Mar 15

How to choose the best online Spanish teacher for you

By Juan Diego Balam

Nowadays, learning a language online is a trend and many people are deciding to try this way yo achieve fluency quickly and at an affordable cost.

The problem is that you first have to find the right tutor. Here is the 3 aspects you should consider before picking your Spanish teacher.

1. Check her introductory video:

The best websites to get a language tutor ask their teachers to record a video to talk about the advantages to work with them instead others.

First check if the teacher has a video, if she doesn't, why would she bother about preparing the sessions according to your interests.

2. Is she a certified and experienced teacher like the rest?

In the video most of the tutors work hardly to explain how many certifies they have and how many years they have been teaching.

The right Spanish teacher is the one who doesn't talk about her in the video, but about how you can progress and the benefits you can get by working together.

3. The more customized, the more progress:

During the trial lesson with the teacher, make sure she is willing to adapt the lessons for you. If she tries to start teaching you some grammar from the beginning, without asking anything about your goals or try make you read or make exercises you are not interested on, then go away as fast as possible.

In summary: the best teacher is the one who has a introductory video, the one who speak about the benefits you can get by working together and the tutor who cares about listening to you and customize the lesssons to your interests and goals. 😉

Nos vemos!

P.D. Do you think, is there any other aspect we should consider before picking an online Spanish teacher? Share it on the comments below. 👇👇

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Mar 01


By Juan Diego Balam


In case you want the written version:

I’m Juan Diego Balam from and today we are going to talk about the 5 hacks to start speaking Spanish if you are a very beginner learner.

Did you know you can have a conversation even if you don’t know a word in Spanish yet? Keep watching to the end of the video and you can receive a gift to use in your first conversation in Spanish.

Vamos! 😉

If you are the kind of person who had learned Spanish in school, but you are not able to speak the language yet in a real situation, then you need to know these 5 hacks which will make you become more confident in your Spanish speaking.

Just picture yourself having a real conversation to a native speaker tomorrow. Literally, tomorrow.

Wouldn’t that be better than all the progress you have made in a language school until now?

But Juan, I’m just starting to learn Spanish, I don’t know how to pronounce the words and -of course- I don’t know how to start a conversation in this language.

Actually, if you don’t know Spanish at all and want to start you are on the best stage of the language learning because you don’t have any pollution from grammar or the “perfection” they teach us at school we should get if we want to have a conversation in Spanish. You don’t need that shit.

So, forget about that. Let’s start with the hacks to approach the language to gain motivation and make your first conversation at the very beginning of your Spanish learning.

  • The first hack is: Be sure you don’t have any limit belief about language learning.

I’ll go quickly with this. If you are the kind of person who think whether “kids are better than adults at language learning”, “I’m too old to learn Spanish”, “It’s too expensive to learn a language” or “Spanish grammar is so difficult”. Solve this first in your mind.

Nothing of this is 100% true and we say it as an excuse for our lack of confidence using the language in the real world.

Stop being the person who makes excuses and start being the person who takes action to achieve his goals. You can learn any language if you decide to do it and most importantly if you approach Spanish correctly -not by starting from grammar-.

I made a video about the advantages we have as adults to learn Spanish, you can check it out to beat those limit beliefs.

