Spanish language learning resources and motivation

Technology is making Learning Spanish obsolete


Hola Amigos,

So, yesterday I was talking to mi hermano and he said he doesn’t need to learn Spanish.

He said that those days are over.

Spanish fluency for him is already attainable.

Being that he’s mi hermano and only finished high school Spanish 2 with a B,  I  just had to ask what he was talking about.

According to mi hermano, Pocket translators are now becoming the new Babble Fish.

If any of you remember the book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you probably known about the Babble Fish. 

If not, a Babble Fish. is a fish/device that goes in your ear and translates any language that someone is speaking so that you are able to understand it.

I mean I love Sci Fi. if for nothing else it takes me on adventurous travels so of course, I wish that were true as I’ve always wanted a Babble Fish of my own.

I really do.

For any of us that have put in some effort to learn to understand and speak another language, we know that attaining any degree of fluency takes WORK.


Who wouldn’t want to by pass all hours memorizing the vocabulary lists and grammar rules, etcetera. 

I would.  I would love to understand all the languages of the world and have all the people I encounter on a daily basis be able to understand me.

That’s a linguists dream come true.  Maybe everyone’s dream in fact.

Come on, he’s mi hermano mayor/older.  I’m suppose to believe him.

The problem is. . .

Technology just hasn’t come that far yet.

Think of Google Translate.  Google is one of the biggest informational technology (IT) companies in the world.

Sure they do a decent job of translating some simple text, however, have you ever tried to rely on one of those translations to complete a business transaction?

If so, I hope it was a penny purchase.  (Just saying.)

On the spot I asked mi hermano to slap down a twenty on how close he could come to correctly translating a Pablo Nerudo poem, but he wisely declined.

That’s probably because I told him that if he lost, and the translation didn’t make much sense to either of us, he would have to send his wife that exact translation as his next anniversary card message. 

But here’s the thing.

Maybe some day there will be major improvements to translation software, and I fully believe there will be.  (Let’s face it, it has come along way and in a pinch, it can help big time.)

But there is something more that needs to be taken into consideration, and this goes to the heart of the matter.

The technology just isn’t reliable enough yet.

But, if you put in 10 minutes of consistent effort a day with Fluency Fox, in as little as 2 to 3 months you will be able to make your way with Spanish speakers on your own.

No batteries required.

Needless to say, mi hermano was convinced and wanted to buy the Starter Pack.

Of course he wanted the family discount so I gave him the coupon code that I’ll give to you too.


If you sign up now you can use that code to get 30% OFF any of the Fluency Fox Packs. (Excluding the Teacher Pack)

If you want to buy a Babble Fish, I’m sure Hogwarts has something tucked away on the upper shelf in the back corner, but if so, Please, don’t bother signing up and using the coupon code as this offer is for serious language learners only.



The Real Advantages To Online Language Learning and You

The real advantages to online language learning and you  (Part 1)

The real advantages to online Second Language Acquisition (SLA) are the multitude of resources available.  Any where from rock bottom free to high priced online software programs that allow for speech recognition.

Spanish online practice in school using Fluency FoxSo what is the best approach?

Well, it depends.

First, what is your current level of target language exposure?

If you are a total beginner then there are so many resources to choose from that will get you started.  Don’t be afraid to try as many as you can.  The more exposure to “what’s out there” the better.  You will soon find what works for you and what engages and holds your interest.

If you already have some target language exposure, i.e. high school, online, living abroad/travel or from some neighbor, friend or ex or current significant other, then I suggest going to a resource that can adequately get you to the next step in your language learning journey.

Because we are talking about online resources, this consists of some sort of structured course/program and/or online target language community.

I don’t like this either per se, but if you want to take the language you’ve started to learn and finally make it the language you’ve always wanted, then its best to face the facts.

The reason for this is that once you have some background in the target language, the “FREE” material for the most part will only refresh what you already know or have forgotten. 

