Feliz año nuevo! Why not finally resolve to learn Spanish in 2017?
New Year’s Day comes with a fresh burst of motivation for many of us as we resolve to get back to the gym, drop a bad habit or two, or find other ways to improve our minds, bodies, and lives. Instead of repeating the same old resolutions this year, consider setting out to tackle a reachable goal that can be broken up into tiny, actionable steps and ultimately change your life forever.
One year is the perfect amount of time to get started learning a new language and reach the level of conversational confidence you’ve dreamed of, or to take your Spanish skills from meh to muy impresionante. Here are ten concrete goals that Spanish learners of all levels–even those starting fresh in 2017–can set to learn or improve their Spanish.
1) Brush up on the basics.
Whether you’re new to Spanish or you’ve been speaking and learning for years, we can all benefit from going back to basics and strengthening the fundamentals.
Start your year with some free online resources for beginners to jog your memory or take your first peek into learning the language. Learners who are just starting their journey in 2017 will definitely want to take advantage of our free Spanish for beginners packet, a nine-chapter introduction to the Spanish language that will leave you prepared to make 2017 a year of language learning.
2) Learn new ways of saying everyday things.
In your native language you probably rarely greet people with a simple and formal “hello” or part ways by just saying “goodbye”.
As you progress in a foreign language you’ll also find yourself reaching for new, different, and more specific ways of saying everyday things. In 2017, work on widening your expressive range in Spanish and speaking more naturally by learning more formal and informal ways of saying simple things like hello and goodbye.
3) Become a Spanish bookworm.
Reading is one of the four core skills that make up your fluency in a language. Unlike speaking, listening, and writing, reading gives you the time to slowly go over the Spanish language in action and check your understanding while you expand your mental repository of Spanish words and phrases, making it a crucial part of any learner’s routine.
In 2017, expand your Spanish studies to include more reading. Avid bookworms will love reading the authors of the Latin American Boom and Argentinian poetry, while beginners can start by acquainting themselves with vocabulary for books and reading that they’ll need to discuss their reading interests.
4) Cultivate a serious Spanish Netflix addiction.
It’s one of the best ways to learn a language, and not just because you can do it on the couch.
If you really want to up your Spanish from intermediate to advanced this year, do it watching binge-worthy shows in Spanish on Netflix or wherever else you can find shows in your target language online. A top recommendation for the new year is Netflix’s first Spanish-language original, Club de Cuervos, which just came out with a brilliant new season at the end of last year.
5) Keep up with news and current events in Spanish.
Part of language learning is cultural learning, getting a grip on how people use their language every day to mediate their lives and participate in society. That’s why tuning into the news can be a huge a boost to your Spanish learning in 2017.
This year make an effort to keep up with current events in the Spanish-speaking world. Work your Spanish reading muscles with online Spanish-language newspapers or just click on the TV and watch some streaming news in Spanish in your free time.
6) Visit a Spanish-speaking country.
A little immersion therapy is great for fledgling beginners, seasoned Spanish-speaking veterans, and everyone in between. There’s simply no substitute for bathing your brain in the sounds of the language you’re learning and using that language to move about and get to know interesting new people, which is why Spanish learners should aim to visit a Spanish-speaking country this year.
7) Learn Disney songs in Spanish (and sing along).
Disney musicals in other languages combine the wonder of our childhood with the magic of learning a new language, and in doing so unlock beautiful new pathways in our brains. This year pick some of your favorite Disney musicals and hit up Google and YouTube for their Spanish versions, but there’s a catch: you’ve got to sing along.
Singing Frozen’s “Let It Go” in Spanish — or any other song that speaks to your inner curious toddler — won’t just improve your pronunciation and help you pick up a few new vocab words, but it’ll ensure that it keeps playing through your head all day the way only Disney songs can as it settles into your long-term memory.
8) Study Spanish abroad.
Why limit your immersion experience in 2017 to a short backpacking trip? If you can find the time in 2017, studying Spanish abroad will help you soar to fluency and experience a part of the world where life happens in Spanish.
The possibilities are limitless. You could start with 2016’s star student and get a feel for now officially peaceful Colombia before the other language tourists start flocking in. Budget-conscious learners will be glad to learn there are plenty of affordable countries for studying Spanish on a budget, or you could scrap the programs and organizations altogether and just learn Spanish abroad for free.
9) Perfect your Spanish pronunciation.
Many advanced Spanish learners will be targeting the sounds that make your Spanish pronunciation sound super gringo this year as they strive for near-native perfection. If that’s you, consider starting with using the IPA for Spanish vowels and consonants, and top it off with some video tutorials for perfect pronunciation. You’ll have that sharp l and rolling r down in no time.
10) Put your Spanish skills to work and get paid.
If you thought your Spanish was too good for new year’s resolutions, think again.
Once you’ve got comfortable enough command of the right written and spoken aspects of your language, one way to kick your learning into native-level overdrive is by earning your paycheck in Spanish.
Start with small online jobs that make use of your Spanish skills and build up to funding your world travels with Spanish. Or, if you’re not looking for a new side hustle or a career change in 2017, consider just donating your language skills as a volunteer translator and continuously sharpening your Spanish that way.
Let 2017 be a year of personal growth and language learning: take the leap to start learning, or finally get serious about developing your Spanish. Do you have any other language learning-related new year’s resolutions? Share them with us in the comments!