The Best Ways to Learn Spanish:
Three Proven Techniques
Three of the best ways to learn Spanish fast are to:
- Use English to learn Spanish.
- Review what you have learned.
- Use mental rehearsal.
I'll discuss each of these more below.
Use your English to learn Spanish.
This approach draws on the most current linguistics research into how adults learn foreign languages. Around 12
or 13 years of age, our brains shift and we are no longer "hard-wired" to learn in the way children are. (By
the way, this seems to be part of why it is harder for adults than kids to learn new languages without an
You may have read that the best way to learn Spanish or any foreign language is to put yourself in a situation
that is entirely in Spanish. Chances are, reader, that you are past the age where this is true for beginners.
Nonetheless, one of the programs I review on this website, the famous Rosetta Stone program, is set up this way.
See my review of Rosetta Stone Spanish for more on this.
Of course, once you are getting to be at home in Spanish, then it can make sense again to speak only Spanish at
One benefit of learning Spanish when you already know English is that you can draw on your vocabulary and on the
fact that you know how your own language is constructed.
I find this point to be true all the time in Mexico, regarding vocabulary. Often, I don't know the exact word I
want but if I say, "In English we say..." and then use the word, the Mexican person often recognizes it.
Review what you have learned.
When you are learning something new, it takes some repetition to become familiar with it. The best of the
Spanish-language programs build a lot of repetition into each lesson. They also construct subsequent lessons to use
what you learned before.
Reviewing what you have learned, ideally the same day you learn it, will help move that
material from short-term memory to long-term memory. Even then, more review later is called for.
Use mental rehearsal to learn Spanish.
This method kind of grows out of reviewing the material, but takes it a step further. Mental rehearsal means
practicing in your mind. You can do it while sitting quietly but you can also make use of many times during the
day, such as when you are waiting or doing things like cooking that may not require a lot of attention.
You can learn to speak Spanish much faster by incorporating mental rehearsal (sometimes also called
visualization) into your habits. For example, you could be making up an imaginary conversation -- taking both parts
-- where you are buying some fruit in a street market, asking how much it costs, and getting much more comfortable
with using numbers in conversation.
The Best Way to Learn Spanish is ultimately...
One you will actually do! Pay attention to your own sense of what is right for you. Find something that you will
enjoy, as that will keep you much more motivated than something that feels like drudgery. Take a look at my
comparison of different Spanish language programs for some ideas.
¡Buena Suerte! (Good Luck!)