“FREE” may offer up some new vocabulary and hopefully some entertainment, but when was the last time you used what you learned from the free stuff and got meaningful results via entering into a conversation with a native speaker and feeling like a confident partner in that exchange?

Just saying…

If you want to progress further, it is time to invest, either monetarily in a comprehensive course that meets your language level goals or with a time commitment within the chosen target language community.

I cannot overstate that you get what you pay for.  Not that you have to give a months salary for the privilege of learning a new language, but if you want quality instruction with a few of the SLA bells and whistles, it comes with a cost: either time and/or money.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, what are your goals?  (Again it’s going to get back to either an investment of time and/or money.  What follows is how to make the most of that investment so that you reach you goal.)

If you want to give adequate instructions to your Spanish speaking gardener or negotiate pricing, then a minimal thematic run through should start you on the right path.  For this, there are programs out there that will get you going. Your favorite shrub may still get butchered or you may pay way more than expected but at least you will know you need to study a bit more vigorously for next time.

If your goal is a bit more lofty, perhaps, planning to travel to a foreign country for the cultural experience or maybe wanting to communicate with your significant other’s family, you may need quite a bit more.

And when I say more, I mean, more time and effort both researching what meets your learning needs and how much time and money you are willing to spend to accomplish those goals. 

But here is the thing. . .

The real advantages to online language learning and you  (Part 2)Spanish speaking advantages Starter-Ch24-img

Do you want to speak the target language or learn its grammar?  By this I mean, do you want to communicate orally with native speakers or read a book?

Many people feel that knowing the correct grammar rules is quintessential for communication. 

Is it?

Well, let’s think about it for a moment.

Not that this is bad.  Grammar has its place, but placing grammar “perfection” before communication is counter productive.

It’s just not realistic.  The mental processing required in referencing grammar rules referred to as the “filter,” (Krashen),  hampers oral fluency.

Unless you have SLA academia in mind as your goal, my suggestion is that you start by getting the best conversational instruction available and start speaking at every opportunity that presents itself.

So, what is the best conversational instruction available?

Well, let’s start with the basics of SLA.

Get the sufficient aural input of the target language.  That means a lot of repetitions.  The more the better until you understand it completely. 

So how do you accomplish this?

1. Have that input be comprehensible.  Use resources that encourage understanding.  Gibberish will not suffice.  No matter how long you listen to intelligible information, you won’t grasp it until you understand it. 

2. Allow/force yourself opportunities to create “pushed output”.  This means that you attempt to interact with what you learn.  Don’t just sit back and passively listen.  Engage in the language learning experience.

3. Shadow, or mimic/repeat what you hear.  Affirm that you understand a statement.

4. Respond either mentally or verbally to questions posed. 

This is active participation and is the key component in SLA.  (2, 3, and 4 are essentially the same but bear repeating)

The only way to progress is to get involved.

(Sleeping with a text under your pillow just won’t do it. Darn it.  That would be so much easier.)

However, the rewards of interacting with your learning materials will give you the gains that you aspire to obtain, albeit over time.  I’m not saying that it’s easy.  I’m saying that if you want to join in the conversation with native speakers with as much confidence as you can muster, it’s easier to practice before hand and have a base comprehension knowledge of the language material that you have practiced.

Otherwise, you will be painfully lost.

Even if you do practice ardently, you may still find yourself lost.

However, there is a difference that should become apparent.  If you put in the work in an effective manner, the results will be a noticeable accessibility to what is being communicated in the target language.

You may not understand it all and that is fine.

What is important is that you begin to understand bits and pieces of the conversation during daily language exposure and that will allow you to engage deeper into the interaction.

Once this happens, you will know the process is taking shape.

The starting point is knowing where you are at and what you want to achieve.  From there, you investigate, decide and commit to taking action.

Patience is key.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and having a full blown conversation with a native speaker covering a wide range of topics will not likely happen immediately either.  What will happen is the glimpse into the possibility that you can do it. It’s the “Sí se puede/Yes, you can” attitude.

