Step 1: Determine Your Goal
Do you want to be able to basically greet people and conduct simple transactions in Spanish, like maybe if you were going to a Latin American country just for a few days or weeks, OR are you going to devote years to gaining complete native fluency? You should determine what you want first. Also, how long are you willing to devote to working on it? What’s your time frame? Do you have a few weeks or a few years?
Step 2: Get A Home Study Course
There’s no getting around it: you’re going to have to spend some money on some basic educational materials and this one is probably going to be the most expensive AND the most important. I’ve used Pimsleur, Rocket Spanish, Berlitz, and Rosetta Stone amongst others, and personally I liked Synergy Spanish (see my review at the end) better than any of the others, especially for someone who needs to get to a basic level of proficiency and only has a few days or a couple weeks to do it in–Synergy only uses 138 of the most commonly spoken Spanish words and the key is that they show you how to take those few words and combine them to form thousands of natural phrases without having to actually MEMORIZE any of these phrases, it’s only $49, and has 68 lessons that are 10 minutes each so you can easily use it as a crash-course in Spanish that can be completed it in a few days or weeks depending on how hard you’re willing to work at it.
Step 3: Find a Native Spanish Speaker Who to Talk to
It could be a friend, it could be someone you met through a site such as Friends Abroad, it doesn’t matter just so long as you have a native speaker to converse with occasionally. You don’t need to do any type of formal lesson, in fact the more casual and colloquial it is, the better.
Step 4: Dictionaries, Thesauruses, and Translators
Personally I like to use for my online Spanish-English dictionary, I used Urban Dictionary to look up spanish slang and curse words (they’re better than anybody for this), and I use Babelfish for my translator. You might also want to grab a paper dictionary and a wonderful little book called ‘501 Spanish Verbs’ that has the most commonly used verbs and shows their conjugations, very helpful.
Step 5: Learn at Least ONE New Spanish Word Each Day–You MUST Commit!
Commit to learning at least one new Spanish word per day. I like to use a site called Spanish-Word-A-Day who will gladly send you a new word to your RSS feed or to your iGoogle homepage–I know there’s other sites that can also email you a new one(s) each day as well. The important thing is to commit to actually doing this, that way if you don’t get any other Spanish work done that day then at least you still did SOMETHING if you’ve done this, and it really doesn’t take but a few seconds.
*Note: Article Dashboard, in all their brilliance, has decided that ANY site linked to in your article body must be yours and they don’t allow self-serving links in the body of the article, just the resource box at the end, which is why this article was rejected for publication 3 times–they actually thought that I must own (it’s a HUGE PR7 site) AND
Altavista’s Babelfish (yeah, I own Altavista, I wish) AND Friends Abroad, etc. etc. which is WHY I didn’t link to any of these sites in my article (so I could get the damned thing approved) which is why you can’t just conveniently click on a link in my article to get there, but instead will now have to go to Google and search for all these sites if you want to find them–if you think this is stupid, do me a favor and let Article Dashboard know about it, thanks…