“What makes it so difficult for adults to learn a foreign language as children do? The answer is very simple: we are not exposed enough to the target  language”

Some years ago I read an extremely interesting article about Dr. Paul Sulzberger, a researcher from Victoria University in New Zealand.

Dr. Sulzberger started his PhD research after he saw many students drop out of his Russian language classes because they were not making significant progress. He was interested to know what makes it so difficult to learn a foreign language when we are constantly learning new words in our native tongue.

He found the answer in the way the brain develops the appropiated neural tissue to learn new patterns of sounds:

–  Children learn a language without conscious study since they are babies, they learn how to speak by  listening to the sound of mother talking.  

–  Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language, which is how babies learn their first language. -He says-.

Dr. Sulzberger searched for ways to make the learning process easier for students, giving the following advices:  

– To learn a language, you have to grow the appropiate brain tissue, and you get this by doing lots of listening. Frequently listening to Spanish language will dramatically boost your ability to pick up the language.   

One hour a day  of studying Spanish text in a classroom is not enough, but an extra hour of listening to Spanish  on an Ipod will make a  huge difference-.

It may sound crazy, but the simply exposure to the language will not only help you progress. You can really learn Spanish by just listening.

Many language teachers will not agree with his revealing research and conclusions, but they are based on facts. No, It does not sound crazy at all Dr. Sulzberger. We all need to rethink from top to bottom the way languages are being taught. Our rigid system of teaching languages does not help much. The power of listening.


Before starting the «Learn Real Spanish» project, the following questions were making our heads spin:

  • Why children learn to speak before studying grammar?

  • Do children have a special and magical power to acquire a language without effort?

  • Why are adults not fluent speakers after years of «studying» a language?

  • Is it necessary to learn all Spanish verb tenses and vocabulary by heart?

  • Which methods are more efficient to learn Spanish or any other language?

  • What makes it so difficult to pronounce and repeat new patterns of sounds?

  • Why is the proccess of learning  with grammar so long and boring?

  • How do I get to the point of no longer needing a teacher? How can I become a self-directed learner?

  • How can I learn Spanish if I don´t have time for it?

  • What inspires me to learn? What is my main motivation to learn Spanish?

The answer to all of the above questions is so simple, so factual, so real and so logical that it opened our minds to a different approach to language learning.



“Learn Real Spanish” started with the idea of sharing an original and effective method to learn how to speak Spanish in 6 months, without studying textbooks and grammar rules”

Based on our own personal experience learning several languages, we are aware of how difficult is it to learn a language by studying an enormous amount of grammar rules.

After years of attending regular classes, it is quite frustrating to realize you just acquired basic writing and reading skills but are unable to speak the language.

Who hasn´t experienced the frustration of studying a language and not being able to communicate with native speakers in real life situations?

Verb tenses, vocabulary, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs: I know them or at least I think I know them, I have learned them for years, I have studied how to put all these words together, but I can´t use them.

I realize I have no idea of how to speak the exact moment I need to communicate effectively! I become tongue- tied and as thoughtful as a philosopher, words don´t seem to come easily from my mouth.

I have encountered several times the following situation at the train station:

Ticket seller – May I help you?

Answer – «Yesss,meee »( followed by a pause, thinking what I am going to say next)… «To change» (Great ! I have figured out the right verb tense. Pause and thinking again)…«Mmm… Ticket» (oh, how do I say «train»? Dammit, I can´t remember the word…and how do I say I would also need to change the destination…mmmm… mmmm…I lift up my eyes, trying to find a sort of inspiration from the clouds)

« Me to change ticket»

I feel like Tarzan, the only human being able to talk as an ape.

I personally don´t mind making mistakes when trying to speak, I have been involved in many comical situations resulting in one of the most hilarious moments in my life. Making mistakes is a necessary part of the learning adventure.

But it is very discouraging to become conscious of the main handicap: I have studied the language for 1, 2, 3 years, maybe even longer, and I’m unable to engage in the most simple conversation.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Did you ever find it difficult to speak Spanish after years of study? I would love to hear your story.

Spanish is my mother tongue. I’ve never become fluent in a second, third or fourth language by studying grammar rules. Never.

hablar sin pensar