PERSISTENCE AND CREATIVITY

” Patiente is a tree of bitter roots and sweeter fruits”

There is a Spanish saying from the olden times ´ La letra con sangre entra´( It is also a famous painting by Francisco de Goya, a Spanish painter of the 18th- 19th century). In English the translation would be the softer and ultimaltely less strict ´No pain, no gain´.

In my opinion, I don´t feel that we must suffer in order to learn, specially when the task at hand relies on something as human and natural as the spoken word.

It is clear that everyone learns better and much more deeply when they enjoy what they are doing and end up doing it with more enthusiasm, optimism and creativity as a result.

That being said, I definitely believe in persistence, enthusiasm and creativity during the learning process. It certainly is a given that despite the fact we have to give an effort and challenge ourselves to comprehend, to listen, speak and be understod, that effort should be a pleasent one. A positive experience will be arguable more of a benefit in the future so long as one perseveres and enjoys the views along the way.

Not long ago I was having dinner with a friend and he asked my opinion about a program that ensured that one could ´ Learn Spanish in 10 days ´ under hypnosis no less. In my experience( wheter it be in Spanish or any other language), I have never witnessed any learning program, whether it be hypnosis or sleep training that could allow anyone to become proficient in anything at all, least of all 1 or 2 weeks. In truth I think the reality lies somewhere in the middle.

That being said if anyone knows an app or program that makes one fluent in so short a time, please do let me know, I would be more than happy to try it 🙂

Learn How to speak Spanish by listening and note the difference.

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 ?

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: USE REAL MATERIAL

-“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:

3.MASCOTAS. CONVERSACION

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?

SPEAKING STRATEGIES: LEARN GRAMMAR BY LISTENING

Listening is the most effective way to learn grammar and to be able to use it correctly later”

At this stage you will probably wonder how can you manage to learn Spanish without studying grammar. How can that be possible? Yes, in fact, It is not only possible, but listening is a faster, easier and more effective way of learning than studying grammar.

Let´s practice how to learn grammar by listening. Are you ready? By clicking on the link below, you will gain access to an audio in Spanish called “Point of view “section:

 

 

2.MASCOTAS. PUNTOS DE VISTA. PDF

The Point of View section is the same story that you already have listened to in the Mini Story section but this time, instead of making many questions and answers, the story is told in present, past and future verb tenses. You will also notice that the story is told not only in different verb tenses but It also changes the main character who is telling the story.

All you need to do is relax and listen to it many times without memorizing, and pay attention to the changes made each time. Did you notice the difference? If you did, congratulations, you are learning grammar!!!

SPEAKING STRATEGIES: ACTIVE LISTENING

“Active listening is a powerful technique, which makes the listener absorb the language intuitively by listening time and time again to the same structures and sentences”.

Studies have shown that to attain fluency in a language, you need to listen to the same structures and sentences between 50 and 100 times. Here you can find a practical trial to assess the benefits of active listening.

By clicking on the link below, you will have access to a 27 minutes length audio in Spanish, a Mini -Story with its PDF transcript:

1.MASCOTAS. MINI HISTORIA PDF

In this Mini -Story, Kike tells us a true story about a beautiful dog called « Txomin». The audio file contains many questions and answers made in an infinite variety of ways, and as you will notice they are all different from each other.

Now listen to the Mini- Story for the first time. Did you understand the point to this story? Perhaps you were able to get the main idea although you didn’t understand every single word or sentence. Don’t despair; this is normal.

Relax and give it another chance to familiarise yourself with Txomin by taking as much time as you need. I would suggest you listen to it, once a day for a week, and review the daily improvements that will come from listening to it more and more times.

The first time you listened to it maybe you understood only the main idea, or perhaps 50 or 80% of the story. However, by the end of the week, you may be able to understand the full story.

Have you noticed how some of the sentences in Spanish have stuck to your head and you feel like saying them out loud? If your answer is yes, congratulations! It means you are learning Spanish. Keep on working!

Otherwise, don’t give up and continue listening to the audio. But, if after a while you still find it really difficult, perhaps it would be convenient to try an easier material for you.     Free Audio Lesson. Txomin.

SPEAKING STRATEGIES: INTENSIVE LISTENING

“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 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.