Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How I Learned Spanish Without Getting Out Of Bed

OK, so I did get out of bed sometimes, but what I mean is, I didn't go to class or really do any kind of additional studying in order to learn a new language.    I studied (I'm using the term very loosely here) French at school and hated every minute of it.   If I'm going to learn a new language, Deans Community High School, Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland - I'm damn sure I'm gonna pick it myself.     

And, so I did.    These are the methods I used to enjoy learning Spanish and make it feel a little less like, well...learning.  

spanish books
It'll all sink in eventually....
I previously declared my love for Audible's audiobook membership as I suffer from insomnia and find they help me distract myself during the night.    However, not only are they great for anxiety sufferers, they're also great for languages.

I bought a set of 3 Collin's Spanish course and began listening to them on my countless hours of driving around Scotland for work.   I popped them on my iPhone or iPad and started my learning in the car.    The books are easy to understand are done in really easy steps and build up your language from there.     

You can look a touch odd, jabbering away to yourself about how many nights you'd like at the hotel and asking if you can pay by credit card while you're stopped at a set of traffic lights.  Particularly when you're on your own.     I also tended to take the books out running with me and conduct odd, one-sided conversation whilst jogging past random people on the street.   It soon gets you known around your neighbourhood, I can tell you that for free.

Kindle Downloads for Children:
Yes, people, download some easy kids books for your kindle and soon you, too, will be right up to speed on your chosen language.  Or, at the very least, you'll know how to name lots of different barnyard animals.   

Most of the books I've downloaded have been free of charge and range from very basic picture and text books for small children-type people, all the way up to classics, such as Don Quiote.   Amazon carries a massive range of foreign language text and story books and these are a great way to test out your language skills and expand your knowledge of sentence structure.  Also:  click on any word you don't understand and find out what it means.   Genius. 

habla español?
Oh, si, si, si...estoy hablo Espanyol!  Y Tu?  
Let's face it: Pinterest is awesome for pretty much everything.   It's also a fantastic resource for picking up tips and tricks for language learning.   I can't tell you (I'm totally going to, though) how many worksheets I've pinned on a massive range of Spanish topics.    Seriously, if you're looking to learn a language, this is brilliant.   

I've found everything from worksheets on the days of the week, how to tell time, weather systems (lloviendo is the one I've used most recently...), food stuffs, baby names (??).... you name it, Pinterest will have it.    

Post It Notes:
No, seriously.   Get some and plaster them around your house with the name of objects written on them and you'll quickly be shouting out for your other half to pass you some food from un amario de cocina (kitchen cupboard).   It works really well unless, of course, you have OCD, where you'd likely drive yourself insane worrying about the mess.   

This might well depend on which language you choose, but Spanish has some cracking artists to sing along to.   I mean, who doesn't want to know how to say the line: 'You know, I can't deny that my hips don't lie' in Spanish?  I mean, that's probably a widely used phrase, no?   So just me, then.     

Anyhow, regardless of your chosen language, you're bound to find something that you can get into.  I would probably advise against listening to David Hasselhoff if you're trying to speak German and Jean Michel Jarre doesn't speak during his performances, so you might want to stick with Edith Piaf for that.   You know, or not - whatever you can stomach...  

'Ni Rojas Ni Juguetes...' 
Google Translate App:
This is excellent for the odd word or sentence, but not so great if you want to hold a conversation.  I found this out that hard way so, trust me.   It doesn't always grasp the nuances in the languages before it translates it, so just be mindful of this.   In saying that, I'm sure you'll still be understood.   Entiende?   Si, entiendo... 

Learn with a Friend/Get a Stuffed Ladybug:
OK, so learning with a friend is a great idea but getting a stuffed ladybug might seem a touch out of the ordinary.   When I met LT, we were both in the process of learning Spanish, so it's been a god send that we both chat to each other at home.     It makes the process SO much easier if you have someone to practice your new words and phrases on.   it also keeps your motivation up.

If you don't have a human friend to learn with, then do what I do: speak to an inanimate object.  For me, this is The Travel Bug.   He also speaks Spanish (please don't ask me for an explanation) and converses with me on a regular basis.   I use him when LT is at work and I need to test out some new phrases.   I realise I sound like a mad woman, but it honestly works.     Probably don't tell anyone you're doing it, though.  Not like I just did.   

If you have children, why not try a local class aimed at little ones?   This is a great way to ensure your child starts learning early and doesn't end up, like I did, finding the passion later on in life.   As an example, if you're interested in French lessons around Liverpool and Wirral areas, you could check out the fantastic Maurice and Friends, which is run by a native French speaker, who also happens to be a French teacher, or if you're in Barmouth and the North Wales area, you can look up Hablemos School of Spanish.   

Take a trip...speak to people on the street!
Seriously...nothing will get you to grips with a language more quickly that actually living amongst the locals.    It's not an option for everyone, but even just a short city break to a native speaking country will absolutely help your language skills.    Ordering dinner, drinks (which is obviously the first thing to learn in ANY language), finding your way around, or even just saying hello to a passing stranger - these are the things that will help you increase your confidence.

I haven't really visited a county that wasn't pleased that tourists were just making the effort.   Most people I've met (particularly Spaniards and Germans), are so happy to help you improve your language and are very grateful that you've taken an interest in trying.    These are my kind of people.  

Have you learned a foreign language?  Do you have any tips for success?

Suzanne x 

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