Learning Romance Languages For English Speakers

Learning a new language can be both fun and rewarding. Not only will it help you boost your resume, but it will also help you broaden your mindset, allow you to travel with confidence, and give you the tools you need to connect with new people. If you’re an English speaker who’s interested in learning one or more Romance languages, make use of these helpful tips:


Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

There are 8 different Romance languages, and though they have strong similarities, some are harder to learn than others. If your heart is set on learning a particular Romance language (for instance, if you’re traveling to a set destination or hoping to converse with a specific individual) then by all means, go for it. However, if you’re simply interested in adding another feather to your cap, here’s a bit of advice: don’t bite off more than you can chew. Put tougher options, like Romanian, on the back burner for now; you can always come back to it later. Start off with one of the easier, more widely spoken languages, like Spanish.


Start with Cognates

Romance languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese, are all derived from Latin. English, on the other hand, is a West Germanic language. However, even with different roots, these languages still have quite a bit of overlap. In fact, a significant portion of today’s English vocabulary was directly borrowed from Romance languages over the years–and English speakers who are now looking to pick up a Romance language as a second language can use this to their benefit. If you want to build a strong foundation, start with cognates.

When learning Romance languages, it’s important to note that a large degree of individual languages’ vocabularies are made of cognates. These refer to words that sound alike and have the same meaning, even though they are spoken in two different languages. Not only will cognates give you something to fall back on if you hit a roadblock in conversation, but they’ll also serve as building blocks that you can use to expand your vocabulary and gain the confidence you need to use your new language right away.


Pay Close Attention to Gender

In English, nouns do not have a grammatical gender–but in many Romance languages, they do. And it is very important. Not only does a noun’s gender determine which article can be used with it, but also which adjectives, verbs, and pronouns agree with it. As you’re learning Romance languages and start to pick up new vocabularies, pay close attention to each noun’s gender. When it comes time to start forming sentences, you’ll be beyond relieved for the extra effort you put in.


Practice Verb Conjugation

Verb conjugation is one of the first concepts you’ll encounter in your Romance language studies, and it can also be one of the most difficult to nail down. If you try to breeze through it with the idea that you’ll come back to it later, you can expect a lot of frustration in your near future. Here’s a tip: buckle down and focus on verb conjugation now until you are comfortable enough to move on.

Most Romance languages have three verb types, and if you practice identifying the type of regular verb you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to conjugate it with ease. Start by reading the conjugation rules for each type of verb. Once you’re ready to try it yourself, begin by isolating the infinitive at the end of the verb. Next, remove the infinitive, which will reveal the verb stem. Last, add the appropriate ending. Once you memorize the rules and can do this with ease, you’ll be ahead of the game.


Learn From Content You Can Enjoy

Here’s another tip for English speakers who are learning one of the Romance languages: learn from content that you’re interested in. Textbooks are a great help, but they’re not the only tool you should have in your belt. Here are a few ideas:

  • Watch one of your favorite movies or tv shows with subtitles on.
  • Hit up your local library or browse through Netflix to find a Spanish, French, Italian film that piques your interest.
  • Tune in to a foreign language podcast or youtube channel.
  • If you’re more interested in practicing your reading skills, catch up on news and celebrity gossip from a foreign language website or magazine.
  • Change the display on your smartphone or computer.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself, your “study sessions” will feel less like work.


Don’t Be Afraid to Listen & Be Heard

When you’re learning Romance languages, you’ll find that they have a lot of practicality and reach. If you live in a relatively urban area in the United States, chances are you don’t have to travel far to hear someone speaking a Romance language. Use this popularity to your advantage.

Go out and meet new people. Surround yourself with native speakers. By hearing your target language being spoken in real-world applications, on a regular basis, you’ll be able to pick up plenty of valuable information–including proper sentence structure, vocabulary pronunciations, and more. You may be nervous at first, but don’t get discouraged. It’s okay to start slow. Start by simply listening. Once you get more comfortable, use what you’ve learned so far to join in on the conversation. There’s no better source for constructive feedback.


Get a Study Buddy

Learning Romance languages can be challenging, especially when you’re doing it alone. Here’s a tip: get a study buddy! By surrounding yourself with like-minded people who have the same interests and aspirations as you, you’ll feel less awkward and alone as you navigate through unknown linguistic territory. With your study buddy, you can make goals, discuss your success and failures, and you’ll never feel judged as you stumble through odd pronunciations.

If you’re having a hard time finding a study buddy, join a local foreign language class. At City Speakeasy, all of our classes are fun, engaging, and full of ambitious students like you. For the first seven weeks, you’ll learn alongside your peers in our in-class lessons, and for the final week, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in one of our out-of-class Immersion Events. By combining in-class basics with real life experience, we’ll help you and your peers get on the fast track to fluency!


Practice & Learn Something New Every Day

As long as you stay committed to your goals, English speakers can start learning any one of the Romance languages with ease. Use these tips, continue to practice what you’ve learned, and don’t stop moving forward.

To keep from getting rusty and help maintain your interest, strive to learn something new, each and every day–even if it’s something small. For more hands-on guidance, feel free to contact our experts at City Speakeasy today at (212) 520-2559.