Learn Spanish by Testing Your Language Skills in Real Situations
Get Comfortable For Your Practice
To learn how to speak fluently in Spanish you will need to feel comfortable speaking about any kind of topic or situation. A typical American who has taken college Spanish courses probably feels comfortable talking about situations that were covered in the book. Most Spanish textbooks present similar themes throughout the chapters.
You will surely see chapters on restaurant and food vocabulary along with other chapters that talk about family members and verbs/adjectives used to describe them. As a student who wants to become fluent, you will need to practice speaking Spanish in situations not covered in the book.
Giving directions to a specific location seems to be an area that even more advanced Spanish students have trouble with. After Spanish II or III, most college level Spanish courses concentrate on literature. Knowing the plot of a famous Cervantes novel is not going to help you when attempting to communicate rapidly with an ornery cab driver or local for directions.
In your text, you will have covered many of the prepositions needed to describe the location of places, but it is hard to put it all together to be able to give directions clearly. This is a good subject to work on since anyone who ever travels to a Spanish speaking country will probably get into one of these kinds of conversations.
Pick a random location in your town. It can be the local library or the supermarket. Now describe how you would get there from where you live. Next, describe how you would get there from across town. The point is to work on a variety of words used in giving and following directions. You want to be able to express key terms, such as across the street, cross the bridge, pass the store, get on the highway, go down this street.
Most Spanish students, if given time, could come up with ways to convey these ideas in Spanish. Most of the time a language learner, especially one not living in a country that speaks the target language, will come up with some awkward sounding sentences. That is OK. Write these sentences out and see what you come up with. Now, it is time to see how a native speaker would say the same thing.
You do not want to be lost on a busy street trying to ask a local for directions sounding like you are quoting the Spanish equivalent of a Shakespeare play.
If you have a native speaker friend, show him the expressions you came up with to give or ask for directions. This friend will be sure to let you know if you worded something strangely. If you are not lucky enough to have a Spanish-speaking friend, you will have to go to plan B: Type your sentences into Google. See if you get any hits where people are quoted using the same wording that you used.
You will probably see that some things you wrote out are a little off. Look at several different examples and you will start to see what is used and what isn’t. Now you are on your way to smoother conversations in Spanish in real situations.