If you have decided to learn to speak Spanish through intensive Spanish lessons, it could be on the most valuable decisions you will ever make. You should verbalise this decision to make it a reality, tell your friends and family, ‘I want to learn Spanish!’

Did you know that around 440 million people worldwide are native in Spanish? In fact, it is ranked number two after Mandarin in terms of the most widely spoken languages in the world! English is ranked third and Hindi fourth. This should give you an idea of the extent and influence that Spanish has around the globe.

As a language, it is spoken in 20 independent countries around the world and to have more than just a Spanish vocabulary or a few common Spanish phrases under your belt, is considered a sought-after business skill. So if you have been thinking ‘I want to learn Spanish ‘consider taking it seriously. Go the whole hog as they say and why not take an intensive Spanish course?

With these facts in mind, the benefits of speaking Spanish are numerous, regardless of your nationality. A question that is often asked is how long will it take to learn Spanish? If you want to undertake intensive Spanish lessons, these will obviously take a lot longer than simply learning it conversationally through picking up some common Spanish phrases, or increasing your Spanish vocabulary.

Becoming fluent in any language depends on a number of key factors, which we will take a look at in this article.

I Want to Learn Spanish Quickly!

So you want to learn Spanish quickly? How long is quick? This depends on you and your ability to learn new languages as well as how much time and effort you are ailing to dedicate to the process.

In terms of the level of difficulty for an English speaking person to learn Spanish, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has actually put together a helpful guide for learning new languages in terms of their difficulty. Fortunately, the FSI includes Spanish as a Group 1 language along with these languages:

  • Dutch
  • Danish
  • French
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Swedish

Interestingly, these languages, which include Spanish, are actually thought to be closest to English (even though it definitely doesn’t seem like it) and you can expect some overlap in terms vocabulary and grammar.

girl holding Spanish book about Mexican Spanish
Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. - Source: Unsplash

As a general rule of thumb, the FSI estimates that to learn to speak Spanish should take up to 600 hours of tuition or about 24 weeks to reach adequate fluency. This does not mean it will be a piece of cake, when it comes to intensive Spanish courses, like anything in life, what you put in is what you will get out and while the common Spanish phrases may seem easy enough to pick up, Spanish grammar and verb conjugation are not without their challenges!

So what you really should be saying is’ I want to learn Spanish quickly’ or ‘I want to learn Spanish slowly’ – because it’s all up to you!

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude

How high you climb up the ladder of Spanish proficiency will definitely be determined by your motivation and attitude towards your lessons!

There are a number of ways to learn any new language, whether that is online, in group classes, or with your own private tutor, however, every avenue will still require that you are dedicated. Let’s be honest, without a really good attitude with which to wrap your head around a brand new language, success will be hard to come by!

Learn to speak Spanish, or any second language for that matter, with a great attitude, and not only will it be easier to grasp, but the actual process will actually be enjoyable. One of the ways to keep track of your progress and not to simply get stuck in the easy stuff like the common Spanish phrases is to set meaningful and intentional goals for yourself along the way. Keep reading if you are keen on tips on how to do that!

Learn to Speak Spanish by Setting Goals

Firstly, your goals will adjust according to the level of Spanish you intend to sign up for. For instance, if intensive Spanish lessons for the purposes of becoming bilingual is the aim, you should keep your reasons for this front of mind as this will help to motivate you when the lessons become difficult. Perhaps you intend to relocate to live and work in a Spanish speaking country, if so, keep that goal in mind. Or perhaps you have the most amazing holiday through South America planned, if so, keep visualising it!

While this might sound a bit trite, when learning something as important as a new language, it is important to set goals from the start as this will minimise the chance of aimless learning and help you to keep track of your tangible progress!

All of this will help you to steer the direction of your leaning and this is why having a private Spanish tutor can really fast track those goals. By working with a private tutor you will be able to maximise the areas of language learning that are important to you and spend less time on what will ultimately serve you less. For instance, if you want to learn to increase your Spanish vocabulary for business, you could do so by even getting industry-specific about it!

decorative tin with Spanish writing on it
It is important to define your reasons for learning Spanish upfront. - Source: Unsplash

Your goals for learning Spanish might be completely different from someone else’s so by being specific about these, especially if you are able to use a private tutor, you will progress quickly and make efficient use of your time. There are actually Superprof tutors in every corner of South Africa who teach Spanish. Their affordability ranges depending on the kinds of lessons you need. Simply search by location for one near you.

Obviously, if you want to learn to speak fluently, you will need more intensive Spanish lessons with an experienced tutor compared to someone who simply wants to pick up common Spanish phrases for their next holiday. The average prices for Spanish tutors in South Africa can range from around R100 per hour to R350 per hour depending on the tutor's background. There is even a student in Boksburg who is willing to help Spanish students with extra tuition for only R20 an hour! One of the advantages of using a Superprof tutor is that very often the first lesson is for free. This is a great opportunity to discuss your goals and to find out about your potential tutors teaching style and experience before investing in a term of lessons.

How Other Languages Can Help You

You might be surprised (and pleased) to hear that speaking other languages could help you with your Spanish lessons. For example, there are actually similarities between French and Spanish that could help in terms of picking up the following aspects of Spanish:

  • Nouns
  • Tenses
  • Verbs
  • Sentence structure

Actually, any language that has similar roots to Spanish will help. Fortunately for English speakers, Spanish and English both share Latin roots. This means you may actually have some Spanish vocabulary that you didn’t even know about! These similarities could certainly contribute to you learning the language in less time than you anticipated.

To put all of this in perspective, languages like Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic are extremely difficult and time-consuming to learn because they have entirely different alphabets and ways of writing!

Fast Track Your Learning with Intensive Spanish Immersion

spanish flag under blue sky
Spending time in a Spanish speaking country is a great way to pick up Spanish expressions. - Source: Unsplash

As already mentioned, there are 20 different Spanish speaking countries around the world. In fact, in terms of language exposure, only English, French, and Arabic are spoken in more countries than Spanish. This widespread use of Spanish in countries like Spain, Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Argentina, provides a wonderful opportunity for what is called language immersion!

Language immersion is obviously the best way to learn to speak Spanish. By doing so, you will be surrounded by local natives ensuring that you pick up colloquial expressions and phrases that you would not in your Spanish class in South Africa.

Every experience, whether it is going to a coffee shop, supermarket, seeing the sights, or taking part in a student exchange programme, will be like one of the most exciting Spanish lessons imaginable! Difficult aspects like learning verb conjugation could be easily picked up in a real-life context. Even if you only have basic Spanish to start, you will easily progress to an intermediate level from the amount of Spanish to which you will be exposed.

There is absolutely no doubt that the best way to advance in any new language is to spend time in the country where it’s spoken. This will become the quickest way for you to learn as you will constantly be progressing and developing.

If all of this sounds exciting, make sure that at the very least you have common Spanish phrases under your belt before you relocate as you will need some basic Spanish vocabulary to get you going. Buena suerte!

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.