1. Spotify playlist
  2. Youtube: Best Latin Music Playlist 2018
  3. Apple Music: Essential Spanish Playlist
  4. Spanish radio stations online
  5. More popular Spanish radio stations online

Movies in Spanish

Subtitles or not, watching movies in Spanish is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the sounds of the Spanish language, learn vocabulary from different countries pronounced with different accents, and get authentic exposure to the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries.

  1. Roma: This Netflix film broke all kinds of records at the 2019 Academy Awards, including first foreign language film to win Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón).
  2. Biutiful: The first film to be nominated for Best Actor (Javier Bardem) entirely in a foreign language.
  3. The Motorcycle Diaries: Biopic about the memoir of 23-year-old Che Guevara (before he was called Che).
  4. Pan’s Labyrinth: Dark fantasy drama/horror film by Guillermo del Toro.
  5. Volver: Penélope Cruz plays a working-class mother south of Madrid, Spain.

Check out this list that ranks the top 30 Spanish language films ever.

Read Your Favorite Book in Spanish

reading book in spanish

Do you have a favorite book that you basically know by heart? Use that familiarity to help you read the Spanish translation. Of course, this works best for simpler / young adult books such as Harry Potter or The Little Prince. Fans of Harry Potter will enjoy seeing the translations of names (spoiler: Mad-Eye gets the literal translation of Ojoloco and Norbert the dragon becomes Norberto). Goodreads also has a list of books created by its users that are appropriate for intermediate Spanish learners.

Educación Física

woman exercising

Workout classes such as yoga or aerobics are an easy way to learn body vocabulary and get familiar with the imperativo form of a verb. Plus, pairing related physical activity with vocabulary is great for memorization. The Total Physical Response (TPR) language teaching method is based on just that!

Watching exercise videos at home allows you to watch the video closely to understand the movement and pause if necessary to ensure you’re doing it correctly. This video goes over some of the most basic vocabulary in English and Spanish.

This method is especially enticing if you’ve become bored with your workout! Listening to the instructor in Spanish makes exercise more engaging and helps distract you from the more unpleasant parts. Try counting along with the instructor during repetitions to make Spanish numbers feel second nature.

  1. Rutina Ejercicios Para Tonificar El Cuerpo
  2. Pilates per Principiantes
  3. Cardio para Bajar Abdomen y Perder Peso
  4. Clase completa de yoga dinámico para principiantes en español
  5. Introducción al Tai Chi. Guía para Principiantes Completo

Label Items in Your Home

When just starting out with a language, labeling everyday items can help the words stick in your memory. Once you’ve got the words for cupboard, window, and stapler down, try adding their appropriate verbs! For example: Encender la luz on light switches, Lavar los platos over the sink, or ¡Beber más agua! on the water filter. To take it a step further, you can include full conjugation charts in places where you spend a few minutes each day to practice, such as in the bathroom where you brush your teeth or over the sink where you wash dishes.

Organize Spanish Language Exchanges or Meet-Ups

spanish language exchange

If you’re lucky enough to have native Spanish speakers in your community, you may be able to find someone who wants to improve their English and set up a regular language exchange (called intercambios in Spanish). Spend half of your time speaking in English and the other half speaking in Spanish: win-win!

Spanish is one of the most commonly studied languages in the world, so even if there aren’t native speakers nearby, you probably live near other Spanish learners. Try websites such as Meetup.com, Facebook, or Craigslist. You can also put up flyers in your area to organize a Spanish conversation club. If you live near a university or community college, try contacting the Spanish department to see if one already exists. Conversation clubs are usually open to new members, even if you’re not affiliated with the institution.

Explore Spanish-Speaking Communities

make salsa not war sign

If you live somewhere like the southwestern states of the United States, you can visit nearby communities to see Spanish being used in authentic contexts, such as on menus, signage, and storefronts. You could even try organizing other Spanish learners from conversation clubs to complete a photo scavenger hunt. For example, teams could explore communities to complete a list of objectives, such as photographing Spanish words of certain lengths, ordering in Spanish at a restaurant (You may want to let the staff know your aim is to practice Spanish first), or giving directions to teammates in Spanish to a certain location. Depending on where you plan to use your Spanish the most, Lingvist’s online Spanish course allows you to select either Neutral or American Spanish.

Talk to Yourself

woman drinking coffee

Have you ever caught yourself having an imaginary conversation with a person in your life, or sometimes even an invented character? Don’t worry, everyone else is doing it, too. Some child psychologists and language learning researchers have even found increased language development associated with high levels of “private/inner speech.” Imaginary conversations in Spanish allow you to edit and perfect your responses while utilizing target vocabulary or sentence structures that you’re working on.

The next time you’re out for a walk, imagine the routine conversations you hear in their Spanish form. Draw inspiration from the things around you and get creative with the roleplay! For example, if you see that a shopkeeper has provided a bowl or cup of water for someone’s thirsty dog, think of how you would make this specific request if you were the dog’s owner. Think of how you would respond if the shopkeeper asked about your dog’s age or breed. How would you ask if dogs are allowed inside so that you could order a coffee?