Back in your high school days, they made you learn Spanish – or some language. Fast forward to 2020 and those things you learned and all those mistakes you made when you were learning Spanish, seem to have fallen out of your head. Everything you could have learned, you seem to have forgotten. Now you’re on your way to a Spanish-speaking country or you’d love to be able to take a job abroad, but you know that getting fluent in the basics is critical.
But where do you even start? It didn’t seem to work so well in high school, so you don’t want to do the same thing again.
We’ve decided to make a list of the common mistakes when learning Spanish, so that you don’t make them. We hope this is just a tad bit easier by showing you 6 BIG mistakes (tried and proven) you should avoid when learning Spanish. Thank me later (in Spanish)!
#1 Being Conquered by Excuses is a Common Mistake When Learning Spanish
First things first, if you’re going to commit to learning Spanish, then completely rid yourself of all the excuses. Mindset is everything. Learning Spanish does not automatically equate to classroom settings and studying for hours in a corner alone.
Welcome to the world of e-commerce, where adopting a new skill is as easy as shopping on Amazon. Take advantage of the inside hours COVID has to offer and apply physical distance by selecting an interactive and engaging program online – always with a real person please.
Yes, I said it, online! Learn at your own pace and convenience while avoiding all the additional nuances of traffic and daily hassles. Choose the time you want, the tutor you want (we have a few suggestions for vetted, professional teachers here), how many hours a week you want, and the price you want. The world is your oyster when learning Spanish online.
If you’re big on procrastinating and concerned about following through as you should- judge not thy self! There are tutors who can walk this journey with you and add a bit of accountability through a personalized one-on-one virtual experience.
We suggest booking out several months of classes (at least 1 at a time), so that you have your plan for the month. Then, on the 15th, book out the next month of classes. That’s what we do. So far, I’ve taken 2000 hours of Spanish, 450 hours of French and closing in on 700 hours of Japanese. All of this just by scheduling one month at a time. Don’t look too far into the future, or you’ll quit. Trust me.
#2 Acting Like an Adult When it Comes to Making Mistakes in Spanish
Be a child! Don’t grow up! Tell your friends your teacher suggested this if you wanted to truly learn Spanish.
Have you ever met an expert who wasn’t once an apprentice? Mistakes will happen, fearing them is a waste of time. Take comfort in knowing that it is completely normal to feel bad about how you may sound in your efforts to communicate what you’ve learned.
But know this, practice does make perfect (as long as you’re practicing with a native, professional teacher).
Those who make the most mistakes are those who are trying the most. You can’t make a mistake if you don’t speak. So speak as much as possible and say whatever you can. Your brain is connecting neurons and you are making serious progress when you listen for hours, and then try to speak. So act like a child, not an adult, when it comes to language learning.
Kids get 100% fluent in their first language, so follow in their footsteps. Say one word to express yourself, and eventually they will turn into 2-word sentences. Just like kids!
Don’t be embarrassed – kids aren’t! Remember, you will get fluent if you keep listening and speaking. Guaranteed.
#3 Setting Unrealistic Time-Frames is a Huge Mistake When Learning Spanish
Learning a new language in itself can be overwhelming, coupled with an unrealistic time frame- is enough to make you want to throw in the towel. Let’s face it, many native speakers are still learning new things about their own language. Sometimes all you need is a kick to get serious about broadening your scope, but don’t expect to learn an entire language in months when you’ve taken your whole life to learn your native language. As time progresses, you will finesse your new skill. In fact, if you think back to high school days, the urgency to learn the language may have worked for an upcoming exam, but more often than not, there was no longevity in the new skill. Cramming all you can within a few months is not a sustainable solution in acquiring a lifelong language skill.
Remember what we said earlier – just schedule out one month at a time.
#4 Restricting Your Learning Environment is a Common Mistake When Learning Spanish
Developing your Spanish-speaking skills does not necessarily have to take place in a structured learning environment. Some questions that you can ask yourself before starting—Am I a visual learner? Am I an audio learner? Or am I both? This is critical for you to know what style works for you. By incorporating Spanish in your daily activities, you become more confident, comfortable and diverse in your communication. Integrate Spanish in your day, and you’ll be surprised how much more you can learn. Try switching your subtitles to Spanish while watching your favorite shows on Netflix or messaging your language partner throughout the day. It’s the small things, I promise you.
#5 Applying What is Grammatically Correct in English is a Common Mistake When Learning Spanish
Forget what you know about language when learning Spanish. It’s a whole new language and doesn’t always sound like it looks. What makes grammatical sense in English is just not the same in the Spanish speaking world always. Probably the biggest mistake you can make is equating sentences to grammatically correct ones by English standards. The sooner you release the concept of what you think should make sense is, the sooner you’ll be able to adopt your new language effectively.
This also directly related to being that child again. Accept how it is and try not to push against it and overthink it. Pretend you are a blank slate so that when you learn something foreign, you take it in, mimic it, repeat and try to sound like the instructor, instead of analyzing the death out of it. Some rules are not able to be explained so easily. So accept them, and move on.
#6 Not Tracking Your Progress is a Common Mistake When Learning Spanish
It is true, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to adopting a foreign language. However, while learning a language will take time, it is also essential to keep track of your progress. Write down how many new things you have learnt since you have started practicing the language. It’s easy to overlook how much you have learnt over a period if you are not actively and intentionally taking note. Tracking your progress will not only serve as added motivation in keeping you committed, but it will also highlight areas for improvement that you may not have readily picked up on.
This isn’t high school anymore, but we sure want to help you achieve your language learning goals with flying colors. Avoid these 6 mistakes, and you’re well on your way to being fluent in Spanish!