Six Great Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish

Six Great Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish

Melanie Smith
Melanie Smith

Table of Contents

So, you’ve started to learn Spanish and are ready to move beyond the books and get chatting: perfect! Here are six easy ways to help you level up your Spanish conversation practice and get you speaking with confidence fast!

1.  Practice Talking By...Talking

This may sound obvious, but the fastest way to get your Spanish conversational skills up to speed is to speak the language as much as possible and with as many different people as possible.

Buddy up with a friend from your study group or online learning forum, and arrange to meet for lunch or coffee - with an agreement in place to only converse in the new language. This is a great way to practice speaking Spanish and is useful to keep motivation levels up, as you and your pal can support each other. If a physical meet-up is difficult, then consider having a phone call a couple of times a week in which you both commit to only speaking in Spanish.

Try not to worry about making mistakes, especially in the early days. The important thing is to get in the practice in order to help boost your confidence, which can be the biggest challenge to overcome when you’re starting out. It’s natural to feel a little self-conscious at first, but as speaking in Spanish becomes an increasingly regular part of your life, doing so will soon begin to feel natural.

two women practicing Spanish conversation
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

As well as having discussions in Spanish with friends and fellow learners, you can also practice your pronunciation and diction by reading out loud at home. Again, delivering a monologue to just your four walls or the cat may feel a little weird at first, but it’s a useful way of sneaking in some additional Spanish-speaking practice.

If it doesn’t feel too cringe-worthy, consider recording yourself and listening back so that you can identify key sounds that could do with a little more work or areas where your pronunciation needs a bit of a brush-up.

2. Speak With Lots of Different People

It’s helpful to talk with a wide range of people, too, and, preferably, at least one person for whom Spanish is their first language. Speaking with plenty of native speakers will give you the opportunity to hear regional variations, which can be helpful in developing your skills, too. Have a look online for group meets designed to allow fellow learners to get some Spanish-speaking practice. This will help to broaden your vocabulary, not to mention giving you a smattering of street slang, so you’ll be even better able to follow the Spanish people talking in your favorite Spanish tv shows. It’ll boost your confidence, too, and is an opportunity to make some new friends to share the language learning journey with.

Take as many opportunities as possible to speak to people in the new language. If you’re able to visit a Spanish speaking holiday on vacation, be sure to practice your new skills in as many settings as you’re able to: try not to be tempted to ask for train times, directions, or items from a menu in English, even if it’s an option.

3. A Notebook Is Your Friend

Carry a notebook with you at all times so that you can jot down any linguistic nuggets you hear through the course of your day. This is an easy way to build up your vocabulary and to note down particular phrases or turns of speech that take your interest. Practice incorporating some of these new words (if they’re appropriate!) in your next meeting with your study buddy or language partner.

You could also jot down anything you notice about pronunciation and accent to refer to later.

A notebook is useful, too, to record useful ways to remember the pronunciation of words and a place to write down how words are sounded phonetically as well as how they are spelled.

Spanish is a highly phonetic language, so there is usually not much disparity between the two, but if there are particular words or phrases you’re struggling with, writing down whatever helps you remember how to say them is useful.

Women sitting around a coffee table talking Spanish
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

4. Accent Reduction

Your Spanish conversation practice is paying dividends, and your vocab and use of language are flourishing….but you still sound distinctly un-Spanish in your phrasing and pronunciation. Don’t worry; this is often a tricky part of Spanish conversation for beginners, but one that can be solved. Often, it simply comes down to practice. The more time you spend speaking and listening to the language, the more natural-sounding your Spanish accent will become.

But if you want to speed up the process, then you could consider accent reduction training to help you vanquish the vowel sounds or pronunciation problems that are giving you grief. There are several ways to go about this. You could try recording yourself speaking so that you can listen back and identify exactly what is tripping you up, and then simply repeat, repeat, repeat until you’ve cracked it.

Alternatively, there are a plethora of online accent reduction tutorials and courses you could choose to participate in; one-to-one vocal coaching is an option too...but be prepared to pay a lot for these kinds of sessions.

For some, however, this type of training can result in a ‘clinical’ and unnatural way of speaking, and this is worth bearing in mind before undertaking a course to modify your accent. As mentioned above, often simply practicing your listening and conversational skills in the target language will be enough, in time, for you to develop an authentic Spanish accent that can overlay your natural one without requiring it to be minimized.

