Weekly Tip – 2/27/15

Weekly Tip: Enjoy the ride 🙂

As I’m sure many of you have figured out, learning a language is quite a process. It takes the average person about 750 hours to reach fluency in Spanish, if they put at least 4 hours a week into it and they do the right things. If it’s less or they use stale learning methods, the process tends to take longer. So, it’s a long process…there’s no getting around that.

Knowing that it’s a long journey, full of ups and downs, the best advice we can give you is to enjoy the ride. So what does that mean? Here are a few tips:

  • Find ways to practice that are linked to things that you love. If you’re a musician, maybe it means translating and learning to sing songs; if you love to cook, maybe it means reading cooking magazines & trying out new recipes in Spanish each week…use your imagination & link your learning process to something that you’re passionate about.
  • Have a schedule. Be consistent so that you don’t lose what you already learned. It’s like going to the gym for 6 months 5x a week, getting in great shape and then taking a break for 3 months. When you go back you will have to start almost at the beginning again. How infuriating to have lost everything you gained in that time! It’s incredibly demotivating and can keep you plateaued for years.
  • Change things up. If you always do exactly the same things, you will get bored and won’t make progress after a while. Stick to one method for 3-4 months and then try something different. (For example, read magazines for 3 months and then work on your grammar for a few months).
  • Focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths. I know many students who have an amazing vocabulary, sometimes better than their teacher, but have a hard time getting a word out in class. Why? Because they love to read, so that is how they practice their Spanish. All the time. So how are they going to improve their fluidity if they keep working on their strengths? Doing this can be very discouraging, because you don’t feel like you’re improving and if you want to do something long term, you always have to feel like you’re improving.
  • Accept that sometimes you will be in maintenance mode and sometimes you will be in improvement mode. You can’t always have the same schedule, so you need to adjust and give yourself a break. When you’re traveling for example, you may not be attending class or doing the homework, but maybe you’re writing in a journal about your trip (in Spanish of course) or using your Spanish with native speakers. Accept that life is always changing, but be consistent and find other ways to practice. As long as you’re maintaining, you’re not losing anything.
  • Most importantly, be proud of yourself for every little accomplishment. Know that every time you work on your Spanish, you are learning something and working towards fluency. Maybe you haven’t mastered the subjunctive yet, but you just had a 5 minute conversation with a patient and no translator – or maybe a year ago the thought of speaking to anyone in Spanish gave you hives and today you just ordered tacos in Spanish…whatever the accomplishment, celebrate it. You made progress and that’s what matters.