How to Learn a Language
So you are considering making the big move. You want to move to Mexico and the only thing holding you back is your lack of Spanish?
As a preface, Huatulco has a friendly expat community and lots of locals speak some English. It is usually not difficult to find professionals who speak some English like doctors, dentists and lawyers. Of course, learning some Spanish is a fantastic idea and can open lots of doors for you. By showing a will to speak Spanish, even if we make lots of mistakes, just the sheer effort of trying is greatly appreciated by locals.
So, if you’re beginning to learn Spanish or if you’ve already tried and given up, read on. This article is for you.
Besides opening a whole new world of native Spanish speakers throughout the world with whom you can talk to (approximately 437 million people in 20 countries), learning to speak Spanish will make you feel good.
How is it that some people can easily learn a language or languages? And some of us have a hard time it seems no matter how hard we try? These are the questions that Lydia Machova, interpreter and language mentor, set out to answer.
What is the secret?
How do they do it?
Our list of reasons to not learn or “not being able to learn” as we like to justify, is long. We’ve perfected our excuses. This article explores some real-life, language-learning techniques to help us get out of our heads and into our Spanish. Polyglots, or people who speak more than one language, are our best sources for language-learning. So just how do they do it?
Everyone has a different way.
Everyone has a unique way of learning but these people all arrive at the same results: speaking several languages fluently. They are not geniuses. There are no shortcuts. But because they love learning languages and make it enjoyable, they have found a way to put in the work that makes it enjoyable to them.
Does it really capture your interest to learn how to say, “José is going to the library.” No, it’s boring.
What does that look like concretely? Defining a process for learning. Finding an activity that you want to do every day.
Finding a Method that Works For You
- Start speaking from Day 1. Make a list of a few phrases. Use them And don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
- Read something that is interesting to you. It could be a children’s book, it could be your favorite magazine or a book you have read many times. You won’t understand much in the beginning but because you love the book, you keep reading. You have patience. By the end, you’re flowing with the language.
- Watch a series in Spanish. Make it a series you enjoy. Keep watching, with no subtitles. You won’t get it at first, but if you stick with it, because you enjoy the series, the language will enter your mind. Your mind begins deciphering the code.
- Make your traditional flashcards, your grammar charts, but make them fun and colorful. Write them, type them, make them pieces of art.
- Listen to podcasts.
- Make your lists of vocabulary in your notebook. Keeping words in the long-term memory requires using them repetitiously and throughout time. Research the Goldlist Method.
- Use the Apps: Anki, Memrise, Duolingo.
- Talk to others, talk to your cat, talk to yourself or your imaginary friend. Talk to your cat about a conversation you had today or about an article you read or a recipe you made.
No, you’re saying, that sounds silly. Hardly. This is how people learn languages!
Enjoyment. Method. System.
Make a system. Because we all are too busy to add anything to our schedules. So we have to plan ahead. Whether that means waking up 15 minutes earlier or listening to a podcast in the car, we have to create a plan to learn. And we have to commit.
“I will practice speaking Spanish every Monday and Wednesday with a friend (cat) for 20 minutes.” The language-learning process must become part of your everyday life. If it does, you don’t have to create extra time.
You will need patience.
You will not speak fluently in 8 weeks. But you will make a noticeable improvement.
The brain learns language best in small chunks. It is literally figuring out a code. Give it time and consistent work and it will happen.
People who learn languages often talk about their breakthrough moment. It is a moment during the language learning where they realize that they can express themselves in the language. They may not sound eloquent, they may not use the exact words they would like to use, but they can figure out a way of getting where they’re going in the language with what they have. And this is what the polyglots strive for. Because it feels good. It will make you feel good, too.
Learning this new language does take work but you may be surprised to see that as you take learning into your own hands and do it in a way that is personally enjoyable, it may be easier than you think.