Spanish Update + Most Useful Approach for Languages

It’s been two months since I started learning Spanish and I think it is time to go to Spain.

I fly to Barcelona on the 14th of March with Raggy and his Oxford buddies where we’ll spend a week having fun. They’re then going back to England and I’ll couchsurf in Barcelona for a day or two before going to Asturias. I found a family on Workaway that will host me for two months.

I sent the family an introduction of me speaking Spanish to give the best impression I could. Maybe someone can watch it and tell me the mistakes I’ve made and help me improve my pronunciation, I’m finding it cringey to re-watching it.

Most Useful Approach for Languages

I’m no linguist (yet?) but in the two months I have found speaking to myself in Spanish to be the most useful thing. When I compare how much I have learned in this two months compared to the seven years learning French in school I am blown away.

Just speak it out loud. Walk around the house saying, “Ando por la casa!” It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong, you are not speaking to anyone. Describe your actions, say out loud the thoughts you are having, shout out the names of all the objects in the room.

Here is why it is awesome:

  • Better recall
    The words now have meaning because you are using them. This leads to stronger memory association and therefore better recall.
  • Relevant vocabulary
    The words you learn are the words you are already using. When you eventually start speaking to a native you’ll have gone through your own 1on1 dialogue many times already.
  • There is nothing to fear
    You are not having a skype conversation with a native, or in the country being thrown in the deep end. You are just speaking to yourself. Play around with the accent, say ridiculous things, act Spanish or Russian or French or Japanese.
  • You see immediate progress
    If you spent an entire Saturday doing this you would see a huge improvement in just that day. Obvious, noticeable improvements.
  • Active Learning
    Unlike going to classes or using programs like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, speaking out loud forces you to be completely active about your learning. You have to actively create what you want to say, forming each sentence and looking up new words you don’t know.

How can you start? First, make sure you know these two things:

  1. How to use
    Learn what [nm] or [vtr] mean. Learn how to use the conjugation tool and how to read it properly.
  2. Basic grammar rules:
    Learn the word order, is it Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) or Subject-Verb-Object (SVO)? Read: Tim Ferris’ Master Any Language

Now four steps:

1)    Get a notepad and pen.

2)    Open up

3)    Speak

4)    Write down new words or add them to Anki

Do this only for a few minutes to begin with. There are no rules to this. Don’t force it, just start by observing the room you are in, or try to translate your current thought. In general you will begin to speak about the things you like. This means you begin learning words about things you like, which makes learning vocabulary relevant to your life. It also means you are using the language immediately.

Eventually things get easier as you find yourself repeating phrases and using the same words often.

I am no expert so take all this with a grain of salt. If this post has made you think a little about how you learn, I’m happy.

—I was meant to post this before I flew to Spain but didn’t get the chance, I am actually in Spain now, taking a break from the Spanish with some English writing

Some extras:
Here’s a good video series that might be worth a look:
Then there is:
(At the end of the post are links to other posts he’s written on languages which are really useful too). is a good blog. I find it quite badly organised but there are some articles that are gold in there.

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