Thinking about learning Spanish but don't know where to start? Or maybe you are not even sure if you can handle it? Then this article is for you. We have analyzed in detail the possible difficulties to give advice on how to learn to read, write and speak the language of Cervantes. We have also collected many useful resources — both for beginners and for those who want to improve their level.

Facts about Spanish

Self-appellationEspañol, castellanoto differentiate from other languages spoken in Spain
ClassificationWestern Romance group
Total number of speakersnative and learnt543 million[1]
Variants2major varieties by region
CountriesSpain, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico and 17 other countriesHispanidad members
ExamsDELE, SIELE
Regulatory bodyRoyal Spanish Academy
Location on map

Features of the Spanish language

  • Versatility. The Community of Hispanic Countries, or Hispanidad, includes 23 countries. Each of them has its own version of the language. Moreover, within these countries, Spanish will differ significantly from region to region. The pronoun yo alone has four basic pronunciations. There is a scientific institute that studies the language, and sets its standards — Real Academia EspañolaRoyal Spanish Academy. But even there four standard variants of Spanish are accepted — Castilian, Rioplatense, Mexican, and the language of international organizations.
  • Speed. Spanish is the second-fastest spoken language in the world after Japanese. It is faster than English, French, Italian, Chinese, and German[1]. It will take effort to get used to the pace of the conversation. It is fast on its own (7.82 syllables per second), but the task is further complicated by linked words and reduced syllables. For example, para allá in colloquial Spanish sounds like pa'lla, and the phrase ha elegido irse, spoken without pauses, becomes haelegidoirse.
  • Influence of the Arabic. In addition to Latin, which was the basis of the language, Arabic has had a huge influence on Spanish. VIII-XV centuries Spain was under the control of Muslim conquerors. Because of that, about 8% of the vocabulary is of Arabic origin[2]. And we are not necessarily talking about specific terms. Lots of basic vocabulary such as taza (cup), azul (blue), almohada (pillow), rubio (blond), came to the language from Arabic.
  • Special punctuation marks. The Spanish language informs in advance of a sentence’s intonation. Each exclamation or question mark is accompanied by its inverted analog at the beginning. They appeared by the decision of the Royal Academy of the Spanish language not so long ago — in 1754.
  • Untranslatable words. They are found in every language and are usually associated with some kind of cultural or historical peculiarities. In German, this is, for example, the concept of Schadenfreudethe feeling of joy provoked by someone else's suffering, which has no direct translation in any other language. Spanish has sobremesa. The literal translation “on the table” will not tell you anything, because it is not just a word, but a whole tradition. Sobremesa means spending time together after dinner and having a pleasant conversation. This is one of the fundamental aspects of the Spanish way of life.
  • Words have gender, and it can change their meaning. Each noun has a gender that requires subject-predicate agreement. More often than not, using masculine instead of feminine would not be a critical mistake, but there are exceptions: el cometa is a comet, la cometa is a kite.
  • A phonetic language. This means that each letter represents a specific sound. On one hand, it makes the reading rules easier. On the other hand, the pronunciation of individual sounds highly depends on each specific country of Hispanidad.
  • “False friends of the translator.” Do you already know English? It will help you a lot with learning vocabulary. However, there are words that seem familiar, but in fact, they mean something completely different. Éxito is one such example — it doesn’t mean “exit,” but rather “success.”

How to learn Spanish on your own?

Learning Spanish from scratch can seem like a daunting task. For this reason, many give up at the planning stage or quit at the very beginning, quickly losing interest. So how do you make language learning an enjoyable part of your daily life, rather than a burden?

