Matt Forney
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Three Easy Ways to Learn Another Language


This is a guest post by Magallanes.

Greetings! Today, I will give you simple and easy ways to learn any language easily. Ironically, when it comes to language learning, especially Spanish, the most effective way isn’t the hardest one; most of the time the wrong way is a lot harder! I am going to tell you why.

Pero primero! Why learn another language?

Learning another language is a sign of prestige; in medieval times, those who knew how to write or speak another language were always treated like extraordinary people, because they were always useful and seen as aristocratic and intelligent. Why do you think Roosh bothers to learn other languages? Learning languages activates certain parts of your brain that usually go unused and makes you a better thinker. One can even say that learning another language increases your grasp of the languages you already know. In other words, becoming fluent in another language is another way to grow as a person and a man.

As I mentioned already, you will learn from this article that learning a new language is the exact opposite of hard; if it feels difficult and boring, you are doing something wrong. Let me show you why.

Most language learners get all worked up with Spanish classes, textbooks about grammar, cramming all the new words forcing them into their heads, only to find themselves burning out after a few months (or even weeks!) then eventually quit. How sad. Que triste! This method is actually unnatural for your brain and when you try it, you end up vomiting up all the information forced into it like an wino on a Ripple bender. That is not good. I’m going to share with you some ways to learn and study Spanish that are natural for your brain. These are not popular methods, but the good news is that they actually work and don’t feel like work!

1. Grammar and classroom learning must come last.

This might sound counterproductive but it is true. Going all out on grammar will guarantee that you will fail. The human brain is not designed to absorb language that way; what you need to have first is exposure. Yes the movies, the podcasts, the mp3s must come first and those are the things you need to be spending 90% of your time in learning Spanish with. Think of it as training your ears first. You will learn that after months of exposure, you will find it easier to absorb all of the things written in your textbooks which all seemed very complicated when you were starting out.

And you will be surprised to know that advanced and even intermediate learners who already formed a reasonable foundation in Spanish by means of exposure will enjoy or at least relate to classes and formal lessons because they have already instilled the basics of Spanish in their heads. So remember that everything must come at its own time.

2. As a beginner, only a small percentage of your time should be spent on grammar.

I never said that you don’t need grammar; of course you must know the very basic sentence constructions. Just don’t get fixated on it.

Grammar is supposed to be taken slowly like food or else you might get bloated. Did you study grammar for your mother language? Of course not! Exposure came first. Furthermore, when looking at grammar books, don’t concentrate too much on the technicalities and rules; just focus on taking in the example sentences. Just exposing yourself to the sentences will condition your brain to absorb the underlying grammatical rules unconsciously. For example, if I read:

Magallanes es un hombre guapito.

Then I read that the above sentence means:

Magallanes is a handsome man.

Then my brain would immediately learn that that is how you describe another person or thing in Spanish. Therefore the next time I want to describe someone, I would just look up for the correct adjective in Spanish using a portable dictionary, then go about describing that person.

3. Finally, watch more movies and TV shows in Spanish.

For best results, look for a movie that you have watched several times already. Let’s take Hancock as an example: you can download that video for free and watch it from your phone; learn Spanish while relaxing (also download your favorite English songs in their Spanish-language versions).

Gasolina is another great example of a Spanish song that you might be familiar with. It’s a great idea to get used to Spanish rap; try to download all the rap songs in that language and listen to them as often as you can (advantage if you are a hip hop fan to begin with). If you really can’t stand rap, you can go with any genre of songs from your target language.

If you can get DVDs of Spanish movies and Telenovelas, play them at home On your widescreen TV while eating popcorn. You will not notice but your brain will actually absorb tons of Spanish this way. And the greatest part is it will not seem like work at all. The best environment or condition for learning is always the “relaxed” and “fun” climate, which is what my Spanish learning method revolves around.

The most important thing in learning Spanish or any language is having fun in the process. Just remember this: learning Spanish must never seem like a chore. Just have fun and do the things you do in English in Spanish. God bless you all and see you around. Que dios le bendiga.

Magallanes blogs at Translate from Spanish to English.

Read Next: “Don’t You Even Have a Life?”

  • slartibartfast

    Michel Thomas CDs are highly recommended.

  • Blackhawk

    Many public libraries have online access to for their library patrons. Find a library near you that does, get a free library card from them, and then never darken their door again. You’ll be able to login to their on-line lessons from home on your PC using your library card as access. The emphasis is on conversational ability.

  • Mark

    I’ve learnt my second language (nearly interpreter level now), and am learning my third.
    Good stuff here.

