Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate Spanish student, you may be wondering how long it will take to become fluent in the language. Here, New York, NY tutor Lauren P. shares her practice tips and recommendations to help you become a fluent Spanish speaker…
To determine how long it will take to speak Spanish fluently, you must first decide how much time you have every day to practice Spanish. The key words here are practice and every day. No scientific data can determine exactly how long it will take to speak Spanish fluently, but if you commit to a specific amount of practice every day, you can set a realistic time frame to reach your goal.
It’s not enough to just read a study guide or use learning software, you must actively practice listening and speaking the Spanish every single day. Our brains are meant to learn vocabulary and grammar naturally by listening to and speaking the language. Therefore, don’t spend all your time reading vocabulary lists and rules of conjugation. Instead, choose a small set of vocabulary or verb conjugations, and use the majority of your time making authentic sentences with these words. For example, spend one minute reviewing 10 household vocabulary words, and then use your remaining time to practice using those words in sentences. A great way to practice is to jot down several sentences throughout the day, and then spend your study time translating those sentences into Spanish. Since the human brain remembers details it finds meaningful and important, you will learn and retain the content of your real-life sentences better than a generic vocabulary list. Depending on how much time you have every day, use a Spanish guide with the following strategies to learn to speak Spanish fluently.
15 Minutes = Three Years
At the bare minimum, you can find 15 minutes a to study Spanish. It’s important to set specific daily goals instead of one long-term to goal. Spend two minutes reviewing a list of 10 related Spanish nouns, and three minutes conjugating one or two relevant verbs. By focusing on one vocabulary theme or category at a time, you will remember more than if you learned the words separately or in alphabetical order. Spend the remaining 10 minutes making up realistic sentences and questions with your list of nouns and verbs. Since sentences should be authentic, look up additional verbs as needed. Write the sentences and then practice saying them aloud. Record everything in a notebook so you can look back and review. Remember that speaking aloud is more important than reading and writing since your goal is to speak Spanish fluently.
30 Minutes = Two Years
Do you want to push yourself to practice Spanish for 30 minutes a day? Spend the first 15 minutes on the activity above, then incorporate more real-life practice into your routine and learn five real-life sentences every day. Keep a record of sentences you use or hear throughout the day. Either jot down sentences in the moment, or do your best to remember them during your practice time. Translate these sentences into Spanish and practice saying them aloud. Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. The last thing you want is to learn incorrect Spanish translations from faulty online tools. Meeting with a private tutor for 30 minutes every day or several times a week will ensure you make time for perfect practice and have the correct translations.
One Hour = One Year
Increasing your practice time from 15 or 30 minutes to an hour is much easier than you think. Spend 30 minutes reviewing relevant vocabulary and verbs to use in sentences. Then, listen to Spanish for another 30 minutes at any point in the day. You can listen to a Spanish radio station or podcast while you walk, drive, or exercise. While everyone agrees language immersion is the best way to become fluent, you can simulate brief periods of immersion by listening to real Spanish speakers. While you listen, write down any unfamiliar words and sentences to incorporate in your targeted practice time.
Two Hours = Six Months
Committing to two hours a day of Spanish practice isn’t too difficult if you use your time wisely. Just think of how much time you spend commuting, watching television, browsing the Internet, or even sleeping. Double the amount of time you spend practicing vocabulary and verb conjugation, and then spend 30 minutes reviewing 15 to 20 vocabulary words and four or five verb conjugations. Use another 30 minutes to translate 10 to 15 real-life Spanish sentences. Jot down sentences from your own conversations and from the words and sentences you hear from real Spanish speakers, radio, or television.
Double the amount of time you listen to authentic Spanish speakers during your day. Whenever you exercise, drive, walk, or have downtime, tune into Spanish radio, podcasts, or Spanish television. Since your goal is to speak Spanish fluently, you should use half or all of this time to practice conversations. Find a native Spanish speaker who is willing to talk to you for a certain amount of time every day or every week. Then schedule time to speak with a private tutor for 30 minutes to an hour every day. With this fun but intensive program, you could be conversational within six months.
Three or More Hours (Immersion) = Three Months
If you’re moving to a Spanish-speaking country, you can expect to be relatively fluent within three months if you continue to practice, and listen to and speak with native Spanish speakers. If you’re not moving to a Spanish-speaking country, spend one hour on targeted study and another two hours listening and speaking to a private tutor or native Spanish speaker.
For more helpful tips on getting fluent faster, check out this quick video from one of our top Spanish instructors-
Whether you have three years or three months to learn a language, you cannot fail if you commit to specific daily goals. Find 15 minutes to three hours a day to practice speaking the words and sentences that are relevant to your life. The best way to stay committed is to schedule time with a private tutor who can ensure perfect practice and act as a conversation partner. Find a Spanish tutor in your area. Stick with it and good luck in your journey to speak Spanish fluently!
Lauren tutors various subjects in New York, NY. She has her Master’s Degree in Education (with a concentration in students with learning disabilities), and is a certified NYC Special Education teacher. Learn more about Lauren here!
Photo by Sydney Wired