Spanish is spoken by approximately 400 million native people, making it the second most spoken language worldwide. Add all the people that consider it a fluent second language and you’ve got over 550 million people speaking it.
So you get the point - learning Spanish is key in our modern world. Keep in mind that due to the large number of countries that consider Spanish their official language, the accents, words and pronunciations can vary greatly, but you will be able to communicate regardless.
It is recommended that you start studying the basics of Spanish before your arrival in Nicaragua. Proving that you took the time to start learning before getting there will show people you are really excited about learning the language and will help you settle in faster.
Mingling with the locals is the easiest way to practice and improve your Spanish. When you go to the market - even if you live in a touristy area where everyone speaks English - make sure you speak in Spanish. Some people might want to start a conversation in English to practice theirs, so either be firm about continuing in Spanish, or perhaps offer language exchanges where both you and your exchange partner can make the most of the situation.
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to strike up a conversation in Spanish, on the streets, on the phone and with cab drivers for example. Nicaraguan people are friendly and open, always looking to make new friends, so talking to them is easy and, more often than not, quite fun. If you are in Nicaragua studying Spanish, avoid speaking English or other languages with your classmates after class; after all, you are there to learn and so are they. Practice does make perfect.
Other ways of learning
Not everyone moves to Nicaragua to study Spanish. Some people move there in the hopes of picking it up along the way. While the best way to learn Spanish would be to engage in a class that will teach you the proper grammar, it is up to you to decide what your aim is. If you are looking to be a fluent conversational speaker, grammar might not be a priority for you; whereas someone looking to use it for work purposes might need spelling, grammar, reading, listening, etc.
Enrolling in a Spanish school is a good idea, but there are other ways to learn. You can stay with a host family who will speak to you only in Spanish, you can offer your services as an English-speaking au pair while learning Spanish on the side, or you can stay at home reading books, watching movies and listening to CDs all in Spanish. If there is a will, there is a way. You are in Nicaragua: get out there and enjoy the beautiful country and its colourful language.