Duke and I spent two weeks traveling in Mexico in 2007. Duke is fluent in Spanish and his ability to really communicate made our trip so much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. Ever since then I have been working on learning Spanish. I want to speak Spanish fluently.
I've worked my way through Madrigal's Magical Key to Spanish by Margaret Madrigal, I'm listening to and practicing with the Coffee Break Spanish and Showtime Spanish Podcasts produced by the Radio Lingua Network. I downloaded the Flashcards Deluxe app to my iPod Touch. I've set it to use a spaced repetition system and I've created several decks of Spanish flash cards that I practice with. As I discussed in a previous post I am using Mango Languages on the Washoe County library web site and I like it a lot.
In spite of studying a lot for three years I still don't really speak Spanish. It is just like the four years of French I studied in high school. Even though I know a lot of the language I can not really speak it or communicate in it.
Recently I bought The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis. It is an ebook and included interviews, worksheets and translations. To quote Benny's web site:
"The Language Hacking Guide explains exactly what you need to do to speak a language quickly. Rather than read through the guide to find out my one major ‘secret’, I can tell you right now. You need to speak the language from day one."
I think I really knew that the only way to speak and understand Spanish is to start speaking it. But that is really hard for me. I don't like to appear foolish. I like to be right and I am very bad at asking for help or asking to be corrected. I am definitely not an extrovert.
The Language Hacking Guide convinced me. Benny's positive enthusiastic style and advice got me over the hump.
Part one of The Language Hacking Guide is about Mentality. Benny says that although a goal like - I want ot learn to speak and understand Spanish is fine you really have ot have short term aims. So that is what I am working on. My goals so far are not really specific enough but I am speaking Spanish more with Duke and I think I am making some progress.
Benny also urges learners to have a language log to document progress and to share the struggle. So one of my gaols will be to post regular updates on my progress here on this blog. I've added a Learning Spanish category to my category list on the left.
If you are interested in Benny's approach go to Benny's Fluent in Three Months web site. There you can sign up for his weekly language hacking tips.
If any of you reading this have any suggestions for how to learn to speak Spanish I would really appreciate your input and of course I appreciate your cheer leading. Thanks in advance.
6 thoughts on “Learning to speak Spanish – The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis”
Hi Miriam – Nice progress on your goal to learn Spanish! I studied Spanish for a long time in school and eventually became fluent. While school was a good foundation to learn vocabulary, grammar, syntax, spelling, etc., I found the best way to improve comprehension and speech was immersion. Immersion challenged me to think on my feet but, at the same time, feel very uncomfortable! The good news about feeling nervous and uncomfortable is that, for me, it was a sign that I was internalizing the information and actually learning! My first immersion experience was a volunteer one – working with level 1 English learners in an ESL class in San Jose. I had to teach English by using Spanish, which really forced me to think on my feet. I highly recommend this type of experience, particularly the time during breaks when you might be able to speak Spanish with students and have conversations using vocabulary you know. I’m not sure if there is a large enough Spanish-speaking community where you live but, if there is, you might consider giving it a shot. Good luck!
And why I addressed you as Miriam, Marion, I will never know! Sorry 🙂
I agree with Bill, immersion is really the best way to go for comfort in speaking. Maybe another trip to Mexico? I was also going to suggest that maybe you start journaling or blogging in Spanish. It’s a good way to go through what you are doing on a daily basis or experiences you have. That way when you want to talk about what you have been up to you have already had the practice writing it out. My journal was one of my favorite things to do when I was fully immersed.
Bill, Thank you so much for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. I like the ESL teaching idea. I think I will look into it. I’ll keep you posted.
Christina, Thanks for the ideas. The encouragement is really appreciated. Another trip to Mexico is definitely in the future. Maybe next year. The journal is a good idea. Even writing just a few sentences a day would probably help. Maybe I should try Twittering in Spanish :-)I think I’ll try it.
The easiest way to start learning Spanish would be to pick up a Spanish textbook and start drilling yourself on vocabulary. This option, however, is not usually the best choice. Without hearing the language spoken, you can’t develop a natural accent or learn to carry on a natural conversation.