  • Clear motivation. It seems like you want to learn Spanish, but not sure why? Chances are good you will get bored quickly. You need to understand your motivation not to lose it. Think about what exactly you want to get. Maybe you want to read the untranslated “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” or understand what Enrique Iglesias is singing about. Some people dream of one day visiting a Spanish-speaking country and making friends with the locals, or maybe even moving abroad altogether. Each of these aspirations is equally respectable, just find your own.
  • Long and short-term goals. Understanding the end result is important, but at times it can seem unreachable, and any current progress — insignificant. Set realistic and achievable goals and break them down into long-term and short-term ones. For example: you want to be able to discuss bullfights with a Spaniardin in three months; know Futuro Simple and vocabulary on the topics “Mi pasatiempo favorito”, “En el restaurante” and “En la tienda” in two months; and be able to tell about yourself and your interests in the present tense in a month.
  • Share your plans and reward yourself. Tell your close ones that you started learning Spanish. They will support your endeavors, and you will receive an additional incentive not to give up what you started. And remember to share your successes and reward yourself for them, even if they seem very humble to you. Have no doubt, learning the conjugation ser is already a big deal.
  • Allocate time during the day. To create a habit, regularity is essential. Find a convenient time to practice your Spanish daily and stick to it. And it's okay if you don't always manage to pay enough attention to it. Even 15 minutes is better than nothing, and you can always find that much.
  • Immerse yourself in the language environment. Even if you don't have the opportunity to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, create the correct atmosphere at home. Start following Latin American media, switch your phone to Spanish, subscribe to Hamza Zaidi in hopes of understanding his jokes someday. And finally watch Guillermo del Toro’s El laberinto del Fauno untranslated, or discover the unique atmosphere of the works of Pedro Almodovar.
  • Don't be afraid to be wrong. A new language is a way out of your comfort zone. Mistakes are inevitable, and there is nothing wrong with that. Remember the main thing: native speakers tend to be delighted with foreigners who learn Spanish. They will be happy even with a few simple phrases, because for them your interest in the language and diligence are much more important than minor errors in pronunciation or grammar.

Vocabulario — How to learn Spanish words?

93,000 words are included in the latest edition of the Royal Academy of Spanish dictionary[3]. In addition, there are dialectisms and slang vocabulary, and their numbers are increasing every day. So how many words do you need to know to start speaking Spanish?

Linguist and polyglot Alexander Arguelles evaluated different volumes of vocabulary and what they allow to do:

  • 250: the lexical core of Spanish, the basis, without which you cannot make sentences;
  • 750: the words most commonly used by native speakers for everyday communication;
  • 2,500: the minimum necessary to express any thought, even if sometimes with the help of allegories;
  • 5,000: active vocabulary of a native speaker;
  • 10,000: active vocabulary of a native speaker with higher education;
  • 20,000: passive vocabulary required for reading fiction[4].

250 is not such a scary figure. Moreover, there are already words in Spanish that you will recognize because they sound similar in many languages. But so that you don't waste your time on vocabulary that may never be useful to you, we will give you some tips on where to start and which ways of learning to choose:

  • Basic vocabulary. Every language has particles, pronouns, prepositions, verbs, and adverbs that we use every day. This is a good foundation on which you can build your vocabulary. You don't need to search for them yourself — there are many premade sets on the Internet, for example, one hundred basic words of Spanish.
  • Simple phrases for everyday communication. To get a feel for your language learning as soon as possible, nourish your vocabulary with simple expressions. “¿Cómo te va? Pues, así así. ¿De verdad? ¿Pasa algo?” — there are only nine words here, but this is already a meaningful dialogue. Pick any such selection, for example, 71 basic phrases for the first dialogue with a native speaker.
  • Use cards or stickers. Flashcards are the classic memorization method. It is suitable for any language level, even advanced. Beginners can write a word in Spanish and its translation. More advanced students can complicate the task: write the word within a context on the front, and on the back — its meaning in Spanish. You can buy such cards, make them yourself, create them electronically or find ready-made ones, for example, on the Quizlet website.
  • Learn words by topic. There is a large number of ready-made vocabulary lists of any difficulty level. Start with basic concepts on topics such as days of the week, colors, and family, and then move on to more extensive and complex topics like health, sports, or leisure. At a more advanced level, you can also group words by roots and synonyms.
  • Use spaced repetition. Not to forget what you’ve learned, get back to it at different intervals: immediately after reading, 20-30 minutes later, then after 1 day, 2-3 weeks, and 2-3 months[5]. It is best to repeat phrases rather than individual words. They can be used in a conversation, or they can provide additional information and reference images, which makes them easier to remember.
ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
QuizletService to create flashcards, catalog of ready-made lessons and coursesA1-C2
101 Core Spanish WordsSelection of basic Spanish words in groups with English translationA1
Common Spanish PhrasesA compilation of basic Spanish phrases with English translationsA1
Spanish Dict VocabularySpanish-English dictionary with compilations of words and online exercisesA1-C1
Todo Claro VocabularyOnline vocabulary exercises by topic and language levelA1-C1
Mind the Word Chrome ExtensionAn extension that translates random words from the pages viewed on the Internet into the selected languageB1-C1

Gramática — How to learn Spanish grammar?

