How to improve spanish skills if there are few native speakers in my area?
I have been studying and learning Spanish since Kindergarten and am reaching a point that requires true interaction with native speakers to improve further. I regularly read the news in Spanish and as a result my reading skills are quite good but my speaking and listening skills are significantly lacking. Unfortunately, my area and particularly school are relatively lacking in diversity and there are very few native speakers with which to interact. I would love any suggestions or help, and I hope to one day be a fluent speaker of Spanish. #spanish #bilingual-spanish #personal-development
Luis "Lou"’s Answer
Try watching Spanish channels on TV, also, most movies have a Spanish track you can turn on. The good thing of watching a movie you know in Spanish is that it will help you understand since you already know what they are suppose to be saying. Finally, find a Spanish speaking online that chat with then. Apps like WhatsApp and Skype let you talk for free with people anywhere, even other countries.
I would recommend to look outside your area to find groups that are just for speaking in Spanish. Usually in different geographic areas from our own do we find what we seek. I agree that learning from textbooks can get old and if you aren't practicing the language with a native speaker it can be hard to keep up with Spanish let alone other languages. I took a bit of French when I was in school but where I live there are not French speakers and so therefore I only remember a few things here and there but I can't have a conversation at all and I wish I could of found conversational groups near me practice the language.
Rachel Emery’s Answer
I found that meetups (meetup.com) can be a good place to find people getting together to speak in Spanish. Even if there aren't very many native speakers in the group, it can still be a good start until you find a way to interact with speakers online or through travel.
Listening to people having a conversation in Spanish can be equally useful. The podcast Notes in Spanish (beginners, intermediate, or advanced) is good for learners who want to hear native speakers having a conversation on different topics.
Research on Second language acquisition shows that comprehensible input (listening and reading that you can understand) are the key to acquiring language (getting it into your subconscious mind). See Steven Krashen's research if you want to learn more. It sounds like you're reading already so you're on the right track! Good luck!
Can you extend your area of contact to find Spanish speakers? Churches, food banks and thrift stores are but a few places where you can volunteer and practice your Spanish.
Congratulations on your hard work from such a young age! I did not begin learning Spanish until I was in high school and then fell in love with it in college. I then wanted to become bilingual and like you, knew I could not get a proper accent or really learn the language unless I was fully immersed in the culture and language. There are many ways to do this. . . if you do not plan to go to college, you can volunteer via the peace corps or some other type of org (maybe religious or not) and go to a Spanish speaking country to help in some way. I recommend you stay there as long as you can. I went to college so in my case, I looked for summer schools where I could learn a higher level Spanish in a Spanish speaking country. I ended up living with a host family in Valencia, Spain and studying there for a few months. They also have study abroad programs where you go for a full year; I just did not want to be away from home that long; however, I would be a much better speaker today had I done that vs. staying abroad for just a few months. Do your research and put in the work and you will for sure be a wonderful bilingual speaker. I learned how to speak in Spain so I have a very Spain-type accent, so keep in mind wherever you learn you will keep that accent most likely. Also, continue to read as much as you can and it will continue to increase your vocabulary. Let me know if I can help you in any other way and best of luck to you!