One of the best way to learn Spanish as an adults - stock up on Spanish language books including travel books and dictionaries

5 Fast Ways to Learn Spanish as an Adult

Original title: How to Learn Spanish After 40 (and Love it Forever)

Can you REALLY learn Spanish as an Adult?

One-word answer: ¡Absolutamente!

It’s true. You can learn Spanish as an adult. Sure, it’s not as easy as when you are young and your thinking process is less rigid and ready for language learning but, in the words of the beloved Belgian actor and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn,

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” -Audrey Hepburn

The truth is, you can learn any language at any age if you really want to do it. Learning Spanish – like several things in my life – didn’t happen for me until later. I learned Spanish after my 40th birthday!

The thing to understand here is you CAN learn what you WANT to if you TRY hard enough. If you believe you are exactly where you need to be in life right now, you, too, can be happy learning Spanish when you finally do. Besides, the only thing that really matters is that you make it happen!

For me, it took years to feel comfortable speaking Spanish with others, regardless of their fluency or learning level. In fact, I am still learning palabras nuevas cada día (new words each day) and my grammar is still a bit of a lío caliente (hot mess)! It’s all part of the process that nudges us towards being enamoré del español.

Many learners will tell you they know when they’re on to something good. When I began learning Spanish, something magical happened. I was drawn to español como una mariposa nocturna a una flama (like a moth to a flame). Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

Basically, I did what any curious student who really wants to master a subject did: Me enamoré del español – I fell in love with Spanish! Now, you can, too, even if especially if you’re over the age of 40 years.

5 Fast Ways to Learn Spanish as an Adult

1. Fall in Love (with Spanish!)

Me enamoré del español simplly means “I fell in love with Spanish.” This is the first step among many, and for some learners, it’s also the easiest. One piece of advice is, if you’re going to fall in love with it, go all in. Just like a real partnership, let it make you happy, even when it frustrates you. Vow to understand it, even when it makes no sense. Commit to having a healthy relationship with tu nuevo idioma, and hopefully, you’ll see results sooner than later.

2. Surround Yourself (with Spanish!)

This suggestion should come as a no-brainer for anyone who has ever tried to learn a language before: immerse yourself! Dig deep! Sink down and surround yourself, dive into the depths of accents, colloquialisms, catchphrases, and even the cursed rules of grammar, until you feel surrounded by it like a cozy blanket.

Some fast, fun ways to do this include stocking up on Spanish language books including travel guides and dictionaries, listening to Spanish radio channels or streaming music online, and watching movies in Spanish (with or without subtitles). If you have the option, visit a local mercado (Latin grocery store) and read the labels of products. Try some items that sound interesting or cook up a dish from an online recipe.

A trip to a local Latin supermarket produced these wonderful imported products from Colombia and Brasil with labels to read and study: a great way to learn Spanish as an adult. Image © Kate Dana | The Confident Coconut
A trip to a local Latin supermarket produced these wonderful imported products from Colombia with labels to read and study: a great way to learn Spanish as an adult. Image © Kate Dana | The Confident Coconut
3. Meet Some Native Spanish speakers

Not only is this tip great for making new friends, but it is an extremely fun and challenging way to practice speaking and listening in your new language. Whether you find Spanish speakers in your neighborhood, in the workplace, at social events, or online as part of a meetup or group chat, don’t be shy. Ask them questions you wouldn’t normally find in textbooks. Let the native speakers be your new teachers! Remember, too, if they are learning English, you can probably arrange an exchange with them and help each other.

4. Travel to Spanish-speaking Countries

This is undoubtedly the bravest and most exciting way to learn a new language. Fortunately, Spanish is spoken in some of the most amazing and beautiful countries in the world! Twenty-one countries, to be exact. Can you name them all? Take a few minutes and research this fun fact.

A full-color printed map of the world showing pinpointed destinations, photo ©Andrew Stutesman for Unsplash

Before you dive into travel language learning, figure out where you want to go and why. Maybe you want to see Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, in Bolivia, or trek the elusive heights of Machu Picchu in Perú. Perhaps you want to drink fresh jugo de maracuyá in Colombia or toss back tequila in a town named after the drink (or is the other way round?)

Learn Spanish as an adult when you’re viewing an agave painting hung above several different brands of tequila in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. Photo © Kate Dana | The Confident Coconut

Wherever you choose, start researching the location, make plans, and move towards your goal. If you’re nervous, ask one of your Spanish-speaking friends from tip 3. Meet Some Spanish Speakers, to go with you. Or, if you feel brave enough, go alone. Spanish will find its way to you as you travel!

5. Jump in and TRY

Language teachers will be the first to tell you how difficult is it when a student is too self-conscious to speak the language they’re learning, even when it’s just the teacher and the student in the class. Let go of your inhibitions as you do with your new Spanish-speaking friends on the dance floor, and just jump in!

Every expert was once a beginner.

– HELEN HAYES, AMERICAN ACTOR, 1900-1993

Make mistakes, laugh at your accent, and admit it’s obvious to everyone (especially native speakers) that this is not your first language. You’ll get better over time. Almost everyone eventually does, if they stick with it.

I traveled alone for years to several Spanish-speaking countries before finally moving to not one, but two countries where Spanish was the official language. With each year I spent living in them, my cultural awareness improved, my international heart opened wider, and I finally did learn Spanish as an adult. Now you, can too! Try it! ¡Intentalo!

Is your Spanish already muy bien? Then try these 7 Tips and Tricks to Learn Hawaiian Quickly