The Spanish grammar can be overwhelming. To a simple question about the number of tenses in the language, some linguists will answer "126 if you count the gerund." Also, beginners will not be pleased with the presence of cases. All this may be enough to completely abandon the idea of ​​learning the language. But in fact, only a few tenses are enough for everyday communication, and there are only two cases, and they concern only pronouns and articles. So, just like with vocabulary, start with the basics:

  • Three basic tenses. Presente de Indicativo — the present, with which you can also talk about the future. Pretérito Indefinido helps you tell about completed actions in the past, and Pretérito Imperfecto — about unfinished ones. These are simple tenses that do not require auxiliary verbs. Once you have mastered them, you will be able to express almost any thought.
  • Conjugation of verbs. There are three types of conjugation in Spanish, but most of the verbs in the basic vocabulary are irregular. You’ll have to learn them by heart. But this is not so difficult either: they are combined into groups by the similarity of conjugation. You can use flashcards for memorization, and online simulators for practice.
  • Ser and estar. At the initial stage, it is especially important to understand the difference between these verbs, because there are numerous expressions with them. Both mean “to be,” but in completely different ways. Example: ser is used to talk about relationships, but if you are talking about civil marital status, then estar is required:
    • María es mi hermana — Maria is my sister.
    • Estoy casado — I'm married.
  • Memorize basic grammatical structures. Spanish has a fixed word order, each part of speech has its own place in a sentence. At the initial stage, focus on basic constructions, you need to be able to recognize parts of speech. When you read texts or listen to recordings, you will be able to understand the grammar and general content of the phrase without even knowing some of the words:
    • Subject + predicate: María lee.
    • Subject + predicate + complement: María lee una carta.
    • Subject + ser / estar + definition: María es alta. María está enfadada.
    • Subject + predicate + adverb: María lee lentamente.
  • Delve into difficult topics. Once you've learned the basics, it often seems like progress has stopped. Pay attention to topics that cause you difficulties: for example, get yourself a copy of Advanced Spanish Grammar and finally figure out which verbs require the subjunctive mood after them.

    ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
    Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish GrammarA grammar book in EnglishA1-B1
    Live Linga conjugation PractiseSimulator for tenses and inclinationsA1-C1
    Todo Claro grammarGrammar exercisesA1-C1

Comprensíon auditiva — What to listen to in Spanish?

Listening skill often lags behind. This is especially true for those who learn Spanish — the high rate of speech and the peculiarities of regional dialects make listening difficult. Let's figure out how to get used to authentic speech, choose the material suitable for your level and get the most out of it:

