Hola Amigos!

Hi guys! welcome to my blog “Spanish for English”. I know, it’s not grammatically sound but then I was trying to make a point. Let me explain…

This is a blog for English-speaking people (native or not) who want to become conversationally fluent in Spanish fairly quickly while having fun. Yes I know, you’ve heard that before ( me too) and you don’t believe it (you will) but I really believe that is possible to become fluent in Spanish in less than 3 months.

But then what is fluent? My definition of fluency is being able to communicate through normal conversation. That is, being understood (even if your Spanish is not yet perfect) and understand the main points of what is being said to you.

Why learn Spanish?

Because is the second most useful language in the world after English. Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you saying: “but what about Chinese?” Let me tell you: it’s too difficult, you’ll never be able to read, nobody will understand you and is the official language of just one country where many dialects are spoken anyway.

In comparison Spanish is the official language in 22 countries, widely spoken in the US (45 million speakers), spoken around the world by 422 million people and the sensible choice for people who already speak English. Plus is much, much easier to learn.

And the other languages like French, Italian, German? Totally useless unless you plan to live in those countries.

So who are you anyway?

You (my dear reader) are and adult, who speak English fluently and perhaps have attempted to learn Spanish in the past with little success. But still you want to have another go and you found this blog by accident, don’t believe anything I say and yet, for some reason you keep reading. Scepticism is healthy (to an extend)

Also you are lazy, easily bored and has no confidence when speaking a FL (foreign Language) but worry not! We can use all those aptitudes to your advantage. Yes my friend, I believe that willpower is overrated and learning is easy when you have fun and stay motivated. You will have to work on the confident thing but that is part of my method.

So you wanna join me?

If you want to follow me in this adventure I ask you to do a few things:

  • Forget everything you’ve learnt so far. I know this is impossible but at least try to empty your mind from preconceived ideas about language learning methodology.
  • Don’t read anything in Spanish, until you master the pronunciation. That’ll take less than a week and it will save your hundreds of hours later on. Also your accent will be better than most foreigners.
  • Forget about the grammar, apart from some basic rules
  • Learn some verbs but in a simplified version
So what do you have to do?
I have done a lot of research about how language is learnt by adults and I’ve come to the following conclusions:
  1. you’ve got to learn fast or your motivation will disappear. Perfectionism is your worst enemy.
  2. you need to work on your confidence levels. I’ve seen it over and over, communication in a foreign language is 70% confidence and 30% knowledge. We’ll be working on that as well.
  3. you need a reason to learn Spanish or you’ll forget it soon. What is your reason?
  4. you’ve got to like the culture, way of living of your target country. Learning a language changes your mind, your views and makes you grow. You have to let go and be open-minded or your learning experience won’t be enjoyable.
  5. you have to get used to listen Spanish very frequently. Tv, radio, music etc. even if you don’t understand much it will help a lot.
So what is my method and who the heck am I?
I am an Spanish national, in my early forties (God! time flies!) who has lived and worked in the UK for a number of years and now I live in Almeria (South Eastern Spain) I teach part-time to British and Northern Europeans. My background is in Psychology, Engineering and Business so I am obsess with efficiency; how to achieve more with less.
My method is based on a multiple attack system combining theories from many disciplines like mnemonics, self-development, cognitive neuroscience, self-efficacy, behavioral psychology, nlp, hypnosis, computer based learning, motivation, confidence, psycholinguistics, information processing and efficiency.
This method is based on the following points:
  • Learn the sounds fairly well by listening and repeating, don’t read before proficient in that. The good news is that Spanish has a very simple phonetic rules with no exceptions. Once you know these rules you can read any word perfectly even if you never heard it before! Really!
  • Learn some basic grammar and the rest you will learn by trial an error. Motivation is your fuel, don run out! By noticing your quick progress you’ll keep the engine going
  • Use what you already know. By that I mean all those words that are very similar in Spanish and English and will stick in your long-term memory with no effort, e.g: extraordinario = extraordinaire, memoria = memory etc. About 40% of English vocab comes from Latin, Spanish is a romance language, so you already know 40% of Spanish before even starting! Also there are many words that have been included in the English vocabulary like casa, patio, vino, parasol etc
  • Focus on the most frequently words and expressions. 2000 words is 80% of the language, you can learn those very quickly and the rest will come with practise. Remember the 80/20 principle!
  • Listen to the language as much as you can. Some modern methods make the students listen to the target language for 800 hours! before even being allowed to say a word. Recent research shows that just by passive listening certain structures stick in your mind and that helps enormously at a later stage.
Before finishing this post I have to say thank you to my masters Khatzumoto from AJATT, Tim Ferris from 4 hour workweek, Ramon Campayo and many others I will tell you later.
Happy learning!
Alberto

