Keeping up with Spanish WITHOUT STUDYING: How not to Lose Your 2nd Language

Some of the following ideas were borrowed from Tim Ferris and his language posts. He goes into more detail there. I'm going to give the basics and my own thoughts and ideas on how to keep up with Spanish, though applicable to any 2nd language. 

Ever take a language class in school and 3 months later not remember anything? Yea that's common, and it's because most language classes in college and high-school suck. If you want to hold on to Spanish, whether you learned it from classes or traveling, and not lose your mind with boredom, read on. 

This is for those who already know the basics and have had some practice with the language. Some of the following will be specific to Spanish (Mexican population in US), but most of it is applicable to any language. If you are learning a language different than Spanish, you can find people in any big city who will want to learn languages, some sites to find a  language exchange - we are so lucky that so many want to learn English - or a focused language group:

In person:

Mexican Restaurants
If you want to learn Spanish, you are very lucky to be in the US. For Florida and states along the border, it's almost a 2nd language. Even in my small city of 50K people, there are many Mexican people running restaurants here. Make friends with them.

Go to a restaurant when it's not busy and chat with bar tenders or waitresses who are probably a bit bored. Make sure to buy at least a few drinks or an appetizer and tip really well. 
Go to different places to find those with whom you have chemistry and are willing to help you. Remember: they are someone to talk with, not a teacher. Start with:

Hola como te va? Mira, yo no quiero perdir mi espanol. Esta bien que puedo tomar y hablar espanol contigo? Que bien.... 
and talk about whatever

Most DVDs are available in French and Spanish, just go to the menu and switch the audio or subtitles. I like using English audio with Spanish subtitles at first. After I get bored of that I switch to Spanish audio with English subtitles for listening practice. If you're really good, you can just follow the movie in Spanish without subtitles.

"Watch loads of foreign-language movies on DVD. This technology is a great gift for the modern student as you can watch in the original language and see the translation at once. Then watch it a second time and put the subtitles in the target language too so you can catch the pronunciation and test your understanding."
- RoadJunky
Make sure you find good movies or this will become boring quickly. 

Other Media
"Comics are an excellent medium for language students as they’re pure dialogue and the pictures help you understand what’s going on. They’re also a fountain of slang and one of the most underrated art forms on the planet."
- RoadJunky
It is more difficult to find good foreign comics.

Find music in the target language and work on listening. Use internet to find lyrics in English. I found this:
Anyone know a better website that translates music? 

More Formal Studying:

Youtube Videos
Look at many different users because it will take a bit of work weeding out the good ones from the bad. 

Really Boring but Effective
Go to wikipedia and search for the highest frequency words of your target language and focus on them to enhance fluency without focusing on unnecessary words.

Mexican Spanish I've learned so far:
Mostly slang I learned from my Colombian friend from San Diego and a few visits to local restaurants. 
Que onda guey (pron: way) What's up man?
Orale, Andale pues Cool, alright
Ay! No manches guey Stop fucking around
Ay! No chingues guey "                        "
Pistear to drink beer
Chelas beer
Chingadera silly, stupid thing
Saque ese chingadera de aqui! Get this idiot out of here.

Swear words:
Chinga tu madre guey

Keep a notebook or something else to write down important words and phrases. Study that when you want. That's all. 


  1. Well practicing it everyday is one effective way not to loose your second language too. But if there's no one on your neighborhood speaks that language then these online materials could really help.

    Learn Spanish Online

  2. Found your blog on un-college. What are you up to now? I'm also a traveler and work oversees. I don't think college is wrong, and I got a degree. but it is pretty useless in my life. Don't give up on travel -- its worth the flight!