  • Pick what you understand well. Many people think that the more difficult listening is, the better. This is not true. Ideally, you should understand 80-90% of the text by ear. This means that you should be familiar with most of the vocabulary as well as grammatical structures. Radio broadcasts Personas con Historia by Onda Campus are more suitable for those at levels B1-B2, but a series of listening exercises from SpanishPod 101 with basic dialogues is a much better option for beginners at A1-A2 levels.
  • The material should be interesting. If you have no interest in politics, but you still listen persistently to the analysis of the elections to the Madrid Assembly, you will soon get bored. This can discourage interest in the language in general. There are numerous resources on the Internet with any level of complexity. Find a topic that you like so that you can not only learn Spanish, but also learn something new for yourself. For example, those who are interested in the supernatural will find the project “Library of Fear” of the Spanish state radio Miedoteca very engaging.
  • Listen actively. One of the biggest mistakes that nullifies all efforts is passive listening. For example, putting a podcast in Spanish in the background and doing the cleaning. At the initial stage it is especially important to listen actively:
    • Take notes: the topic of the recording, who are the speakers, the main contents;
    • Write down what you hear word by word and check yourself;
    • Listen to the text repeatedly and at different speeds.
  • Get used to the rate of speech and intonation. To do this, you need to immerse yourself in the language environment, constantly listening to something in Spanish. Music, YouTube, podcasts, radio, news, lectures — choose the region of Hispanidad you want to master the pronunciation of and practice every day. I.e. if the Argentine pronunciation is closer to you than European, listen to the Literatura Argentina podcast.
ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
123 Teach Me ListeningExercises for all language levelsA1-C1
Spanish ListeningVideo with a transcript. You can choose the topic, nationality of the speaker, and also do exercisesA1-C1
RTVENews and radio in SpanishB1-C1
Loyal Books
Alba Learning
Free audiobooks
Universidad a distancia de MadridFree lectures by the University of MadridC1-C1
TED Talks en EspañolSpeeches of Spanish speakers on different topics with transcriptsB2-C1
News in Slow SpanishNews with slow speech for different levels of language masteryA2-C1
Onda CampusRadio and TV shows in SpanishB2-C1
Spanish Land School PodcastsShort podcasts in Spanish about the intricacies of the languageB1-C1
Doorway to MexicoA series of podcasts for those who want to move from bookish Spanish to the dialect of the streets of MexicoC1
How to Spanish PodcastA podcast about news, culture, history, and technology with speakers from MexicoB1-B2
Charla HispanasPodcasts about the language and culture of Latin AmericaB2-C1
El Gran ApagónSci-fi thriller podcastB2-C1

Comprensíon de lectura — What to read in Spanish?

When reading, it is also important to be able to choose the right study materials and create a suitable environment for studying, but in addition to this, special techniques come in handy:

  • Read what you understand. The rule is the same as for listening: do not tackle classical literature if you have an insufficient level of language. If you don't know every other word, you will quickly lose not only interest but also self-confidence. For beginners, it is best to choose materials with a ready-made dictionary, illustrations, and a convenient grammar reference. Consider the following Spanish books that were specifically written for beginners:
    • The book series Lunas from the publisher SGEL;
    • The Leer y aprender series published by CIDEB;
    • The Lecturas en español series from the publisher Edinumen.
  • The reading should be interesting. Many people start learning with children's books because they have simple vocabulary and basic grammatical structures. But if you find it unbearably boring to read “El patito feo"The Ugly Duckling", look for a book adapted for your level that you would actually like — with parallel translation and commentary. Another option is to find a Spanish adaptation of your favorite book. You will know the main plot, which will greatly help you navigate the text. Why not start with Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal? And if fiction is not to your liking, choose mass media — news, magazines, blogs.
  • Listen to the text and read aloud. You can find many audiobooks of any difficulty level and read while listening to the announcer. The text is always read slowly, you will clearly hear each word and remember the correct pronunciation. Even if it will not be an audiobook, but a poem or post on a social network, the text should still be voiced. Read aloud, practice pronunciation and intonation.
  • Read actively. It's not just about writing down unfamiliar words. Work through the content of the text: retell it orally, write a summary, highlight the main points. Use extra skills to learn Spanish comprehensively.
ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
BBC MundoSpanish speaking country newsB1-C1
El PaísNews (Spain, USA, Mexico)B1-C1
El DiarioNews (Spain, Argentina)B1-C1
El MundoNews (Spain)B1-C1
La NationNews (Argentina)B1 -C1
El MercurioNews (Chile)B1-C1
El Diario de YucatánNews (Mexico)B1-C1
CNN en EspañolSpanish newsB2-C1
Muy Interesante PopularScientific publication for youthB1-C1
Geo MundoNature and travel magazineB1-C2
América EconimíaEconomic magazine of Latin AmericaB2-C2
La cocina mexicana de PilyBlog of Mexican food recipesB1-B2
123 Teach Me Reading ReadingExercises for all levels of languageA1-C2
Go ComicsComicsA1-B1
Cuentos de GrimmTales by the Grimm brothersA2-B2
Cuentos cortosShort stories and legends with audio versionsA1-A2
Practical Spanish ReadingTexts with parallel translation into English, audio supplements, and exercisesA1-B1
Dual TextsArticles in English with parallel translation into SpanishB2-C1
Centro virtual Cervantes: lecturas paso a pasoStep-by-step reading for learners of various levels. Includes pre-reading assignments, texts, exercises, extra materials, and information about the bookA2-C1

Expresíon escrita — How to write in Spanish?