5. Practice Online

To put in the hours to get your Spanish conversational skills off the ground, you could try joining a Spanish conversation online course that offers the opportunity for live chat with other students. As well as being a good way to get in some basic Spanish conversation practice, it’s also an opportunity to practice kicking off a discussion for those wondering how to start a conversation in Spanish. Trying out your opening gambits in a friendly and supportive online environment can feel less intimidating than in a more formal classroom setting.

Learning Spanish online is a practical way to fit your studies around everything else going on in your life; when deciding to learn a new language, it’s important to be realistic about the time you will have available for your studies. Committing to a course only to discover that you simply don’t have enough hours in the day to put in the work necessary can seriously dent your motivation to continue your studies, as well as being hugely stressful as you try to juggle too many demands on your time. An online, part-time course can be a good way of making your learning work around the rest of your life. Be sure to build into your planning and timetable plenty of time for Spanish conversation practice, as this will be vital to your success in achieving your language learning goals and should be factored into a consideration of the hours you’ll need available to study effectively.

6. Stop Stressing About Grammar

Nobody here is saying that grammar isn’t important. I would kind of be out of a job if I didn’t at least pay it some token respect. But when you’re getting started with conversation practice in a new language, it can be the best idea to put grammatical considerations on the back burner temporarily and simply spend time listening to your partner and then trying to use your new skills to be understood in the discussion.

Worrying about the minutiae of grammatical rules and verb forms can make a conversation stall and prevent you from having the confidence to try to express what you want to. Try to put this out of your head, and if you make a few funny linguistic missteps as the discussion progresses, don’t beat yourself up or be embarrassed; this is all part of the experience of learning a new language.

The grammatical accuracy can come later and will naturally develop the more you practice speaking. And remember: native speakers are unlikely to speak with 100% grammatical perfection anyway!

Two guys sitting on a park bench practicing Spanish conversation
Photo by Anna Vander Stel on Unsplash

Finding Opportunities to Practice

Now that we’ve looked at how to practice Spanish conversation, let's think about how to build as many opportunities for doing this as possible into your daily life to get you speaking the lingo fast.

As well as meeting up with other students, either physically or virtually, to get in some vital Spanish conversation practice, other things can help to get you chatting like a native speaker, too.

Immersive techniques are widely seen as the most effective way to gain fluency in a new language. These methods involve spending as much time speaking, listening, writing, and reading the language as possible and fundamentally building these elements into your daily life.

They can include reading books and magazines in Spanish, for example, changing your phone settings to Spanish, relabeling items in your pantry, and sending and receiving regular emails written in Spanish.

One of the best immersive techniques to boost your speaking skills is watching subtitled Spanish tv and movies, and there is a huge range of critically acclaimed and blockbuster shows and films on our platform.

Research has shown that watching subtitled tv can boost learning and speed up the time it takes to gain proficiency. As well as being the perfect way to keep up your engagement and motivation levels (because, in fairness, if there’s anything that can hold the attention like a binge-worthy box-set I don’t know what it is), subtitled shows and movies can support your learning by widening your exposure to vocab, including slang words and phrases, and hearing Spanish spoken in a ‘real world’ sense.

Important, too, is that you’ll get plenty of experience in regional variations of Spanish, which you may not get through textbook learning alone.

Two women practicing basic Spanish conversation in a conference room
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

And if you’re wondering how fast can you learn Spanish - by incorporating as many immersive methods as possible into your daily life, such as watching subtitled tv, regularly speaking Spanish with language partners, and listening to Spanish music, for example, you may be surprised to learn that it’s possible to gain a level of fluency in as little as six months.

Why Is Now a Great Time to Learn Spanish?

Learning a new language now is not like it was in the old days - by which I mean: when I was a child. There are many new techniques available that make learning not only significantly more effective but fun, too, such as the facility to watch specially subtitled tv programs and movies in Spanish.

Contemporary language learning is about providing engaging, enriching, and immersive experiences rather than being focused on verb conjugation and learning by rote.

Spanish is now regarded as one of the major world languages: it’s spoken as the official language in twenty countries and is being increasingly chosen as the second language to study in colleges globally -with more and more Spanish businesses and industries moving into other parts of the world, having this language on your CV is going to open many doors for you in the job market or boost your chances of getting a promotion in your current role.