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LearnSpanish: 2 Tips To Help Manage The Lightning Language

Did you notice the title has no spaces? That’s what everything sounds like when you are first learning Spanish. It’s almost impossible to tell individual words apart. Is Spanish really spoken at break-neck speeds, or does it just seem that way to the untrained ear? The answer revealed… as well as two tips to help you accelerate your auditory aids… or ears as normal people call them.

When you first start learning a language, it sounds like a bunch of gibberish. It’s more learnSpanish, and less l-e-a-r-n S-p-a-n-i-s-h. Whether it’s English, Spanish, Japanese, or Chinese, there is this feeling that it is impossible anyone could actually understand what the other person is saying.

The indistinguishable sounds, impossible speed, and completely different accent all make this situation seem that much more insurmountable when starting to learn another language. A study was actually done to compare the relative speeds at which various languages are spoken. Guess which language turned out to be the Lightning McQueen of the language world? You guessed it….. Japanese. Spanish, however, did come in second. I speak no Japanese, so I figured I would go with Spanish.

Let’s get back to my weird title with me typing learnspanish as one word. What’s that all about? One of the problems that presents itself when you want to learn conversational Spanish is the speed with which Spanish is spoken. Early on in my journey to learn a language, I could read and write in Spanish pretty well. What I couldn’t do, however, was understand anything. Spoken, sung, mumbled, repeated, enunciated… nothing was comprehensible to this North Dakotan. Here are a few tips that helped get me ‘over the hump.’

learnspanish

LearnSpanish Tip #1: Maximum Exposure

If you follow this blog, you know that I love to talk about language exposure. In fact, I wrote an entire Ebook on language learning tips and exposure. The more you hear a language, the more comprehensible it becomes. It slowly transforms from something impossible to understand to something you can easily understand. The process, however, isn’t quite so smooth.

How Can I Maximize Language Exposure To Help Learn Spanish? Let’s ask our friends on my Facebook page.

learnspanishThese are a few great tips from some of our loyal Facebook followers. Both tips are valid as well – tons of practice is what is necessary to help learn a language to fluency; to turn that “learnspanish” into “learn spanish.”

As Louise states, reading newspapers is a great way to get more exposure and practice. Reading aloud helps you work on your accent as well… as long as you pay attention to make sure you are saying the words correctly. I also love her comment on getting the gist of it and not sweating the details. Fluency and more advanced language skills come with time; it’s not immediate. keep working at it and you will see results!

LearnSpanish Tip #2: Intentional Listening To Increasingly Difficult Input

When you naturally learn a language, you learn how to handle certain situations poco a poco (little by little). This is also key when trying to understand the samba-like speed of Spanish speech. Look for slower input; people (Colombians generally speak slower – at least the ones I know), shows on TV, or whatever you can find where the speech is just naturally slower. If you start watching Mexican Telenovelas where they are screaming at each other as fast as possible you are not going to get much out of it. Use the Krashen theory; comprehensible input.

Another key factor is to listen intentionally. A radio playing in the background isn’t going to get you anywhere while trying to learn a language. You need to be concentrating and listening intentionally; i.e. with the intent of understanding. If it’s comprehensible input and you listen as closely as possible, with bonus points for media you can rewind or people you can ask to repeat something, you will eventually start to pick it up with less and less effort. Once this happens, you get slightly faster and/or more difficult content and continue the process!

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About Jeffrey Nelson

Jeffrey Nelson is a husband, father, author and bilingual living and working in the Midwestern United States. He lives with his Mexican wife and their son, Liam, who is currently being raised bilingual in English and Spanish.

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