Writing is an active skill that will require putting together all your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Of course, if you are going on a hike in the Chilean mountains, writing is not so important to you. But if you are thinking of moving there and planning to get a language certificate, it is a completely different matter. From the psychological point of view, starting to write in Spanish is not as difficult as speaking. But there are many difficulties. When you learn a language on your own, there is no one to point out your mistakes. Finding a competent reviewer is not easy, and learning to write like a real hispanohablante is even more difficult. The main thing here is to approach the task systematically:

  • Read. Books, newspapers, magazines — choose what interests you the most. You will memorize the spelling and word order, punctuation, and grammatical structures.
  • Build sentences the Spanish way. The text can be written grammatically correct, but a Spaniard would never talk like that. Here we are talking about a lot: phrasal verbs, linking words, popular phraseological units, and even just words and expressions that are currently “trendy.” A common mistake is copying structures and expressions from one’s native language. Example: “I'm talking to you” would likely be translated as “Yo hablo contigo.” The Spanish will understand you, but the logic of Spanish is different. It would be more correct to say “Yo te hablo” — “I tell you.”
  • Write by hand. This is useful not only in the context of learning Spanish. It helps you read better[6], improves handwriting, helps recognize handwritten text faster, increases literacy due to the lack of auto-correction, and teaches you to formulate thoughts more clearly. Plus, it's a great way to memorize and develop your imagination[7].
  • Write every day. It is not necessary to suffer daily over voluminous essays. Think about everything you write during the day, be it a shopping list, notes, a dream diary, social media posts, recipes. And do it in Spanish. Try new ways to keep your writing from getting boring. Find a pen pal to practice your language communication.
  • Find a reviewer. Without control, a skill cannot grow. It is not necessary to enroll in a language school for someone to check your work — you can find a native speaker who will do it for free. However, be aware that not all Spanish speakers are properly literate.
  • Enrich the text with synonyms. Don't get stuck on basic vocabulary. Your written speech will become much more lively if “beautiful” is not only “lindo” or “hermoso”, but also “precioso, admirable, bonito, fastuoso, maravilloso, perfecto, simpático, encanto, agradable, grato, bueno…
ResourceSpecificitieslevel
HelloTalkLanguage learning with native speakersA1-C1
italkiWebsite for finding a Spanish speaking reviewerA1-C1
InterpalsWebsite for finding a penpalA1-C1
Language ToolAutomated proofreadingA1-C2
Spanish CheckerAutomated proofreadingA1-C2
My StilusAutomated proofreadingA1-C2
PlaglyAutomated proofreadingA1-C2
Lang-8You make a post — a native speaker checks itA1-C2
Kwizio writingExercises in writingA1-C1
Lexico: Spanish punctuationInformation on the rules of punctuationA1-A2
Lenguaje: The Spanish ThesaurusSpanish dictionary of synonymsA2-C1

Expresíon orale — How to learn to speak Spanish?

You can perfectly know grammar, have a large vocabulary, read Spanish literature without problems, but not be able to squeeze out a word in response to a simple question ¿De dónde eres? The language barrier is a very common problem. The reasons are the fear of making a mistake or not understanding the speech partner, as well as being embarrassed by the accent. To avoid this, start working on your speaking skills as early as possible:

