Goal written by one of PBO’s Students: “Me gustaría hablar sin traducir las frases en mi mente.”
Getting to a point where you don’t have to translate the majority of what you’re saying is an excellent goal! So how do you achieve that? Here are a few tips:
1 – By NOT reverting back to English when you stumble across a word or phrase you don’t know. Instead, describe what you’re trying to say in Spanish with words you already know. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be comprehensible. This is the most important action that you can take to practice thinking in Spanish.
2 – Expose yourself to more Spanish every day. Listen to the radio, watch a tv program, read, etc. A daily part of your life needs to be the language you’re learning if you ever want to make progress. It CANNOT be a once a week thing. Imagine for a moment that you have 500 pounds to lose. If you go the gym once a week and work out with a personal trainer, that’s great. But how many years/decades do you think it will take you to lose the 500 lbs.? Every language level is like having to lose 100 pounds. The effort that you put in outside of class is directly related to “the amount of weight you will lose.” Same goes for wanting to not translate everything in your head. The more you expose yourself to the language, the easier it will get. You just need to put the time in (and I mean by reading/listening to things made for native speakers, not Spanish lessons on a CD that constantly revert back to English).
3 – Talk to yourself out loud every day, any chance you get. The conversation doesn’t need to be exciting…it can be about mundane things. For example: Uy, tengo que lavar ropa hoy. ¿Qué hora es? Ok, tengo tiempo. Después de lavar ropa quiero ir de compras. ¿Qué necesitamos? Voy a hacer una lista…bla-bla-bla. Since you need to live a part of your life in the language you’re learning, take these little opportunities to do so, that won’t take up any more of your time…you don’t need to set aside time to talk to yourself about everyday things…you would do it anyway, now just do it in Spanish to get the practice.
4 – Wake up and go to bed in Spanish. If you can, set an alarm with a song in Spanish. If not, read an article in Spanish first thing or listen to the radio while you’re showering, or listen to music in Spanish when you’re working out, whatever. Waking up in a language is a great way to get it in your head for the day. Same thing at night…read an article, work on DuoLingo, answer the FB conversación del día, whatever…but if you do it right before bed, you’re more likely to remember it. 15 minutes when you wake up and 15 minutes before you go to bed.
5 – Last but not least, your mindset is the most important part of learning a language, period. If you think that you’ll never get it, you’re right. If you think that you will speak Spanish beautifully one day, you’re also right. Acknowledge that it’s not easy and that there’s nothing fast about language learning, remember why you’re doing it and accept that it is a lifestyle change. And celebrate all the little achievements. Be proud, because YOU ROCK!
The optional homework this week is to write an “If clause” question that refers to the past, and bring it to class next week. Si + pluperfect subjunctive + conditional perfect.
Here are 2 examples:
o Si te hubieras enterado de la charla de Benny Lewis en La Jolla hace 2 semanas ¿habrías ido?
o Si hubieran estudiado otra carrera ¿cuál habría sido?