Spanish Immersion: 16 Ways to Make it Possible for Home, Work or Play
Is it your dream to speak Spanish with ease?
You can speak confidently in Spanish – all it takes is lots of practice actually speaking in Spanish and immersing yourself in the language.
You may think the only way to do that is travel the world, and immerse yourself in the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. Now, while Spanish immersion programmes and travel are great, they're not always an option. Time, money, career, family and other life situations can get in the way.
Immersing yourself in Spanish doesn't have to cost a fortune (or any money at all!). You can immerse yourself in Spanish at home. By making small changes, you can create an immersive environment wherever you live. The key is to include Spanish throughout your home, at work, and during your free time and hobbies. So why not start now?
Spanish Immersion at Home
Here’s how you can start immersing yourself in Spanish from the comfort of your own home – wherever you live in the world.
Step 1: Start Referring to Objects in Spanish
Are you going to sit on el sofá and watch la televisión? Any vocabulary you've learned so far, start referring to it in Spanish. Don't know the word for it? Look it up. Write the word down on a sticky note, and put it on the object. Do this until you remember.
You don't need to sticky note your whole house. Start small – a few items here or there, one room at a time, or items in a similar category. You don't want to get used to seeing them everywhere, either. Otherwise, you'll start ignoring them. So change them up as you learn.
Step 2: Complete Your Daily Tasks in Spanish
Do you cook from recipes? Try looking them up in Spanish. Need to google something? Use Google.es. Checking out the news? Trying news sources in Spanish, like Google Noticias, CNN Español, or News in Slow Spanish if you're starting out. Even magazines often have Spanish versions.
Step 3: Switch Your Phone's Language Settings
You can create an immersion environment right on your phone. We keep our phones right by our side, and many of us spend hours each day on our phones, so this is a huge way to boost your language skills. Changing your phone's language settings will update your apps and functions to Spanish. You'll pick up new words fast from the repetitive use to complete tasks.
Step 4: Journal or Meditate in Spanish
Does your morning routine include journaling or meditation? Switch to Spanish and fit more practice into your day. Write as much as you can, even one sentence or single words. Date your entry in Spanish for practice with months and days.
To make it easier, try bullet journaling or gratitude journaling. Simply put, you write in bullet points about your day, feelings, or things you're grateful for. It's much easier to write because you're writing short, simple thoughts and emotions.
Meditation apps, like Insight Timer, also have guided meditation in Spanish. And meditation's great for this because you quiet the mind and allow it space to process. Plus, practising meditation or sleeping after your studies will help improve your memory. The brain breaks down info, makes new connections, and creates new mental pathways at night while you sleep. Even a quick review before bed can help you absorb it better.
Spanish Immersion in the Workplace
You don’t need to stop at home – you can also bring Spanish to work, so you can learn while you earn.
Step 5: Don't Let Your Commute Go to Waste – Use it to Learn
When you're driving around or commuting to work, plug in a Spanish audiobook, radio station or podcast. It could be for fun – upbeat music or an interesting novel – or it could be a learning podcast like SpanishPod101. Then you can learn grammar and vocabulary on the go.
Step 6: Think to Yourself in Spanish
This is a big one! While at work, you may not be able to communicate to others in Spanish, but you can think to yourself in it the best you can. Start small – one sentence, even single words as you learn them. Or, give yourself a time limit like 30 seconds to a minute.
Step 7: Write Your To-Do List en Español
Need to make a to-do list or write a memo? Do it in Spanish, and practise your writing skills. Got stuck on a word? Make a list of the words you realize you don't know and look them up later. It'll help you learn words you'd actually use in the workplace, so add them to your study lists or flashcard app. The more you do this, the easier it will become.
Step 8: See if Your Workplace Offers Spanish Immersion for Adults
Many companies recognize the need to become more global. In fact, they may even give you a pay raise for learning Spanish. So some jobs offer language immersion programmes. They could be offered at a discount through your employer, or even paid in full – they may even allow you to travel!
It's worth asking about, even if it may not be easy for you to do right now. You never know what'll come next year – and learning a new language can open up huge new opportunities in your career.
Spanish Immersion During Your Free Time
Even your downtime can be used to immerse yourself in Spanish. So sit back, relax and keep learning.
