Spanish language learning resources and motivation
Having trouble learning Spanish? Learning a second language doesn’t come easy for everyone. But it’s not an impossible thing to achieve. When learning Spanish or any new language, it’s important to understand the cornerstones that contribute to acquisition of second language. These are comprehensive input, high frequency words, aural repetitions of interesting stories, and shadowing. Take a closer look at these important aspects that will help you in learning Spanish successfully:
- Comprehensive input – This basically refers to comprehending the words and sentences you hear. Learn to understand what is being said to you, so you can get closer to success. The more words and sentences you understand, the easier it is for you to fully learn the language.
- High-frequency words – Your best bet is at starting with words that are commonly used. Think of the 20/80 rule which states that 20% of words make up 80% of spoken language. So if you learn to understand these most commonly used words, you’ll be on your way to understanding the rest of the language.
- Aural repetitions of interesting stories – Listen to people speaking and visualize the situation described in the speech. You can then learn how to repeat the story and retell it to other people.
- Shadowing – Active mental processing is essential for success in second language learning. It’s important to mentally or verbally repeat what you hear. This can engage your mind at a deeper level and help you comprehend the language even better.
Additional ways for learning Spanish
In addition to the key aspects mentioned above, it’s also necessary that you follow some other steps that are essential for learning anything. For instance, practice a little bit of it every day. This will help you gain fluency in the language and keep your mind alert in processing it.
Think about the prospective rewards you will get from learning the language. Maybe it will help you secure a better job or maybe it’ll open up prospects for you to make more money. This will motivate you to learn it. This doesn’t just apply to Spanish or other languages; it applies to everything else. Check out the infographic on Top Secrets to Learn Spanish: The 4 and a Half Essentials to learn more.
What is keeping you from speaking Spanish?
Simply put, NOTHING IS HOLDING YOU BACK FROM LIVING YOUR BILINGUAL DREAM!
That was easy enough right?
Each one of us can do what we want anytime we want to do it.
“It’s not what you do that matters, it’s how you do what you do!”
And so it is with learning to understand and speak Spanish.
Take for instance, the base scenario of someone, who over the course of several years possesses an underlying burning desire to feel comfortable while engaging in a conversation in Spanish with a native Spanish speaker.
Take a moment to digest that event.
Moreover, put yourself in that event.
Picture yourself, listening, understanding and responding (and better yet, adding) to a conversation in Spanish with someone of interest.
It may seem a long way off, especially if you have had countless experiences where you started off full of good intentions to do just that: initiating an exchange, only to suddenly find yourself way over your head at some point in the conversation feeling totally lost and frustrated.
You are not alone!
It has happened to us all.
But in the words of Conan the Barbarian, (or Nietzsche) “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”
And so it is with learning to understand and speak Spanish. (And pretty much everything.)
Rarely is something of great value gained without considerable effort.
The trick is to maximize from that effort and reap the greatest results.
By this I mean, find the method that best serves you and your interests so that you stay motivated and continue pursuing your goal.
It may be baby steps at first. That’s fine, take them. Take a bunch of them.
Learn what works for you.
Today’s post will be succinct. In Spanish: “Vamos al grano”
You have to take risks albeit calculated risks.
Study up with materials that will ignite what Spanish you’ve learned in the past.
Once you’ve done that, “Take it to the streets.”
Make mistakes and keep on keeping on.
Your efforts will produce the desired results. But only if you do it!
We can all wish, but actions will achieve the goal, eventually.
The best part is that the actions that will have to be taken will be available. They are called opportunities. Its up to each of us to know they are there and give it an honest go.
The saying, “Fake it until you make” applies here as much as anywhere.
Don’t cut yourself short. You can do it!
It is the “Sí Se Puede” attitude.
If you want it, its for the taking!
A2B2 (Fluency Fox Adv. Beginner through Intermediate Conversational Spanish)
Get A Return On Your Spanish Language Investment
12 years (or however long) ago you received a B+ ( or an A or maybe even a C-) in high school Spanish 2.
You met your graduation requirements and that was it. No more Spanish vocabulary lists to memorize nor verb conjugation charts to trudge through.
But, what do you have to show for the roughly 360 hours of classroom Spanish instruction?
What is the return on your investment?
