Being bilingual offers many professional advantages. Regardless of your native language, learning another language can give you a competitive edge in the business world.
Spanish, in particular, is useful. For instance, with more than 52 million native and Spanish-language speakers, America is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico.
U.S. based organizations that don’t communicate in Spanish are overlooking a significant audience of multicultural consumers. How significant? U.S. Hispanic buying power is now greater than the gross domestic product of Mexico. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a growing number of professionals are eager to learn Spanish for business purposes.
Here are six tips to improve your Spanish fluency.
1. Hire a personal Spanish tutor
There is no better way to learn than to practice with someone –– in this case, a tutor. Not only can a tutor teach the right words and correct use, but they also provide feedback. Talking to another person stimulates language learning better than audio instructionals alone.
Tutors are also flexible and ready to adapt to your knowledge level. Unlike modules, tutors will not let you off the hook when you’d prefer to look up quiz answers online. A tutor helps you remain accountable and honest about your skill while encouraging you to put in the work. You can upskill your Spanish through private online lessons, by partnering with companies that provide Spanish for business professionals with Preply Enterprise, and start learning Spanish for business asap.
It’s one thing to learn a language, but quite another to put your knowledge into real practice. Talking to a person is a practical application of what you will learn on paper.
2. Listen to Spanish language podcasts
Podcasting is a popular communication tool. Given a podcast has the same appeal as talk radio, podcasts provide entertainment and learning opportunities. Similarly, podcasts offer practical insight into everyday conversations.
Listening to podcasts in a foreign language of your choice is a good option for intermediate level learners. Listening to a Spanish language podcast about a topic of interest will teach you new words and help you practice actively listening. Podcast hosts and guests can help you capture the nuances of a language by observing intonation and where to put stresses on syllables.
3. Learn the right words to use
Learning keywords and phrases enables you to use a foreign language sooner. When doing business with Spanish-speaking clients, some may be easily impressed by business jargon, while some will be impressed that you took the time and effort to learn their language. More importantly, understanding and using words in their proper context will carry on a conversation and build trust.
Consider how and when you plan to use Spanish. Will you communicate with overseas vendors? Perhaps you’ve opened a new office in a Spanish-speaking country. Start learning Spanish in the areas that are most applicable to its intended use.
If you operate in the food and beverage industry, focus on terminology that relates to interactions in that sector. From there, you can expand to related industries and so on.
4. Revisit your favorite book (in Spanish)
One of the more entertaining ways to learn Spanish is to read your favorite book printed in Spanish. Familiarity with the story will provide context into the syntax and semiotics of the language.
If long-form literature is not your cup of tea, read short articles in Spanish. News is the perfect medium to build language proficiency since the content is commonplace and acceptable in formal settings.
This simple habit will also help you be more literate and cultured since Spanish literature boasts of some of the world’s best writers. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Miguel Cervantes are among the best-read authors in the world.
5. Put it in writing
Do you like to journal? If so, revisiting what you have learned through journaling is an effective way to retain your new knowledge.
Recall your recent activities and tasks for the days ahead. Write down your top short-term goals or long-term plans for the future. Doing this in Spanish presents a challenging and fun language exercise. Soon you will be able to draft short emails and do it out of habit without thinking of every word.
6. Immerse yourself in Latino/a and Hispanic culture
Hispanic culture has permeated mainstream America and popular culture. The most common cultural characteristics of Hispanic American culture is the Spanish language. However, Hispanic and Latin Americans come from diverse social, economic, and geographic backgrounds with equally diverse behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, values, and norms.
Engaging in culture can be done through food, dance, and even travel. Cultural immersement is another way to cultivate a love for the language. It is also a great way to learn the language and become more familiar with cuisines, media and entertainment, familial concepts, religion and how the language is used in each setting.
In common with many gender-based languages, Spanish defaults to a generic masculine when it isn’t specified whether the subject is male or female. For example, a girl is a niña and a boy a niño, but collectively children are niños.
The Spanish language assigns gender to words even if they pertain to inanimate objects. The Spanish words for table (mesa) and hand (mano), for example, are considered feminine.
Invest in a Spanish for business course
Learning a new language sharpens the mind, improves memory, and helps you to understand different worldviews. Speaking to key stakeholders in their native language also establishes trust and builds confidence. Investing in a Spanish for Business course is a small investment that will pay dividends in the long run.
Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era.
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