The vowels (las vocales)

Lesson 1

This post is very important, if you do this properly your Spanish pronunciation will be much better than the average foreigner. I have met a lot of people who speak Spanish fluently but most of them have a very strong English accent and that makes them difficult to be understood by some native speakers. You won’t have this problem if you follow this instructions verbatim.

The reason why I am avoiding writing in Spanish is because I don’t want you to pronounce the words the “English way”.

In English you have about 12 different phonemes (sounds) for the vowels even though there are only 5 letters, how you manage to do that I don’t know but in Spanish is different. There are 5 letters and 5 sounds! just that! No exceptions! So listen to them and repeat them often until they stick in your mind.

Use this video for that or similar ones you can find in Youtube:

The pronunciation is very clear-cut, very simple, in fact too simple for you English speakers, that’s why often you’ll be tempted to add sounds where there shouldn’t be any.

This lesson is boring I know, but every minute you spend perfecting this now will save you hours later on and the final result will be worth it. From now on the lesson will be more fun I promise!

So do the vowels 100 times in 5 to 10 minute sessions and forget the English vowels forever!

Good luck!

See you in lesson 2!

El alfabeto

Lesson 2

And now we go with the Spanish alphabet, this is quite important as well but remember don’t do it until you’ve mastered the vowels, and don’t go ahead until you’ ve mastered this, every minute you spend here will be worth hours later on.

Animo!

Words I

And now a few words that can serve you a long way but first a short grammar explanation. In Spanish nouns are masculine, feminine or neutral and they are usually accompanied by and article. There are several kinds of articles but for today we’ll worry only about the definite article. In English there is only one: “The”,  but in Spanish there are 3, masculine, feminine and neutral. The masculine one is: “el” the feminine: “la” and the neutral: “lo” (click for correct pronunciation and try to remember as it’s used very often)

Another point to remember is that definite articles are much more often used in Spanish than in English i.e in most situations where you would say: “house” in English in Spanish you would say :”la casa“. So as a rule of thumb use the article.

How to know if a noun is feminine, masculine or neutral? well this not so easy but as a general rule nouns ending in “a” will be feminine and those ending in “e” or “o” would be masculine. There aren’t that many neutral and we’ll cover that in another lesson.

The first six are feminine: house, classroom, face, suitcase, music and movie.

The rest are masculine: car, train, watch, thief, newspaper, present, book, money, plain, and pencil.

                                

                     

           

                                

                                

Happy learning!

Verbos I

Ok here go with another lesson. This one is about some of the most useful verbs. Verbs are very important to learn at the beginning of any language course because knowing just a few gives you fluency much quicker.

Of course nouns and adjectives are important also but somehow is easier to find a substitute for these and much harder to express yourself without verbs.

Again this course is trying to avoid the written word as much as possible so we are going to use pics to convey the meaning.

To begin with we have 12 verbs, 4 in each row, from left to right and from top to down these are the english words:

to ask, to help, to bring, to buy

to call, to clean, to come, to cook

to cry, to dance, to drink, to eat

There is a reason why we don’t place the English words next to the pics and that is that we want you to get used to avoid written words even English ones. When you look at these pics twice you’ll be able to recognize what they mean without reading it. That will put you in a better position to memorize the Spanish word. By associating pictures with sounds helps memorization and avoids mispronunciation.

                                                                                                                                             

So this is today’s lesson, it is best to listen to the words an often at the beginning and less often as time goes by i.e. the first day listen and repeat these 12 verbs once every hour, the second day once every 2 hours and so on. This method of critical frequency really improves retention in the long run.

Verbos II

And some more verbs, remember to practise them aloud for about 5 mins a day!

The meanings are:

to go, to drive, to get on, to wake up

to return, to look at, to meet, to read

to run, to show, to sit down, to stand up

Remember to click in the pic to hear the word!

                               

                               

                               

Verbos III

And this the last verbs for the time being. You can learn these in no time!

to laugh, to lose, to sleep, to think

to understand, to wait, to wash, to write

to smile, to walk, to pull, to push