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How I Learn Spanish When I’m Not At College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Susqu chapter.

Studying Spanish throughout my four years of college reinforced something I’ve known before starting my freshman year: language learning is hard work. I come from a high school background where languages were not the first priority. It wasn’t until coming to college that I found I really enjoyed Spanish class and the language department at Susquehanna. It’s like learning a secret code, and it’s all a matter of learning the rules to crack it. I even studied Spanish during my time in Alicante, Spain, for my Spring semester in 2022. However, the real challenge lies in continuing to improve outside the university where Spanish instructors and interactive opportunities are provided, especially since I’m the only person in my family who studies Spanish. Here are some habits I’ve learned to retain and improve on what I’ve learned in school.

Buy your textbooks so you can review them later.

This is not the most fun piece of advice, but it’s definitely been helpful over breaks when you’re not going to class and being forced to study concepts for tests. Language learning is a cumulative process, and the textbooks are usually sectioned, which helps when you’re trying to identify your weakest areas. Most textbooks have the answers in the back that can help with self-guided practice, and you can highlight and underline to your heart’s content.

Take advantage of free online resources and applications.

There are tons of free Spanish learning websites which can include video lessons, interactive activities, and audio comprehension activities. The comprehension ones are especially helpful for me when I’m not listening to Spanish consistently. I also have the Duolingo app, which is helpful with vocabulary, and it has multiple languages, not just Spanish.

Set aside a goal to keep yourself accountable.

Staying consistent is one of the hardest things for me when trying to improve my language abilities, but one habit that helped me is planning out when I’ll study. It depends on the week, but in the past, I’ve aimed for three times a week for an hour, which I’ve found to be realistic. However, any time is better than none, so having them be attainable is better than being too ambitious.

Make Spanish a part of a fun part of your day.

Now, this is the most important—add Spanish into activities you like! Language learning should be fun, or else it will be harder to stay motivated. There are many Spanish-speaking YouTubers, podcasts, movies, books, and music. I have subscribed to Spanish YouTubers who discuss topics I’m interested in such as beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. I would recommend that for all of these media types, you should try to stay consistent in the Spanish dialect with everything spoken or written. Most American schools teach Latin American Spanish, and that’s what I’m most familiar with, so I try to find books written in Latin America or YouTubers from that region. 

When possible, practice speaking Spanish.

Again, this is difficult if you’re like me and have no friends or family that speak Spanish, but one resource I’ve found is online meetup groups. There’s one site called meetup.com, and I have attended online Spanish-English language exchange groups. Some events require money, but you can totally find events to attend for free.

Hope this was helpful, good luck on your language-learning journey!

Desli is a luxury brand marketing and management major who enjoys music, thrift-shopping, running, and has a major coffee obsession.