  • The second hacks is: Look for a language partner to practice your Spanish.
  • This is crucial because you need another person to use the language, right? I mean, you can keep watching movies or videos in Spanish and your listening skills will progress surely, but you need to speak if you want to achieve fluency and have conversations in this language.
  • There are many websites to find a language partner. I recommend you to try This is the best site to get serious language partners, in my opinion. I’ve found more than 26 good language partners along the 5 years I’ve been learning new languages.
  • Here is how you get one after signing up:
  • Just write a very good message, show interest to the person and get your first language partner. Please, don’t do what a lot of people do to get a tandem, they write a sample message and then they send it massively to anyone.
  • That doesn’t work at all and it only bothers people when they realize you didn’t even take the time to read their profiles or make a personalized message. That’s why more than 50% of the people on these websites never get a convenient tandem. Or a tandem at all.
  • If you are not yet sure how to write a good message on italki or any language exchange site, send me a message whether on Facebook or Instagram and I can answer the most important questions you all have. Oh, btw, I’ll let you the link to on the description of the video.
  • The hack number 3 is: Use a guideline for your first conversations.
  • If you are a beginner Spanish learner this is the most important hack for you.
  • Use a guideline to speak in your first conversation. This guideline must contain different phrases and questions you to start and keep the conversation. Still, I need to tell you. Probably you are going to feel frustrated if the conversation lasts only a few minutes, because you are not fluent in this language yet. That’s totally normal, don’t get disappointed.
  • I had a first conversation in Russian -without knowing more than the alphabet- and I could speak for 15 minutes using the guideline I prepared. That was my first try and then I could make a 60 minutes conversation -speaking like Tarzan of course- in my fifth try.
  • This is better -a little bit more frustrating maybe- but better than any exercise you make in a language school or in regular language lessons.
  • Spoiler alert: I’ll give you a Conversational Guideline for you to use in your first conversation in Spanish. All details at the end of the video.
  • The hacks number 4 is: Use a translator to extend the conversation as longer as possible.
  • All right. So, you have to keep your Conversational Guideline opened during the conversation with your language partner. This is important to trigger the conversation. But you need to extend it as longer as possible and add more phrases and questions to your guideline to use next time.
  • For this purpose, you need to use Google translator or the one who suits you the best. To be honest, there is no such a perfect translator, so it really doesn’t matter which one you use. You only need to be aware of 2 facts: don’t ever translate a full paragraph and translate just words or simple phrases. This way you will avoid most of the mistakes a translator normally makes. Keep it simple.
  • So, anytime your language partner replies, ask her to write that down on the chat so you can translate it, understand her and get use to listening Spanish from a native. Add those replies later to your Conversational Guideline and will have more material to use in your next conversation.
  • The hacks number 5 is: Set a clear objective for your Spanish learning.
  • The reason number 1 why people quit easily in their Spanish learning is because they don’t have a clear objective why they want to speak the language.
  • If you don’t want to lose the motivation, then you need to sit for a moment and think about why you are actually learning this language. Write that down and make it your phone wallpaper or print it and paste it on your wall. It will take you, like 10-15 minutes but it will make a huge difference if you read it everyday and remember why you are doing this.
  • If you want me to make a video about how to boost your motivation for learning Spanish just let me know on the comments down below.

These are the 5 hacks to speak Spanish confidently if you are a beginner or if you are afraid to use the language in a real situation. Now, if you want to get your Conversational Guideline to use in your first conversation just click on the link on the description of this video, write your email and I’ll send it to you in just 30 seconds.

Go for it and if you had any questions you can always write me.

Are you going to try to speak to a native or will you stay seated without doing anything about it? If you do it, let me know how your experience was on the comments down below.

Tell me what you think, and I’ll see you next week with another hack.

Don’t forget to subscribe and turn that little bell if you want to know when I uploaded a new video.

Nos vemos! 😊

Jan 29


By Juan Diego Balam


In case you want the written version:

Today we will talk about the 3 advantages we have to learn Spanish as adults.

Are kids better than us when learning Spanish or any other language?

Firstable, I must say that we have many beliefs about life. Some of them are right and some of them are wrong. In any case we always need to make some research about what we believe and questioning anything to get to the true.

This being said, if you are learning Spanish you have probably heard a very common limit belief:

“Kids are better than adults as language learners”

Does that sound familiar to you?

I have to demystify this, because I’m an adult and I have learned German and English faster than usual and don’t have any gene which makes me extra talented. Actually, I used to suck at English until High School in Mexico and even in my first year in College.

After that I found another way to approach languages and decided to go out my comfort zone, but we’ll talk about it later.

Anyways, kids are not better than us and we are not better than kids regarding language learning.

We both have different advantages and disadvantages. The problem is that we don’t focus on our advantages. Therefore, you could truly believe kids can learn many languages easier than you due the fact you are making no progress with Spanish.

So, here is our advantages and how we can harness them:

1. We can learn a language quickly:

We always say that kids can learn many languages, because we have heard about those stories. And, of course, they can do it, if they have polyglot parents or go to a bilingual school.

But they don’t learn a language quickly, they take time, more time than we can.

Have you heard stories about people who have learned a language in weeks or a few months?

