Tag Archive | how to speak spanish

THE KEY TO SUCCESS: IT IS TIME TO SPEAK SPANISH

“When one starts to speak Spanish, it is the result of the former months invested taking in comprehensible input “

It seems it turned up automatically, it seems it occured from night to day, one is not even self -conscious of how and why did it developed, but I will tell you something: the ability to speak fluently arises as a result of all the months we were doing active listening. This explains how trying to force ourselves to speak before our brain have processed at least the basics of the language is quite useless. It is like going into a swimming competition without being able to swim or trying to move a car without engine or oil.

I hear most people saying over and over again that the most important thing to learn to speak a language is to practice by speaking it. I agree with it to a certain extent, I would like to highlight that speaking is an automatic and natural outcome of listening and understanding since the first can´t develop without the second. It is a very simple equation : listening + understanding = speaking. They go together inextricably and one is the result of the other.

Imagine that I moved to Russia and I can´t speak russian. I live in Moscow surrounded by friendly native speakers and completely immersed in the language. I am in the perfect environment to learn speacially since I need it to survive. Do you think I would be able to speak the first, second or thirld month? It seems reasonable to assume that probably I would need to stay for a while before I start to pick up the basics of russian language, no matter how much I force myself to practice since day 1. After so much exposure to russian, I would learn it for sure.

Now imagine a second scenario: I move to Moscow but I live in a Spanish speaking environment with very little contact with russian natives. Would I manage to learn to speak it ? The anwer is not, I can spend 20 years in Russia and still only be able to utter basic sentences, as the exposure to russian language will be so little that it will not allow me to absorb the real language, to speaking it fluently.

I know this must sound so obvious to you, doesn´t it ?

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THE KEY TO SUCCESS: THE MUTE PERIOD

” The best methods are the ones that do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production.” (Stephen Krashen)

The mute period is a silent period where one will be taking comprehensible input but still one won´t be able to speak fluent Spanish. This period varies in length, depending on many factors and it can last in avarage from 3 to 6 months, 1 year or longer.

First of all, understanding skills will be increasing gradually. This is a great moment to measure signs of improvement in comprehension. It will keep us incentivated and brighten up to be self- conscious of how we actually are moving forward.

A few days ago I was watching the news when Hollande, the current president of the French Republic, made a speech on the public tv declaring that ´he understood the message of the unhappy voters in the last elections´. I jumped from the couch in such joy, that my father was astonished to see that the disastrous election results by Hollande in our neighbour country could make me so euphoric. –« Dad, it has nothing to do with Hollande. It just so happens that I could understand his whole speech » – I exclaimed delighted- . This is the sign that makes me realize I am getting closer to accomplishing my mission :to speak French with francophones.

Nevertheless, after these sweet and euphoric momments, it does not mean that I have completely reached my goal.

We have to keep on doing active listening, listening and listening some more during this phase of language learning. Even so, nothing happens, nothing happens and nothing happens, in the sense that fluency is still not attained, and then suddenly, one day…SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS :¡¡¡words come easily and you can speak effortlessly!!!

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 ?

IS THE SPANISH LANGUAGE DIFFICULT TO LEARN?

“Spanish is not a difficult language to learn, but the grammar can be quite challenging”.

This is the answer most Spanish learners give when asked about the difficulties they face.

The following are the most recurring issues:

–  The use of prepositions (“para” and “por” seem to be the most difficult)

–  A very high number of different verb forms (with the subjunctive tense being the hardest to understand)

–  The distinction in the use of gender (this is particularly challenging with languages, such as English, where there is no distinction between  masculine and feminine)

–  The use of articles

–  The use of pronouns

–  Where to place the accents.

All of the above take many years of learning for a native Spanish speaker too. It is not easy for us to learn all the rules by heart either.

The good news is that learning the correct use of grammar becomes much easier by being able to first understand and speak a language fluently.

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.

HOW TO SPEAK SPANISH.

“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