  • Listen to live speech. TV shows, Spanish telenovelas, songs, films — all this will help you get used to the tempo of speech, intonation, and different accents. By the way, the music is especially good because it will make it easier for you to start singing along, which is also speaking in Spanish.
  • Use the “shadowing” method. Shadowing activates the mirror neurons of the brain. When we observe something carefully, they activate and create the feeling that this is happening to us. When you listen to Spanish speakers, become their shadow. Repeat whole phrases, even if you don't fully understand the meaning at first. Copy not only words but also intonations, speech rate, phonetic emphasis, emotions. This will help you memorize phrase patterns and subconsciously learn grammatical constructions.
  • Read aloud and write yourself down. Any text has to sound. A list of words on the topic “Mi familia”, phrases for ordering in a restaurant, a news article — no matter what you read, be sure to say it. And record yourself — this will help to hear yourself and evaluate the intonation, rhythm, and accent.
  • Fill in the pauses. Use tricks that make speech more lively:
    • Linking words help build transitions between parts of phrases: Linkingademás, sin embargo, como se dice are just as important for a coherent conversation as the English “moreover,” “and yet”, or "as they say".
    • Parasite words are inevitable in speech, but with their help, you can involve the other party in the conversation, speak more fluently, be expressive. For comparison: “Esa es toda la historia” is a neutral sentence, and “Así que bueno, esa es toda la historia” is a part of a conversation that has an emotional connotation. The same role in English is filled by expressions like “So that’s the whole story” or “And that’s pretty much all about it.”
ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
Meet UpSearch interest clubs in different cities — conversation clubs, language learning groupsA1-C1
TandemService for communicating with native speakers — messaging, video chat, voice messagesA1-C1
Easy Language ExchangeSearch for people for language exchangeA1 -C1
SpeakySearch for people for language exchange, you can arrange video chatsA1-C1

Pronunciación — How to improve pronunciation in Spanish

There is nothing wrong with an accent as such. In live communication, understanding each other is much more important than perfect pronunciation. But with an active immersion in the Spanish language environment, you will begin to adopt the accents of the native speakers. Here's our advice so you don't get confused and speak like a local abroad:

  • Choose one region of Hispanidad. To work on specific sounds, you need to decide what kind of pronunciation you want to acquire. Castilian, Andalusian, Galician — these are only three of the thirteen dialects of Spain alone, and there are more than twenty Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Work on the difficulties. Take time for difficult sounds, use tongue twisters — trabalenguas, they increase the rate of speech. Use the Forvo dictionary to listen to the pronunciation of words and expressions from speakers from Spain, Latin America, and other regions.
  • Clearly articulate vowels. In English, vowels in a word often represent different sounds depending on the stress. But in Spanish, every sound is pronounced equally clearly, regardless of position. For example, in the word madrugada [ma.ðɾu.ˈɣa.ða], only one of the [a]’s is stressed, but they are all pronounced the same. If we look at the English word rebreather [rɛbrˈbriːðər], the letter [e] is pronounced differently each time.
ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
ForvoPronunciation dictionaryA1-C2
Spanish Pronunciation WorksheetTextbook on pronunciation and reading rulesA1
One Month Spanish Pronunciation GuideReading rules, analysis of sounds and exercises with audio filesA1

Where to learn Spanish?

Learning Spanish on your own

Spanish is not the most difficult language for English speakers, learning it yourself is very possible. Its studying is simplified by its relationship with English and the principle "as it is heard, so it is written." However, difficulties with this method are obvious: you will have to organize studies yourself. It takes a lot of self-control and discipline, especially in the absence of evaluations, grades, and deadlines. It can also be difficult at first to figure out where to start and how to focus on all the skills at once.

Also, compared to English, there are significantly fewer textbooks and free online courses for learning Spanish.

ResourceSpecificitiesLevel
Memrise Website for learning the language, with exercisesA1-B2
EdX CoursesOnline coursesBasics in three parts: for medicine, for travel and dedicated to "Don Quixote" by Spanish universities in EnglishA1-C1
Butterfly Spanish YouTubeLanguage Learning Blog in SpanishA1-B1
BeelinguappA language learning app with audiobooksBoth fiction and scientific in Spanish and EnglishA1-B2
DuolingoSpanish lessons for beginnersA1-B1
SpanishPod101YouTube language learning blog in EnglishA1-B2
Spanishland SchoolYouTube language learning blog in English and SpanishA1 -В2
Spanish PlaygroundYouTube-blog for learning the language with a moderate rate of speechA2-B2
Deliberate SpanishYouTube-blog for overcoming the level of IntermediateB2-C1
University of Texas ExercisesLessons from the University of Texas in EnglishA1-B2
Dreaming SpanishYouTube-language learning blog in SpanishA1-C1
Why Not Spanish?YouTube language learning blog in English and SpanishA1-B2
Tu escuela en españolYouTube blog teaching SpanishA1-B1
Easy SpanishYouTube blog about the language and the speakers of Spanish. Completely in SpanishB2-C1

Spanish language schools

If you can’t educate yourself, you can always consider studying Spanish in a language school. This way, your training will be supervised by professional teachers. However, keep in mind that you will be studying in a group, which means that less individual attention will be paid to you. If there are difficulties with understanding Futuro Simple, you will most likely have to catch up with the class on your own.

