Learn Spanish with me My Journey to Fluency Tips, Methods, Motivation

Achieving fluency in Spanish

July 20, 2015
Achieving fluency in Spanish
Achieving fluency in Spanish?

Achieving fluency in Spanish?

Hoy es miércoles  (Today is Wednesday)

This morning while I was having my first cuppa I watched an interesting video by Steve Kaufmann. If you don’t know who Steve Kaufmann is, well he’s a polyglot who speaks 12 languages or more and has a language learning website called LingQ

This video caught my attention because it was in Spanish, and I always like to try and watch as many videos as I can in my target language  in order to practice my listening skills.

However, the subject matter was interesting too, it was about achieving fluency in Spanish, or any language for that matter.

Achieving fluency in Spanish

Como lograr a hablar con fluidez

This is a subject that fascinates me. It fascinates me because one day I hope to reach fluency in Spanish (or my take on the word fluency, which is for me to be able to hold down a conversation with a native Spanish speaker without too much trouble) and any tips along the way are most welcome.

Well it was no surprise to me to hear that Steve considered ‘motivation’ to be the most important thing required to achieve fluency in a language.

Motivation is the driver to success; it’s the magic ingredient.

I’ve been in enough language classes now to know that this is absolutely true. Those students who are motivated, and not only do their homework but also do extra work each week, are the ones that shine in the classroom. Those that don’t, sit there quietly and rarely open their mouth.

Steve asked 3 questions:

Do you believe that you can achieve fluency?

To stay motivated, you have to believe that you can learn a language to fluency. Steve says this is difficult to do if you have never learnt a foreign language before as you may not have the confidence and belief in yourself that you can do it.

This was certainly true when I learnt my first foreign language – French. It took me over a decade to reach a high intermediate level and I believe this was partly because I didn’t actually believe I could do it. I’d never done it before so how did I know.

Well it did take some time, but I did do it. And because I’ve done it once I know I can do it again. That’s why learning my second foreign language, Spanish, has been so much easier for me than when I was learning French.

Will it work?

You have to believe, or have confidence that the learning method that you’re using will work for you. If you don’t believe that it’s working, or if you’re not enjoying using it then you’re going to find it hard to stay motivated.

This certainly is what happens with me.

When I start using new material or embark on a new course of study I often start off really motivated and enthusiastic. However, if the course is not right for me, that’s to say, that if it isn’t alligned with my particular learning style, or id I’m just not enjoying it or finding it interesting then I’ll soon reach a point where I want to stop.

At this point I often convince myself to carry on going a little while longer as I tell myself maybe I’ve not given the course a chance, but I usually end up giving up. Whether this is because the course really isn’t alligned with my style of learning or whether it’s to do with my lack of motivation because I’m not enjoying the course I’m not sure. Probably the latter.

If you feel that you are lacking motivation my advice would be to try lots of different material and methods and see which ones you like best.

I think that it’s really important that you develop the skills of reading and listening in the beginning so that you acquire a large vocabulary and become use to the rythm and sounds of the language. I like to do this by listening to podcasts on my ipod and by reading articles that I find on the internet.

Is it worth it?

To stay motivated with language learning you really have to want to learn the language. You also need to like the language and enjoy the process of learning it too, but if you don’t have a valid reason for wanting to learn the language then it can be difficult to keep your motivation level high.

You are going to spend a lot of time learning  a new language. It’s a big commitment. At times it can be a painful process too. You’ll feel a range of emotions: from frustration and exasperation to fulfillment and elation; Therefore it’s important that you feel it’s going to be worth it.

For me it is worth it as I spend a lot of time in Spain and nothing frustrates me more than not being able to converse fluently with native Spanish speakers.

After conversations with native Spanish speakers I often come away frustrated and annoyed with myself for not being able to converse more fluently (even now after more than 2 years of study). There’s always so much more that I want to say but by the time I find the words the conversation has moved on.

Conversely on the handful of occasions where I did manage to speak fairly fluently and when I did find the words to express myself well, I come away feeling great. For me there’s nothing like it.

So everytime I feel a bit fed up with learning Spanish or wonder if it’s worth all the time and effort that I put in, all I have to do is to think back to these previous conversations with native speakers. I know that I want less of the ones that make me feel frustrated and ennoyed with myself afterwards, and more of the ones that make me feel fantastic and proud of myself.

Do you believe that you can achieve fluency?

Yes. You just need to stay with it and make language learning a habit and you’ll see just how quickly you can progress.

Will it work?

Yes. You just need to find a method of study that works well for you – that is alligned with the way you like to learn and is interesting and enjoyable.

Is it worth it?

Yes. It is if you really want to learn the language and you know that it will make a difference to your life.

The video is called Como lograr a hablar con fluidez if you’re interested in watching it.

I had a lot of work to do today so I only managed to read 5 pages of my Spanish novel. However, watching the video and writing this post has motivated me to do a bit more study tomorrow so…..

Time spent learning Spanish today: 30 minutes

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