If you are reading this, you have probably decided to learn Spanish or are seriously considering it. One of the most important things to remember as you embark upon your learning voyage is that it takes hard work and determination. Many people look for shortcuts or magic solutions that promise instant results or painless, effortless learning, but if your goal is to achieve fluency in the shortest time possible, then there's a certain progression of steps you need to follow.
Start from the Very Beginning
One of the biggest temptations for a new Spanish student is the desire to jump straight into conversation. Contrary to popular belief, not even babies do that! Studies show that long before they learn to form their first sentences, babies are already learning to recognize nouns and verbs and grammatical structures. Your first step in learning Spanish then is to study the grammar. It may seem as appealing as walking across broken glass, but if you put in the time at the beginning to do this, then it will save you a lot of time down the road and give you the potential to become truly fluent in Spanish.
Develop your Vocabulary
Obviously, knowing the grammar does you little good if you don't know any of the words that make up the language. You should make a conscious effort to learn a few new Spanish words every day as you work on the grammar. There are many tools, books, and programs out there to help you to expand your vocabulary.
Don't Underestimate the Value of Reading!
As you're learning grammar and vocabulary, it's very important that you practice what you're learning. In the beginning, probably the most important way for you to practice is through reading. Reading, writing and conversation all develop various language-related skills, but in the early stages of learning a language, reading can be especially helpful in cementing your understanding of grammar and rapidly expanding your vocabulary. Plus, reading articles, comics, and novels can be done anytime and anywhere and doesn't require a partner!
Once you've got a solid grasp of Spanish grammar and a decent vocabulary, that's when conversation practice will become more important to your development. If you've put in the time to lay the proper foundation of grammar and vocabulary, you will find that your listening and speaking skills will develop extremely quickly – much faster than someone who jumped straight into learning through conversation.
Do a Little Bit Every Day
The key to mastering any skill is consistency. If you devote the time and effort daily into learning Spanish, you will start seeing results within just a couple of months. You will feel the thrill of being able to understand Spanish and being understood by a native speaker. Remember that a combination of reading, writing, conversation and simply working with the words every day is the best way to learn and retain your knowledge. Good luck on your journey!