If you apply that, you’ll accomplish whatever your learning goals might be.

Why You Should Achieve Spanish fluency And How To Do It

Jeff McFaddin Vincent Thomas Bridge-minWhy You Should Achieve Spanish fluency And How To Do It

Over 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide and almost 50 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their first or second language.

That is a lot of people!

Do you want to be one of them?

If you do, continue reading.

Spanish language in the US is most everywhere and it is not going away.

In fact, the Hispanic community in the US is the fastest growing group of people that are adding to the US population.

Therefore, whether we accept it or not, the Spanish language is, and the vast numbers of individuals that speak it are, here to stay.

Speaking Spanish presents an enormous opportunity for those that can speak it, and as a result access the immense community it represents both in buying power and influence.

Those who don’t speak Spanish may be left behind.

Think of the possibilities for growth in any field.

1. If you are in business and need to acquire customers, speaking Spanish will add to your bottom line by allowing you to attract and communicate with more customers.

2. If you are in education, speaking Spanish will increase your reach by accessing the Spanish speaking students and their families wanting to improve their lives.

3. Speaking Spanish can give you an advantage when applying for jobs in many fields.

4. If you simply want to communicate with those in your local community, speaking Spanish will assist you in doing so.

I can go on and on but by now I hope you get the picture.

There is an undeniable benefit to speaking Spanish.

If you want to benefit from the potential opportunities that speaking Spanish has to offer, now’s the time to get on board.

Here comes the good news (for most of us anyway.)

There is a good chance that you have had some Spanish exposure either in school or in the community where you reside.

Spanish is the most popular language being taught in the US to both elementary and high school students.

There is an obvious reason for this.

Speaking Spanish is the most common foreign language other than English spoken in the US.

That said, if you are looking to go into sales, education, or a multitude of other public relations positions, improving your Spanish fluency will make you a more desirable candidate for most any position.

We have the opportunity to embrace the facts that Hispanics represent a significant portion of the US population and that Spanish is an integral part of our society that will only grow as our population grows. We can take advantage of the opportunity to learn and use Spanish in our modern multicultural society.

Or, we can stay in an isolated world that limits us from the enormous opportunities that speaking Spanish can provide.

The choice is yours.

Make the choice to communicate and broaden your horizons.

Once we’ve made the decision to improve our Spanish, now what?

What do we need to do to enter into the Spanish speaking community?

For starters, let’s talk about what Spanish fluency is and how to go about attaining sufficient proficiency in the language so that we can productively interact with the Spanish speaking community.

What is Spanish fluency?

Fortunately, extensive research has been performed by academics from around the globe that have identified the distinct levels or stages of fluency development.

That said, how does understanding the levels of Spanish fluency help you?

First off, are we referring to conversational fluency or written/grammar fluency?

For the purpose of this writing, let’s focus on conversational or spoken fluency in Spanish.

A little back ground:

Although I’m an American, when it comes to languages I take heed of the more multicultural influence of the European model while defining fluency.

In Europe they have more languages being used and therefore speak to a broader audience by default.

Also, their breakdown and terminology seems to be more specific and meaningful with respect to each developmental stage of fluency.

According to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, there are 3 general levels of fluency: Basic user, Independent user, and Proficient user.

Each of these levels of fluency are further divided into more specific sub levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2.

Of these, the B1 or otherwise known as the Threshold or Gateway level of fluency is the most difficult to master.

So what is B1 level fluency?

And just as importantly, why is it so important?

This Threshold or Gateway level stage of fluency is of utmost importance because if a language learner is unable to “break through” this level, communication with native speakers is both frustrating and limited.

The Common European Framework recognizes 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.

Most individuals that have had prior exposure to Spanish language instruction (or any language for that matter) be it in school, online, travel or elsewhere, understand that acquiring the basic greetings, some thematic vocabulary and other “useful” phrases does not constitute anything close to approaching “real” fluency.