If so, you can see they all are adults. Because even if kids can learn many languages in their childhood, it takes them a lot of time and we can accelerate the process tremendously as adults.

If you don’t believe me, just check Fluent in 3 months by Benny Lewis and you’ll see how many adults are learning a new language rapidly.

2. We are aware of the context:

I like to watch videos whether on Facebook or Youtube where kids are saying no-sense things because most of the time is super funny and -on the other hand- it helps to prove my point.

If you have a kid or little brother, you know they say some words -when they just start to speak- and most of the time it makes no sense at all for us. We explain them how they should say it and next minute… they say it wrong again and again and it seems they enjoy it.

On the other hand, we can understand when something makes no sense.

For example: In English we say: I changed my mind.

And if you are learning Spanish you would be likely to say: Cambié mi mente.

If you say Cambié mi mente to someone in Spanish they are going to look at you like…. What???

Did you actually change your mind? Did you have a surgery and had a brain transplant?

No. In Spanish we say: Cambié de opinion. I changed my opinion.

And now that I explained this to you, of course you are going to understand and not going to use Cambié mi mente in a conversation.

Would a kid do the same? Probably he would, probably he wouldn’t. What I know it’s that he will do what he wants.

3. We can learn a new language deliberately:

We have talked about how kids can learn a language or more than one easily if they are exposed to the languages. This is very important.

If they are not exposed to it either in school or at home, they won’t learn anything just because they want. They want to play not to learn a language. If they learn it, it’s because is natural for them when they are immerse in the language naturally.

When we learn a new language, we decided to do it. We have a reason and we take action to achieve our objective even if we are not living in a Spanish speaking country in our case. We want it, we go for it.

And that’s a huge advantage in case you haven’t noticed yet.

These are the most important advantages in my opinion that we have as adults to learn Spanish and any language in the world. Kids have their own and we also do.

Okay. We have got to the end. But I didn’t forget your gift.

You can get a free 20-minute session where I’ll show you how to approach Spanish naturally by skipping the annoying grammar.

Just click here and you can book your free session in just 30 seconds.

Go for it and I will help you with it.

Do you think there are more advantages we have as adults to learn a language? Do you think kids are better yet?

Tell me what you think, and I’ll see you next week with another hack.

Don’t forget to subscribe on Youtube and turn that little bell if you want to know when I uploaded a new video.

Nos vemos! 😊

Jan 10


By Juan Diego Balam

The 5 HACKS TO learn Spanish as an adult and achieve fluency

Introduction: Is it really difficult to learn Spanish as an adult?

Anytime I'm asked,

"why is it so difficult to learn Spanish as an adult?"

I answer,

"Is it?"

Think about it. Is really difficult to learn Spanish due the fact you have certain age or it's  only something you believe because you've heard it repeatedly?

As human beings tend to take too seriously the things we hear from others. And if it repeats something specific many times from different people, then we start to think that probably it is true. That's called "Beliefs".

If those beliefs stop us from achieving something, we should call them "Limit Beliefs". And Darren Hardy have a very good talk about it, you can check it out if you want:

I'll change my question this time: Is is difficult to learn Spanish as an adult or is it only that you have heard it many times?

How many times have you tried to learn this language? How much effort have you put into it? How many hours a day do you take to study it? How many methods have you proved for more than one month?

Do you see what I mean?

Let's go to the action... 😉

1. How to learn Spanish as an adult

In this part, I'll tell you more about how to beat your limit beliefs and harness your strengths as an adult to start speaking Spanish. Just because I think it is the most important before going to the practical part.

If you want to go directly to the advice to boost your Spanish learning, just scroll down to point number 5.

In order to speak Spanish and connect to native speakers, you have to forget about everything you have been told until now and everything you have learned in school about learning a language.

This is what you don't neeD TO BELIEVE, not because I say it, but because it is simply not realistic:

  • You need grammar to start learning Spanish:

Think about it for a second. Did your parents teach you grammar to speak perfectly when you were a child?

Exactly. They didn't. You learned that from school, because you needed to get to master English.

Therefore, you need the same now with Spanish. Speak first, learn grammar later.

