Learning Tips for Best Results and Your Stories

A big GRACIAS to those of you who write to tell me how you have surprised friends and family with your sudden knowledge of Spanish after following our courses – it’s inspiring stuff! One learner had been secretly learning in his truck while at work. Imagine his wife’s surprise when he suddenly began chatting to the waiter in Spanish while they were on holiday in Spain.

Another touching story involved a young man who had not previously been able to communicate with his girlfriend’s parents. The next time they met up, both his girlfriend and her parents were astounded when he joined in their Spanish conversation. Please keep these stories coming!!!

How to Understand Full Speed Spanish

I often get asked by customers what they can do to improve their ability to understand Spanish when it’s spoken at normal speed. As this skill will not be perfected overnight, even if you are living in a Spanish speaking country, it is best to incorporate listening practice into your everyday routine. The most effective way is to get into watching movies and boxsets in Spanish with English subtitles – from your local library or second hand from Amazon is the best option.

Check the back of the DVD box to see if there’s a Spanish language option before buying or renting. You will quickly get used to watching with subtitles, remember that’s what most people around the world do to watch English language entertainment. Initially, don’t attempt to understand what you hear, just enjoy what you are watching. After a while, you will automatically start to pick out bits of language you have already learnt from your lessons.

During the next stage, as well as understanding more at normal speed, you will also begin to pick up new language. If this forms a regular part of your leisure time you will soon notice great progress.

Un Guiri

The Spanish have a term for a foreign tourist (usually European or American), un guiri. It’s not an offensive term and it’s fun to look at what makes a visitor stand out apart from language. So, a regular feature of this blog will be our Spot the GUIRI piece. Here’s the first, which I included in a recent lesson.

If you order a café con leche (a white coffee) after lunch or dinner you are likely to provoke a confused look. For most Spaniards, the idea of large milky drink after a main meal is unthinkable. That doesn’t mean coffee is off the menu, just a smaller one.

Un café (an expresso) is very common, as is un cortado (an expresso with a dash of milk). My favourite is un carajillo (an expresso with a decent dose of brandy) and although pretty to look at, un bombón (an expresso with condensed milk) is too sweet for my guiri palate.

Next week

I’ll be discussing paella, how to retain your learning, more of your inspirational stories and mucho más (much more).