Have you been learning Spanish for what seems like forever but you only get so far before thinking… I just don’t get it! What I’m doing wrong? Why can’t I learn Spanish? We’ve seen it all and helped students of all ages, from all backgrounds and with all levels succeed. Please don’t panic. No one has told you that learning a new language is easy. You have to work hard and practise everything you learn at school. We have this list for you. These are the top 10 obstacles you will encounter on your way to learning Spanish.
This is one of the major obstacles we find as often students want to become fluent in Spanish in just a few months. When it doesn’t happen, they lose enthusiasm and stop learning. Guess what? The only thing you need to overcome this is some patience and some more time. If this is the first time taking a Spanish course, prepare to put in the work and you’ll not regret it in the long run. It is better to go step by step put some intermediate goals and celebrate achieving each one of those. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Talk to the Spaniards you meet along the way and that practice will empower you.
If you know some Spanish already, it’s important to practice with other people so you improve your speaking skills. However, sometimes is difficult to find a partner to practice. Our recommendation is to sign up in language exchanges, finding native Spanish friends on any social media, take webinars or enrol in online classes. Any of these will help you to improve your oral Spanish skills wherever you are in the world. By having a reliable person to practice with you’ll keep pushing forward and practising you! If you are a shy person, you will need a little more confidence to achieve this goal, but it will be worth it.
Every language has words with various meanings! And of course Spanish is one of them. To overcome this obstacle you just need to make lists of words and learn them with examples. And keep in mind that everybody makes mistakes! You are not the first one telling someone you’re pregnant (embarazada) rather than embarrassed (avergonzada). We have all been there and done that and it’s definitely a way to not commit the same mistakes again! Such words are known as false friends, but you must get along with them and turn them into good friends.
Okay, the fact is that Spanish verbs have so many forms that the big problem when improving your fluency is remembering them all and conjugating quickly! Ando, he andado, anduve, andaba, andaré, ande, andaría, anduviera o anduviese, había andado, hubiera o hubiese andado, etc. etc. etc. But once you get used to the basic ones, it’s a case of going through each of the irregular ones and practising… A LOT! We know it’s an uphill struggle but when you get to the top, the view is pretty amazing. And remember: No pressure: every Spaniard you speak to will understand what you are trying to say even if you don’t use the correct conjugation. Pay attention to the Spanish natives, you will learn.
Once you finally get some confidence at understanding the basics, we know how demoralizing it is to have someone talk to you and not understand a word! This is something that you can work on easily by adding Spanish to your daily routine by watching TV shows in this language, downloading some podcasts, listening to Spanish music, etc. and of course, taking Spanish classes with a communicative methodology like ours! Try to live your life as if you were born in Spain. Mingle with the locals and don’t speak to them in your own language.
You’ve managed to get used to conjugating verbs, random false friends and natives speaking really fast… and then you find out about the subjunctive. It’s seen as a mood rather than a tense and takes a long time to get to grips with but it’s something that we, at LAE Madrid, work hard on for higher levels. The subjunctive is practice, practice, practice and we recommend that students get some individual classes to really get over the subjunctive hurdle. Find out your subjunctive level here. You’ve got used to verb conjugation, random false friends and fast-talking native speakers… If you’ve conquered them all, you won’t have any problems with the subjunctive when you discover it.
Reading Spanish is pretty straight forward as you generally have to pronounce each syllable as it’s written. Using the accent and pronouncing the sounds like a native, however, is something that Spanish students get hung upon. Rolling Rs and the harsh J in words like ejercicio are difficult to master but repetition, constant correction and specialist. Watching Spanish television programmes and listening to podcasts or local radio programmes will improve your pronunciation.
Learn more about pronunciation with this video:
When you start learning a language, you’ll constantly be thinking in your mother tongue and translating into Spanish. It will take a while to get over this but for the basics at least, you can start to make big leaps by copying and repeating; phrases, sayings, physical expressions, etc. Start watching videos on Youtube and listening to podcasts and you’ll slowly begin to recognise the expressions and phrases in Spanish first and not feel the need to translate at all! Once you have achieved this goal, nothing else will stop you!
Depending on which Spanish speaking country you are in, using formal and informal Spanish will vary. So first find out which kind of Spanish you want to learn and, of course, listen to native speakers. In Latin America, formal Spanish – usted and ustedes is the norm, whereas in Spain, it’s more typical use tú and vosotros. Don’t worry if you don’t know which one to use. No one will be offended.
Spanish sentences are long, a lot longer than English for example. Sometimes you start writing a sentence and get lost, not knowing whether to add a coma, dot or question mark. The easiest way to overcome punctuation is by reading! It doesn’t have to be a long book. Start with blogs, news articles or short stories. And then, start reading a book on your own – you’ll soon get the hang of it!
If you need help with your Spanish, take a look at our courses – we can help! Learning Spanish can seem like a daunting task, but LAE Madrid can help you stay on track to see real progress. With intensive courses, cultural activities, and individual classes, you can follow your learning path and reach your goals. Check out our methodology.
For more information on learning Spanish and our courses, contact us at [email protected]