So what is a Spanish language learner to do who is at the advanced beginner stage of fluency (A2)?

It depends.

1. Stay at the A2 level perpetually.

2. Commit to breaking through and gaining intermediate level fluency.

If number 2 is the desired result, it is attainable and is going to require some actionable effort.

If you have not yet achieved A2 fluency, there are countless resources online and elsewhere, both free and paid, that you can access to get you there.

The awesome news is that if you want to advance to a level of Spanish fluency where you can communicate with native speakers in more than simple words and phrases, audio material exists that will allow you to do so.

What all language learners have to their advantage is the theory of Recall in Memory.

When you reinitiate and/or continue your studies, you will recall a certain percentage of what you have previously learned.  That, without saying, saves time.

What you have invested in the past still retains value.

Now what?

The first step is to start with audio materials that emphasize Comprehensible Input (CI).  That simply means that you need to assure that you understand what you hear.

Repeat as needed!

The more fun and engaging the CI audio material is the better.

Second, assimilate into your learning strategy story based, question and answer conversations. Ideally you will be asked questions about statements that you have understood so that you can visualize what is happening and answer accordingly.

Third, be consistent for long enough to recognize your gains.

By this I mean, make a commitment to practice routinely and when an opportunity to try out your newly acquired skills and experience presents itself, SPEAK!

That’s it!

Countless people before you have done it with less resources than are available today.

If you want Spanish fluency, it’s yours for the taking.

There are numerous reasons for learning to understand and speak Spanish.

The opportunities, both professionally and personally, abound for everyone willing to make the effort to communicate with the increasingly large number of Spanish speakers both currently living in the United States and abroad.

In addition to these numbers, verbal fluency is distinctly defined and attainable.

Once you realize the opportunities improving Spanish fluency provides and you begin to engage in enhancing your verbal skills through study and by using the language, you will undoubtedly open the door to a new world.

The why, what, and how are clear.

There is no better time than now to commit to your new Spanish speaking adventure!

If you’ve ever said, “I’ve taken a few years of Spanish but I can’t really speak it at all.” (This one’s for YOU)

fluency fox logoOne first learns to understand a language and then to speak it.

(Research suggests that second language acquisition first occurs through comprehension which then naturally leads to production.)

So how does someone go about doing that?

First, you’ve got to understand what you hear.  If you cannot comprehend what you are listening to, well…there is no meaning to it.  Nothing gained unless you understand something.

Second, it makes sense to learn the words that are used to most.  Every language has certain words that are used more frequently than others so the logical approach is to concentrate on those words first.

Third, learning a language requires repetition.  Practice, practice, practice…but if we accept the first two ideas that there is a need to understand what we hear and that focusing on the most common words makes sense, it would appear that there must be a better way to practice learning a language than just picking up a dictionary and starting with A and going through it until we reach Z.

Finally, stories help us process and remember information.

Let’s do that.  Let’s make sure we understand what we hear, focus on the most common words first, and practice with those words using stories.

BTW, we are not talking about starting with the numbers, colors, greetings, etc.  Been there done that!!!

Oh, one more thing, we want to do it as quickly as possible.  (Don’t waste my time and I won’t waste yours.)

How on earth are we going to do that?

Keep reading…

Fluency Fox is based on comprehensible input of high frequency words using repetition and recall of stories.

Fluency Fox is designed specifically for some one who has had a any previous exposure to Spanish language instruction, but who is frustrated at the lack of practical results resulting from that previous instruction (primarily grammar instruction) and doesn’t feel they have a competent grasp of understanding Spanish conversations nor can they adequately engage beyond common greetings, the use of simple words and/or phrases, or at best simple sentences. 

Fluency Fox resolves this problem by offering the Spanish language learner the maximum comprehension gains with a minimum time effort via a rapid paced audio software program focusing on a manageable/comprehensible progression of the most frequently used Spanish vocabulary in context starting at the advanced beginner and progressing to the middle intermediate level.  

