THE SIX MONTHS TERM

“Having a medium term goal will give you the motivation to begin with.“
The summer has gone by and autum is already here. I believe that November is a month of changes as days become shorter, temperature falls down and nature changes (at least in The Northern Hemisphere where I live).
November is a great month to fix new targets and start a new activity from scratch.
I will recommend you a very interesting one: listen to the Spanish Audio Lessons during 45 minutes- 1 hour everyday for the following months: November, December, January, February , March and April.
Before spring season you ´ll feel skillfull to speak Spanish and eager to practice with natives all you have already learnt. Probably you will be flirting with the idea of spending your summer holidays in a Spanish speaking country. Why not?
Turn your ears on and… start speaking Spanish!!!

Close the textbook and open your ears to improve your Spanish speaking

THE KEY TO SUCCESS: THE HABIT OF LISTENING

«Get into the habit of listening to Spanish everyday until it is something that you need to do and becomes a passion»

This is one of the most essential keys to success.

Our lives are full with daily habits that we get so used to that we end up having to do them. Think about all the things that you decided to start doing at a certain point of your life and make a habit of them: maybe eating healthier, playing a sport, giving a walk with your dog, playing an instrument, reading a book.

Are they habits that turned into passions or passions made into habits? I think it is both of them together. It is the perfect equation for success : «I do it because I love it and because I love it I need to do it daily. It makes me feel good and it also contributes to my health or intellectual well- being».

In the beginning It takes commitment and determination to change old habits and introduce new ones, but over time, habits become passions and passions become habits when we do them happily and enjoy the activity.

Imagine making Spanish listening part of your daily life for 30 minutes or 1 hour. And imagine you can also have the flexibility to do it whenever you find the time in this hectic life and wherever you want (while lying on the couch, running, going for a walk in the forest or during any idle time).

Which are your passions or hobbies ? Is learning Spanish a passion for you or a chore ? Leave us your opinion.

THE KEY TO SUCCESS: LISTEN TO INTERESTING MATERIAL

“Learn Spanish with a real, comprehensive and effective material which is seductive enough to keep you motivated”

I recall trying to learn languages by listening to audio tapes and CD´s, songs, movies, watching the news and all kind of material that was available in the market . I tested it all :

– Track 1- Listen and repeat «Excuse me Sir»- Me : «Excuse me Sir

o The tape – «Excuse me Sir»

o Me – «Excuse me Sir, excuse me Sir»

o The tape again, repeat – «Excuse me Sir »

o Me- «Excuse me Sir »- (but I am going insane).

After some minutes being all ears to a tedious mechanic and robot- like voice, ordering me to listen and repeat the same short and single sentence, I would soon become bored to death and increase my anxiety levels.

Next I would go to the other extreme and try with too difficult material for me, like decipher the meaning of metaphoric song lyrics or switch on the tv to listen to the structural adjustment package of the International Monetary Fund in Asia. None of this worked out, neither the basic audio tapes nor the metaphoric songs or the economic situation in Asia trapped my attention for a long time. I would lose my enthusiasm quickly and worst of all, I would blame myself for giving up and not attaching to those herculean efforts : -Maybe I should try harder- I thought.

Many years have past since my first experiences in learning a foreign language. I have tried to find the reason why failed in all these frustrated attempts. First I was not interested enough in the topic I was listening to. Second the material and methodology I was using was not suitable for my intermediate level and third I had no clear goals to achieve.

Now I know I shouldn´t have tried harder but find a more simple path instead. That is how I learn now. I listen to engaging material in my mp3 device. It is definitely working as I keep on being in high spirits with my progress, and I keep on going. I have learnt that simple solutions in life are always the best !!!

Did you ever have similar experiences? Which ways have you used to learn Spanish and how did it work for you ?

SPEAKING STRATEGIES: LEARN “REAL” SPANISH

“When we learn Spanish in a class using textbooks, we are generally taught a too formal language. It is not the one spoken in real life by native speakers. It is a written and formal language”

Similarly, Spanish courses on CD’s and mp3 files do not sound real and natural. Many times the audio files are not recorded by native speakers either. Spanish natives use common expressions which general didactic materials do not teach.

In a real life situation in Spain, we would rarely use expressions such as:

-I beg your pardon Madam- like addressing the Queen of England.

We would just say a plain:

– Excuse me – Sorry

As a result of this, It is very puzzling to later travel to a Spanish speaking country and realize the language spoken in conversations differs so much from the language learned in textbooks, audio files and Cd´s :

– “Oh, I don´t understand, they speak too fast, I am lost” -. It is a common thought.

My aunt from the Unites States told me once that the first time she visited Spain, it reminded her of listening to a vinyl disc being played at 1000 revolutions per minute.

Have you ever experienced that situation? How was your first impression and contact with real Spanish language spoken by natives?

LEARN SPANISH BY LISTENING

“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.