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Do you want to learn Spanish this year?
You're probably a little confused by all the learning options out there. So, to help you on your way, we've prepared this short article that will give you four vital strategies to be successful at learning Spanish.
These four strategies will also help you avoid some of the mistakes that many novice learners make, and that cause many years of unnecessary frustration.
First, there's no getting away from the hard work, so don't let anyone tell you that you can learn Spanish in a month! Sure, you can learn to parrot a few phrasebook sentences pretty quickly, but becoming genuinely conversational in Spanish takes work. So prepare yourself mentally to work a little bit every day at your Spanish.
But that's not enough by itself
Second, you need to spend more time than you think listening to Spanish. Most people never devote enough time to listening, and this makes it hard to understand Spanish people when you find yourself in conversation. Listening, is the ultimate skills - once you can understand Spanish, you'll never be lost!
Third, you need to practise the Spanish you learn with a speaking partner. It's amazing how many people turn up in Spain or South America without ever having spent meaningful time speaking the language with a real person! You don't need to speak from day one, but you do need to devote time to practising what you learn at some point ... ideally before you really need it!
Last, you need to spend time finding quality Spanish study material that's both interesting and effective, so you're motivated enough to keep coming back to learn every day. If you don't enjoy how you learn, how will you ever keep it up for long enough to get any results?
Most Spanish courses are structured around grammar.
They take a bunch of grammar rules, put them together in a certain order, then teach them to you one-by-one in a series of lessons. Sound familiar?
This lesson format may be familiar to you ... but there's a problem. It doesn't work!
When you focus too much on grammar, your brain becomes awash with "rules", and there are far too many rules (and exceptions to the rules!) to ever hold in your head at any one time.
This is why most students spend years trapped in endless classes that focus on grammar.
Experienced language learners understand that grammar can be learned in the background, almost passively, providing that you give yourself a rich Spanish environment where you can see the grammar in context.
The best teachers get their students to spend lots of time reading and listening to the language.
Once the student is immersed in Spanish, the teacher can then guide them towards learning the grammar naturally, using a method that is known as "Guided Discovery".
In a traditional method, you learn the grammar point through a set of rules. With guided discovery, you instead see the very same grammar point being used naturally, in context.
For example, you might read a simple story where the grammar point appears. The teacher then guides you to notice how the grammar is working, so you get used to how it works... in a natural way.
In other words ...
Doesn't that sound more exciting than what you're used to?
When you discover the rules by yourself,learning is much more effective. It's how native speakers learn, after all!
This means you get to enjoy learning Spanish first and foremost, rather than get bogged down in technicalities from the start. You immerse yourself in real Spanish ... right from the start.
(And if you're thinking to yourself that this sounds like fun ... Err, yes, it is!)
Learning Spanish through immersion and guided discovery is usually something that can only be done with the help of a teacher.
However, we highly recommend the following programme - a unique self-study course that combines immersion with guided discovery and expert tuition:
If you're a beginner (or need to refresh the basics), and like the idea of learning Spanish through story, you'll love Spanish Uncovered.
The creator of the course is an experienced teacher and polyglot who speaks over 8 foreign languages. You're in safe hands!
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