When learning Spanish, reading is a great way to increase your vocabulary and improve your comprehension based on a given context. Despite these advantages, there’s no doubt that for some people reading in another language can be challenging and overwhelming.
In order to help you to make the most of this activity, we’ve prepared a list of tips for reading in Spanish. These strategies will help you enjoy your reading sessions while you pay attention to new vocabulary, phrase structures, and idioms that you want to include in your daily-conversations.
By the end of this article, you’ll have different strategies that will make reading in Spanish an easy and helpful activity.
1. Choose the Right Book or Text
Even if you’re an eager reader, reading a book in Spanish can be an overwhelming task since you’ll be in touch with new vocabulary and expressions as well as different tenses and grammatical structures.
For that reason, choosing an appropriate book or text is one of the most important strategies that you need to keep in mind. So what can you do? First, avoid starting with a long and thick book.
Long books tend to tell complex stories and use advanced words, expressions, and grammatical structures that you may not be familiar with. So choosing this type of book will only discourage you from reading in Spanish. The best thing to do is to choose a book that is appropriate for your level of Spanish.
If this is the first book you’re going to read in Spanish, it’s recommended to start ‘warming up’ with small books for kids or short stories that allow you to get familiar with phrases, idioms and verbal tenses. Additionally, these types of texts contain common vocabulary that you can actually use in your daily life.
Once you feel more comfortable with your reading skills, you can choose more complicated books. You can also start reading newspapers or magazines in Spanish. Even though these texts may not be as fun as a fictional literature, their vocabulary and expressions are commonly used in Spanish conversations.
Take Note: Spanish books for kids contain standard and basic vocabulary that you can use in all Spanish speaking countries. After you get more comfortable with your reading skills (and if you feel up to it), you can read Spanish writers of different nationalities so you get in touch with new vocabulary and informal expressions.
2. Focus on the context
A great tip for reading in Spanish and improving your comprehension is to avoid trying to understand every single word that you read. Instead, you should pay attention to the context and try to infer the meaning of a word or expression based on the situation presented.
By focusing on the context, you will be able to develop the skill to understand the meaning of something based on a specific situation. This can be very useful in Spanish since a lot of our vocabulary changes depending on the situation that is being applied.
Of course, you can check your dictionary to get some context, but don’t try to search for every word that you don’t understand. Once you have a general understanding of the situation, go back and re-read that section so you understand better what’s going on.
For many learners, this tip makes more sense when they already have some foundations and knowledge of Spanish. But if you start approaching Spanish this way when you’re a beginner, you’ll stop translating everything in your head which will improve your comprehension and conversation skills.
This activity may be easier or more difficult depending on the book or text that you’ve selected. So make sure you’re reading appropriately for your Spanish level.
3. Set a daily vocabulary goal
An easy way to keep you motivated is to have a vocabulary goal in mind. So even though you’re not trying to learn all the words in a book, you can set a goal of learning 5 words in each reading session.
When doing this activity, many people focus on learning new nouns and verbs, but you can go a step further and include verbal phrases (expressions that contain more than one verb). Why? Because it’s very likely that these are common structures that people use on a daily basis. As a result, you may want to include them in your vocabulary.
Tips to perform this activity:
- Read carefully.
- At the end of your reading session, identify words that were repeated constantly (avoid articles or prepositions such as la, el, lo, un, unos, para, por, de, desde, etc).
- Make a list with the 5 words that you want to learn for the day.
- Understand their meaning.
- Create some sentences where you apply your new words.
- Before a new reading session, check and review your vocabulary notes.
4. Use social media
If you’re short on time, a good and easy way to practice your reading skills on a daily basis is to follow or join social media pages or groups in Spanish related to the topics or institutions you like.
Additionally, you could also look for Spanish learning groups.
By doing this, every time you go to your social media profiles you can read small pieces of information in Spanish. The advantage of following some pages and groups in Spanish is that you will be in touch with posts with simple and common vocabulary that people use in popular situations.
Keep in mind that depending on the type of group or page that you follow, some posts may contain informal and slang expressions. If you’re wondering where to start, you can search for some of these ideas:
- Newspapers in Spanish
- Spanish learning groups
- Instituto Cervantes
- Real Academia de la Lengua Española
- Academia Mexicana de la Lengua Española
5. Read on the Kindle App or Device
If you have a kindle or have downloaded the Kindle app to your device, reading in Spanish can be quite easy thanks to their integrated dictionaries and translation tools. The advantage of using these devices is that you don’t need to leave your book to go find the meaning of a word.
Additionally, these devices also include a translation feature that you can use to translate a word, phrase, or paragraph into your own language. Just keep in mind that translation tools are not always very accurate. But they can be a nice option to give you a general idea of the context.
Ideally, your Kindle or Kindle app will include a Spanish-English translation that you can use to check the meaning of a certain word. If a word has more than one meaning, this would be a nice exercise for you to infer which meaning is being applied in that specific context.
One of the advantages of using an ebook reader or an app is that you will have access to a wider book catalog in Spanish which is not always easy to find on a physical store.
6. Make it part of your studying routine
When it comes to improving your Spanish skills, you need to be as consistent as possible. For that reason, it’s recommended that reading forms part of your regular studying schedule. That way you’ll increase your vocabulary consistently while you’re exposed to Spanish and train your comprehension.
A nice strategy to read in Spanish is to set a small daily goal which can be reading 3-5 pages or reading just for 10 minutes a day. Even though this seems like a very short activity, it will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and it’ll allow you to keep improving your vocabulary and comprehension skills every day.
Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to be as consistent as possible so you see results faster.
7. Combine a book with an audiobook
If you want to take your reading skills to the next level, you can try to read your book at the same time that you listen to its audiobook. By doing this activity, you’ll be working on your reading at the same time that you improve your listening skills.
On top of working on your listening skills, following an audiobook while reading will allow you to learn the pronunciation of words and expressions in Spanish. When using this method there are different activities that you can do.
If you want to spice things up, you can start by listening to a passage and, then, go read it in the book to make sure you understood it correctly. Including an audiobook in your reading sessions will not only help you learn more vocabulary, but it will also train your hearing.
Reading in Spanish is an excellent way to keep your Spanish comprehension skills and vocabulary sharp. By doing some reading every day you can add new expressions and words to your vocabulary at the same time that you force yourself to understand how these phrases are applied in a particular situation.
In this article, we compiled 7 tips that you can follow to improve your reading skills in Spanish. Make sure you adjust them to match your Spanish needs! Hopefully, now you’ll have a better strategy to make the most of your reading sessions.