How to Improve Your Spanish in 30 Minutes a Day

books to learn SpanishWhether you love science fiction, romance, or adventure, using non-academic books to learn Spanish is a fun way to improve your speaking skills! Learn more in this guest post from Honolulu tutor Jinan B...


Reading books in Spanish is an inexpensive, portable, and convenient way to improve your Spanish skills. In this article I’ll review the many ways reading books in Spanish will help you learn the language so that you can begin using this effective and enjoyable tool of reading the written Spanish word.

Expand Your Vocabulary

The first reason to use books to learn Spanish is to improve and expand your vocabulary. Acquiring a rich and complex vocabulary is one of the most challenging elements of language study, and reading in Spanish naturally enhances vocabulary learning. By reading fiction and non-fiction books on a variety of subjects, you will gain a vocabulary far beyond what you find in most Spanish textbooks, which are simply a starting point for your vocabulary bank. Furthermore, reading in Spanish allows you to gain understanding of unknown words through the context, thereby increasing your overall understanding of sentence structure, parts of speech, and typical vocabulary usage in the language.

Improve Your Understanding of Phrases and Ideas

On a related note, reading in Spanish also stretches your understanding of complex phrases and ideas that you might otherwise have trouble grasping. When you are reading, you can use the context (as well as cognates) to increase your understanding. You also have the ability to read slowly and re-read, which is another reason why reading in Spanish is a wonderful complement to aural exercises and listening to Spanish. Moving at your own pace while reading means that you can over time gain a deeper understanding of the language by reading thoroughly and utilizing the context and your previous knowledge of Spanish. Reading also encourages overall familiarity with the language, and increased ease in using the language. Try reading a passage out loud, then silently, taking as much time as you need to comprehend the passage, and then again out loud to see if you hear a difference in your fluency and ease in speaking.

Improve Your Writing Skills

Another skill that reading in Spanish improves is writing. By reading works of famous Spanish authors, you’ll get a sense of the rhythm and style of the written language, allowing you to glean inspiration to write in a similarly appropriate style and tone. You can even make a list of new words you are acquiring by reading and then try to write an essay or other written work incorporating some or all of the new words.

Bonus: Try your hand at these Spanish writing prompts

Learn More About the Language Overall

Most of all, reading works in Spanish gives you a deeper understanding of the cultural implications behind Spanish language usage. Try reading works from a variety of Hispanic cultures and notice the differences in word choice, style, and sentence structure. Visualizing the connection between culture and language increases your cultural sensitivity in speaking with and writing to native Spanish speakers, and allows you to have a deeper awareness in choosing how and what to communicate in Spanish. That will certainly increase your depth, skill, and usage of the Spanish language!

With all of these benefits in mind, improving your Spanish language skills is as easy as visiting your local library or browsing the foreign language section of a bookstore. And if you have questions about something you read, you can always bring in a passage to work on with your Spanish language teacher or tutor – they’ll appreciate your interest and motivation!

JinanJinan B. tutors in Honolulu, HI. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, teaching various courses including Community Nutrition, Concepts in Nutrition Education, and Advanced Child and Adolescent Nutrition. Learn more about Jinan here!  


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Photo by Gildas Le Mentec

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