Adding “learn Spanish” to your New Year’s resolutions is quite easy, but have you thought about how? What do you need to achieve it?
Today, I’ll share with you the three things you need to learn Spanish in 2024:
- Guided Immersive Approach
- Personalized Plan
Immersion involves being exposed to a Spanish-speaking environment and surrounding yourself entirely with the language.
It can be through traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or engaging with Spanish content by reading or listening.
Is Immersion the Best Option?
It depends, without a solid foundation in the language, immersion alone can be overwhelming and frustrating. Most of what you hear or read might not make sense.
That’s why to avoid this frustration, it’s important to have context, examples, and references.
In other words, you need someone to guide you.
So, what is Guided Immersion?
It’s a learning-acquisition experience where, through interaction with a tutor, you work on your communication skills – both passive (listening and reading) and active (speaking and writing).
This tutor speaks at a comprehensible pace, uses language appropriate to your level, and provides graphic inputs (text, images, infographics) to complement explanations.
Therefore, you will unconsciously acquire elements of the language, and consciously learn grammar through lessons.
If you don’t have access to a tutor, the best alternative is the comprehensible input method, which allows you to use content (videos and texts) slightly above your level. I will talk more about this method soon.
Personalized Plan: a detailed learning path to follow.
While guided immersion is effective, it’s not everything, as not everyone has the same interests and purposes.
Whether you’re a retiree moving to Mexico or a digital nomad living in Medellin. Learning a language is a complex and dynamic process, and you’ll need a custom made routine and set of lessons.
According to the US Foreign Service Institute, it takes about 600 hours of study for an English speaker to achieve a conversational level in Spanish suitable for work.
Imagine taking 600 or more hours of study-practice on topics that don’t interest you or listening to an unfamiliar accent that’s nothing like that of your Spanish-speaking friends or family members?
Over time, you’ll discover that you need more practice in certain competencies.
You might have excellent listening comprehension but not so good pronunciation. Or you might be confident speaking but not know how to conjugate well and make many grammatical errors.
It all depends on your own experience and unique abilities.
Ideally, a Spanish specialist or Spanish coach evaluates your level and advises you, creating a routine and plan aligned with your lifestyle and goals.
Motivation: The Driving Force
When I meet my students for the first time, one of the first questions I ask is, “what’s your motivation to learn Spanish?”
Traveling, speaking with friends or family, moving to another country, or just having fun… Any reason for learning Spanish is the fuel needed to achieve the goal of communicating in another language.
So, if you haven’t asked yourself why you want to learn Spanish in 2024, do it and keep it in mind.
There will be days when you need to remind yourself, because I won’t lie, learning a language requires hard work.
If you’re not sure, don’t worry, you can always discuss it with someone else, especially if they have experience in languages.
Am I on the Path to Fluency with These Three Elements?
The answer is a resounding yes.
But, what if I’m missing something… is there one element more important than the others?
In my opinion, yes.
And this is the most important thing I want to share with you today: there are as many ways to learn as there are people in the world, and all of them can work as long as there is motivation.
Motivation is the indispensable element. Without it, we cannot sustain our Spanish habit over time, and therefore, we will not achieve our goal.
When we dedicate ourselves to learning a language as adults, we need to consider that by nature, most of us feel a rejection of ambiguity.
It’s uncomfortable to be in a situation where we don’t understand what the other person is saying.
We find grammatical rules illogical. We encounter inconsistencies in word usage patterns and an endless array of sounds that seem almost impossible to reproduce.
Also, we feel embarrassed to practice Spanish outside of classes.
Not all natives know how to explain language issues or have the patience to do so.
The only way to face these challenges is through motivation and determination to achieve our goal.
My Advice for 2024: Don’t Give Up! Stay Motivated!
There will be many days when you feel that learning Spanish is too difficult, or that you are wasting your time.
Whether you’re learning with flashcards, videos, books, pre-recorded courses, or taking classes. The reward will come if you stay consistent and start to enjoy the process.