With 2021 just around the corner, you might be contemplating the challenge of learning Spanish.
We believe you’ve got what it takes. And in fact, the science agrees, but it all depends how you go about it – so we've compiled the 3 most important rules to remember.
1. Structure your learning in short bursts of concentration
Learning a language is hard work, but you can get there with the right approach
According to the FSI (the Foreign Service Institute in the US), it takes a native English speaker around 480 hours to reach fluency in Spanish. This might not sound like much, but keep in mind, we’re talking 480 hours of cold hard concentration time, not tea breaks or TikTok...
It’s impossible for any human to study for 10 solid hours a day, 48 days in a row. Even if you could scrub everything from your diary, you wouldn’t be able to maintain focus.
A more reasonable commitment to learn a language within a year would be to spend a little over an hour a day on it. Doable, no?
The point is: if you plan your time around the principle of “little and often”, you’ll achieve more than you think you can.
2. Invest your time equally across these key areas
You need to learn where it makes sense, covering all bases
Grammar, speaking, listening, reading and culture. To grow into a Spanish whiz who’s ready for anything, you need to balance your time across all of these areas as you develop your skills.
Here’s why each one matters:
- Grammar – if you lack the building blocks of Spanish, your understanding as a whole will be limited
- Speaking – if you don't practise speaking, your brain won't activate itself to create sentences
- Listening – an essential skill for following and taking part in conversations, especially when there are regional differences
- Reading – an essential skill for developing your understanding of Spanish, especially vocabulary and grammar
- Culture – a language doesn't exist in a vacuum, it‘s always in the context of the culture
If you simultaneously develop your skills across the board, you’ll surprise yourself with the speed of your progress.
3. Hack your brain through social learning
Start to think like a native by having complex interactions with other people
When you speak your mother tongue, you don't have to think ahead about the language you’re going to need. That's because your brain has already associated the words with the concepts they describe, so the words automatically come up whenever you think about those ideas.
If you want to learn a language faster, you‘ll need to work on the bonds that link the words with the concepts.
The approach that works best for this? Developing connections between concepts, and associating those concepts with life experiences.
This is why interactions with people overdeliver compared to apps or textbooks. The more complex the interaction, the better you’ll be able to assimilate the knowledge (though you might not always feel like you’ve understood as much as you want to!).
Try to address real-world topics and challenges with real people, and your brain will build stronger bonds. That’s why social learning is core to what we do at Casa Spanish.
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