Here’s a sad fact: linguists estimate 95% of language learners never achieve a high level of fluency in Spanish (or any other language)… Shocking, right? Now, before you decide to just give up, here’s the good news: that means 5% of students DO manage to learn Spanish successfully! And contrary to what you might think, the “lucky 5%” aren’t especially gifted at language learning.
They just know how to learn Spanish, how to keep themselves motivated, and which daily activities they should focus on to get them to fluency.
And that’s exactly what you’ll discover in this article. Yes! If you follow the simple advice and step-by-step process in this article, you can become part of that 5% of students who speak Spanish!
Motivation… or the lack thereof
First of all, we all know learning a new language takes tiempo y dedicación (time and dedication). Una mala noticia (Some bad news): playing around a few minutes a day with an app is not going to get you to fluency… it will take much more work than that.
People underestimate how much time and effort you have to put into learning a language and getting to fluency, lo que significa que (which means that) if you are not that motivated, then you will find it hard to invest time and energy into learning Spanish when you could be, well, doing anything else.
So, you need to make sure learning Spanish is something you really want… something that’ll make a real difference in your life… Think about your reasons and even write them down!
Tal vez te vas de vacaciones (Maybe you’re going on a holiday) and you want to talk to the locals… tal vez quieras impresionar a algún chico o alguna chica (maybe you want to impress a guy or a girl)… or maybe you are just like me and love languages.
Tell me in the comments why YOU are learning Spanish! Bonus points if you can think of some really specific situations in your life in which you’d like to be able to speak Spanish. The more detailed you can make your vision, the stronger your motivation will be!
Practical tips to stay on track
Once you have a strong vision to remind yourself every day why you’re learning Spanish, here are some practical tips to make sure you stay on track every single day:
1) No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy (Get rid of procrastination)
Set a timer for 15 minutes. Commit to dedicating 15 minutes to learn new chunks (which, by the way, you do every time you watch our videos). What’s the point of this? Momentum!
Después de estos quince minutos (After these 15 minutes), you’ll likely find you just continue for a bit longer! Lo difícil es empezar (The difficulty is getting started). But even if you just do 15 minutes a day, that’s still enough to get good results… if you use the right method… more on that in a second!
2) Ponte metas que puedas cumplir (set goals you can achieve).
Unless you are a prodigy, like Bella Devyatkina, wanting to be fluent in a month is probably not doable. Empieza paso a pasito (Start step by step), maybe try to learn one or two chunks a day and set a goal to use them during the week, and you will see that you’ll be building sentences faster than Speedy Gonzalez!
Chunks, THE method
Now, let’s say that you have toda la motivación del mundo (all the motivation in the world), even the time to study for hours… and yet, you just don't seem to get to fluency?
Well, maybe, you are learning con el método equivocado (with the wrong method)? But how do you KNOW you’re using the wrong method?
Here’s a simple rule: if you are still memorizing words and grammar rules to learn Spanish (like almost everyone taking traditional language courses), then it's unlikely you’ll ever be able to speak without stammering and translating in your head.
I’ll go even further: learning words and grammar is the very reason why almost everyone fails to learn Spanish (and other languages) to a high level!
Your brain just isn’t wired to think about “rules” while speaking… Think about it: you never have to think about grammar while speaking your mother tongue. So, doesn’t it make sense that the only way to speak a foreign language fluently is… by not having to think about grammar either?
Here’s a simple method to stop thinking about grammar while speaking Spanish: memorize fixed Spanish word combinations that you hear native speakers use! We call them chunks.
Here’s why this is such a great strategy:
If you hear me or another native speaker say Odio los lunes (I hate Mondays) or No te preocupes (Don’t worry) or ¿Estás en casa? (Are you at home?), you now know for a fact this is correct Spanish. You can say the exact same thing and be 100% confident you’re speaking correct Spanish… even if you don’t know the grammar behind no te preocupes (don’t worry) or if you don’t know why you need to use the preposition “en” in “en casa”!
Of course, it can still be useful to learn some grammar, but you’ll only be able to speak Spanish without translating in your head if you learn chunks. This will make all the difference, and it’s one of the biggest “insider secrets” that’ll make you speak fluent Spanish!
So, how exactly do you learn chunks?
- Listen to as much Spanish as possible
- Identify chunks (that is, all the word combinations native speakers use that you want to be able to use yourself)
- Memorize them
- Speak Spanish yourself!
This is called “Conversation Based Chunking”… and this, mis queridos amigos, is the exact method that we use in our Spring Spanish Academy to have you speaking Spanish súper rápido!
The best way to get started with this:
¡Mira nuestros videos de YouTube! (Watch our YouTube videos!) In our videos we point out the chunks for you, so you can easily learn them.
What is more, we don’t only show you how you can speak Spanish well and fast, but also talk about Hispanic culture and fun facts. That’ll help you stay motivated (remember, that other key to success!)
For example, did you know that we Mexicans like to eat grillos (crickets)? Watch this video with weird facts about Mexico… and I bet you won’t forget the words “grillos” or “chapulines”.
If you’d like to take it a step further, you could also participate in the Spanish chunking training on our website. We demonstrate the whole method and give you some cool techniques to easily memorize chunks too.
So, here’s the recipe to belong to the 5% of people who manage to speak fluent Spanish.
- Make sure you know why you’re learning Spanish so you stay motivated.
- Learn chunks so you don’t have to think about grammar while speaking Spanish.
Do this consistently, every day, for long enough, and you’re guaranteed to massively improve your Spanish!My next question for you: have you done your 15 minutes of studying Spanish already today? If not (or if you’d like to continue), read a bit about how to memorize vocabulary in Spanish! With chunks, of course!