“Oh, you’re learning Spanish? Well, in that case, get a Spanish girlfriend! You’ll pick it up in a couple of months!” That was advice from my friend Maria, given to me soon after moving to Valencia. It took me over a year (sniff!) to manage to follow through on her advice, and I have to say that Maria wasn’t wrong. I was pretty competent in Spanish by that time, but hooking up with a Spanish girl definitely put me on turbo charge.
I’ve spent a good deal of my language learning life trying to learn vocabulary and phrases, and actually get them to stick in my long term memory. While there are so many ways to go about it, in this post I wanted to focus on “spaced repetition” systems, and how to get more out of them.
In our day to day conversations and interactions, we actually use a very limited set of words. An average person has a vocabulary of around 10,000 words, but in an average day, uses only 1,000 of them. We have a set of common words that we stick to, even when there are more interesting and expressive options available. Many courses sell themselves on the premise of a “minimum” vocabulary: Learn just 1,000 words, and master any conversation in Spanish/French/Chinese!
Mistakes by we English speakers when we speak Spanish instantly mark us out as foreign, and the consequences range from sounding a bit more foreign, to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or completely embarrassing yourself (look up the Spanish for “I have a cold”…). While these mistakes are very easy for us to make, they are just as easy to rectify once you’re aware of them.
Learning a language properly is hard work, and requires time and effort. Like anything that’s hard, it becomes easy if you make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. If you can form the following language learning habits, you can easily double the effectiveness of your study. Hopefully, learning Spanish will become a lot easier and more enjoyable.
While I can’t claim to be an authority on Spanish music, I’ve listened to a large amount of it over time and have heard enough to sort the wheat from the chaff (and there is a lot of chaff). I also won’t claim that this is in any way a definitive list (for all you purists out there!), but does provide genuinely decent music, and hopefully will act as a gateway, indeed an introduction, to Spanish and Latin American music