Step 9: Switch to Spanish on Social
Let's be honest – we're all on social media too much. So why not make it a learning tool? Social media is a great place to get Spanish immersion online. Start by following Spanish-speaking users so you start seeing the language in your feeds.
Write your posts in both English and Spanish. Chances are at least one of your Facebook friends will speak Spanish (at least to an extent). They might comment back in Spanish, or offer you tips to improve it.
Step 10: Search Social Media with Spanish Hashtags
Another way to get exposed to the language is to search using Spanish hashtags. See how natives are using casual speech and slang, and even comment on their posts. Start a conversation in Spanish, make friends, and practise what you know.
Social media is casual, so it's a great way to connect with others without any pressure. Use hashtags based on your interests or topics you want to learn more about, such as #comida (food), #viaje (travel), #coches (cars), #maquillaje (makeup), #entreno (workout), or #deporte (sport).
Step 11: Tune In and Learn
Wanna watch TV? Try finding a new show from Latin America or Spain. You'll be learning the language and getting exposed to the culture and body language. Most cable and satellite providers have a Spanish network, and Netflix has Spanish shows and movies you can check out. YouTube is another great option.
Step 12: Jam Out to Latin Music
Did you know Amazon Prime and Spotify have many Latin music playlists already created and waiting for you to listen to? The Amazon music app includes the lyrics as they are sung, so you can follow along and improve your listening skills. Sing along and learn the words as you go.
The key for both music and TV is to make sure you’re listening actively, not passively. Try to pick out words, rewatch videos, and practise imitating what they say.
Step 13: Read Your Favourite Books in Spanish
Books in other languages are easier to find nowadays. Most popular books have a Spanish version available – you can check out Amazon or your library for both physical or digital copies. For instance, Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). Who doesn't want to learn how to tell someone which House they've been sorted into??
If you've already read the book, it will be easier to follow along without having to look up so many words. And reading a series helps for the same reason – the vocabulary builds upon itself as the story continues. But try challenging yourself to read new things in Spanish. Even check out the children's section at your library – many children's books are bilingual. And children's books are a great way to start reading. If you start out with something too difficult, as I did when I tried to read Lord of the Rings as a beginner Spanish learner, you’ll only get discouraged. So stick with children’s or young adult books until you’re more advanced.
Step 14: Find a Spanish Language Exchange Partner
Above all, you need to practise what you know by speaking it. You can immerse yourself as much as you want, but if you aren't speaking you aren't really putting in the study hours. Check out Couchsurfing, Meetups, or local places that host activities in Spanish. Meet new people, ask them to coffee, and start chatting.
Another option to meet people and practise speaking Spanish is through sites like italki. Find a partner with similar interests, pick topics to discuss, and set a time to connect online and chat.
Step 15: Check Out Local Spanish Activities and Events
Many cities have Spanish events, activities and services to check out to practise speaking. Things like church services in Spanish, outdoor festivals, book clubs, dance classes, even cooking classes. A quick search on Facebook or Google can lead to all kinds of events. These kinds of activities will introduce you to new people who have similar hobbies. So it makes it easy to strike up a conversation.
Step 16: Switch Up Your Game Play
I love playing games on my phone – all while learning! If you switched your phone to Spanish, your games and apps will also switch. So you can play fun games like Pokémon Go or Animal Crossing in Spanish. If they didn't switch over, you can search the name of the app + Spanish in the app store and see what comes up.
Most console video games nowadays have a free language DLC (language voice pack) you can download. Then you can switch the audio or text to your target language.
If Down the Road it Works for You, Travel Abroad
You'd be surprised to find that travelling abroad and language immersion programmes aren't just for students. There are many opportunities and Spanish immersion programmes for all ages. Spanish immersion for seniors is becoming increasingly popular as well. These types of programmes focus on retirees who want to become bilingual. So if this is a dream of yours, know it can happen at any point in life.
In the meantime, you can immerse yourself throughout your daily life right in the comfort of your home. If you do all these things, you'll be practising Spanish hours a day – which means you'll be getting in serious learning on a consistent basis. Keep it up, and you'll be fluent in no time.