Hi, my name is Cristina and exactly 1 year ago I moved from Brazil to Spain to do an International MBA and I want to share with you how I to learn Spanish in Madrid!
First, you all need to know that before that I had a terrible English and NO Spanish abilities at all. I decided to embark on this journey in a really short time (4 months before) and there was almost no room in my agenda to learn Spanish. My focus was to improve my English since the MBA’s working language. I just had a couple of hours to learn the basics of Spanish language ¨Hola, ¿que tal?¨ ¨¿Como te llamas?¨ and that was it. So I had to learn Spanish in Madrid when I arrived.
You are probably thinking: ¨You speak Portuguese, don´t need to worry¨. But, things don’t work like that. Even before arriving, I struggled to make calls and get things done here in Spain. It was impossible to understand what people were saying on the phone and everybody hung up on me mainly because I was asking them to repeat everything 3 or 4 times.
My master was taking all my living hours and my brain energy. I was bored with so many studies and needed more ¨salsa¨ in my days. Thus, I had to be creative and really smart to use all opportunities in my routine. If this is your case, trust me: I am a living proof of my life hacks!
If you google ¨fun ways to learn Spanish¨ or ¨how to learn Spanish fast¨, language learning specialists are gonna give you so many ideas that you will be tired just reading them. (check out Lena’s post if you love languages but hate language schools)
So, here are my 4 really fun and effective tips:
1. Go Tinder! 🤣
Please be honest in your profile and write that you are looking for new friends to practice Spanish (maybe you can also practice the language of love 😏). If you aren’t single, I advise you to do a quickly ¨disclaimer¨ before post your picture in Tinder, ok?
2. Transform interactions into joyful celebrations:
Instead of just asking for the restaurant menu and pointing out what you want, you can start with a huge smile, saying the greetings and ask the name of the waiter in Spanish. Try to use all your polyglot power and don´t be afraid of making mistakes. You are in a safe zone. Introduce yourself and ¨interview¨ your target. Show genuine curiosity for their cultural traits. Ask them to teach you something, make people feel happy by helping you. Do this in any other place where there is no line behind you (always be kind) and you are gonna feel the magic!
3. Remember to say the greetings in the local language
This is the rule #1). My secret: I did this on my holidays in Greece and got amazing feedback from everyone that I was almost fluent in Greek. Of course, I asked the taxi driver to teach me additional things that aren’t in any of the best apps to learn a language like ¨This food is better than my mom’s¨ ¨I would live forever here (in this country)¨ ¨Can you give me your telephone number?¨ 😎
4. Engage yourself!
Not every city has communities to embrace expats, but luckily Madrid has a bunch of it. In my case, I wanted to meet local people to learn Spanish in Madrid and I discovered SPEAK. I registered myself as a Buddy (how we call the volunteers). SPEAK is a crowdsourcing program where you can apply to teach your language and culture or to learn one. Surprisingly, I didn’t start teaching Portuguese, but English! Do you know that the best way you can learn and retain something faster is teaching someone else? Science proves it. 🤓 Ok, there is more. This ¨love story¨ with SPEAK is long but I will try to summarize it. After 6 months, here are the results:
I applied for a lot of Spanish sessions and now I am totally confident to talk in any situation. (If you want to know more about Spanish culture check Lía’s post here)
my English improved. Even my Portuguese improved and obviously, I learned Spanish in Madrid! 😜
I am a better public speaker.
I killed my beliefs that as an adult it would be hard to learn new languages: now I know not only English and Spanish but also a little bit of Italian and Greek! and,
the most important thing: I meet such amazing people and discovered so many friends from different countries that I would never imagine. I really feel like I belong to this community and I know they are friends with whom I can count.
Have a look on how to join SPEAK community here!
Finally, the last thing I would recommend for you is to be nice to yourself and others. Give yourself a chance to discover the way to learn that best fits you. Don´t push yourself too much and enjoy every little moment with your new friends. By active listening and living the present moment, I am sure you will learn as a baby does: from the heart. 🤗
WHAT IS SPEAK?
SPEAK is program built to bring people closer together – a crowdsourcing language and culture exchange between migrants and locals that breaks barriers, promotes multilingualism and equality. In Madrid, the sessions of SPEAK are happening in really cool spaces provided by partners that promote diversity and interculturality as LANAU Espacio Creativo where you can learn Spanish in Madrid.
Companies, schools and coworking spaces can also support SPEAK activities by offering their spaces that are not being used at specific times of the day. If you know some place that would be interested in this, please contact us!