When you were a kid you didn't care about speaking perfectly, but started growing and then it turns something else. Now you are afraid to make mistakes and -of course- you don't like others to make fun of you.

You know. When I was in high school (called "preparatoria" in Mexico) I couldn't speak English at all.

I was afraid to try speaking the language because in Mexico when a person speaks a bit English but you don't pronounce the words perfectly they are going to laugh -even if they don't speak English neither-. I know, it's stupid.

It is like that, not all the time, but almost.

Do you think that I would speak English now if I would have stayed frozen for the fear of looking like a dummy? Of course I wouldn't.

So, I decided to speak English even though sometimes was a bit difficult to fight against that voice which always tell tell you why you cannot do it.

Now my English is awesome to connect with anyone in the world and I still make a lot of mistakes, but I learned grammar while speaking with natives and making as many mistakes as I could. And guess what? I don't give a shit now.

Summary: When you are starting it is better to focus on using the language -no matter how many mistakes you make- and get confidence at it. Grammar is important just once you are already fluent in Spanish and want to master the language. 

  • "If you don't speak perfectly, you souldn't even bother to try":

Nobody would say it to you directly. This is more like something we say to ourselves constantly.

In my daily work with my clients I'm in the middle of situations where I push them to speak the language right away. Most of the time, they know what to say and how to say it.

Still they are too afraid to try because they think it is not perfect, either the phrase or word they are pronouncing.

Then, I ask them to try and when I hear what they wanted to say, I'm surprised: they do it extremely good.

Honestly, you don't need to speak the language perfectly before trying to communicate and most of you are likely to speak good enough. It's just a lack of confidence.

Why would you want to speak Spanish perfectly?

A few months ago I knew about Benny Lewis -the Irish Polyglot- and I decided to read his book "Fluent in 3 months".

For me this was exciting, because I had made that with English 5 years ago and if someone else believed it's possible to learn a language in such a short time, it was super motivating.

Fluent in 3 months from

The point is that -in his book- Lewis talks about the "speaking like Tarzan" technique, which means to use the language right away even if you make 90% of mistakes in the language structure or words. If you wait until you speak perfectly, fluency will never get to you.

  • It takes 2-5 years to speak a new language:

This is partially true. It depends on how risky you are or which method you use to approach the language. If you take some Duolingo, Rosetta Stone or Memrise lessons it will be great for you to learn many words and phrases.

Still you need to go and talk to someone in Spanish if you want to achieve this. Otherwise it will take you so longer to feel comfortable in a conversation.

Believe me. I'm improving my German -at the time I'm writing this- and even if I am fluent in German, of course I don't speak perfect yet.

I can communicate and make me understandable, but I want to explain more complex topics like philosophy or politics and need improvement to make.

I decided to go and speak German when I was a very beginner and I could poorly express myself. I could only say things like "where is the bathroom?" or "where do you live?"

Now I have a language partner -she is amazing- and she had helped a lot to gain confidence and feed my vocabulary by using the language itself.

It took me 8 months to decide to use the language, I was super afraid and German is especially intimidating, but I had to get some courage and put me into the limbo.

I'm telling you. I've improved my German tremendously and I could have never done this in a language school or using only the language learning apps which I told you about before. Go and try and will be speaking the language this week. I promise.

2. How long does it take to learn basic Spanish?

Alright, this is getting more interesting now.

When we talk about basic Spanish, I mean the Spanish everybody needs if they are going to travel to a another country where this one is the official language or to communicate with  your coworkers/acquaintances and make you enough understandable.

This process from 0 to basic Spanish -using the techniques I tell you on point #5- normally takes like...


5 hours

Of course 5 hours of continous study, mixing it with conversation to a language partner for 20 minutes. Does it sound like a bad lie to you?

If you don't believe it is normally due the fact the way they have taught us to approach the Spanish learning in school or in regular methods.

Forget about grammar from now on and start using the language, you will have a 3-minute conversation in your first time (with the hacks I'll show you in point number 5).

In your second opportunity you could be talking for 5 minutes -and so on- until day #5 where you could be speaking 10-15 minutes.

Good enough for 5 days of learning, isn't it?

3. How long does it take to learn Spanish fluently?

We need to define the word "fluency" first.

I found this definition on the dictionary: "the quality of being facile in speech or writing".

