I remain convinced the main reason why so many Americans are attracted to Mexico is Gringolandia, or Gringo Expat Enclaves, they will never be faced with what seems to be the overwhelming task of learning Spanish. The British, I was told, do the same thing in the south of France. An expat intricate infrastructure and well organized awaits the aspiring retiree and relieves the fear of having to master the language. Everything is organized around the monolingual Gringo and negates any sort of need to learn Spanish.
If this is a good or bad thing, it does not fall within the scope of this series, "start listening." I personally think the point is, a "Gringolandia" should not even exist, but that's just me. I'm biased, I love learning Spanish! What can I say?
Two major advantages of learning Spanish, if you plan to retire in Mexico, are:
It could significantly increase your social status and the sense of community, if you were to socialize with more people than just the other gringos in Gringolandias. In Southeast Asia, the locals used to call this phenomenon "social incest." Americans, mostly those in the Foreign Service, would live in American enclaves and socialize only with each other. Their ability to mix with the locals was nonexistent because they did not know the language. Unlike their counterparts in the Cold War, the Russians, the American Foreign Service workers were then, as they are today, not required to have any knowledge of the local language in the area.
Not the same Gringolandia I mention in the article, but a funny one still!
Without language, your social involvement is severely limited only to those who only speak "inglés". That can and must change, in my opinion. What do you think?
You want to learn Spanish, but you think it might be too difficult or time-consuming to achieve this. Well, you're not alone, but there is good news for you. There are many methods to make learning Spanish easily and be a lot of fun for you too! This article will guide you through a series of practices to help you learn Spanish easily. You can choose one strategy only, or experiment with many of them at the same time 'to find suitable learning style that works for you.
Learn Spanish Easily
Technology helps to learn Spanish
With the current technology, it is easier than ever to learn Spanish as a second language. And we all have the added benefit of learning in the way that is best for us. We can see, hear or read. And what's even better, we can take our lessons with us with the help of our mobile devices. Classes, books, and programs can be downloaded to MP3 players or play in our vehicles, or portable DVD players. Heck, we could even have a Spanish teacher talking to us via Skype. We can learn in our leisure time or our travel time or in our study-time, of course.
In this article, we will explore some of the ways to make learning Spanish easy peacy.
Learning Spanish is easy
Learn Spanish need not be seen as a difficult task because it is not. You can always use the following methods:
Watch TV / video in Spanish
Hearing the Spanish language spoken often help absorb and enhance the level of our understanding of the language greatly. You can listen to the news in Spanish, watch Spanish movies without subtitles (so you can concentrate on the dialogues), and you can even watch cartoons. They will help you learn the language faster, easier and in a more enjoyable way.
You can be considered living in a Spanish-speaking region. It is very easy to learn Spanish if you are immersed in the language or are exposed to it constantly. Of course, the best way is to forget you know any other language, focusing only on Spanish – only then will be reliable to progress quickly. Conversation will make learning Spanish easy.
Get a tutor at home
If you learn best with constant orientation and at your own pace, try to hire a tutor at home. This is not as expensive as it may sound if you use Skype. Your teacher can be talking to you from his living room in Costa Rica while you are in your boxer shorts in Nevada (just make sure you are off-camera!) ; this is very convenient and makes learning Spanish easy because there is always someone who can guide you and push you to do your best.
Make online Spanish speaking friends
…and practice talking as much as possible. The fact that you are making a new friend will make the process even more interesting and effortless.
Use bilingual books
There are a lot of books, use bilingual texts. This helps simplify the process of learning a lot. Many people learn Spanish easily with the help of these types of textbooks. Of course, you need to read a lot to build your vocabulary.
Using custom software programs.
There are a lot of software programs out there. I've never known anyone who became fluent that way, but they help you a lot in the initial stages of your language learning. I personally think they are great up to a lower-intermediate level. Then you do need to work with a teacher or someone who could give your feedback.
Usually, whenever I read anything about learning a foreign language, immersion is mentioned as the best and fastest way to master. The idea is that you surround yourself with the language you want to learn and make it part of your daily life, forcing yourself to understand and use the language. But how?
The answer is simple: Netflix!
There are hundreds of movies in Spanish on Netflix! And learn Spanish from Netflix goes beyond reading English subtitles. For an amazing strategy on how to make the most out of these videos, check out this guide by our guest writer Jamal Jackson called Watching Movies Helped me Learn Spanish!
It is not the purpose of this article to show you how to do it (Jamal did an amazing job at that) But first, here are some of the ways that watching Netflix in Spanish can benefit your language learning system.
Watching movies and television shows in Spanish is a terrific way to immerse yourself and improve your fluency. It helps strengthen your vocabulary by introducing new words and see how they are used in context. And you can also find familiar words (great for reinforcement) used in different contexts too. So you will learn nuances of words you thought you know perfectly. When you see something in Spanish, you don't just hear words, you are seeing them used in the context of a situation or particular conversation. This can help you really absorb the meaning of a new word and, as said before, grasp some of the nuances of the language.
Practice your listening skills
You probably have noticed that Spanish speakers tend to speak faster than we do in English. When you're starting out, it seems much faster. Well, that's not totally true. We speak as fast as they do or even faster. Just that we can decode easily what's said in English, but we don't have the same ability in Spanish (yet). Watching Netflix on your new language can help you practice keep up with the natural flow of Spanish and take some of the edge off the difficulty.
Also, depending on where the movie or TV show is, you may be exposed to different dialects of Spanish. That's awesome. The more variety you are exposed to, the better. You need to be able to understand everyone who says anything in Spanish, not people from one region or another. That simplistic and mediocre at best.
