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Strike A Balance in Learning Spanish

by Jake Beus

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August 29th, 2011

Balancing Act

When people are learning Spanish, they typically tell me that they can speak but not understand, or they tell me that they can understand but can’t speak. When I began learning Spanish, I could speak but not understand. Most people tend to understand better than they can speak, especially in the beginning.

There needs to be a better balance in the learning process. People tend to focus too much on speaking or listening. There are the extra studious who focus too much on writing. Rarely will I encounter somebody who has focused too much on reading. The best way for you to learn Spanish would be to move to a Spanish-speaking country and become completely immersed in the language. However, most people are forced to study the language and learn it without going to a foreign country.

I recommend that you spend at least 20 minutes per day 5 times per week studying Spanish. It is important for you to have a balance in your study time, so this is how you should break it down:

-Speaking 35%
-Listening 35%
-Reading 20%
-Writing 10%

Speaking 35%. Speak as much as you can, but make 35% of your dedicated study time focused on speaking. Talk to yourself. Meet native speakers who will help you in exchange for you helping them. Read aloud. Ask questions. You will surely make mistakes, but do your best and continually improve.

Listening 35%. When you first learn Spanish it seems like native speakers talk a million miles per hour. Don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down. If you consistently listen to Spanish, you will understand much faster because your mind will start to think in Spanish. Just relax and listen. Don’t let your mind freak out.

Reading 20%. I recommend that you read aloud as much as possible. This will help your reading and pronunciation skills at the same time. You will surely learn a lot of new vocabulary, but in the beginning you should do your best to understand the gist of what you’re reading.

Writing 10%. If you are training for business and you will be doing a lot of writing  in Spanish, then you should probably make this a bigger percentage of your study time. If not, then you should practice writing for about 10% of your study time.

If you agree or differ on my philosophy of learning Spanish, please leave a comment below.

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