Best Places to Practice Your Spanish in Mexico City

Most expats know the struggle of relocating somewhere with a culture completely different from their own. However, moving somewhere with a language that you are less than fluent in is a whole new challenge. Whether you have been taking Spanish lessons since you were child or don’t know anything past “hola,” learning to adjust to your new life and incorporate a foreign language can be tricky.

For those moving to Mexico City, you are in luck. Mexico City is teeming with art, culture, history, and a lively food scene. There are a number of places to pick up some key words in Spanish. Practice your skills daily in these situations and locations and you'll see how to start living, and speaking, as the locals do.

Markets and Shops

When venturing out to go grocery shopping or walking around town with friends, be sure to stop by some markets and shops for an opportunity to chat with locals. Being able to master conversational Spanish will be a key asset. Start off slow. Engage in casual small talk and try to gauge how the person is feeling. If they seem to be frustrated with a lack of language mastery, politely say goodbye and try again with someone new. Ask shop owners how they are and strike up a polite but casual conversation. Feeling brave? Talk about prices and products. These informal exchanges can help teach the basics of conversational Spanish and allow for some confidence building.

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Restaurants

On a night out with friends or family, try ordering food and drinks in Spanish. Read over the menu to familiarize yourself with common words and phrases when it comes to food. Any basic interaction that can be had with a restaurant employee is a plus. While waiting for your food, try talking to friends in Spanish. If they are learning the language as well or are at least willing to help you learn, have your normal conversations in as much Spanish as possible. Maybe even bring up work for a few minutes, just to have a short time practicing some of the language you'll be using at your job.

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Classes

For some, a more formal and structured environment is more productive. If actual language classes sound like they could be helpful for you, search around and enroll in some courses. If you feel that you would benefit from a more traditional teaching style, this may be the best option. These courses can be incredibly helpful but of course take time and money. Remember that the best foreign language skills are developed through practice and experience, so do not expect to become a pro without them.

There are also a number of websites and apps that allow you to practice and learn Spanish on your own time. Duolingo, Google Translate, or Babbel are all great, cheap resources to help you better understand and read another language. If you're really dedicated to learning Spanish, more intensive programs such as Rosetta Stone can take you to the next level.

At Home

Don’t allow time spent at home to go to waste! Label kitchen appliances, foods, furniture, and clothing items with their corresponding word in Spanish. This way, it will be easy to visually see the word and the object it represents. Practicing like this on a daily basis won't seem like too much of a chore, and it will allow skills to be developed in a more casual setting, without any pressure from any other people.

Kick back and relax by listening to Spanish music or watching a telenovela. Listening to others speak Spanish on the radio or television can also help with your understanding of the language. Once you're relatively fluent, try listening to Spanish podcasts or reading books in Spanish as well.

The key to learning any language is practice and dedication. If you really want to become fluent in Spanish while living in Mexico City, don’t forget you have tons of free resources right at your fingertips. Find any excuse to exercise your foreign language muscles and before you know it, you will be fully immersed in a new culture, language, and home.

Kim Hill