5 Tips to Continue Improving your Spanish when you Get Home (or if you Can’t Travel to Panama Yet)

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Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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5 Tips to Continue Improving your Spanish when you Get Home (or if you Can’t Travel to Panama Yet)

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If you're planning on traveling to Latin America to learn Spanish check out the following blog posts too:
- Tips & Advice to Prepare for your Spanish Immersion Program
- How to Become Fluent in Spanish with a 3 Month Immersion Program
- Language Learning Tips | Spanish Study Advice & Strategies.

It's widely known that a Spanish immersion experience in a Spanish-speaking country is the most well-rounded and quickest way to learn Spanish. As any learner of a foreign language will confirm, it’s not enough to learn grammar rules and to focus only on reading and writing. That’s kind of like learning road signs and driving laws, but never getting behind the wheel of a car. You won’t pass the driver’s license test, and neither will you become proficient in Spanish if you take this road! Spanish classes with a conversational approach while being immersed in a Spanish speaking country is the way to go...

After only a few weeks in an immersion experience, your brain will amazingly start combining head knowledge (grammar rules, vocabulary) with linguistics, and the puzzle pieces will fall into place. A foreign language will continue to be foreign until you can combine both. Many of our students always remark about how they ended up learning more in 3 weeks at our Spanish schools in Panama than in 3 years at university. Needless to say, much of it has to do with our Spanish teachers and teaching methodology, BUT being immersed in the local language and forcing yourself with the right attitude to speak the Spanish language obviously makes a HUGE difference.

Group of Habla Ya students enjoying a typical Panamanian meal at a local restaurant in Panama City. It's all about being immersed in the language!
Group of Habla Ya students enjoying a typical Panamanian meal at a local restaurant in Panama City. It's all about being immersed in the language!

But what can you do before or after traveling to Central or South America for a Spanish immersion program?

Even though we do have repeat students who've made the trip to Panama 2 or 3 times several years after their first Spanish program, and continue to move along our level system, not all of us are in the position to continually take extended trips abroad to learn or improve our Spanish.

So how can you properly learn Spanish without traveling? Here are our TOP 5 TIPS:

Local Community Groups (with Native Speakers)

Depending on where you live, there may be a large or small Hispanic population already residing there. Take advantage of this opportunity! Maybe you're just a facebook search away from finding a Spanish group in your community.

Get together with others to practice your Spanish. You'll have a great time, you'll meet new people and your Spanish will improve. Group of Habla Ya students in Bocas del Toro practicing their Spanish by the beach.
Get together with others to practice your Spanish. You'll have a great time, you'll meet new people and your Spanish will improve. Group of Habla Ya students in Bocas del Toro practicing their Spanish by the beach.

Many high schools have Spanish programs. Contact the department for information on local groups/resources. Community and local colleges are a good resource for Spanish classes and groups, since a lot of the hispanic population attend local colleges. Spanish radio stations and newspapers could have information on local groups. Many churches hold services in Spanish for the local Hispanic population (especially Catholic churches). It’s a great way to meet Spanish speakers of your faith.

Search for a Local Native Spanish Teacher who does not Teach in English

I can’t stress the native-teacher factor enough and teaching in all Spanish! This is really critical for the accent and to get as close as possible to being immersed... how would you feel learning English from a German or French person? It will never be as good as from a native speaker.

All of Habla Ya's Spanish teachers are native Panamanians. An experienced, trained, passionate and professional teacher is a must!
All of Habla Ya's Spanish teachers are native Panamanians. An experienced, trained, passionate and professional teacher is a must! Photo of Spanish class at Habla Ya Boquete.

Check listings in your local newspaper (or put an ad that you are seeking a teacher), on Craig’s List, on a local job bulletin post, First Tutors (UK), TakeLessons.com (USA), etc.

Online Lessons with Habla Ya

Whether you have already been a student with us here in Panama or if you are planning on doing an immersion program sometime in the future, online Spanish lessons with Habla Ya are a fantastic way to build relationships with our teachers and to familiarize yourself with our class materials. In addition, you will have access to the Cervantes Institute’s AVE Platform to further continue your studies outside of the face-to-face classes.

Both of our Spanish schools are accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, the worldwide authority in teaching Spanish as a foreign language.
Both of our Spanish schools are accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, the worldwide authority in teaching Spanish as a foreign language.

Even if you know that an immersion program abroad is currently out of your reach, Habla Ya’s online Spanish lessons are the absolute best way to learn Spanish from home because you have all of the benefits of a local teacher with the grammar and vocabulary resources from our school and from a professional institution in Spain (Cervantes). Since the classes are scheduled (rather than being self-study), you are more inclined to do the necessary homework to continue building your skills and fluency. It's also worth noting that our teachers won’t speak English to you... I know this can sound intimidating but when you force yourself to have your lesson completely in Spanish you will end up learning a lot faster and those skills/knowledge will stay with you as opposed to just getting a quick answer in English: that's just how our brain works!

Volunteer at an Organization with Spanish Speakers

When you reach the B1 level, you will be able to have general conversations. Look for organizations to put you in touch with Spanish speakers to practice. Not only are you giving back to the local community, but you are also meeting potential new friends who can help you in your goal of becoming fluent in Spanish.

When volunteering, besides giving back, you're also able to interact with native Spanish speakers
When volunteering, besides giving back, you're also able to interact with native Spanish speakers

Some examples of organizations would be: day care centers and after-school care programs with hispanic children (children are great to learn from if you are at the first 3 beginner levels!), refugee/immigration center, shelters, soup kitchens, non-profit job agencies, Meals on Wheels in a Spanish-speaking district, hospitals, etc.

Offer English Tutoring (or your Native Language) in Exchange for Spanish Tutoring

Get in touch with companies that traditionally hire hispanic workers (construction, restaurants, hotels, etc.) and offer to teach English classes (or the local language) for free a few times a week after work or on the weekends to their interested employees. Of course this would take extra effort on your behalf to prepare for the English lessons, but think of it as a great service that you are giving to the workers, as well as getting to practice your Spanish with these native speakers. You might even get lucky and meet one or two who would be willing to tutor you individually outside of the English class.

We would love to hear from you if you have other suggestions of successful ways you have studied Spanish while not living in a Spanish-speaking country. Please provide a comment at the bottom of this post!

There are dozens (maybe hundreds!) of free online tools to help you practice Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Find one or two that work for you and supplement them with some of the tips we gave above, and you will be amazed at how your Spanish will improve!

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LEARNING SPANISH AT HABLA YA SPANISH SCHOOLS... »

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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