It makes learning more memorable
When you find you like movies and programs will be much more likely to remember the words and phrases that you take. I'm currently watching a soap opera called Ruta 35 about narcos operating in Mexico and the United States. As a result, words like cocaine trafficker, justice, government, and mobsters are hammered into my brain.
Ruta 35, Episodio 1
Even though drugs are not a part of my life, it's still part of the everyday language that any educated person needs to know. I don't remember seeing any of those words in my Spanish classes, but I have come across at least 100 of these words in just a few episodes of the show. And as these narcos deal with criminals from the slums, but also middle and high class, I can learn Spanish slang as well as everyday expressions and even formal vocabulary while improving my listening comprehension.
And all of this is free. It just requires some time, about 15 minutes each day systematically. Do this and you'll be on your way to master real Spanish really fast!
Hi, Jamal here again. In the first part of my article I told you how watching movies actually helped me understand real Spanish and talk the way real people do. In this second part I will tell you exactly what I did to achieve this. I am not a teacher or language expert, so I don't know if all of these steps will work for everyone. But I cannot see why they wouldn't. Just make sure you enjoy the process, get a good dictionary and get ready for tons of hard work.
In first place, the movie a couple of times with the subtitles in English. Yes, it's fine to read the subtitles in English at the beginning, just don't' try to memorize them. Enjoy the movie. It will let you get a feel of what's going on. Do not try to memorize the subtitles. Just watch the movie enough times so you know the plot and you can get a feel of what's going on in the film.
After you've watched the movie for a couple of times, select a short segment. It could be a whole scene, 2 minutes, 5 minutes or even 15 minutes. Shorter scenes / periods of time will let you work more intensively, which is what we need. Watch that part again with the subtitles for comfort, but try to follow the target language, only looking down to the subtitles from time to time whenever you get lost. Don't be afraid to look at them if you don't know what they are saying.
Once you can easily follow the movie barely reading any English subtitles, switch to Spanish subtitles. Watch the same part over and over again, this time with the Spanish subtitles. Write down any word that is new to you. If you don't know its meaning, look it up in the dictionary. What definition or translation is appropriate in the context of the movie? Once you find it, switch back to English subtitles and check the way it was translated there. Was it a literal translation, i.e. word by word, or a concept translation i.e. the idea is translated, even if word by word the meaning may be different? This is a great opportunity to learn useful words and especially phrases in context.
Take a break, STEP 3 could be intense but it's really enjoyable if you do it for short periods of time, 10 or 15 minutes at a time, that's why working with shorter segments is preferred. You can watch them several times. Much easier than 15-minute blocks in which watching 2 or 3 times plus any activity would take you no less than an hour. Taking regular breaks helps you keep a clear mind and gain more focus each time.
Select any of the previous parts you worked on, disable the subtitles and transcribe word by word every single word the actors are saying. This is brutally hard but terrific to improve your conversational conversation. Don't be afraid to play the same few words over and over again if you can't get what they say. That's normal. Just do it and enjoy it.
Make a glossary with the main phrases you see and want to remember. Every segment may have dozens or even hundreds of words. But it's hard to remember them all. Less is more. Just select between 5 to 10 per segment and try to use them in your own conversations whenever you can. When it comes to language, it's either use or lose it!
And that's it! If you do this systematically you should start to see dramatic results in 2 weeks or less, and if you do this for over 2 years like I've done, your comprehension and speaking skills will be at their sharpest as you've never experienced before.
And if you are at an intermediate level or higher and would like to try these steps, I'll leave one of my favorite movies of all times:
During the last two years, I have been learning Spanish. I grew up around Spanish speaking people and took a little in high school, and although I'd like to say that I had an advantage in that sense, that in reality only started to really learn Spanish about two years ago. No, my Spanish is not perfect but I can hold a conversation quite comfortably. I definitely have much more to learn and I will probably need a tutor at some point, but I can communicate and understand people when they talk to me. And that's all because of all the Spanish movies I watched.
This not is a new idea, of course, but it was a new concept for me. "Las películas" (movies) in your target language can help you learn a lot of conversational Spanish and improve your listening comprehension dramatically. And your pronunciation gets so much better as well. I remember that when I started learning Spanish years earlier with more traditional programs, everyone told me it sounded like a radio announcer. My sounds were pretty good. Too good even for a Spanish speaker. The problem was that no one actually spoke like that in real life.
When I started to work with actual movies, all that changed. It was hard as hell at first, but then it got easier and easier. My sounds improved and sound perfect, but not like a professional announcer. They sound like the average Joe in the street. And that's what I've always wanted. True, every now and then I mess up and say the wrong word or mispronounce words, so everyone knows I am still a "gringo", but no one tells me that I sound like a radio talk host anymore.
If you are the kind of person who wants to learn a Second language for real life and not just to please a teacher, in my next post I will give you a complete the breakdown of what I did. Feel free to adjust it to your own learning style. This is what worked for me, but it may not work for you in the same way. Everyone's unique so you can modify it to match your style.
To get you in the right mood for my next post, I will leave you the first part of LOS SIMULADORES, and amazing TV series that was so popular in Argentina in the early 2000s that they made different versions in Chile, México, Spain and Russia, although you are not going to be using this one to learn Spanish. lol. Mind you, this is for advanced learners. Just do your best trying to understand whatever you can until my next post. Work on the first 6 minutes. In my next post, I will show you how I go about this type of material in Spanish. And even if it will seem impossible at first, once I tell you how I do it, you will see you can do it too.
LOS SIMULADORES, EPISODIO #1 Tarjeta de Navidad – Versión de Argentina 0:00 – 6:00