Now My Brain Hurts Because I Have Just Had A 30 Minute Conversation In Spanish!


That was more taxing than I expected.

I have just finished an hour long conversation with my new Chilean friend. I explained how we met and arranged the call in my post yesterday.

30 Minutes was first spent in English for his development. 30 Minutes was then spent talking in Spanish for my development.

But even though it was exhausting…


What a great experience it was.

I knew I had to do something like this and so far I had been avoiding it. My rationale was that I wasn’t ready yet because I didn’t have enough vocabulary. Or that I didn’t have enough grammar.

These were just excuses.

I could have done this after just a couple of weeks starting out and still gotten MASSIVE value from it.

Now I know what I know about this experience, two things jump out at me:

– I need to do much more of this as it will ACCELERATE my path to greater proficiency.
– Others need to know about the value of doing this so they can benefit too.

The experience has left me excited and hungry to learn even more. It has inspired me to want to become even better at Spanish.

Now you may think that the 30 minutes was a complete success; that I understood everything; that I was able to express myself fluently and coherently in perfectly accented Spanish.

….Err No!

It Was A Complete Car Crash At Times…

Most of the time I didn’t understand what he was saying. I must have used the phrases “No entiendo” ( I don’t understand), “repetir por favor” (literally “to repeat please”) and “mas despacio por favor” (slower please) dozens of times.

My pronunciation was dreadful. I used the wrong conjugations of verbs. I used words in the wrong context. And I am sure I must have even made up some new words as I stammered my way through my vocabulary.

…But Communication Took Place

I understood some of what he said.

There were snippets of conversation where there was understanding on both sids and a coherent dialogue between us.

He started by asking me about the weather in the UK. I stumbled through explaining how it was hot here today but that it was rare for the UK.

We got on to my work.

I was able to answer that question relatively easily. Each of my answers prompted a deeper conversation so it was more than just a mild interrogation. It was a genuine conversation.

There were times when he had to coach my British accent out of some of the words. I had a particular difficulty with “en la union europea”. But he was extremely patient.

We used skype and he very kindly typed some of the words he was using in the chat box to either explain what he was trying to ask or make corrections for me.

There were loads of new words to learn and a highlight was learning to say a particular year in numbers e.g. 1985.

I had tried to say the date by saying “diecinueve ochenta y cinco” which is the format we use in English (nineteen eighty-five). I didn’t know that it is said as “mil novecientos ochenta y cinco” (1000 + 900 + 80 + 5).

He carefully coached me through that and then playfully tested me.

His generosity and patience together with his ability to simplify and explain things, made him the perfect language buddy.

This was a brilliant experience.

He also gave some excellent advice at how to develop my Spanish skills even more.

The first piece of advice was to watch Spanish TV as often as I can, which I have already started.

Secondly, he suggested writing in Spanish as much as possible. I hadn’t really considered that as a path to take as I want to focus on speaking Spanish. But now he mentioned it, it makes sense.

By practicing the writing, I can begin to formulate meaningful sentences in slow time. I can start to choose the right words and make sure the conjugations are correct.

When I do that a few times, I will start to be able to do the same thing in real time when having a real life conversation.

So What Did I Learn?

– Well first of all I realise I still have a lot more work to do.
– But more importantly, I know the work I have done so far has paid off. This is because there were lots of things he said I did understand and I could make myself understood.
– I have made significant progress in a short space of time. My language buddy was impressed at how good my Spanish was after just 3 months of effort.
– There are probably a few more useful phrases I need to get under my belt so I can ask questions about the things I hear but don’t understand.
– I need to listen much better otherwise things will just pass me by.
– After such a session, I need to capture the lessons of the experience.

We have agreed to speak again in a couple of weeks time.

I am looking forward to it already.

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