Even at minimum wage if you converted the amount of time you spent sitting in Spanish class adding accent marks and upside-down question marks to words and sentences you didn’t understand all that well, you would have earned well over $3,000.
But even if you are not going to be financially reimbursed for your time in class, (which of course is a pipe dream but would be cool) there should be some standard relating to your language gains based on your time spent learning said language.
According to the ASCD’s estimate of where a student’s language “characteristics” would be after approximately 2 years of formal Spanish (or any formal language) instruction are straight forward.
The student would:
*have good comprehension
*produce simple sentences
*make grammar and pronunciation errors
*frequently misunderstand jokes
Also, the language learner at the end of year 2 would be able to answer “Why and How” questions and explain answers with a phrase or short sentence answers.
This sounds fairly simple, right?
The problem is . . . that even though this assessment is on the more forgiving side of what should be attained after 2 years of formal study, most people don’t get this far.
In part, it is because most programs offer grammar based instruction and do not provide the Comprehensible Input nor the needed number of repetitions for students to acquire this “Speech Emergence” level of fluency in the target language.
Are you satisfied with having wasted your time in high school Spanish with little to nothing to show for it?
Or, would you like to take the Spanish you’ve learned and make it the Spanish you hoped it was going to be when you first walked into your Spanish class?
If you choose the ladder, keep reading! If you choose the first, have a nice day. (You can always change your mind in the future 😉
Fortunately, there is such a theory know as Recall of Memory.
The basic idea is that when you reinitiate the study of a subject you previously studied, you will remember some of the previously learned information.
The great thing about “Recall of Memory” is that you will be able to capitalize on what you have learned in the past that was lying dormant and just waiting for the wake up call.
Get the pay out
So, if you want to get back that return on your 360 hours or more (or less if you were sick or ditched your Spanish class a lot) find the resources that will get you on your way.
It’s doubtful that you will need to return to the absolute beginning of the language learning process. Depending on your memory and how much Spanish has played a role in your life since your last Spanish Exam, the best idea would be to start with resources at the advanced beginner level.
As you begin, your “Recall of Memory” will kick in and you should be making noticeable gains rather quickly. You can always work backwards to fill in the gaps about concepts and information that you just cannot recall but at least you will be challenging yourself and allowing the process to run its course.
Try it for a week.
With the appropriate materials, you should not only be making a return on your invested hours of Spanish instruction but also earning interest in becoming bilingual.
Now that’s a Win Win!
Real Second Language Fluency: Moving from beginner through the essential “Threshold” conversational level
The foremost concern of many beginning language learners is conversational fluency.
Consequently, educators are approached by students with questions such as: “how can I take what I have learned on paper and apply it to real-life situations?” Similar concerns are how to go beyond using simple phrases to describing experiences and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans in the target language?
The ideal reply to such inquiries is both simple and complex simultaneously.
Simple, because the answer ultimately boils down to the old adage, “practice makes perfect,” and complex because of the multitude of methodological approaches educators utilize to facilitate SLA. Language learners who are familiar with the Common European Frame of Reference know that the transition between the elementary level (A2) and the beginning intermediate threshold conversational level (B1) is challenging, and that vocabulary drills and grammar exercises are limited in achieving the desired results.
Time, Methodology, and Expectations
The length of time required to achieve threshold level competence depends on various factors: the amount of hours per week that a student is willing and able to apply toward his or her goals, the student’s personality, and the student’s access to educational resources and other language learners.
Comprehensible input, frequent aural repetitions of targeted material in the development of stories primarily in the target language, and maintaining student interest are requisite when implementing the interactive language learning approaches espoused by SLA theorists such as Stephen Krashen and Blaine Ray.
Krashen cites low anxiety and high motivation as factors that positively affect SLA. He maintains that second language learners acquire a command of the language via the communicative act itself, not from formal aspects alone. Ray takes a similar approach toward SLA, emphasizing the production of language itself, and advocating the use of storytelling and creative dramatization in the classroom.
Assuming the effective utilization of these approaches, reaching threshold level competence can realistically take anywhere from 3-6 months to a year or more.
However, if an individual has had previous exposure with the target language, the time required to attain and/or surpass the threshold level could be substantially lessened. This is due to the phenomena referred to as recall in memory: the mental process of retrieving information from the past.
