Insist on a true Spanish immersion course
You do not really learn Spanish except in immersion. Why?
Learning Spanish without immersion can feel like an illusion. You make a lot of effort and spend a lot of time learning the language, and you're disappointed: the results do not meet your expectations.
You have decided to learn the Spanish language without immersing yourself in it. This could easily lead to disappointment.
Many methods, on the Internet or elsewhere, promise you bells and whistles. Watch out: You do not really learn Spanish except in immersion. Why?
Impossible to really learn the Spanish language without immersion in Spanish
On the Internet or elsewhere, you can improve your grammar, your vocabulary, your reading comprehension and your writing. Unfortunately, you will not make much progress in mastering the language. It is difficult, even impossible, to improve your pronunciation, your oral expression or your listening comprehension. If you have had Skype lessons, you will have noticed this yourself. Furthermore, language patterns are so varied and complex that separating the language into distinct areas (vocabulary, grammar etc.) is doomed to failure.
We often forget that although each area of learning, vocabulary for example, is quite autonomous, unfortunately progress made in one specific area does not necessarily lead to progress in others, and notably not in speaking and listening. Of course, we make progress in that area, but our global performance and our mastery of the language shows little and slow progress.
To really learn Spanish in a very short time, and to achieve the objectives we have set ourselves, we need to use and practise this language as often as possible. This is only made possible by complete immersion in Spanish.
Avoid Spanish centres that teach several languages
It is best not to choose a centre that offers different languages. Generally, the common language becomes English or the language of the host country. There will be few opportunities to practise the language that we are learning. In addition, the switching between our target language and English (or our mother tongue) will take up a lot of energy and quickly tire us out. We will run the risk of getting lazy outside lessons and using a different language to the one we are learning. What a waste of time!
Avoid Spanish centres located in a region where the Spanish language is not spoken
The best choice, without doubt, is a region where our target language is spoken. The places where we stay and study also breathe the culture of that language. We unconsciously absorb that. When we leave the Spanish centre, we are still immersed in Spanish, the language we are studying. Road and other signs, shopkeepers and local residents help us to practise the language and boost our confidence. If we learn a language in an area where the language is not spoken, we also waste a lot of time. We would need to dedicate at least twice the amount of time to studying the language.
Avoid Spanish centres where Spanish immersion ends before dinner
Some centres offer Spanish immersion courses that end in the afternoon. Living outside the centre slows down our progress more than you can imagine. As soon as we leave the Spanish centre, our mind naturally switches back to our mother tongue. And, what if we spend the evening with friends, without a native speaker to help us, accompany us and talks to us in the target language? Staying in the centre after the lessons, having dinner with native speakers and spending the evening practising the Spanish language can save us an enormous amount of time. Speaking from morning until evening and sleeping in Spanish helps us to stop translating, to speak spontaneously and to express ourselves in this language almost the same way as we do in our mother tongue.
Avoid Spanish centres where there are more than 6 students
A maximum number of 6 students guarantees true immersion during breaks, meals and evenings. Above this number, immersion ceases to be natural. Spanish immersion centres that welcome more than 6 students either let us speak whatever language we want, or in order to ensure immersion, they have to impose strict rules, often involving penalties. It is therefore best to avoid Spanish centres where immersion is imposed, and instead choose a centre that offers us natural Spanish immersion in a family atmosphere. Speaking Spanish with pleasure rather than under constraint is definitely more motivating. It is only this type of 'family' immersion that gives us the confidence that we lack and allows us to make a maximum amount of progress.
Choose round-the-clock immersion in Spanish
Only true and complete round-the-clock immersion allows the brain to harmonise the activities of its different 'language acquisition' zones. Only this type of immersion allows us to absorb the culture of the language. At night, our brain continues to work, to live and to dream in that language. We do not only learn when we concentrate. We also learn, and possibly learn more, unconsciously, in the same way that we have learned our mother tongue. If we have very little time, we must insist on true round-the-clock immersion in Spanish. That is the only way to guarantee that we will achieve our objectives, even the most ambitious ones, rapidly and easily.