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

HOW TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS

“By taking control of your emotions, you will control your self- learning process”

 The most common features about all human beings is that we all experience similar emotions, positive and negative ones. From Spain to China all humans also feel and behave similarly if not the same when we aim to learn a second language.

It is so important to start with an inner strength and firmly believe that “the sky´s the limit .

Your natural abilities for learning to speak Spanish will be already extremely high, chances are 100% and it is all just a matter of training your ears for at least 6 months. You are genetically programmed to listen and speak!!!

Then, how can I gain self – confidence? How can I make myself assume I will learn to speak Spanish by training my ear?

If we take control of our own self -learning process by following the next steps we can detect negative emotions and turn them into positive ones. We can remove anxiety, worry, apathy and boredom and turn them into arousal, flow, control and relaxation as long as we:

–         Persevere

–         Find a balance between skills and challenge

–         Know what to do

–         Know how to do it

–         Know how well we are doing

–         Know where would we like to get to

Once we have gained self -confidence, we will be super motivated and learn much faster and easier.

How do you feel about learning Spanish? What are your feelings about it?

Relaxation

THE KEY TO SUCCESS : LOOSE YOUR FEAR TO SPEAK

” If you talk a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head, if you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” (Nelson Mandela)

Once we have assimilated the language by listening, it is time to practice, practice and practice preferably with Spanish native speakers without being afraid of detecting mistakes. It is not neccesary to be a perfectionist and wait until you can make perfect sentences. Jump into the pool and swim because you can already swim!!!

Most natives think it is neat to listen to a foreigner making the effort to speak their language and not only they will be helpful and understanding, but also they will simply love you. There is no better way to build strong bounds with other human beings than trying to speak to them in their language no matter how.

I personally love to practice with elder people. They tend to speak more slowyly and use less slang. They are also good at asking questions and telling interesting stories about their lifes to whoever wants to listen. They will love to interact with you with patience, love and care. So if you have and elderly neighbour in your community who speaks Spanish, he or she will be more than happy to speak with you.

How long will I need to practice ? Honestly, I am of the opinion that learning a language is like a marriage, once there is a solid base one has to listen and speak, mantain the mutual communication as a husband- wife to keep it up. It is a relationship that will last for the rest of one´s life. The excellent news is that there are many enjoyable ways to mantain and dive deep into the language, but we will talk about this topic in the next posts 🙂

Easy 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: 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: SELF-MOTIVATION

«We acquire language in one way, and only one way, when we get comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment»- Dr. Stephen Krashen says, a famous linguistic specialized in the field of second language acquisition and bilinguism.

Being an innate human capacity, because we all posses a brain, two ears and eyes to assimilate a second language, there are 2 main barriers that interfere blocking the process of taking in Spanish:

1- Attaching to unefficient methods :

Old methods based on grasping at grammar, memorize long lists of vocabulary and filling in exercise books don´t make us fluent speakers. Instead, listening should be the core of learning.

2- One self´s emotions :

Perception of difficulty, anxiety, boredom and unclear goals are the perfect equation to drop before succeeding. By controlling these negative emotions and turning them into positive reinforcements, assuming that WE WILL SUCCEED, we will feel happier and gain self-confidence, getting the energy and motivation to take many smalls steps day by day.

The many small steps are the ones that make a huge difference in the medium term.

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?