Learning a new language can be difficult and you can easily get frustrated in situations when you are not being able to communicate. It is important to remember that learning a new language is difficult for everyone, and that you are really doing something great! In this post, I will share some tips on how to practice your Spanish outside of the classes.
The first and most important thing for me has been to try to speak as much Spanish as possible. In the beginning, my only focus was being able to communicate. This often meant stumbling, gesticulating and saying many weird sentences to get the other person to understand what I was trying to say. My key has been not to be afraid of making mistakes, if fact I want to make many mistakes in order to learn.
One of the first things I did when I got here was to search up “top 1000 most used Spanish words”. I wrote down the words in my notebook, and tried to learn some new words every day. It helped me a lot when trying to understand what people were saying.
In order to meet new people I wanted to find activities to do. I really wanted to do a sport, so I could connect with the locals as well as stay in shape. After a few weeks of searching, we found out there was a Cross Fit center in Hoyon, just 15 minutes by car from the university. This has been a popular activity and many from “kulturstudier” have worked out regularly. Training together is a great way to practice your Spanish and making friends.
When I first got here, I was keen on joining a student group. This was a bit hard, since we were having classes in the mornings, and the other students where having classes in the night. Also student groups didn’t seem to be very common here, since most of the students also work besides their studies. What the university did instead was to “hire” the local coach to have football trainings with us. After a couple of trainings, we were welcome to join the football team “Guerros del sur”. This has been a great experience for me, since I play football and practice my Spanish at the same time.
If you are not that into sports, don’t worry, there are other arenas to practice your Spanish as well. The local market “La Feria” is a great place to start. There you have to use your Spanish in order to buy whatever you desire. People usually are interested to talk to you, if you want to start a conversation. There is also a bookshop called “Thrincheras” which are arranging many different activities. I went to a vegan-cooking course as the only foreigner, which meant we only talked Spanish.
Going out in the weekends are also a great way to meet the locals and talk to them. It is easier to talk to the locals if you are not a big group, so bear that in mind if your goal is to practice your Spanish.
To sum up I strongly recommend to just talk to people! They are often really helpful, talking more slowly and correcting if I say something wrong. Try and learn “top 1000 words”, I can assure you it will make life easier for you. Go to activities like sports or cultural events, it gets a lot easier to talk to people while doing activities together. By being open and friendly towards people, you can get to know many different people! Hope some of these tips can come to some good use.
People we have connected with:
Making new friends at a football match in Perez Zeledon.