Can you Speak Spanish?
How long have you been studying Spanish? Between high school and college classes and your own efforts, you could easily have a couple of years already under your belt. During that time you have likely built up a good Spanish vocabulary along with a basic understanding of Spanish verb conjugation, but can you actually speak Spanish?
Why is speaking Spanish so hard?
Can you go up to one of your Spanish-speaking neighbors and start a conversation? Can you help a Spanish-speaking customer who comes into your store? Why not? Why is it so hard to learn to speak Spanish even after years of study?
Learning Spanish the hard way
Beginning high school and college Spanish classes, as well as most self-study Spanish courses, start off by teaching vocabulary and verb conjugation. You practice speaking, but the focus is on the individual word or conjugation. Lists of words are memorized and tests are given on verb conjugation. So when it comes time to speak, the words and phrases are separate in your mind. It becomes a matter of trying to pull all the pieces together and form them all into a sensible sentence, which can be hard to do when you are on the spot.
How to learn to speak Spanish
The key to becoming more comfortable in speaking situations and learning to actually speak in Spanish is to practice and learn the sentences as a whole, not in separate words or pieces. Spend your time studying sentence construction. Don’t be satisfied just learning how to say a word properly, go the extra mile, and learn how to properly pronounce and construct the complete sentence. For example, rather than just looking up the word “help” in the dictionary, research how to say the complete phrase, “Can I help you?” This way you spend your time practicing and memorizing useful phrases that you can use word for word.
Learning in this manner will build your confidence in speaking and allow you to quickly remember the phrases needed to have a useful conversation with someone. During your conversation when you try to remember what to say, complete Spanish sentences and phrases will pop into your mind, not just separate Spanish words. You will speak Spanish more correctly, more fluently, and more confidently than ever before.