This is accomplished through the telling in Spanish of one continuos story while constantly asking questions relating to that story which prompts the user to mentally or verbally answer those questions guided by the teacher/student role play audio. 

To further assist learners, the spoken Spanish audio is accompanied by both the onscreen synchronized Spanish text and optional English text translation which serves both audio and visual learners alike.   

Also, each chapter lesson has a content rich image relating to that chapter’s content.

Additionally, the embedded quizzes serve to hold learners attention since they know that a question will be asked regarding the story content.

The reason Fluency Fox is so effective is that it offers the needed aural repetitions in context of the high frequency words (HFW) presented throughout the program so that the learner will become familiar with Spanish syntax (word placement) and to realistically integrate those words into their active vocabulary usable in any scenario.  

As the story builds, references are continually made to previous accounts in the story which provide the learner to both visually recall earlier events in the story for review purposes and to solidify that previous learned material as well as a continuous combining of what’s been learned and requiring that knowledge to be applied to the new material that is presented in each successive chapter lesson. 

Most Spanish language learners “get lost” due to a slow mental processing speed of the incoming language.  The primary cause of this is that the not understanding the bulk of the words that make up roughly 80% of spoken Spanish  prevents the listener from using context clues to understand instances of exposure to genuinely unknown vocabulary that would be available to them if they understood (in context) the majority of the HFW. 

The best analogy would be individual bricks representing words while building a wall which is the overall representation of comprehension.  The less bricks in place result in a less solid wall or worse, a collapsed mess of bricks on the ground. Fluency Fox’s concentrated focus on on knowing the HFW in context gives the listener the best chance of overall understanding in the least amount of time.   

Fluency Fox provides this vital link or nexus of the central components of the Spanish spoken language used during normal Spanish conversation. (I.E. the HFW comprehensibly presented repeatedly in Spanish in a multitude of varying and engaging contexts.)  

This method is required in order to increase the learners mental processing of the incoming language.

These comprehensible repetitions throughout the story increase your Spanish language processing speed and expedite the learning curve so that what remains is only the need to decipher uniquely new or unfamiliar vocabulary. 

Herein lies the benefit, while the HFW are practiced in Spanish and understood in context via Fluency Fox, the learner can use what they have learned previously to make sense and respond appropriately to statements and questions made by anyone speaking Spanish.

One quick Spanish essential (Some “hay” to chew on so to speak)

Hey Amigos?


Anyone for,  hay?  No beast of burden puns here, just straight forward useful Spanish.

Sounds strange I know but this one quick Spanish essential word:

Hay” (pronounced like the English subject pronoun, I) is about as handy as any other word out there and you should know it.

In Spanish it means: There is/there are or if it’s used in a question, it means, Is there/are there?

If you are already 100% with this word and understand and use it all the time, then you can stop reading.  Go directly to Fluency Fox and get the audio practice you need to enhance your Spanish fluency.

If that’s not the case, first, let’s learn it once and for all!

HAY (Spanish style) – There is/are

Sí señor (or señora),Hay” (pronounced like the English subject pronoun, I or “eye” that you see with)

Hay” – one word in Spanish that means 2 words in English and that can have multiple meanings depending on the subject being either singular or plural.

(see examples below)

Plus, it’s a SUPER common word and it gets miss pronounced ALL THE TIME!

Spanish fluency eye, hay

And here’s just ONE example, but I could go on and on.  (And from now on, YOU will get it right!  Just remember how it’s pronounced because its usage is EASY!)

Earlier this morning I was hearing a wild and sassy French teacher use it correctly but pronouncing it completely wrong while trying to communicate to one of her Student’s Spanish speaking parents.

I overheard this call in the staff lounge. 

It went something like this:  “Buenos Dias, Yo soy. . la profesora. . de Silvia.  Hey. . un programa especial para ella. . pero. . yo necesito información. . de Uds.  Hey. . una oportunidad. . de hablar con UD. . . unos momentos?”

