If you're planning for a trip down to Central or South America, Spanish will become your best friend. Locals will appreciate the effort and you'll be able to barter to get better prices and suggestions from speaking the language. If that's not enough of a reason to learn, just know that speaking a second language will most definitely elevate your dating life...err I mean mind. Yes..your mind. ¿Comprendes lo que te estoy diciendo?
HOW I WORK ON MY SPANISH EVERYDAY
I took Spanish for five years from JHS - HS, and though much of it has dissipated from memory I still have a bit of grasp of the language. These suggestions are for someone who was just as angsty a teen as I and didn't try hard enough in school. While you won't become a professional with these methods, they will definitely improve your Spanish. Just don't be afraid to practice aloud!
I practice playing with this on the train, or whenever I have any downtime. It's fun, easy and tests you in unique ways. This makes me feel like I'm doing better in life than the person next to me playing Candy Crush on the train.
INSTALL LANGUAGE IMMERSION FROM GOOGLE CHROME ON MY COMPUTER
Language immersion is my top pick. You download this to your search engine and it automatically translates certain phrases and words to Spanish for every page you open up. This means I'm reading articles half in English, half in Spanish. For words that have been translated, they become highlighted in blue. If you don't know the word, you can just click on it and the English translation will pop up. It doesn't really help me with my conjugations or understanding of grammar rules, but it does help with vocabulary. You can even alter the level of spanish you want - from novice to fluent.
CHANGE MY PHONE SETTINGS TO SPANISH
Just checking the weather teaches me vocabulary like "nublado" which means cloudy. Other elementary actions like send become "enviar". I find this easier to remember than just looking at flash cards.
GET A SPANISH PEN PAL / OR LOVER
There's no better way to practice your Spanish than with a native speaker. There are many ways to make this happen - by either hitting up friends who DO speak Spanish, practicing when you visit a Spanish Speaking country/neighborhood or by meeting someone you're infatuated with who speaks the language. I have pen pals that are an adorable Mexican couple I met in Peru, and we still keep in touch.
There's also tons of free language meet ups in NYC that do happy hours and have people practice speaking with each other.
READ TIM FERRIS'S GUIDE TO LEARNING (BUT NOT MASTERING) A LANGUAGE IN ONE HOUR HERE
A few handy shortcuts that are super helpful.
WATCH SPANISH MOVIES/ TV WITH SUBTITLES - Here's a list of some of my favorite Spanish movies.
Y Tu Mama Tambien by Alfonso Cuaron
Sin Nombre by Cary Fukunaga
Amores Perros or Biutiful by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu,
Narcos on Netflix
No by Pablo Larrain
El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez
Pan's Labyrinth - Guillermo Del Toro
*For the daring. There is a Spanish version of BREAKING BAD on Netflix. It is terrible, BUT if you can make it through - you can practice your Spanish.
LISTEN TO SPANISH MUSIC THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE PITBULL
Bachata - Prince Royce, Romeo Santos
Reggaeton - J Balvin
READ IN SPANISH
I read EL PAIS, a Spanish newspaper app on my phone. For words that I don't understand - I just migrate over to Google translate. Otherwise, go the classic route and READ A BOOK in Spanish. I would go for an easy children's book to start out with before moving up.
Any other suggestions? What are your thoughts? Comment below!