If you’re a fan of shortcuts, then undoubtedly, you’re going to like what I have to tell you here—the real shortcut to learning Spanish fast.
Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint, and you could spend your whole life doing it. The time it takes depends on many factors such as your skills like memory or reasoning, the methodology you use, the frequency and intensity of your studies, and the similarities between the language you’re learning and your native tongue.
How many hours does it take to learn Spanish?
Generally, it’s estimated that Romance language learners (Portuguese, Italian, French, and Romanian) need between 500 and 800 study hours to reach a Spanish level equivalent to C2. Non-Romance language learners, on the other hand, need between 800 and 1000 study hours.
For those unclear about what C2 level means, it’s the highest level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, equivalent to native language proficiency.
Are fast courses to learn Spanish a scam?
No, fast courses to learn Spanish are not really a scam; they just aren’t promising to take you to native C2 level. Let’s be frank—many prefer to speak several languages a bit rather than one language perfectly. Among the motivations of those learning Spanish or any other language, traveling is one of the most important, and for travel, you really don’t need native proficiency.
Assuming not everyone wants to reach C2 level, we find different destinations, and with different destinations come different paths—obviously, some are shorter than others.
When a course promises to teach you a language, you have to ask yourself, “to speak how?” At Español con María, we have a course called “Survival Spanish,” offering to teach you Spanish in 3 weeks. But here comes the important question—speak how?
Speaking Spanish at the level of the “Survival Spanish Course”
This course is designed for people who need to communicate at a basic level of Spanish, such as a traveler or someone expecting a short visit from friends or family who speak Spanish and wants to be able to say something basic in their language.
At Español con María, we have a special framework to define language levels, and we call the first level the “survival level.” This level understands that a language is a tool to ensure your well-being, and at the survival level, you have sufficient proficiency to meet your basic needs. What are those needs? Obtaining food, being in a safe place, making initial business exchanges.
In the “Survival Spanish Course,” we teach Spanish in a functional and practical way. Those who take this course aren’t aiming to master grammar or become a Spanish speaker; they’re looking to enhance their travel experience through language proficiency. For this, we’ve designed a series of progressive videos that start in English and teach words and expressions in Spanish, in context. It leverages real-life situations faced by travelers, such as introducing themselves, asking for information or directions, ordering food, buying things at a store.
According to several studies, a native Spanish speaker uses 300 words daily. That’s a really low figure compared to the number of words in the Spanish language. And I have an even more encouraging figure—between Spanish and English, there are more than 1000 cognates, i.e., words that share the root.
What’s the key to learning Spanish fast?
At Español con María, we’re confident that the key is to take widely effective actions from the beginning so that the student advances quickly in the first stage and can have conversations soon, making the most of language proficiency.
For that, we rely on the similarities between their native language or languages they master and Spanish. We also focus on the type of lessons and new vocabulary, prioritizing the utility of knowledge. For example, if we’re going to talk about parts of the body, one of the main reasons a student might need it is to be able to communicate with a doctor in case of illness or health complications. Generally, a person has a headache, body ache, back pain, but not discomfort in the neck or the sole of the foot. Considering this, it’s much more useful to focus on learning words like head and back than the sole of the foot or neck.
It’s also very useful to learn complete expressions instead of isolated words so that the Spanish student, who is a beginner, can have “a conversation” or at least express a complete idea instead of just words. For example, “I am allergic to peanuts, please don’t put anything with peanuts on my plate” instead of “allergy, I, peanuts, please, no.”
Which methodology to choose to learn Spanish?
To choose the methodology and resources, I believe the most important thing is to know the student’s goal, the reason they want to learn Spanish, how much time they have to achieve their goal, and their strengths when it comes to learning. Identifying this is where a teacher and private classes are very useful, as they adapt everything to the student. -At Español con María, we have qualified Spanish teachers to do this.
However, if you’re looking for a ready-made solution, I suggest:
- If the goal is to achieve a conversation very soon, Español con María’s Survival Spanish Course is ideal for you.
- Download Duolingo and learn a lot of vocabulary; you can never have too much vocabulary. Don’t worry about grammar from the beginning.
- Buy a phrasebook that can help you learn “chunks”
- Check tech tools like Mondly.
Best of luck on your journey to learning Spanish.