On Conquering Spanish! and learning anything new.

I am really excited right now.

Today, on the thirty sixth day since I started learning Spanish on duolingo, I have conquered the Spanish skill tree. And even got a shiny new trophy for my efforts. But before I get too excited and forget myself. I’ll put a dampener on my excitement and shall remind myself that I still cannot hold a conversation in Spanish.

I have split my learning process into three phases. Introduction, Immersion, and Application.

Phase One : Introduction

By introduction I mean, getting the basics of the language or target subject. If it is a language, as it is in my case, learn some common words and basic grammar, getting used to its sounds, its rhythm, and its tones, being able to recognize some words in that language’s songs and rapid conversation. By some words I mean at least two out of ten words.

This phase can be tricky, it has the highest chance of drop out, and if you drop out in this phase you forget whatever little you have learned yet as if it was never there.

Duolingo is a great resource for this phase. After completing the duolingo Spanish skill tree,

  • I know some vocabulary and some grammar.
  • I can make out common words in Spanish songs and Spanish conversations between native speakers, though stringing the words together in my head and understanding the meaning still takes time.
  • I am able to read Spanish and most of the time understand what is written.
  • I can also translate basic sentences to Spanish from English.

So that takes care of my introduction phase.


Now for the second phase

Phase Two : Immersion

No, not the immersion that is offered on duolingo, that immersion does not open for me for some reason. Probably a bug in duolingo.

What I mean by Immersion, is to deeply immerse myself in my target subject. Reading all I can about it. If it is a language, then hearing songs in it, watching movies in it, etc. and trying to focus on it completely for how much ever time I can afford to.

I have seen many people on YouTube doing this, by going to a Spanish speaking country, living there for a few months and speaking and living as a native would, without using much English. But I cannot do that, I neither have the time nor the funds for that.

So for that, what I plan to do in the next phase is, set half an hour to one hour in which I will speak only Spanish, and even try to think in Spanish if I can. If I can’t think of a sentence in time, I will use Google translate.
As I said in my previous article, it is okay if you forget, repetition is the key.

My method may be slower, but it will suit my schedule just fine.

The other thing I am going to do is watch as many Spanish videos on YouTube as I can, and listen to Spanish podcasts and songs.

I have started with Spanish nursery rhymes 🙂

Phase Three : Application

By application I mean, use the skill in your daily life as if you have been doing it for years.

This is going to be an ongoing phase, in this phase I will try to use Spanish as if it were the most natural thing to me, in conversations, inserting a word here and there, reading news and articles in Spanish, etc. Remember the biggest hurdle in learning something new is your own mind. As soon as it accepts the new thing as normal, the speed of learning accelerates like crazy.

And above all, the most important rule in learning is repetition everyday, even if it is for just a few minutes a day. Ten minutes of practice everyday is way better than six hours of revision once a week. Keep it up till you reach the tipping point in your learning, when you know enough that you can afford to forget a little.

This is the process I am following in my journey to Spanish fluency and it is not limited to just learning languages, this is the same process I have used till now for all my learning endeavors. Be it a new technology or some other skill – Introduction, Immersion and Application.

Author: Gautam

I am a Human, MOOCer, Harmonica Enthusiast, Budding Polyglot and an Indie Game Developer. I develop apps and games for fun and profit. Wherever and whenever you see me, I am sure to have my harp in my pocket. Maybe if you say please I will play you a tune.