In this post: How to make learning fun again by combining your Spanish practice with things that already interest you.
Have things become a little dull with your language learning routine?
Spending too much time in your workbooks and racking your brain over grammar tables?
Or maybe you’re just stuck in a rut and are looking to spice things up?
Well, there is a simple solution to this problem, and it’s called interest-based learning — a fun and refreshing way to improve your language skills.
What exactly is interest-based language learning?
Interest-based language learning is the act of doing daily activities and hobbies — in Spanish.
This method really focuses on moving out of textbooks and into the practical application of Spanish (aka using it in real-life situations).
Now, you may be wondering, “well, how do I do that when I live in an English-speaking country?” Don’t worry; we’ll get to that.
First, I want to expand a little bit on this next question…
How is interest-based language learning an effective way to improve your Spanish?
There are so many benefits to interest-based language learning.
First: By combining Spanish with something you already enjoy doing, you start to experience Spanish in incredible ways.
You can liken it to a child-like mastery of Spanish in that our interest fuels our learning.
Which, in turn, improves our memory.
Which, in turn, helps our progression toward fluency.
A beautifully natural language acquisition cycle.
Second: When you turn your focus to interest-based learning, you’ll immediately notice a boost of excitement toward learning Spanish.
That’s because our motivations change when we learn vocabulary to accomplish something in a real-life situation rather than learn the same material just for the sake of knowing it.
Third: Interest-based language learning helps take the pressure off. You can learn at your own pace and set your own milestones.
Or, you could do just the opposite and not have any real goals besides enjoying being immersed in the language.
Not to mention, moving out of a classroom-based setting and into a more fun, casual environment helps alleviate the anxiety around making mistakes.
How to incorporate interest-based learning into your Spanish routine?
As adult language learners, we tend to be a group of people who have a constant thirst for knowledge and curiosity about the world around us. Am I right?
This is a good thing because that means we already have tons of interests outside of learning Spanish.
Maybe it’s food, travel, or politics. Maybe it’s understanding local customs and practices and history. Maybe it’s self-improvement, social justice, or fashion.
Write all of those down on a piece of paper.
Now, think about your daily activities. Maybe you watch Netflix series or read the news online or listen to background music while you work.
Write those down too.
Next, take all of those interests, hobbies, and daily activities and brainstorm ways to do them in Spanish.
Here are some ideas:
#1 Listen to podcasts focused on special-interest topics, not made for language learners
With the explosion of podcasts over the last decade, there is practically a podcast on almost every topic in most languages.
Science, politics, mindfulness, climate change, relationship advice, parenting, you name it.
It may take a little digging to find it, but there is definitely a podcast out there in Spanish discussing a topic that really interests you – you just have to find it.
#2 Take a yoga, dance, or cooking class in Spanish
Respira (breathe) Gira (turn) Uno, dos, tres … cinco, seis, siete (1, 2, 3 … 5, 6, 7)
Taking these types of classes in Spanish where you are an active participant can be an incredibly immersive experience — not to mention fun!
Also, these classes tend to be in a group format, so it takes a bit of the pressure off from having to understand everything.
Lastly, remember that you can take these classes online, so don’t give up if you can’t find anything locally.
#3 Listen to music and attend concerts
I’m a huge music fan.
Which is why it was no surprise that I fell in love with Spanish by listening to salsa music well before I became fluent.
Listening to songs I loved motivated me to translate lyrics, which introduced me to new grammar concepts and vocabulary in a unique way.
Not to mention my pronunciation improved tons by singing.
#4 Watch Netflix series in Spanish
I love watching 1940/50s period-piece movies and TV shows.
So, when I was learning Spanish, I combined my interest in this time period with Spanish and found incredible shows like El Tiempo Entre Costuras and Velvet.
How to find a show?
Start by doing a simple google search in Spanish on movies, series, and documentaries on topics that interest you. For example, you might enter “series de Netflix sobre la cocina.” (Netflix series about cooking), and you’ll find lots of options.
[Tip: When watching these programs, turn on the Spanish subtitles rather than English. Seeing and hearing words in the same language is a surefire way to learn faster.]
#5 Get lost in the endless and marvelous rabbit hole of YouTube
YouTube is an oasis of free content for interest-based learning in Spanish.
You can find native Spanish speakers teaching about history, training dogs, cooking local dishes, hacking video game levels, building things out of wood, flipping houses, discussing politics, money, fashion, philosophy — you name it!
Just jump on the platform and type what you’re interested in (in Spanish, of course) and then allow yourself to get lost in a sea of videos.
Your key takeaways for incorporating interest-based learning into your Spanish routine
Learning Spanish doesn’t have to be boring.
With a bit of creativity, you can find a whole bunch of opportunities, both locally and virtually, to combine your interests with improving your Spanish.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and have some fun!
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