This is how you will learn Spanish much faster! (with Chunks)
De cualquier maner
In every single Spanish lesson on this channel, we talk about chunks. Chunk alerts. Chunks, chunks, chunks, chunks.
But do you really know what chunks are and why they’re so effective at making you speak fluent Spanish?
Yo soy Maura de (I am Maura from) Spring Spanish, and in this video, we’re diving deep into the world of chunks, so you can start recognizing and learning them yourself.
1. Why chunks?
Hola, por favor… ¿un taco? ¿quiero… querer… un taco?
(Hello, please… a taco? I want… to want… a taco?)
The idea behind chunking is that most people start from the wrong place when they want to learn Spanish (or other languages). They’ll usually learn lists and grammar, and then when they need to speak Spanish in a real-life situation – like ordering tacos – they ask themselves?
ALEX (thinking to herself)
With all the words and grammar I’ve learned so far, how can I piece together a sentence to order that taco?
In other words: they try to invent Spanish sentences from scratch and that’s really hard to do! It makes you stumble, translated in your head, and you’ll constantly be wondering if what you say even sounds remotely “natural” in Spanish.
Entonces, ¿qué hago?(So, what do I do?)
Well, learning Spanish (or any other language) becomes infinitely easier when you start asking a different question: ¿Cómo lo dirían los nativos? (How would natives say this?)
Applied to the situation from before: ¿Cómo pediría tacos un nativo? (How would a native order tacos?) Which words and, especially, which word combinations would they use?
Now, that’s the kind of question that helps you achieve conversation skills in Spanish. Because despite what you might (subconsciously) feel, you don’t have to piece together any Spanish phrase or sentence from scratch yourself!
En su lugar, puedes escuchar, observar y absorber oraciones naturales y gramaticalmente correctas directamente de la fuente. (Instead, you can listen, observe and absorb natural, grammatically correct sentences directly from the source.) Native speakers speaking their language in conversations. Like Spring Spanish teacher Paulisima, ordering tacos.
2. ¿Qué son exactamente los chunks? (What are chunks exactly?)
So, when you listen to Paulisima or other native speakers, you’ll hear the exact word combinations they use: Me da uno de… (Can you give me one of…)
We call these word combinations chunks. Without realizing, you probably know some of the most common ones already, like: ¿cómo estás? (how are you?), buenos días (good morning), mucho gusto (nice to meet you). Of course, there are many more, but before we jump into the dialogue for more examples, just know that at the end of this video we’ll be covering the four steps that compose the chunking method per se.
Alex, ¿cuál es tu película favorita?
(Alex, what’s your favorite movie?)
Qué pregunta tan difícil. Yo creo que mi película favorita es The Never Ending Story. ¿Cuál es tu película favorita?
(What a difficult question. I think my favorite movie is The Never Ending Story. What is your favorite movie?)
Yo no tengo película favorita.
(I don’t have a favorite movie.)
From this little dialogue, we can already find a few chunk expressions that will always stay the same. Let’s review them together.
- ¿Cuál es? (Which one is?): this can always work as a question. You can use it to ask which, of many, is something specific. For example:
- ¿Cuál es la canción que más escuchas? (Which is the song you listen to the most?)
- ¿Cuál es el edificio en el que vives? (Which is the building you live in?)
- ¿Cuál es tu mejor recuerdo? (Which is your best memory?)
- Qué pregunta tan difícil. (What a difficult question.): this is one of those that stand on its own. You can use it to save time to think about an answer, in every context and with every person.
- Yo creo que (I think that): this is one of those you cannot live without. Every time you’re going to express your personal opinion, you can start the sentence like this. For instance:
- Yo creo que el clima está mejorando. (I think the weather is getting better.)
- Yo creo que mañana tendré tiempo de llamarte. (I think that tomorrow, I'll have time to call you.)
- Yo creo que hay alienígenas que saben que existimos. (I believe there are aliens who know we exist.)