I could see the French teacher waiting for a reply, but it was obvious that time was elapsing and that confusion was winning.

I quickly pointed out to the teacher that she meant to say, “HAY” (pronounced like the“eye” that you see with and not like “hay” that is for horses.)

She smiled and repeated the message anew to the person still trying to understand on the other end of the line.

Whala/Voila/Aquí está

Total comprehension! (At least to that point.  She smiled at me again, and I gave her my card to access Fluency Fox so she would be able to learn enough to continue the conversation in Spanish going forward;-) 

With so many cognates (words that look, sound similar and that  mean the same thing between English and Spanish that you can begin to understand most of the time on the first try) if you practice the most common words (in context) that make up around 80% of spoken Spanish with real life Q n A stories, YOU WILL COMMUNICATE WITH SPANISH SPEAKERS IN LESS TIME AND WITH MORE CONFIDENCE!

That’s Fluency Fox!

Get started NOW!

Hasta Pronto with some more ways to get you to JOIN THE CONVERSATION and LIVE YOUR BILINGUAL DREAM!!!


p.s.  Here are a few examples: 

1.  Hay un chico en la casa.  ¿Hay un chico en la casa?   Sí, hay un chico en la casa.

2.  Hay 3 chicas en la casa.  ¿Hay 2 chicas en la casa?  No, Hay 3 chicas en la casa.

3.  Hay muchas oportunidades para ti.

*For more help with Spanish pronunciation, go to Fluency Fox Tips n Tricks page and watch the pronunciation video.  (lots of explanations and practice opportunities to get you sounding like a native!)

Spanish Phonology

11-staments-and-questions-with-pretty-addedThe phonology of a language is defined as the study of the systematic organization of sounds in that language. Because of its Latin roots, Spanish shares a number of phonological characteristics with other Romance languages, with some distinct variations. Of particular interest is the acquisition of the ability to distinguish between particular phonological sounds when learning the language.

When learning Spanish (or any language) as a second language, the order in which different phonological developments occur is likely to depend on ways in which the learned language is and is not similar to the speaker’s native language. However, clear levels of development can be identified when the language is acquired as a first language (usually in children learning to speak). These levels can be thought of as requisites; if a speaker is able to make distinctions in speaking on one level, they are very likely to be able to make distinctions on every previous level.

Levels of Phonological Development

The first level includes nasals and stops (but with no voicing distinction). It does however include a labial/coronal place difference (for instance, an ability to distinguish between [b] and [t]). The second level adds voicing distinction for stops, and an additional ability to identify coronal and dorsal place difference (such as the differences between [p], [t], and [k]). The third level adds fricatives and affricates (such as [f]). The fourth level adds liquids, besides [l], [ɹ] and [ɾ], which have likely been acquired previously. Finally the trill [r] is acquired.

The final characteristic (known as an alveolar trill, or commonly known as the ability to “roll an r”) is of particular interest because of its difficulty. It is usually the latest skill to be acquired in development, and often takes speakers who are learning Spanish as a second language years to acquire (unless it is part of their native language as well). In children learning the language for the first time, it is most commonly developed between the ages of three and six, but children are not always successful at acquiring this skill.

Works Cited

Carballo, Gloria, and Elvira Mendoza. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics. 8th ed. Vol. 14. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Ser. 2000. 09 July 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <>.

Cataño, Lorena, Jessica A. Barlow, and María Irene Moyna. “A Retrospective Study of Phonetic Inventory Complexity in Acquisition of Spanish: Implications for Phonological Universals.” Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 23.6 (2009): 446-72. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <>.

Goldstein, Brian, and Karen Pollock. “Vowel Production in Spanish-speaking Children with Phonological Disorders: Dialect and Sampling Issues.” Journal of Multilingual Communication Disorders 2.2 (2004): 147-60. Web.