    Some other tips:
    Not all languages are created equal. If you are a native english speaker (and nothing else), some will be easier than others, based mostly on how similar those languages are to english. There are different lists out there of language difficulty for a native english speaker, some compiled by the U.S and british governments. Good rule of thumb is the further away from England, the harder it is. Although it depends on your motivation, you can learn your second language much quicker if you have chosen Spanish or French rather than Arabic or Japanese.

    I have heard good things about Michel Thomas, for his German course (and have used it myself), but he is not a native speaker of most of the other languages, you want a native user of the language teaching you. The Italian one is dreadful apparently.

    It’s also a common rumour, I’ve never seen the evidence to back it up though, that the first language you try to learn as an adult is the hardest one to pick up. Once you’ve got that first second language under your belt, and you’ve learnt to think with a new vocabulary and grammar, the 3rd, 4th, 5th… languages come much easier. Don’t know how true that is, but it makes logical sense.

  • @all
    yup, try to maximize and listen to ANY resource that you can; be it podcasts, CDs, whatever. .Don’t worry about “if it’s good or bad” you’ll know once you try.
    Japanese is not that difficult as you think, I’d recommend that you try and search for AJAAT or All Japanese All the Time – the guy’s a BLACK and he’s never been to Japan- and he’s achieved fluency in 8 months mostly by self exposure to native materials and ANKI. Although I say Jap is no that difficult – I can’t tell you that their KANJI or their way of writing is -that is a different animal altogether you have to be prepared for that challenge if you want to study some Asian-language.

    As per learning from natives vs learning from non natives; I’d say it’s best to listen to the principles of learning from non natives because basically natives can’t know much about what you are going through -especially if that native is also a mono-linguist who knows only his language. But I when it comes to finding out materials to listen to like conversational podcasts -you must go for materials from natives especially the ones that can show you their colloquial terms (the ones that you cannot possibly translate literally).
    SO guys VAMOS a AprendEr a otras LENGUAS
    Que Dios les bendiga

  • BTW about picking up a language as an adult;
    If you read some of my posts, you’d learn that its not that different – you will basically start over as a “kid” learning btw so to make things easier for you – go for children’s materials first. My first time learning Spanish I spent 90% of my time watching the cartoons I used to watch as a kid but this time the ones aired in Spain, like Yuyu hakusho (Los Guereros de Mas alla (warriors of the far beyond) -in Spanish), Dragon ball (esfera de dragon), Courage the cowardly dog (Agallas, el perro cobarde), etc.
    Also try to read children’s books like fairy talles -I haven’t read much but I certaily enjoyed reading the few that I tried. Novels just won’t cut it for the beginners.

    So there you go; yes it is a challenge to pick up another language – but once you make it fun and try to learn it like how you learned you mother language; you soon wouldn’t notice what “challenge” it was. I have several Spanish materials back there at my site that you can download for free if what you are trying to learn is Spanish – but if you are trying to learn another language don’t worry, you’ll find several free stuff if you search the web far enough; there would probably be some in Youtube as well, just use firefox to download their videos and watch them offline over and over, repeat at least 5 videos in a series -like episode one, two, up to the fifth, then back to the first- I found out that technique to work well for me and other language learners.

  • Bueno! Deja me decir que este articulo fue muy interesante! Being a person who can speak both English and Spanish with English being a second language can give you the advantage that most other Americans do not have. If you ever traveled overseas you will know what I’m talking about. The majority of those people could speak 2 or more languages at any one time making them very employable at the local resorts. Besides now America has been speaking more Spanish than English so for all you people out there learn Spanish.

  • @jose
    Bueno, gracias. Y tu pagina web es muy divertidamente tambien. Vale eso es una blog para se gana un dinero, voy a ver a ver.. .

    Well but I bet being employed wouldn’t be your main goal for yourself-I bet your goal is also “passive income” not another job. BUT YES! bilingual gentes earn double than normal employees most of the time and get hired 100% faster! ¡es verdad!

    Yeah being exposed to 2 languages besides Spanish on a daily basis is also an advantage to both mental processes and language learning.

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  • Veni Vidi Vici

    Television and movies are both horrible ways for beginner A-1/A-2 to learn a foreign language and here are a few reasons why: (tips)
    1. The speech is too fast to get a mental lock on what is being said and trust me you will not begin to understand over time this way unless you are a gifted language learner.
    (Listen to simple songs or ads where you can slow down the speech.)
    2. Too many words too soon results in a mental overload where you retain nothing. ( In any lesson at least 80% of the words used in sentences and paragraph should be already known.)

  • Veni Vidi Vici

    The whole kids learn better narrative needs to end already. Kids learn better because adults talk to kids like kids that’s why they learned their first language so well and the fact they had no other responsibilities.

  • Veni Vidi Vici

    Somewhat agree: For German definitely but not French due to Michel Thomas harsh accent.