One day you decide you are going to start learning Spanish. Whatever the reason might be, get sure you do it the right way. Learning any language is like running a marathon, it is not running a 100 meters dash. If you want to succeed, you cannot give up when you are tired, you must stop when you reach the finish line.
MOTIVATION: GO THE EXTRA MILE
The most important thing is to get ready for your “marathon”, you must find a motivation that keeps you there, and you can think about when you feel like giving up. How long does it take to learn Spanish? That is different for everyone. Always bear in mind your goal, think about the reasons which made you start. That will give you the strength you need.
A fellow traveler” will be a great help. Someone you can celebrate your learning achievements with, someone who shares your interests and ‘competes’ in the same category. Mutual support is very helpful and rewarding, and the sense of belonging won’t allow you to give up so easily. So, join the Italki community and find someone like you, now!
Of course, a professionally qualified teacher is highly effective. They will enhance your learning experience, and your progress will be faster for sure. You will need someone who cares about your progress and helps you out with your problems to overcome frustration. Look for someone you like and you can talk about any topic you are interested in. Get sure good personal chemistry is there, and your teacher will become part of your personal social life. Like a friend you are meeting for a coffee and a good chat, you will be looking forward to your Spanish session.
THE TRAINING PLAN: PRACTICE AND ENJOY EVERY DAY
Everything seems to be a matter of practice. Yeah, that’s right. You can be told how to swim, you can even do some deep research on Archimedes principle and physical state, but you won’t learn to swim until you get into the water and swim.
Language learning implies the four competencies of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. No one can be understood without the other ones. You need to work out all of them but remember, it is essential to find the amusing, entertaining and practical part of learning.
It’s going to take you a long time and a great effort, so get sure you enjoy what you do. You need to be motivated to keep on doing, as once you start loving what you do, you cannot stop it. But where is my time? Who stole it? Unfortunately, that’s the feeling we do all have nowadays. We are rushing all day and it is very hard to get the time to do everything to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Then, how could you invest more time in such new Spanish tasks? It is simple, just make them part of your life.
Whenever you read, do it in Spanish. Morning news, Sunday magazines, a good book to relax after work. Whatever your reading routines are, keep them, but do it in Spanish. Same about listening, watch a movie after dinner, get some interesting podcasts you can listen to when running, exercising, or driving to work, and why not? Switch the Spanish radio on when you get home, as a background sound. That will bring you into the Spanish mood. Spanish is on the air!
It’s true, it’s when you reach an intermediate level that you start understanding and grasping the playful part of learning, as you can practice it more actively. Some people reach a B2 level in 5 months, whereas it might take some years. This is not a race between you and the rest of the world, it is your own personal race. You might be among those for whom it takes longer, but, honestly, it is worth doing it!
The trick is to immerse yourself in the language. It would be great visiting the country and living with the locals, and as the locals do. When in Rome, do as Romans. But, again, we cannot always travel and live in Spain for some months. Then, you need to bring Spain home. Spanish newspapers, Spanish TV, radio, podcasts…, and, if you like cooking, Spanish food! Everything will do to get that Spanish atmosphere that your brain needs to learn the language in a more effective way.
Practice makes perfect, … or at least, it makes you understood. Communication is not a matter of accuracy, it is a matter of understanding. Never mind how many mistakes you can make at first when talking to someone. The goal is not to be perfect, as nobody is, but to communicate. If you want to swim, you must get into the water and swim. If you want to talk, you must talk. So, jump into the swimming pool, and start talking.
A language exchange partner would do, but look out! You might be tempted to use your own language. You can also look for some Spanish speakers groups in any social network you can join. There must be something you are interested in, environment, politics, economy, philosophy, horses, plants, organic food, …the secret life of the platypus. The web is full of groups of people all over the world joining in just to discuss what they are interested in. Join them! You might feel a little bit intimidated at first, but remember you are not there to be judged for your Spanish language level, you are there to share your knowledge or your experiences.
Of course, a good teacher will help you to get out of your comfort zone and achieve the fluency you need to be confident and ready to talk to Spanish speakers. It is important you believe in yourself and enjoy it. It will be great fun, for sure!
URBAN LEGENDS: FACTS AND MYTHS
Have you ever had the feeling you can speak in a more fluent way after having A beer? Does it really help or is it an urban legend? It does! It doesn’t mean you need to get drunk, as that brings on the opposite effect. In fact, it is said it should be like a pint for a 70-kilo weight man. There is some research by Dr.Inge Kersbergen from the University of Liverpool, on the beneficial effects of alcohol consumption on the ability to speak a second language. However, they still don’t know what brings on that effect. It might well be the lack of inhibition or the confidence increase alcohol provides.
But what is the right way? We are bombarded with lots of strategies, lots of myths, and miraculous methods, but only YOURS will be definitely the most suitable one for YOU. Get immersed into the language, or better to say, get Spanish immersed into your life.