It doesn't enunciate: "the quality to speak a language perfectly". Why does almost everybody think fluency means perfection then?

In other words and in my experience with other languages -which I don't speak perfectly yet- fluency means to be able to communicate almost any idea without translating in your head.

You can learn Spanish for years in school and be able to indentify mistakes, but if you don't use the language you won't be fluent. I mean, never.

Just merge normal study (verbs, vocabulary, etc.) with speaking practice since the very beginning if you want to achieve fluency in 3-4 months instead 5-10 years.

It's not a miracle but hard work. And most importantly, it is smart work.

In Mexico we take English in school. Since preschool until college. Do you know the percentage of mexicans who actually speak this language?

5% percent.

It's a shame but it is true. And we live so nearby the USA.

Five years ago I had some English background from school but I couldn't speak English at all. I felt so frustrated because I was always comparing myself to others who could speak English fluently (wrong!).

Until I couldn't handle it much more. I decided to look for native English speakers online and practice my nonexistent English.

The first time was scary, too much. Then it became to be just normal until it turned very natural for me. Ever since it is so easy to understand almost to any native speaker.

Nowadays, I learn new words or phrases in English like I do in my mother tongue daily. I don't need to translate anything, because English is an extension of Spanish now. How is this possible?

I learned by speaking not by memorizing meanings from my mother tongue to English.

You can also learn Spanish this way even if you are an adult. Actually, you should learn this way because you are an adult (I already explained to you the advantages we have).

If you want to speak Spanish fluently and have deep conversations you have to go and talk to a native for 2-3 months with a frequency of 2-3 times a week for at least 20 minutes per session.

This way you'd be speaking a very good Spanish in just 90 days and having amazing conversations all along the path. Afterwards, you can start mastering the language, which will take you a life-time (because there are always new expressions and words to learn).

We require only 30% of the words and phrases of a new language to communicate almost anything and this is totally possible in 3 months if you go out your comfort zone and speak the language right away.

4. How long does it take to learn Spanish through immersion?

I've told you -in my experience working with my clients and learning languages myself- how long it takes to learn Spanish:

Basic Spanish (enough to survive if you travel): 5 days.

Fluent Spanish (to have deeper conversations): 90 days.

But we are talking about making the less effort possible. By having only 2-3 sessions a week of 20 minutes of practice with a native Spanish speaker. Do you imagine yourself having this practice almost the whole day?

Well, that is what usually happens if you stay in a Spanish speaking country either for working, study or traveling purposes.

Except if you are too afraid to challenge yourself and decide to spend time only another American expatriates instead of speaking to the natives over there.

Depending on what you did, an exchange abroad to learn Spanish would be an amazing experience through super fast Spanish fluency or a waste of time.

If you take this seriously and decide to achieve fluency as fast as possible, you will be asking for the price of your meals in the market, ordering your own food in Spanish, asking for directions and almost everything. I'm not saying it would be easy, it will be actually very difficult at the beginning.

You could even overload your brain if you cannot speak at least a bit English during the day, but it will be worthy if you are dertermined enough.

Doing this you will need 15 days to speak fluent Spanish or a month (again, if you try to use the language during all the day in your trip or exchange).

Of course it's not always possible to afford a long exchange or trip. It requires money and time which not everybody has. Still if you had the opportunity you should take it.

5. The 5 hacks to learn Spanish as an adult effectively

Even if the fastest way to learn Spanish as an adult and achieve fluency is to make an exchange abroad, it is not mandatory or required to learn Spanish quickly.

I have never made an exchange abroad and have learned both English and German with the tools I will share to you down below:

  • Be sure you don't have any limit belief.

Be sure you don't have any belief such like:

"kids are more likely to learn a language than adults"

"I don't have the talent for language learning"

"it's very expensive to learn a language"

"I don't have enough time for learning"

Or so.

If you still have some beliefs like this, you better make some research about the real facts and you'll see that it is not totally true.

There is part of true. But we exaggerate the true part and build a very good lie, which is really an excuse to not do anything about what you want to achieve.

I'll finish with this:

My dad always says,

-"it is such a shame that I wasn't born with the talent to learn a language".

