How to immerse yourself in Spanish when you can’t travel
The best way to improve your Spanish is to come to Spain and immerse yourself in the language and culture. So, what happens when something like a global pandemic hits and you’re only allowed in with a student visa? How do you experience that Spanish language immersion at home?
Oh, btw, did you know that you can enter Spain in 2021 with a student visa offered by LAE Madrid? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll pass you all the information!
How can you maintain and improve your level of Spanish without stepping foot in a Spanish-speaking country? In our blog today, LAE Madrid will explain how to immerse yourself in Spanish no matter where you are.
Add Spanish to your daily routine
Follow interesting Spanish Social Media accounts
Are you scrolling through Instagram, YouTube or Twitter every day? You might use the apps to laugh at memes, read the news or just to keep track of famous people. But if you’re trying to learn Spanish, social media can actually serve as a productive tool too. Start by looking up a hashtag of your favourite Spanish series, or maybe even of a famous Spanish actor. You’ll soon find tons of memes and posts that will keep you entertained and learning Spanish at the same time!
Change the preferences of your phone
Yes, this does sound like a lot of work, but there’s a reason that we recommend this time and time again; it really works! Navigate your phone and engage with useful new vocabulary to make llamadas (calls), enviar mensajes (send texts), and use your favorite apps. It’s a super simple way to get you accustomed to dealing with everyday things in your target language.
Write every day in Spanish
From the shopping list in Spanish to your to-do lists or a post on Instagram, it is always good practice writing in Spanish, even if you do make some mistakes. It doesn’t need to be long sentences or complex structures; just by writing some words every day you will remember the spelling and the meaning.
If you’re new to writing in Spanish, you’ll want to first think what you want to say in your own language and start to figure out how to translate it. You can use apps like WordReference or Linguee to make sure you’re heading in the right direction and are not guessing. Start with simple phrases or words and as you keep improving your grammar and level, you can start introducing tenses and make the phrases longer.
Once you get to a good level, you’ll be able to look back and see how much you’ve improved!
Identify your passions and discover them in Spanish
Listen to Spanish music
Do you have an eclectic taste in music? Are you always on the lookout for that new, exciting sound? Or maybe you just love to discover new artists in the genre of music you enjoy. Whatever your tastes, you’re sure to find amazing music in Spanish that will inspire you and help you to increase your vocabulary and understanding of expressions.
Learning Spanish through songs is a powerful way to get words and expressions to stay in your long-term memory. Latino stars are singing more and more in Spanish in the international charts so you’re sure to find some songs you know and love that you can practice learning Spanish with. Music is a constant in every spoken language and is also constantly evolving with the times so the vocabulary you get from the songs will also include new trends and expressions.
It’s as easy as googling Spanish radio stations or searching for the Spanish charts on Spotify! We recommend that when you hear a song you like, to search for the lyrics and translate them when you have a free second (Spotify even has lyrics included for a lot of songs, so you won’t have to look far). Identify all the vocabulary and phrases you don’t know and look them up. Then when you’ve finished the song, listen until you don’t need to use your notes any more to understand the song!
Watch Spanish TV shows and films
Would you like to improve your Spanish while relaxing and doing something you enjoy? Series are making a comeback and are a great way to learn new vocabulary, hear different accents and understand Spanish-speaking culture. Netflix has loads of series that will have you hooked and keep you interested from start to finish! Check our blog post on the best Tv-shows to learn Spanish on Netflix for a few suggestions and for the lovers of horror and intrigue we recommend to watch the movie The Platform from 2020.
If you’re a beginner, you can watch the films with subtitles in your own language. If you have a more advanced level then you can switch the subtitles to Spanish or even turn them off! Make sure to have the remote handy to pause your show and look up any new vocab.
Bonus tip: Have you heard of the Language Learning with Netflix Chrome Extension? You can install it to your browser and it activates additional features for language learning when you watch videos on the Netflix website.
Download Spanish podcasts
Podcasts have become super popular in the last couple of years and it’s a great, free resource to help you improve your listening skills. You can easily browse them on iTunes or Spotify and enjoy any topic you like while practicing Spanish at the same time. In this post we’ve collected some of the best options, but feel free to explore and find something that will be especially interesting for you.
We recommend choosing a 30 minute slot of your day when you can really focus and not be distracted. Choose a short-ish podcast (10-15 minutes for lower levels and 20-30 minutes for higher levels, and make sure not to choose a subject that you’ll get bored of or will be too complicated.
Why not try something that you’re interested in already and have a good knowledge of the vocabulary in your own language. If you’re a huge fan of basketball, for example, then you’ll be able to easily follow a Spanish podcast about a basketball team or a particular game. The more familiar with the subject matter you are, the more you’ll pick up. If you really want to challenge yourself, you could use your Podcast time to learn about cultural or social affairs in Spanish that you’re not familiar with in your own language. There is so much choice and variation that you will have no problem finding the right content for you!
Start connecting more with Spain and its culture and traditions
Learn about Spanish food – or even how to cook like a Spaniard!
YouTube has millions of videos of recipes made by Spanish people, in Spanish! Start by searching in English for dishes you tried when you have been in Spain or even just in a Spanish restaurant. Once you start watching, the algorithm will start expanding your interests to different types of dishes and ingredients. If you don’t know where to start, then why not check out Spanish Sabores, a blog by an American chef who has lived in Spain for many years and has dedicated her career to Spanish food and cooking. It’s written in English too so it’s perfect for any level of Spanish learner!
LAE Madrid’s YouTube channel also has tons of grammar and culture videos to help you immerse yourself in Spanish. It’s organised by categories too so you’ll be able to find really interesting content that will help you improve your Spanish in your spare time.
Read about current affairs in Spain
News outlets and opinion pieces are easily available online, and it’s a great way for you to keep up with news, politics and even traditions and interesting cultural events that happen throughout the year. You could look at some of the more obvious daily newspapers, like El País, El Mundo, etc. or you could check out other websites like the Huffington Post in Spanish.
You can use this as a simple exercise to improve your comprehension, or you can really start increasing your vocabulary and expanding your understanding of the language. If you have a slightly higher level, we recommend long-read social commentary articles, like Verne from El País. You’ll find well-written and interesting articles on a range of current affairs.
Sign up for a Spanish course
Whether it is an online course or if you decide to attend an academy in your hometown, taking formal lessons is always very helpful, especially if it’s with native speakers. At LAE Madrid we have experienced native teachers that create materials according to the students’ needs and interests and now you don’t have to leave your house to enjoy the high-quality Instituto Cervantes-accredited classes we offer. Check out our online group and 1-to-1 Spanish classes and get in touch to find out more about those!
There are lots of ways of practicing what you’ve learned and experiencing Spanish language immersion. It is all about being creative and committed! Add some of these ideas to your routine and you’ll make huge improvements in your Spanish in no time at all!