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 Learning Spanish for Beginners


Teachers have typically started foreign language classes by assigning lists of vocabulary words to memorize, followed by verb conjugations.   There’s a great reason for this, at least from the teacher’s standpoint. They have a lot of students and it makes grading homework assignments and tests a breeze.  Even teachers want to have a life!  Not to mention that students who can memorize well will get straight A’s so the teacher and a few lucky students feel like they’re doing a great job. 


What’s wrong with that?  Not a thing except that most of the class, often even those who ‘succeeded’ might want to use the Spanish they ‘learned’ a few years later. Perhaps they decide to vacation in Central or South America. They passed their Spanish classes in High School or college. They are ready. Until they realize they know several random nouns and verbs but just can’t string any of them together to form sentences.


Why not start right away with simple sentences that can be built onto gradually.  Begin by memorizing just one word. Just one!


"Quiero"  which means  "I want"


Next, compile a list of words you want to know.  Taxi (Uber, bus or donkey), money, bank, restaurant, hostel, or a towel, for you travelers.  For construction workers - hammer, nails, drill, pliers, rest.  Insert those words after the word Quiero and you have a complete sentence.  You can get anything you want.  Woohoo!!!

Quiero un taxi.

Quiero un martillo. 

Quiero comer. 

Quiero un hostal.

I want a taxi.

I want a hammer.

I want to eat.

I want a hostel. 

Practice these sentences until you can say them in your sleep or while you’re patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.  Moving on to cover more ground faster usually backfires.

You need a patient and knowledgeable practice partner to succeed. If you don't have one, our tutors can help. They're skilled and affordable (~ $8/hr), and hiring them supports the poorest country in Latin America. Think of them as your fluency fuel!


Once you’ve nailed those sentences, learn the word  ‘necesito’ and substitute it in place of the word ‘quiero’, repeating the same nouns you already know from your list above. Welcome to the Substitution Drill concept. 


Necesito un taxi. 

Necesito un martillo. 

Necesito comer.

Necesito un hostal.

I need

I need a taxi.

I need a hammer.

I need to eat.

I need a hostel.

Does saying these sentences make you feel just a little bit rude and demanding?  Me too. Let’s simply add to the ending a sweet ‘please’ -  ‘por favor’.  Necesito un taxi por favor.  Necesito un martillo por favor.  Necesito una toalla por favor.  Don’t forget  ‘Thank you’ - ‘Gracias’.  Oh, that sounds better!


Now how are you going to find out everything you need to know?  You drive people crazy like you did to your parents when you were young.  Questions, questions, Questions!  This time, instead of your parents it’s extremely beneficial to hire a tutor.  They get paid to be patient and throw words at you or answer your questions and teach you how to ask them back.  Hang on to a couple of these question words and you’ll go a long way.  In the RIGHT direction.  Keep following the same pattern you did above.

Where is a/an _____? 

Where is a bank? 

Where is a market?

Where is a taxi?

How much is ____?

How much is a drink? 

How much is a hammer?

How much is an apple?

When are we going to ___?

When are we going to eat? 

When are we going to the beach?

When are we going to the movies?

¿Dónde está un/una  ____?

¿Dónde está un banco?

¿Dónde está un mercado?

¿Dónde está un taxi? 

¿Cuánto es ____?

¿Cuánto es una bebida?

¿Cuánto es un martillo?

¿Cuánto es una manzana?

¿Cuándo vamos a ____?

¿Cuándo vamos a comer?

¿Cuándo vamos a la playa?

¿Cuándo vamos al cine?

Giving back some information comes comes in handy:

I’m going to ____ 

I’m going to dance 

I’m going to eat 

I’m going to study

Voy a _____

Voy a bailar

Voy a comer

Voy a estudiar

Don’t want to?  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  The ‘don’t’ ‘no’ comes in front!

I don’t want to ____ 

I don’t want a taxi. 

I don’t want to eat. 

I don’t want a hostel.

I’m Not going to____

I’m not going to dance. 

I’m not going to eat. 

I’m not going to study 

No quiero ____

No quiero un taxi.

No quiero comer.

No quiero un hostal.

No voy a ____

No voy a bailar.

No voy a comer.

No voy a comer.

Be patient with yourself. 

If learning languages were quick and easy we’d ALL be multilingual.  As well as accomplished musicians, actors, artists, surgeons - you get the point. 


It will take some time but the payoff is that you’ll be ready for when the next travel bug  bites, you get those itchy feet and off you’ll want to go. This time when  you step off the plane, bleary eyed, hungry in need of a place to go and some way to get there you’ll be able to hail a taxi, an Uber or perhaps a donkey. Straight to a restaurant.  Able to order something you want to eat instead of pointing to a random picture on a menu - if they even have one.  Then to a hostel, hotel or somebody’s couch for a good night’s rest and who knows what adventures in the morning.  Buen viaje - have a good  trip!!!  

If you want some help on this journey of learning Spanish our tutors know countless other ways to help you progress and the price is surprisingly affordable.   

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