You are in planning mode and ready to take your next vacation in Latin America! You’re reviewing your options—possibly Machu Picchu in Peru or Tulum in Mexico. Maybe you’re looking forward to seeing the Tikal National Park in Guatemala! No matter your destination, you already know your trip will be exciting—filled with vibrant colours, flavourful cuisine, hip-swaying music, and the allure of the Spanish language. Being able to communicate and understand some of what you hear around you will make the trip more immersive and memorable. Let’s look at 6 guaranteed ways you can improve your Spanish and feel more confident for your trip.
1. Start with the basics
Start by familiarizing yourself with basic everyday phrases, questions, and greetings, such as “Hello,” “Good evening,” and “Where is the bathroom?”. Approach language learning as babies do—listen to songs and read children’s books in Spanish. Try to look for resources that are one level above your own. Keep staying just outside your comfort zone. This allows you to start immersing yourself in the language and becoming familiar with how words are pronounced and used.
2. Speak the language daily
Build a habit of speaking the language consistently. This will build your confidence and make language use second nature. It may sound and feel uncomfortable at first, but completely immersing yourself will help you learn quickly. Try to integrate basic phrases into your daily life as much as possible. Speak Spanish to yourself, greet colleagues, be bold and engage people in basic conversation. Look for Spanish classes, language immersion meet-up groups in your area, or virtual Spanish events; this will allow you to meet new people while practicing. Commit to investing in a one–on–one Spanish class with a tutor. These settings allow you to get immediate feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Commit to consistently engaging in the language, and you will be on your way to learning that much faster.
3. Learn Cognates
Cognates are words that share the same ancestral origin. In Spanish and English, these are words that share the same Greek or Latin origin and are similar in spelling and meaning. There are over 1000 cognates shared between Spanish and English. This means that learning cognates can vastly improve your vocabulary—just be mindful of the pronunciation. Some words that are similar in Spanish and English are festival, alcohol, capital, hotel, and plaza.
4. Make it Fun
Find ways of including Spanish in the things you enjoy, like turning on Spanish subtitles on your favourite shows. If you feel adventurous, re-watch some of your favourite movies with a Spanish voice-over. This will help you to associate Spanish sounds and words and contextualize the language, simplifying your translation process. Read interesting stories, or listen to podcasts in Spanish. Try listening to Spanish music and downloading the lyrics to sing along. Sign up for Latin dancing so you can have fun listening and dancing to Spanish lyrics. Making your learning experience fun will help you retain more of the information you learn.
5. Revamp your vacation
Instead of staying at a formal hotel on your trip to Latin America, consider staying with a host family. This will be a great opportunity to build on what you have learned and truly experience the culture. Ask your host family for local restaurants and events outside the normal tourist sphere. This will present you with conversation opportunities with locals and help to expand your vocabulary with words and phrases not commonly taught in Spanish classes.
6. Build connections
Whether it be going on a date with someone who speaks native Spanish or finding a new Spanish-speaking friend who shares the same interests as you, try to build new connections. A compelling reason to learn a new language is to communicate and share with new people; this could be an excellent motivator to push your Spanish to the next level.
Immerse and speed learn with Berlitz
Achieving conversational fluency is your first step in mastering a new language. Berlitz offers an immersive language technique that will have you speaking Spanish with confidence. We provide a cultural learning experience tailored to your personality and goals. You can choose from private or group Spanish classes, either online or in person. Get started with your first Spanish lesson today by completing our online contact form. Vamos!