Even though you will mostly make your way around Tulum with English, it is always good to speak the local language. But language schools always means time and money, something you might not have or don’t want to spend on right now. Luckily there are plenty other ways to learn Spanish with only little time and no money involved.
Step 1: Get to know basics of the language
This is crucial to get a grasp on how the Spanish language is built up and the general sentence structure works. There are many Apps for Android and Apple out there.
This Apps can teach you a lot of languages. It’s totally free and teaches you vocabulary as well as time tenses. Unfortunately it doesn’t explain the rules behind the correct or wrong answer.
Download Flashcards or write your own. Perfect for new words you learn in your everyday life around Tulum and want to remember. You will learn vocabularies faster, if you don’t write the translation on the back site but a picture of the concept or an explanation in Spanish.
It works as a mobile dictionary and can even translate whole sentences for you, if needed. If you don’t have mobile internet, don’t worry. You can also download languages and use it offline. Tip: it works best with English-Spanish translations, but it’s never better than a bilingual person.
Another App and website designed to teach you the most common vocabulary. Designed as a game, you get points for correct answers and can compete against others.
Step 2: Speak it!
So you know the basics, and now is the best time to start talking with strangers. In Tulum this should be very easy, Mexicans are super friendly and like a chat or small conversations. Don’t worry about the mistakes you will be making. Of course you will. But that is not the point, you need those mistakes to improve, and the conversations with native speakers allow you to learn correct pronunciation, common phrases and understanding at a normal speed of a conversation.
If you want to continue to learn Spanish with people at home or you are looking for a more serious language exchange than just the chatting on the Mexican streets, here are some helpful communities.
Lets you find people around you with the same interest, that want to meet up with you. You can organize your own meet up for different topics. It is also great if you are new in a city and want to get involved with the community. You will need a profile as well.
This website is solely to speak foreign languages with native speakers via skype and is free as long as you offer half an hour or so for others to learn English. If not you can also pay.
Do it the old-school way, and write a flyer with your information searching for a person speaking Spanish and wanting to learn English. Pin them to the notice board of your favorite cafes. There are also groups on Facebook that may afford an opportunity to set things up.
Step 3: Immerse yourself in the language
It’s time for you to cut out your native language as much as possible from your everyday life in order to learn Spanish and surround yourself with it. We give you some options to help you with it.
Set the language on your devices to Spanish
You know what you do without even reading the English anyways. But the small nudges towards the new language will help you learn some vocabulary.
Listen to the radio and podcasts
Spottily has a radio playlist called „Latin“ or you can listen to the Charts „Top 50 of Mexico“ mainly with spanish lyrics, and some english to give you a break. Various Podcasts help you learn and explain the language in short bits (about 10-20 minutes).
Here are some beginner podcasts:
- Spanishpod 101
- Coffeebreak Spanish
- Notes in Spanish Beginner (also offers Intermediate)
Reading books or newspapers
Reading texts can not only improve your spelling and vocabulary, it also allows you to comprehend the sentence in your own speed and revise it over and over until you understood the full meaning. Newspapers are a good way to learn Spanish, but we also offer you some books, suitable for beginners.
- “Papelucho“ by Marcela Paz – A kidsbook with a lot of everyday life vocabulary
- “El principito“ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – A lot of past tense, with a well known story
- “Cuentos de la selva“ by Horacio Quiroga – Short stories with different imaginary animals
- “El Aquimista“ by Paulo Coelho – A whole novel, easy vocabulary, philosophical storyline
- “Como agua para chocolate“ by Laura Esquivel – Mexican family story, also available as movie
Step 4: Entertain yourself and learn Spanish at the same time
Watching movies or shows
Instead of just watching the next episode of your favorite show tonight, why not learn some Spanish at the same time by changing the language to Spanish (maybe with Spanish subtitles, maybe with engish subtitles). You can also go a step further and watch some of the shows or movies below.
- “Tres metros sopre el cielo“ 2010 (youth romance)
- “Papelucho y el marciano“ 2007 (Kids)
- “Como agua para chocolate” 1992 (mexican classic)
- “Diarios de motocicleta” 2004
- “El laberinto del fauno” 2006
Shows (available on youtube):
- youtube Extr@
There are many options to engage in the Spanish language without paying for class every day. Even if you just try a few of them, you will see how your vocabulary grows and how much more you will understand. And don’t forget, everybody makes mistakes learning a language, that doesn’t mean locals won’t understand you. Just speak it and be surprised where it might get you.
Like it does with learning a language, it truly depends on what and how much you devote to it but with a little bit of dedication and some perseverance, you will be saying “Que hermosa es la playa!” before you know it!.