1. Make a bee line for Spanish resorts full of other British people. Here, you will often find impatient English-speaking shopkeepers and waiters who find nothing amusing in waiting half-an-hour for you to mumble your order in broken Spanish, when a two-minute conversation in English would suffice.
2. Head for the large metropolises full of busy people of all nationalities with little time to stop and chat. Over-zealous female Spanish students are in particular danger of being misunderstood; try convincing the taxi driver that you weren’t really after his telephone number and that all you were really interested in was practising your irregular verbs!
3. Bury your head in a phrase book. Nothing kills spontaneous, friendly interactions with the locals more than a ten-minute flurry of page-turning in a desperate attempt to find a phrase which almost certainly doesn’t exist (for such is the fame of phrase books). Smile, gesticulate, keep the conversation going in whatever way you can and then, once rapport is created, you can nail them for language practice!
4. Visit Spain with a friend who speaks much better Spanish than you do. It is far too easy to take a back seat and let them do all the talking. And, if you are finally encouraged to speak out alone, the thrill of buying a glass of wine on your own in a Spanish bodega looses its punch with your partner gazing scholarly over your shoulder.
5. Spend invaluable holiday time inside a language school with 20 other foreigners and one Spanish teacher. There is nothing less motivating than studying Spanish grammar inside a sterile classroom in Spain while the bustle of real Spain; sunshine and laughter, cerveza and tapas, pass by mutely on the other side of the window pane.