Goal written by one of PBO’s Students: “I SO desperately want to move into level 3 ¿Qué puedo hacer?”
Moving from the beginner level to a mid Intermediate level is the easier half of learning a language. That is when you learn all the basics to communicate. By level Intermediate 2 you can travel anywhere and manage in most situations…which I think is one of the reasons that so many people never get past this stage. Since they can communicate in most situations, they get comfortable and don’t push to get to the next level, which requires a different approach.
To get from Intermediate 2 to 3 or from Intermediate 3 to Advanced or from Advanced to Fluent, you need to change your game plan. Here are some recommendations:
To get to Intermediate 3 you need to start watching a few hours of tv in Spanish or 1-2 movies per week. There is a level of vocabulary and comprehension needed for this level that does not come from studying the language, but rather by being immersed in it. Listening to the radio in Spanish is also going to help you get to this level. One of the big differences between Intermediate 2 and 3 is the ability to comprehend and communicate with native speakers without them slowing down much and using easier words for you. Intermediate 3 is when you start to see this change.
At this point you should be living 40% of your free time in Spanish (reading, movies, tv, hanging out with friends, etc.).
To advance from Intermediate 3 to the Advanced level you should watch tv in Spanish + read books that were originally written in Spanish by Spanish speaking authors. There is a huge difference in books written by native speakers in comparison to books that have been translated. By this level you should not be reading anything that has been translated. This is also a good time to revisit grammar. You already speak well, so to get to the next level it’s a good idea to work on your grammar (and if you’re not familiar with the subjunctive, you really need to work on it to get to an advanced level).
At this point you should be living 50% of your free time in Spanish (if getting to this level is a goal for you).
To advance from the Advanced level to the Fluent level takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice (or living in a another country). To do this you have to live as much of your life in Spanish as possible. 90% of what you read outside of work should be in Spanish, 90% of the tv you watch for fun should be in Spanish, you should also watch/read the news in Spanish daily (very important), you need to basically live the majority of your life (60% of your free time) in Spanish if you want to reach fluency without living in another country. You also need to refuse to speak English when you’re around people that speak Spanish…and volunteering or having a job where you need to speak Spanish is also extremely helpful.
The bottom line is that reaching the kind of fluency associated with these top levels requires a different approach, a tremendous amount of effort from your part as well as some life-choices. It’s easier to live your life in English, but if you really want to master this language (and many of you don’t need to and can be perfectly happy with a mid intermediate level) you need to live a large part of your life in the language – it’s how you mastered English, remember?
The optional homework this week is to write an “If clause” question that refers to the present or future and bring it to class next week.
Here are 2 examples:
– Si ganaras la lotería ¿qué comprarías primero?
– Si no estuviera estudiando español ¿estudiaría otro idioma?