A Fun Way to Learn Another Language / Una divertida manera de aprender otro idioma

In January, I wrote here about finally buckling down and increasing my Spanish proficiency for personal and professional reasons. My dad is a native Spanish speaker and my mom quickly picked up the language when they were married in the 1970s. Growing up in South Texas, I picked up a few phrases and important words, but the language simply wasn’t spoken very much at home… so I became resigned about being able to ever learn Spanish. About 80% of the country only speaks one language, and for most of my life, I was okay with being part of that majority.

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Mis padres (en el centro) en su dia de boda

Until now. The truth is, that it’s never too late to learn a second language. Kids do pick up languages faster than adults, but a big reason for this is that kids learn by babbling and speaking with whatever words they know. Adults obsess over correct verb conjugations and grammar rules in the target language, so it takes much longer for them to get comfortable with speaking.

I practice daily in different ways, but the most fun way is by listening and studying MUSIC! I complete lyric studies of my favorite Spanish songs — songs that I don’t mind listening to over and over — by studying the Spanish words and translating them into English.

Mira esto:

 

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La Tortura – This one took a while, because it’s super fast!

 

 

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Tu, by Shakira. This song is perfect for beginners!

 

Spanish movies and shows are great, but I find studying music so much more enjoyable. As an added bonus, it’s slower and easier to listen for individual parts than the rapid spoken Spanish on TV. I created a Spanish playlist in Spotify that I use with these lyrics studies. Right now I am listening to:

  1. A lot of Jarabe de Palo
  2. Shakira – though a lot of her music is pretty fast
  3. Selena, because, why not? She is the Queen of Tejano.

It’s also important to mention that I don’t just listen to these songs. Once I’ve heard the song once or twice, I sing along. Singing the words makes me feel more comfortable with correct pronunciation and rhythm. Yesterday I was listening to a recommended Spanish playlist on Spotify, and came across this beautiful gem covered from a 1960s love ballad from Argentina. It’s the latest song I’ve studied and sang out loud.

I have a tab dedicated to lyric studies in my Spanish Learning Binder:

 

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Mi Carpeta (binder). It has cheat sheets and sections for verb conjugation practice, reading exercises, etc.

As I dedicate more time and effort to increasing my Spanish proficiency, my vocabulary improves by the day. As vocabulary improves, speaking improves. It’s still a long road to fluency, but practice will help me get there!

Con amor,

 

Eva

 

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Hola y Buenos Días, mis amigos!

Day 21 of Learning Spanish / Día 21 de aprender español

Since my last post, I have continued to actively learn Spanish on a daily basis. Even though I am far from fluent, I am already pleasantly surprised by my ability to speak in simple sentences and converse with Spanish speakers (using the term “más despacio, por favor” or “more slowly, please” plenty of times)!

I am dedicating anywhere from 1-3 hours a day to Spanish language learning. That may seem like a lot, but a lot of this time is spent actively speaking and listening to my colleagues who are Native Spanish speakers, as well as the occasional student. Here are the 5 key things I have been doing that is working for me:

  1. Completing 5 mini lessons on Duolingo per day – Duolingo is a free language app that helps you learn a language through various written and spoken exercise in a game-style format. Although it is not a standalone resource, it is perfect for getting quick practice in and memorizing high-frequency words.
  2. Reading and completing Spanish exercises via books – Yesterday I finally managed to finish Easy Spanish Step-by-Step by Barbara Bergstein. I purchased it off of Amazon for about $12 back in November, and it took me about a month to make it through all of the exercises. It is an excellent resource and really lays out all of the basic grammar rules. Today I will get started on the Advanced Spanish Step-by-Step… hopefully I’m ready!

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3. Listening to A LOT of Spanish Music – Selena, Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, Shakira. I’ll listen to the song and attempt to translate as much as possible. LyricsTranslate.com is an awesome website that will bring up the lyrics in both English and Spanish, side by side. I try to sing a long as much as possible.

4. Switching iPhone settings to Spanish – What a great idea. I can’t believe I waited until yesterday to do this. Not only will most things on the iPhone appear in Spanish, but people’s posts on Instagram have an “ver traddución” option that will automatically translate an English post into Spanish.

5. Lastly and most importantly, I make an honest attempt to speak in Spanish, even if I know my grammar is wrong – I’m trying to focus less on always conjugating correctly and more on simply communicating, which is helping me learn words faster than if I wait for my Spanish to be perfect. This is a mistake so many language learners fall into, and it really hurts progress.

Yesterday I also discovered an awesome resource on the Internet and YouTube called Gringo Español. Even though he is a Native English speaker, he really breaks down Spanish concepts in a way any one can understand. Here he is explaining one of the concepts I’ve struggled with the most:

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