4 Ways to NOT Learn Spanish
Seven months –how long I spent living in Berlin and not improve my Germain one bit. Yet why does everyone say that immersing yourself in a country is the best way to learn the language? They all say the same thing, “Just move to there and you’ll be fluent in no time”, but they’ve never done it successfully themselves. To add to that here are 4 ways to not learn Spanish!
Also, frankly speaking, there’s a little something I miss out on when I can’t speak to the old gramps’ in a country, and they don’t teach that in the textbooks neither. Well, just dandy, but I actually managed to figure out where I fell short on my last endeavor. I now present to you…
4 Ways to not learn Spanish
Speak English @ work: If you are a digital nomad (or in some job that requires you to use English), no matter in what country you live, there will always be a language barrier interfering with the one you’re trying to learn. If you’re like me, you will find it hard to avoid speaking your fallback language throughout the day. Even if you and your colleagues are trying learning the same language, at times it’s better to stick to your native tongue when talking business jargon. Until you reach a more advanced level where you can explain your marketing diagrams and SEO optimizations, it’s not always worth the time expenditure to force the new language. Instead, save the Spanish chit-chat for lunch plans & other small-talk — the kind of talk you could see yourself needing out in the streets.
Why try?: You’re already toiled to get yourself there, isn’t that enough? Besides you’re not learning about 4 ways to not learn Spanish because you already have it figured it out, are you?
Learning a new language is hard. Tuning out of a Spanish conversation is easy, especially when you have a smartphone to distract you. Being tired can be crippling for your concentration, yet the more you do it, the quicker you adapt. If your goal is not to become conversationally savvy, then just learning the basic formalities of ordering a coffee or haggling for mangos is enough to fulfill most people’s needs of the foreign language.
To really soak in all the Spanish here, you need to be willing to hit the books and invest some time trying to understand what exactly you’re hearing on the streets and why it sounds the way it sounds. The most basic knowledge of Spanish I started with was learned from an Assimil book. If I had a “Why is that the way it is?” question, I would look it up on About Spanish or post that question on the Stackexchange forum. There’s a right tool for every obstacle.
Don’t be curious: Great! So you’ve learned how to address your acquaintances & purchase pitahaya from your fruit peddler. Yet somehow there’s a spectrum of opportunities we overlook when immersing ourselves in a new language and culture. We hop on a bus and switch to our phones instead of eavesdropping on our neighbors conversations. We ask the fruit vendor the same questions: Cuanto cuesta los _____ instead of digging deeper & asking them to explain the flavor, or where it comes from.
A lot of learning a new language is ingesting new words, even if you have no way of knowing what they mean. I find myself getting into a lot of conversations and occasionally falling back to either saying, “bueno” or “perdone, no conozco está palabra” (I’m not familiar with that word). Guess what, they explain it to me half the time!
Don’t make foreign friends: It’s perfectly normal to return to your fallback language when you don’t know how to express yourself in a certain way. However, another reason your learning might be hindered is because of the people who surround you. Whether it’s your significant other or friends from home, not making the effort to speak the language defeats the ultimate goal of learning to think in Spanish in order to form sentences.
If you’re like most people and require a computer for this, then the next time you have a hard time expressing yourself, can’t figure out how to say, “When Shit hits the Fan”(1), or don’t know, “how is ‘caer’ conjugated”, use that opportunity to look it up.
Do really boring homework: This is a quasi point, but none-the-less it’s easy to get bored learning a language if all you have to learn is from a classroom or textbook. Learning a language involves a lot of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Get creative; squeeze in valuable school time by learning vocabulary while lingering in line or write a daily diary in Spanish on Lang8. The easiest way to lose interest in something is by keeping it routine. Make Spanish learning fun by watching Bob Esponja (Spongebob Squarepants) while lunching, or find a movie for example. Better yet, befriend a native speaker on Chatterplot. There’s so many fun ways that I’m still discovering!
Only 4 ways to not learn Spanish, no more?
What you want more than 4 ways to not learn Spanish? Well I gave 4 ½… That’s enough, cut it out already.
Anyways for anyone who pretends to care my opinion on learning Spanish in Colombia. This is a fantastic country with many of the most cheerful people I’ve ever met wanting to talk to me. Colombians are curious and some of the most giving people I’ve ever encountered. If you have the chance to live and talk among the native people in their own language, you will learn a side of the land that no measure of money will ever buy you. That’s not to say that Colombia can’t be dangerous, you just need street smarts & common sense.
With that said, if you have any fun activities or criticism on my 4 ways to not learn Spanish, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear!