” 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 🙂
“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?
-“In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful.” – Stephen Krashen-
By clicking the link below you will have access to a real conversation in Spanish. Kike met Carmen in the street and started to chat about Kike´s dog named Txomin.
They ended up discussing about animals in general. You also have the correspondent pdf text to follow the conversation:
Try listening to it once a day during a week and don´t panic if the first time you can´t understand 100%, it is normal. Do you think they speak too fast? It´s just a normal speaking rate, and if you travel to Spain you will hear much faster conversations than this one .It always happens that when we are learning a new language, we think that natives speak too fast.
Now, after one week of listening to this conversation, have you changed your impression? Do you still find It is too fast or can you understand the whole conversation without effort? Isn´t it great to understand what was just a jumble of words at first?
“When learning Spanish, around 80% of the effort must be focused on intensive listening to real life conversations, recorded or spoken, by native speakers”.
Intensive listening is the keyword to learn how to speak Spanish effectively and successfully. What is the reason for this? It is the best possible way to acquire a language naturally, and to achieve the final goal of speaking fluently without thinking.
By listening, you will start to learn new sounds and the correct pronunciation of words, and you will be able to identify and use them in different contexts. The key to success is to listen to the same piece as a unit repetitively. It is faster and more efficient to learn sentences as a whole, rather than learning single words individually.
In the video below, Kike gives a great explanation about the importance of the listening process:
Were you able to understand the main idea of the message he is trying to transmit?
If you did, congratulations, keep going with the good work and never give up!!
“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.