Spanish with a tutor

The main advantage is the individual approach. The tutor will create a curriculum based on your goals, financial capabilities, and time constraints. If you only need to learn the basic phrases to explain yourself at the airport, hotels, and restaurants in Argentina, the lessons will be aimed at just that. And if you want fundamental knowledge, but can’t comprehend Subjuntivo, you can linger on this topic a little longer. Preply, italki, and Live Lingua are examples of good platforms to find an online tutor — either a native speaker or simply a professional teacher.

Language courses in Spain

This is an excellent opportunity for an intensive immersion in the language and culture of a new country. Such courses can be found not only in the capital and major cities but also in the smaller ones. If you don't like huge cities, you can find an option in a quiet town, where there will be almost no tourists. And if the European atmosphere doesn't suit you anyway, you can go to more exotic Latin America. But keep in mind that the former option is not cheap at all. Despite the fact that the cost of living in Spain is lower[8] than the European average, you still have to spend money on flights, accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment. And when choosing a city, be sure to find what the climate is like, so as not to suffer from the heat. Winters in Spain are very mild, but in summer temperatures in some regions can reach +35°C and higher.

SchoolCityPrice per week Standard SpanishPrice per week Intensive Spanish
Kingsbrook IdiomasBarcelona141 USD165 USD[9]
IH ValenciaValencia212 USD259 USD[10]
Taronja Escuela De EspañolValencia211 USD282 USD[11]

Why learn Spanish?

Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world[12]. It has official status in 22 countries of the world and is used at the state levelhas no official status, but is used both for communication and in the fields of education, health and services in four more[13]. Simply put, about a fifth of the world speaks it. Knowledge of Spanish will allow you to get acquainted with this huge multinational layer of global culture.

In addition, along with Spanish, the Romance group includes, for example, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Moldovan. It will be much easier for you to start learning related languages ​​if you have a Spanish base.

Spanish for study

Higher education is not necessarily limited to the universities in your city or even your country. Knowing Spanish, you can choose between universities in more than twenty countries in North and Latin America. In many of them, you can stay to work and live after graduation.

Spanish-language programs can even be found in US universities. For admission, you must confirm a high level of knowing language by passing DELE or SIELE. For undergraduate studies, as a rule, you need B1, and for Master's programs — B2-C1. You can enroll in preparation courses for these exams, both at home and abroad.

When preparing for admission, pay special attention to several aspects:

  • Spelling and fluency. There is a lot of work ahead of you in Spanish, and you won't have time to hone those skills.
  • Professional vocabulary. Speaking is not the most important thing in a university. For writing papers and mastering the specialty, the academic and scientific language is more useful.
  • The subtleties of formal communication. The etiquette of each specific country dictates its own rules for communicating with teachers and university staff.

University of Salamanca, Spain
University of Salamanca, Spain

CountryMin. level for admissionExam and score
SpainВ1DELE 60+ / SIELE 459+
ArgentinaВ2DELE 60+ / SIELE 685+
MexicoВ2DELE 60+ / SIELE 685+

More

Spanish for work

Knowledge of Spanish is a popular requirement in international companies, it offers many new possibilities. New professional areas will become available to an applicant with Spanish, where you can get a job even without an appropriate diploma. This includes work in education, tourism and hospitality, the hotel business, and even the technical field. Many international companies train technical support operators from scratch, the important prerequisite is the language. Requirements vary by employer and position — usually Intermediate / Upper-intermediate or Advanced, especially for teachers.

Spanish companies are considering candidates with a B2 level and above. Additionally, with a foreign diploma in a number of specialties, you will need to go through the qualification recognition procedure — homologation.

