Requested tip from a student:
How to better be able to understand Spanish speakers on the phone! (I don’t even know if there are tips on this–hard for all second-language learners, I imagine)
Response from Caro:
Understanding someone on the phone can be difficult in your first language, let alone a 2nd or 3rd. The only way to get better at it is by practicing.
1 – When you talk on the phone you can’t see the person’s body language, which means that you have go solely on what you hear. To practice this, listen to podcasts and the radio instead of watching tv. Practice developing your listening skills.
2- When you call places and have the option of listening to a recording in Spanish or in English, choose the Spanish option. Since it’s a recording you can write down what you hear and call back as many times as you want until you fully understand it.
3 – As we mentioned a few weeks ago, listening to music is an excellent way to improve your auditory skills. But this time try it without the lyrics. See if you can write them down the old-fashioned way, by listening to the song 800 times and discerning the lyrics little by little.
4 – Don’t be shy. Let the person on the other end know if you need them to speak up or if you need them to slow down.
5 – Practice by spending time calling businesses. Call a taco shop and ask them what their specials are for the day, call your bank (ask for a Spanish speaking teller) and ask them questions about your account, call SDG&E or your cable company and ask questions about your service. The more often you do this, the more comfortable you will become.
6 – Practice with friends. Stop texting and start calling. Maybe they would be willing to have a 5 minute phone conversation with you every day so that you can practice.
I wish I could offer you a revolutionary new way to improve these skills, but like with everything else in life, practice is the key 🙂