How to Become More Confident Speaking Spanish in Spain
A key element to progressing in any language? Confidence!
There is a reason why people say that when you are drunk, you speak a foreign language better. It is because the alcohol gives you that extra bit of confidence to just go for it! It is not because you suddenly remember all your verb conjugations or use the subjunctive perfectly, it is because you simply say what you want to say convincingly and confidently, even if it is not grammatically correct. But you do not need alcohol to give you this confidence, because your confidence will grow naturally the more you practise and are surrounded by Spanish speakers.
So how can you do this? Well, a first step would be to make friends and come into contact with as many Spanish people as possible. The Spanish are known to be friendly and open, and if you express an interest in learning their language and wanting to integrate yourself in the culture and lifestyle, they will be more than happy to help you out.
A great way to do this is to offer to help them with your native language. It is only when you go to Spain that you realise how keen the Spanish are to learn other languages, such as English, German and French. One great way to maximise your Spanish learning and to offer practise in your native tongue is through a language exchange called Tandem. You can search on Facebook Tandem + (name of city) and you will be sure to find a Tandem group for your area.
How does this work? You simply respond to a post someone has put up saying they are interested in learning your language, or you write a post to say you are looking for native Spanish speakers to practise with. This way, you can start messaging them, but like in any situation where you are meeting a stranger for the first time, make sure you meet them during the day in a public place where there are other people around. Aside from this, it is a great way to meet new people and to share your language with others as well as learning Spanish yourself!
This is by no means the only way to meet Spanish locals, you can also sign up to activities that are either new to you, such as surfing here in Bilbao, or activities that you may have already done back home, such as football or singing in a local choir. Any kind of activity you do is fantastic for getting to know new people and for making friends.
Another great thing to do whilst studying here in Spain? Integrate yourself into the Spanish culture! Observe how the locals act, for example what time do they eat, what do they do on Sundays? And try to imitate this as best you can.
For example, by going to a bar in the evening here in Bilbao and having some pintxos (the local tapas), you are sure to be surrounded by many locals and pick up bits of Spanish conversation around you. This is super for practising your listening skills, but also remember that learning a language is not just about studying grammar and learning vocabulary, but also about understanding the culture. Once you start to appreciate cultural differences, you will feel more comfortable and confident being surrounded by Spanish people and will no longer feel the invisible cultural barrier that may stop you from expressing yourself fully in Spanish.
At the Instituto Hemingway, we try our best to make you feel at ease and at home when you are here studying with us in Bilbao. We organise plenty of cultural activities for you to participate in to get to know other students and the Spanish culture and we encourage you to speak Spanish at every given opportunity!
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