Most countries in Hispanidad do not require a language certificate for a work visa. However, knowledge of professional vocabulary and the official style of speech, as well as having ability to conduct business correspondence and formally communicate with colleagues are necessary. However, keep in mind that many Spanish-speaking countries have high unemployment rates, so it will not be easy for a foreigner in the labor market.

Spanish for immigration

Spain is not the most popular destination for immigration. If you are not a student, then the easiest way to get a residence permit is through investment or the purchase of real estate, and these options are not available to everyone. Besides, you will not be eligible to legally work. Citizenship is also not the most popular option: firstly, you will have to give up the passport of your native country, secondly, pay high taxes, and thirdly, the Spanish bureaucracy will cause you a lot of problems. In addition, it can be difficult with employment: Spain holds the fourth place among European countries in terms of unemployment[14].

Usually, immigrants first receive a residence permit. It can be of four types:

  • For students;
  • With a work permit;
  • Without a work permit;
  • “Golden Visa” for the purchase of real estate or investment.

After five years of residence, you can apply for permanent residence. To do this, you need to live in the country for at least six months a year, and also show that you are gradually becoming a part of society — pay taxes, use medical services, improve your language. Citizenship can be obtained only after ten years of residence in the country (at least six months a year)[15].

The requirements for the level of Spanish vary greatly depending on the country and the reasons for getting the residence permit. As a rule, those who want to apply for citizenship will have to pass the obligatory language proficiency exam — they need a certificate of DELE at level A2 and higher. But even if you are not going to get a Spanish passport, it will not be easy to live without knowledge of the language. First of all, work on the vocabulary that you need in everyday life — going to the store, visiting the hospital, etc. At the initial stage, you can also focus on ready-made sets of basic vocabulary — for example, video lessons Spanish for every day or 70 basic Spanish phrases.

CountryCost per monthsingle person, not accounting for accommodationMonthly salarynet
Spain719 USD1,567 USD[16]
Argentina388 USD448 USD[17]
Venezuela516 USD297 USD[18]
Mexico439 USD484 USD[19]

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Spanish for travel

Alhambra, Granada
Alhambra, Granada

If in Europe the knowledge of English may be enough for a tourist, in Latin America, most likely, it will not help you. In Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Bolivia, and Paraguay, the locals will mostly understand you, but in Colombia, Peru and Mexico you cannot do without Spanish[20]. In addition to the fact that it will already be easier and less stressful for you even with basic knowledge of the language, the attitude of the locals will be very warm — they always appreciate the desire of foreigners to learn their language.

Spanish for travel has its own specificities. You will need a grammatical minimum, but you will have to prioritize learning the most used words and phrases. Writing as a skill is not so important, but it is imperative to be able to talk. Fortunately, there are many manuals and phrasebooks for tourists, including free ones, and language courses and tutors will be able to prepare you for the trip in a short time.

Exams in Spanish

Most often, a certificate is required for admission to a university in a Spanish-language program. Also, exams are needed for work, especially in the fields of education and tourism. There are also those who just want to test their strength.

There are two international exams — DELE and SIELE. Each of them has its own characteristics:

  • DELE is taken at a specific level, the cost of the exam depends on it. You need to complete the required minimum for all four modules because if you fail at least one, you will not be certified at all.
  • SIELE has no structure of levels. The certificate will indicate the number of points and the final grade according to the international CEFR scale. That is, if you do mess up in some part of the exam, you will get a certificate anyway. Moreover, if you need to prove skills only in certain modules, you can only pass them — for example, it is not obligatory to pass a conversation and the listening module for a job in written translations.
ExamDELESIELE
nameDiplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera Servicio Internacional
LevelsA1-C2A1-C1
Modules
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
Scale100 points1000 points
ResultApto / no aptopass/not passCEFR score and a corresponding level of proficiency
Recognition
  • Formal education systems;
  • Institutions, enterprises, universities;
  • Immigration office, MIR examsMédico Interno Residente and FIRFarmacéutico Interno Residente (Spain)
Higher education institutions
Period of validityUnlimited5 years
Form of conductWritten in accredited centersOnline in accredited centers
RegularitySix times a yearAny day of the year
Results deliveryUp to six monthsUp to three weeks