Most students studying in the United States have taken Spanish as a second language. Whether you are still in school or have graduated from school, continuing your learning and practice of your Spanish skills can benefit your life in many ways.

For example, practicing a second language can help you improve your memory functions and improve your brain health, which is beneficial to you in your later years when many people will see a decrease in their brain functions. In Children, scientific studies have shown that growing up bilingual can help a child student perform better on tasks requiring memory skills compared to children who grow up monolingual.

If you are living in the city of Chicago and are thinking of enrolling in a Spanish course at college, university, or school near you, you are reading the right resource! In this article, we will outline some of the ways you can find Spanish courses in Chicago, as well as some tips and tricks you can use to learn more Spanish.

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How to Know if Spanish is Right for You?

Before you put in the work to improve your Spanish, take some time to think about whether the language is right for you. After all, picking up a new language or trying to become fluent in it is no easy task, especially when you are new to the language. Your time is finite and precious, so it’s best to understand why you are trying to learn the language in the first place. Once you decide that you are okay with making the time commitment to this language, your Spanish learning process will become more effortless.

If you are still not sure about pursuing a Spanish teaching, consider some facts. Spanish is a Romance language that uses a similar alphabet as English, and it is also the most widely spoken of the Romance languages. In addition to being the main spoken language in Spain, it is also the official language of most South American countries as well as Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Locally in the United States, you can find a large number of native Spanish speakers with their unique Hispanic culture in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and New York City.

There are also many dialects of Spanish so naturally, the pronunciation and usage of Spanish varies between the different countries. As for grammar, Spanish is similar to English in the way that most sentences are mainly built using S-V-O order, otherwise known as subject-verb-object where the subject comes first, the verb next, and the object comes last.

Another fact about the Spanish language is that it is phonetic, meaning you can pronounce letters consistently since each letter of the alphabet will make the same sound the majority of times. Being a phonetic language with a similar alphabet like English, this also makes Spanish easy to learn, as you do not have to memorize any complex characters or relearn a whole new different alphabet.

Some characteristics of Spanish can be difficult for native English speakers to pick up, such as the fact that it is a gendered language like French. This means that there are masculine and feminine words and articles, and the genders of adjectives and the articles should also match their accompanying nouns.

In Spanish, there are also more verb tenses and verb parts when compared to English. This can be hindering for beginner learners so one should be prepared to learn all these verb tenses and parts in order to have a better grasp of the language.

Finding Spanish Courses in Chicago

Now that you have made up your mind to focus on learning Spanish, consider enrolling in a Spanish course or program near you to keep yourself on track and enjoy structured lessons. If you are living in the city of Chicago, you’ll probably know that it is the third-most populous city in the United States with different cultures so there are many resources available at your doorstep.

Additionally, living in the digital age also gives you access to numerous Spanish courses of all types at your fingertips. Below we have listed some ways you can look for a perfect Spanish course near you to meet your learning needs.

Using Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is a great way to find a trusted Spanish school near you in Chicago. When you are talking with representatives from various Spanish lessons and schools, what they tell you about the school might be vastly different from what the students actually experience while taking a lesson there.

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A great way to start asking about recommendations for Spanish courses near you is to simply share your wishes on studying Spanish with a tutor or a class to everyone you know around you. Don’t hesitate to ask for program recommendations straight up so that those around you who have taken classes can share their experiences with their Spanish education in Chicago.

Another great way to find good recommendations via word of mouth is using social media websites such as Facebook. If you don’t know a lot of people in your life who have taken a Spanish lesson or two, try joining a Spanish learners in Chicago group on Facebook where you can ask fellow students on where they take their Spanish lessons, and how to find a good Spanish school near your neighbourhood.

Online Classes and Resources

Nearly everyone has access to an internet connection to browse online teachings these days. It is a powerful tool that can help you narrow down your searches for any business or service you require, including a Spanish course or teacher near you. In addition to physical Spanish schools, there are also a lot of online digital platforms available such as Superprof that can connect you with qualified Spanish teachers, tutors, and schools to meet your needs.

Other digital resources to consider include websites and forums run by your local public library in Chicago, where you may find postings from small and private Spanish learning schools and classes near you to enroll in. Also, with the power of video sharing websites such as Youtube, you also have access to countless videos and online classes posted by other people around the world to help you learn.

Tips For Improving Your Spanish

When it comes to learning any second language, there are four important aspects to master before you can be considered fluent in it. Regular practice of your reading, writing, listening and speaking will help you improve in no time. As long as you have these four basics covered whether in class, with a dedicated tutor or teacher, or on your own, you may find yourself reaching fluency in Spanish with many hours of practice.

Reading Skills

Reading Spanish is not entirely difficult as it uses a similar alphabet as English, so no need to memorize an entirely new set of alphabet. A great way to start practising reading is to immerse yourself. You can do this by finding Spanish magazines, newspapers, and publications online.

In addition, try looking for children’s short story books in Spanish at your local public library. If your reading level is in the advanced category, consider reading feature-length articles or investigative journalist pieces, or whichever books that match your interests. Some publications to consider are Mexico’s El Economista, Madrid’s El Mundo, and for those wanting a girly magazine, try the Spanish version of Elle.

Listening Skills

You can improve your Spanish listening abilities by playing recordings of simple sentences. You can find these recordings in the form of audiobooks, which you can either purchase online or borrow from your local public library’s digital resources.

If you are struggling with understanding the sentences, consider playing the recordings at half their normal speed. Overtime you can graduate to regular playback speeds to see how you measure up.

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Photo by Ilias Chebbi on Unsplash

Speaking Skills

Speaking skills is one that can be the most difficult to practice for Spanish learners as it requires courage and quick-thinking when it comes to making actual conversation in Spanish. To start, consider joining a language exchange group either from your local Spanish school in Chicago, or from online groups.

If you live in an isolated neighbourhood, don’t have a reliable mode of transportation to travel to physical meetup spots, or are staying in for health reasons, you can still practice with native Spanish speakers online! With the help of applications such as ZOOM, you can find a native Spanish speaker to be your language exchange buddy and have regular speaking sessions online.

Writing Skills

Before you start writing in Spanish, you will need knowledge of basic vocabulary to use when building sentences. If you are still new to Spanish, you may find it easier to make short lists instead of writing paragraphs, and one way to practise is to write your weekly grocery list or a daily to-do list in Spanish!

If making grocery lists and to-do lists in Spanish is not challenging enough for you, try starting a Spanish journal to jot down your thoughts as they change everyday. Start by describing your everyday activities in basic words and slowly progress to describing complicated thoughts and feelings in Spanish. Not only will this help you think more in Spanish, you can write and compose in Spanish to develop your very own style and voice in Spanish.

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Former high-school tutor with a passion for science and technology, I now work in the software industry and enjoy reading and learning about all kinds of topics.