Want to talk the talk? Read on for FLC’s tips and tricks!
Hablas español? Fun Facts: 46 States in the USA use Spanish as their primary foreign language after English, according to Business Insider. An estimated 450 million people speak Spanish around the globe, making it the second most spoken language en el mundo (second only to Mandarin)! Whether you have learned or are learning how to speak Spanish, being mistaken for a native is a great feeling. How to achieve this fluency goal? Read below for 5 tips and tricks to sound more like a native Spanish speaker!
Varieties of Spanish:
Nelson Mandela, the inspiration behind our manifesto, writes “If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his language, that goes to his heart..” Spanish is ranked as the SECOND most spoken native language in the WORLD. Consider many hearts reached! Let’s make one thing clear: Spanish is the official language in 21 countries. These countries are on the continents of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Just here at FLC, you can hear everywhere from Chilean Spanish to Mexican Spanish. Therefore, recognize that Spanish varies across borders. To know how Spanish sounds around the globe, here’s a funny video from the Youtube Channel, Flama, to explain how to pick up on different Spanish accents.
Don’t let accents bog you down! Here at FLC, we provide pronunciation hacks to help you along the way. Listen to Michelle, Spanish teacher extraordinaire, help you take on the infamous R sounds as spoken in most Spanish-speaking countries.
2. Filler Words:
“Umm…Well…So…Uhh…Like.” Finding a word usually ends up with you saying a little something in between. Here are some few common fillers:
- Osea (OH-seh-ah) : “Like OMG you wouldn’t, like, believe what he said about me! Like, whatever.” Overusing like happens, and in Spanish, their “like” is osea. This may be one of the most commonly used filler words in most Spanish-speaking countries. These words used to literally mean “in other words” or “that is to say”, but over time it has evolutionized to be used more frequently, like how Americans use like, like frequently. (the likes were intentional)
- Este: (EH-st-eh): This word could be the equivalent to words such as “Well..” or “Um..”. When you are at a loss for words or trying to figure out what else you are going to say, Este is the perfect way to bridge the gap! No longer will you sit in awkward silence racking your mind for what you have to say next. Stall and procrastinate with este!
- Pues: (poo-weh-ss): When you find yourself in a tough situation, stall with the word pues! Similar to este, the word pues is another filler word used whilst finding the next to say. Spanish speakers in most countries find themselves reverting to this often. It translates to words such as “welllllll, ummm, or let’s see.”
- Ya: (Yah) Think of that one item that you use to fix everything (for some people that is duct tape) and that equivalent on your journey to Native Spanish is the word ya... YA! Use it to get someone off your back. Ya, gracias. Use it to indicate a stopping point. Ya está listo. Use it to say something has already happened. Ya mero? Use it to ask if something is almost done. The list goes on. Basically, ya means ‘almost’ or ‘already’. In different context, it could mean just about a bunch of different things, so as you continue to learn Spanish, take the time to learn how to use ya efficiently.
Bruh. Lit! Let’s get TURNT. Unless you were young or very social media savvy, you’ll have no idea what these phrases mean, and wonder if this is still considered English. This is no exception for Spanish either. The language is full of shortened words, phrases, and some sayings in between. To sound like a native, some useful phrases to know:
- for Mexican Spanish can be said by Salma Hayek in this video.
- for Spaniard Spanish can be said by Antonio Banderas in this video.
It could take años to list all kinds of slang and expressions used throughout Spanish, so ask around, or stay tuned for our Spanish expression posts on our Facebook page!
4. Don’t Hold Back:
Most Spanish-speaking countries are culturally very expressive. O sea, don’t be shy! When practicing with others, or even on your own, say everything with confinanca! Confidence is key to language learning. Just spit it out! Better to say it wrong and correct yourself than to never say it at all. If you make errors along the way, that’s completely a normal thing that happens to any language learner.
As our favorite language acquisition specialist, Stephen Krashen says, it’s the face to face ‘negotiation for meaning…’ that makes a difference. Por favor, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there at our next wine tastings, happy hours, or game nights! Think about children, or when you were a kid yourself. Children don’t think too much about what they say, or if it’s correct. No, children just speak and keep on speaking until they learn the right way how to do it. So, blabber on until you get it right!
In language learning, we all make mistakes! Just #keeponkeepingon and spit it out! Listen as Michelle explains this further.
5. Practice y mas Practica:
(Cliché alert part dos!)
When it comes to language learning, you only learn as much as you practice. The general ACTFL guidelines reflect 500-700+ hours of language learning to reach intermediate-advanced levels depending on the skill, language, etc.
On average, a good rule of thumb is practicing an hour a day whenever you can. It could be anything. If you’re thinking it, yes, your telenovela counts! Take advantage of opportunities (FLC events, at-home activities or resources, travel, Saturday Cafes) and vary ‘skill’ practice – movies for listening comprehension, simple articles for reading, other native speakers of your ‘target’ language for speaking, everything counts!
A neat trick told to us by one of our teachers, “When you go to a restaurant, ask for a waiter that speaks only in Spanish. That way you force yourself to see the menu and order in the language.” Definitely una buena idea! A more extreme idea is transforming your home. Get sticky notes and place translations on common objects around the house (for example, the bathroom door would have words such as taza-toilet, espejo-mirror, ducha-shower, etc.) PRACTICA.
Now that you have some of our tips and tricks on how to speak like a native Spanish speaker under your belt, try some out! Have some fun with it! Comment a video! Use the hashtags #goingnative #sipuedo to show us how your Spanish is going Native! Mention the kind of Spanish you’re learning, why, and a typical phrase or slang used. We’ll be esperando!