Learning Spanish at an Intermediate Level

January 12, 2018   

Where to go from here?

Picking up a language is hard work, but thankfully there are a lot of resources to help you in your quest. Apps like Duolingo or Memrise can give you the kick-start you need. Unfortunately the majority of these are directed at beginners, and, once you’ve levelled up, it can be difficult to find resources to help you keep moving forward.

I started learning Spanish on November 22nd 2016. I took it seriously, practicing daily with Duolingo and Memrise for 6+ months. Around July 2017 I completed the Spanish course.

Completing Duolingo

Life after Duolingo

After mastering the basics and outgrowing Duolingo, I struggled with learning for a while. After trying many different approaches, I focus on the following now:

  1. Spanish conversation everyday (even if it is with myself)
  2. Expanding my knowledge where I need it
  3. Listening in Spanish
  4. Immersion

1. Daily Spanish conversation

The best way to get better at something is through practice, so to practice speaking I try to converse in Spanish everyday. If you are in a Spanish speaking country this is easier, but for those of us who are not, I recommend simply answering questions out loud. Here is a simple tool to help you do so:

Random Spanish conversation starters

¿De dónde eres?

Habla en español! Start a tech conversation!

Note the “tech conversation” are questions specifically to build my knowledge with regards to my job (see #2 below)

Note 2: I have an app in the pipeline to help with the above. Contact me if you would like early access or to learn more.

2. Expanding knowledge where you need it

Fluency means different things to different people. For me, this is being able to live my life through Spanish - for my career and interests. Given I work in growth marketing in the technology industry and I’m interested in health and fitness, it makes sense for me to focus on improving my Spanish in these areas.

I figure this means a couple of things:

  1. Growing my tech & fitness vocabulary, mainly through reading. For example:
  2. Communicating with others in these areas:
    • Attending Spanish-speaking tech and startup meetups.
    • Joining sports clubs / gyms / or attending sports events in Spain.
    • Listening to relevant podcasts in Spanish (I’m working on finding some good ones).

3. Listening in Spanish

  • Watching Spanish shows and films
    • Extra en español is a great one for beginners.
    • You can set up a new profile on Netflix en español and start watching.
    • Re-watching movies you’ve seen before (we watched the Lion King!) is easier than watching something new.
    • Tip: watch without subtitles. It’s harder but worth it in the long run as your ear is trained.
  • Spanish news:
  • Spanish podcasts (I’m still looking for some good ones).

4. Immersion

Surrounding yourself with native speakers is key to learning a language. There are some options no matter where you are:

  • Conversation exchange meetups
  • Online conversation exchange and lessons
  • Taking holidays to Spanish speaking countries

But the best thing you can do is to move to a Spanish speaking country - something we’re taking the plunge on soon!