Lately have had some conversations which left me wondering why I had dropped my attempt to learn Spanish. Well, maybe not “why”, it was because of time constraints and priorities. But I did wonder if I made the right decision.
Plugging new information into my old brain and keeping it there is a challenge. It was while reading up on Anki, the automated flashcard program I use, that I ran across an article at AllJapaneseAllTheTime that led me to another article then to another and ended up getting me excited about learning Spanish again.
To summarize the ideas that I pulled together was to attempt to do an “Immersion Program” right here at home. The AllJapaneseAllTheTime site has quite a bit about immersing yourself in your target language. The key is to live in the target language. Hard to do when you are surrounded by English all day but what are you doing with the time that is yours to control?
Here is the three pronged approach I plan to follow. The summary will give you an idea and I will be writing more on each of these three areas as I flesh them out and come across material I will be using.
- Extensive Reading
Read and then read more. But the key is to read at or below your current vocabulary level. You want your reading material to flow through your mind just like it was in your native language, not having to translate words or thoughts but just ‘knowing’ what it means as your read it.
You might think this means reading ‘kids’ books. It does not. Kids are learning to read a language they know. When learning Spanish, you can already ‘read’ it. It is the understanding that you must work on.
- Extensive Listening
Here too it is best to listen to material is on a level that you can understand and follow along. Finding this material is difficult. Sure you can find Spanish vocabulary and Spanish lessons but those are not very interesting after a bit. I have found a few books that come with CDs but that gets spendy.
Here, I will fall back to how kids learn. They are surrounded by language they don’t understand but they slowly start picking up words as they listen to the world around them. Turn your world into Spanish. Listen to Spanish Radio on the radio or the internet. Just immerse yourself in it and see how many words your can start picking up.
Also, don’t forget about your TV stations (Telemundo & Univision) and YouTube.
- Spaced Repetition Flash Cards
When you read you will come across vocabulary and grammar that you need to learn. The most efficient way to learn is using a spaced repetition system (SRS). Anki is my SRS software of choice for learning new material. It works on Windows, Mac, Web, Android, and iPhone, syncing your material across the various devices so you can create ‘cards’ on your computer and review them on your phone.