The key to success in bridging the gap between A2 and B1 level competence lies in forming realistic expectations. Students often give up too soon, falsely believing they must master many of the formal aspects of the language before they are able to communicate effectively.
When language learners continue to communicate freely in an interactive environment, knowledge of the formal aspects will come naturally. Taking too much time off is another pitfall, given that language learners tend to forget learned information.
This leads to decreased self-confidence and increased anxiety. The only way to mitigate this problem is to regard second-language acquisition as a continuous process.
The benefits of achieving the threshold level of competence are most evident when using the language in unfamiliar situations. These include visiting a foreign country or conversing with a native speaker of the target language. Conversations become multifaceted, allowing learners to navigate around unexpected inquiries and problems, making the communicative process more positive.
Learners acquire the ability to take initiative in discourse, giving them the opportunity to take conversations in new directions, and communicate about the causes and concerns that interest them in diverse settings.
This rewards learners by feeling accomplished and empowered, ready to take on greater challenges personally, professionally, and socially, and to travel more independently.
The Little Language Hero
Can you remember a time, when someone did something, that inspired you to keep going, to be where and who you are now?
Let’s be clear fellow language learners… your actions inspire others.
You’re about to embark on an adventure with an ant and its colony. Together, you’ll discover that the actions of the individual, you, serve the evolution of the whole.
One night I was up late watchingTV….I had the volume on mute. . . so as to not wake anyone as I casually flipped through the channels until finally, I settled upon a program… ants in the wild..
Little did I know a seed began to grow..out of the green of the jungle..at a time just before dawn..a mob of ants swarmed en masse…their black bodies flowed like dark water.
They approached a long trough, an obstacle..carved by a trickle of running water.
For the tiny insects..it appeared much more like a vast chasm…separating them from the direction they were heading.
Picture yourself..midway through your language learning expedition..stepping out of the forest of books and flash cards and on to the steep bank of the advanced beginner level armed with words and phrases before a wide and rushing river of new adventures with native speakers below,… and remember,..your actions inspire others.
At that moment, the camera’s eye focused in on one particular unassuming ant…. poised at the head of the swarm….at the edge of the ledge…
The other side was at least 3 or 4 body lengths away.
Without hesitation, this little fellow…no name tag….no red cape….or any sort of noble crown…..extended his head and torso out and over the divide.
Suddenly another ant climbed onto his shoulders…wrapping it’s legs around it’s bug buddy below, it stuck its neck out…then there was a number three, a four, a five and six…all doing the same thing……by the time the 7th made it across the ebony plank… scores of other ants all followed suit…
Within seconds… a living bridge was built…and those that formed it were buried by the mass of bodies of those that crossed it.
Slowly, the camera pulled back, out of the swarm, millions strong, lit by the morning sun, converging at the crossing before spilling out on the other side beyond.
I never could make out my little friend again as they all marched on towards the new day…
However, I never lost sight of the lesson.
By finding the courage, to do what you can.., to get a little closer to the goal… your actions inspire others, making the impossible a path.
You see, it’s the path that I’m traveling with you.
Because as I first looked across the vast chasm of my insecurities and my ignorance while I began learning to speak a new language filled with foreign vocabulary and grammar rules, and I peered out and over that divide, between the limiting me and who I dream to be, thru those fears I saw a possibility.
That maybe, if I tried, I would make it too!
And before I knew it, the vast colony of other language learners were climbing on my shoulders with encouragement and experience, friendship and Love building a living bridge of successes.
And from that I gained a confidence, so that I can speak my truth, no matter the language, and not just feint from fear.
You and I, supporting one another, not just for me and not just for you but for all of us, we continue reaching, we continue achieving.
What is your purpose?
The little hero, the seemingly insignificant ant, me, you, through our actions, we answer that question.
It’s what MLK Jr meant when he said, “Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.”
You know this as well, because your decision to learn a new language…to make the effort… to risk speaking out in front of others and become stronger communicators and bridge that language gap…that example, that courage, inspires others… others like me.. to grow and to do what I’m doing now…
So this is it!
No matter how large or small the deed may be, Do it!…it may be that one encouraging word that makes all the difference…Say it!…
Find the courage to make it happen.
The courage to act, is the catalyst, the inspiration, that takes us from where we are…and leads us to where we most need to be.