If this is true, then I wasn't born with that "special gift" neither or I would be very unlikely to have it (my mom does not speak another language neither).

And remember many of the new polyglots didn't grow up in a polyglot family. They made themselves.

Beat your limit beliefs by making some research first. I'll promise it will be worthy.

  • Look for a language exchange partner.

You need someone else to practice Spanish with or you won't make any improvement, right?

The best way I know to look for a language partner is online. Unless you had a latin neighborhood nearby and you were brave enough to ask a latin to join on this adventure and help you.

Still, normally, it would be difficult to find a person genuinely interested on helping you. Therefore, I recommend to go to Italki and get a perfect language partner from there.

Italki is the best language exchange site so far and I'm telling you this because I've found the best language partners on there for every language I've been learning (German-English-Russian).

Amazing people who really want to help you and be helped.

Go to Italki, get a partner and start the conversation! Check how Lauren makes it with Russian:

  • Use these phrases to start the conversation.

There are some phrases you can use to start speaking Spanish easily in your first conversation to a native (even if you don't know any word previously).

Here it is a helping resource:

Use these phrases and ask your language partner for more, so you can use them next time.

  • Google translator can be a good friend if used properly.

You have some questions and phrases you can use now in your first conversation to a Spanish native speaker.

Keep the image opened while having the conversation, you don't need to memorize them (you will by using them, you'll see). 😉

Still we don't want a flat talk with our language partner. We need to nurture it. The way to make it possible is by using Google Translator or the one which suits you the best.

The way to use it is very simple:

1. Write the question or phrase you want to say on the translator. Don't translate a full paragraph but simple phrases, so you will avoid the normal mistakes a translator makes.

2. Say that phrase or question to your language partner.

3. When he replies, ask him to write his reply down after he said it in case you didn't understand. This way you can translate it and feed your vocabulary.

It's important to use this technique in your first conversations. Once you have achieved a certain level of fluency, you have to avoid it and just translate specific words. Otherwise you will be translating in your head every word you say and you don't want that.

Use this technique smartly and you'll see how motivating this process can be even if you need to translate a lot of the conversation at the beginning.

  • Set a purpose and appointments.

One very common problem happens when learning Spanish: lost of motivation.

The only way to keep yourself motivated is to feel you are making improvement on whatever you are trying to achieve and to have a clear purpose or goal not only in your mind but written down.

Ask yourself this in order to discover your purpose -write it down for better results- or real goal for your Spanish learning:

1. Why are you really learning Spanish?

2. Who are those you want to connect with?

3. Would it be worthy to challenge yourself and make you feel uncomfortable to achieve fluency in Spanish because of the people you chose on questions #2?

4. What is it that you want to achieve in the following month by learning Spanish?

5. What is it that you want to achieve in the next 3 months by learning Spanish?

The first 3 questions will help you to stablish your prupose (your WHY) and the next 2 questions will help you to set your goals for your learning path.

After that it is very important to make appointments with yourself and your language partners in order to take this seriously.

You have to see this as a project not like a hobby (even if it is a hobby), you have to plan like a project must be planned or you will lose your motivation easily. Trust me. Schedule every appointment you make with your tandem partner and try to not lose any of them.

Besides, set on your  calendar the slots of time you will take to learn some vocabulary and phrases for your next conversation.

If you do this, you will feel super motivated and will see this as something else. You will boost your learning and acomplish your goals faster than you think.

A gift for you! [You can harness this only once]

Well, after all this, I wouldn't let you do this only by your own if you feel a bit nervous about trying this new way to approach Spanish. 

That's why I've decided to give you a special gift, which I should call "Double Bonus", because you'll get 2 amazing tools:

1. A FREE 20-minute session with me where you will use Spanish right away super easy. You can start feeling how amazing it is to speak this beautiful language by booking your free session. Just click the next picture to book it:

2. A Conversational Guideline you can use to have a real conversation in your first session with your language partner. You only need to book your free 20-minute session and you will receive the guideline too.

It is very simple, so go and book you free session now.

What do you think about how you can learn Spanish as an adult? Do you think it is possible? Is there anyone who have made it in such a short time that you know?

Let me know your thoughts and if you had any other hack to boost your Spanish learning, share it with us. 

Nos vemos! 😊