- Yo no tengo (I don’t have): without you needing to memorize any conjugation tables, just remember to use yo no tengo or simply no tengo (I don’t have) to say what is it that you don’t have. They’re usually combined in chunks like:
- No tengo película favorita (I don’t have a favorite movie). Ojo (Watch out (Lit.: eye)): In English we say “I don’t have A favorite movie. In Spanish, there is no article! No tengo película favorita. Why? I don’t know. But since you’ve now heard me say it like that in a chunk, you can just learn the chunk by heart and use it correctly yourself!)
- No tengo ganas de salir. (I don't have the desire to go out.)
- No tengo tiempo para eso. (I don't have time for that.)
- No tengo zapatos para correr. (I don't running have shoes.)
Yo no tengo ganas de (I don’t have the desire to) is the type of chunk that transcends the literal translation. I mean, this would be better translated to English by saying “I don’t feel like”. So, use it just like in English and clarify what you’d rather not do.
For example: Yo no tengo ganas de hacer ejercicio hoy (I don’t feel like exercising today.) Let me know in the comments what you don’t feel like doing today! Also, in the comments is the link to our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit, in case you haven’t checked it out just yet. ¡Está ahí para ti! (It’s there for you!)
Of course it’ll still be useful to know some grammar, but having fluent Spanish sentences roll off the tongue is only possible by bypassing grammar and having chunks in your brain instead. The chunks do the heavy lifting for you!
El chunking es un concepto ampliamente investigado, tanto en el aprendizaje de idiomas como en la neurociencia/psicología en general. Agrupar información para que sea más fácil de recordar y utilizar parece ser algo que el cerebro hace de forma natural.
Para los verdaderos aficionados del lenguaje: Hay un libro del lingüista Michael Lewis llamado “Introducing the Lexical Approach”. También, el cofundador de Spring Spanish, Lukas, escribió un libro sobre el “chunking” llamado “Effortless Conversations”. Maura les dejará los enlaces para ambos libros en en la descripción.
(Chunking is a widely researched concept, both in language learning and general neuroscience/psychology. Grouping information together to make it easier to remember and use seems to be something the brain does naturally.
For the real language nerds: There’s a book by linguist Michael Lewis called “Introducing the Lexical Approach”. Also, Spring Spanish co-founder, Lukas, wrote a book on chunking called “Effortless Conversations”. Maura will add the links to both books in the description.)
3. The four steps of the Chunking Method
Gracias Ale. (Thank you Ale). In our YouTube videos, we highlight many chunks for you. But in our courses, we go a step further and we fully apply the method of Conversation Based Chunking, which consists of 4 steps:
- Step 1: Get a lot of input in Spanish. Listen to as much Spanish as possible, because that’s where you’re going to hear which chunks native speakers use. Chunks you can trust are correct. Buenas noticias (Good news): You're already getting quite some input from our videos! Por ejemplo: (For example): add a quick roleplay.
- Step 2: Identify chunks in everything you hear. Everything that you want to be able to say yourself as well in conversations.
- Step 3: Make an active effort to imprint these chunks on your brain. No solo escuches (Don’t just listen), memorize them so they're readily available when you need them in conversations. In the Spring Spanish Inner Circle, we do this through flashcards. For each lesson we have flashcards available that look like this: (add cloze card example) y puedes usarlas para practicar todos los días (and you can use them to practice every day.) Also, in our structured Spanish courses, we have flashcards of all the chunks in the lessons. ¡Para más información sobre nuestros cursos, revisa los enlaces en la descripción! (For more info about our courses, check the links in the description!)
- Step 4: Implement! Use everything you learned in conversations.
- Step 5 – Optional: Impress native speakers! This one’s optional but fun. For example, you could go out and use the chunks you learned from the role-play in a new conversation.
Por favor, me da dos de pollo. ¡Gracias!
(Please, can you give me 2 of chicken. Thank you!)
Now that’s how chunking works! If you want to learn more, make sure to download our Spanish Chunking Kit! It comes with many examples of chunks and also a full tutorial and a sample lesson of our structured Spanish course, Los cazadores de tormentas (The storm hunters)