To get by in Spanish, and to get the information or things you need, you don’t have to be fluent. Even if you know just a couple of hundred words, there’s a lot you can say, and a lot you can understand. So conversational Spanish could be learned in a few months. To speak Spanish fluently, though, will take longer. So the question “How long does it take to learn Spanish” cannot be simply answered.
There are many elements that play a role, like how much time you will dedicate to studying or how well your general langue-learning skills are developed, so it’s is really up to you. But we can see some general trends. The US military, for example, and in particular the Defense Language Institute, teaches students Spanish on a continuous basis and students are required to do extensive homework. After about half a year, these full-time students can speak Spanish pretty fluently.
Here are seven tips on how to put your message across successfully, and how to increase the odds of understanding what’s being said to you:
1. Remember to speak loud enough, so people can hear you. When we speak in a language we’re not confident in, we often say things too quietly. Project your voice and don’t lower it when you’re hesitant about a word or expression.
2. Speak clearly. Don’t mumble or put your hand in front of your mouth. If something doesn’t come out right, say it again.
3. Think ahead. Before you go out shopping, to a restaurant or to rent a car, prepare the sentences you may need. Check the main words and make sure you can say them correctly, and in the right order.
4. Think of the possible answers you might get when you ask a question. Write down the words you’re likely to hear and check any you’re not sure of.
5. Keep it short and simple. Avoid building long sentences.