Learning Spanish? Become Addicted To Learning

Learning Spanish - Become Addicted To Learning

Perhaps the biggest lesson I am taking so far from learning Spanish is that you LEARN it yourself.

You might have teachers who provide you with information. It’s possible you will own learning programmes in the form of audio recordings and online resources.

You might even have an App that takes you through the language.

However all of these forms are created for the convenience of the author.

Information is presented to you in an organised structure that the author feels will help you grasp the bit of the language they are teaching you.

With sufficient exposure, you may well absorb some of the information almost by osmosis and repetition.

That organisation is easy for them to concoct and is driven by their agenda.

But they way the information is presented is not the best way to learn it.  To create an adaptive, organic structure around learning the snippets of language is WAY too much work.

So the most powerful learning will come where you yourself make the distinction and come to the realisation of understanding about something.   It is where you create a little “aha” moment where the penny suddenly drops, where the light comes on and things just click into place.

It is a beautiful moment when that happens and it is hard to describe what that feeling is like (though shortly I shall try to).

Moments like that make all of the effort put into learning all the more worthwhile.

How Learning Spanish And Playing Golf Are Linked

How Learning Spanish and Playing Golf Are Linked

A few years ago I used to ruin a really good walk by trudging round a golf course carrying a heavy bag.

I would criss-cross the fairways scuttling from one side to the other.  Rarely on the fairway after each shot, I would walk to whatever off course/in bunker/in the rough location it had found itself this time.

People used to think I got the most value out of my green fees each time I played.  This was because I seemed to take the most shots of anyone I played with.

Naturally I used to get quite frustrated and then somewhat despondent with my lack of progress.

But then every so often the magic would happen.

I would address the ball in just the right way.  My club would swing back in a perfect arc.  The club face would, strike the ball perfectly and connect with the sweet spot.

In golfing terms, only the sinking of an excessively long put can rival the feeling of the beautifully condensed “thwud”of the club as it strikes the ball in exactly the right spot on the club head.

The ball would then launch into a perfect trajectory and land exactly where I wanted it to go.  It would be exactly where it needed to be for the next shot.

It would be exactly the same shot a professional would have played.   The only thing missing would be the rapid staccato of the camera shutters, and the appreciative applause of the watching crowds.

Also missing might be the single loud shout of “Go Bubba!!!” from an overweight American gentleman wearing brightly coloured slacks and a Yankees baseball cap.

The feeling of that one shot was addictive. It might only happen once or twice out of the 120 nor so shots I used to take on a par 18 course.

But it was enough to keep me hooked, enough to keep me coming back to try again.

Over time I did get better and I did start to hit those sort of shots more often .  However it was those rare early successes that kept me going back. When  they started to become more frequent and I began to enjoy the game more.

And so it is the same with learning a language.

At first it seems like nothing is going in. It all sounds not only foreign to you but alien to you. Words seem difficult to understand let alone pronounce.  And the idea of even remembering just a fraction of it seems incredibly overwhelming.

Yet as time goes by you start to become more familiar with the language and things start to stick. You begin to recognise sounds. You start to accumulate some basic words to add to a (reluctantly) growing vocabulary.

Much of this happens by accident or by osmosis in the early days.   Any apparent “learning” or progress is merely familiarity that has come from repeated exposure to the material you are using to “teach” you the new language.

But then every so often you will get a ZING of a feeling that is like the “Thwud” of hitting that perfect golf shot during an otherwise hacked round of golf.

It is when you suddenly “Get It”.

Where the “get” is a wonderful feeling of an “AHA!”

And the “it” is any piece of the huge jigsaw of information that makes up the vast array of what you have to learn.

These are not predefined stepping stones that everyone experiences.   Each learner’s journey to competency, proficiency and then fluency is different.

It happens at different times, to different people with different parts of the language.

Let me tell you about my most recent occurrence of this.

How Saying “Hello” In Spanish Fuelled My Addiction

I was listening to the Pimsleur Spanish audio that I have during a long drive up to Cumbria.

It was a nice day and I was on the stretch of the M5 motorway just south of where it joins the M6 heading north.

The lesson was focussing on greetings and the presenter was running through the different forms of how to say hello depending on what time of day it was.

“Buenos dias” – for the morning.
“Buenas tardes” – for the afternoon/early evening
“Buenas noches” – for the evening/night

He then made the point that when you say “good morning” (or technically “good day”) it is BUENOS.  But when you say “good afternoon” or “good evening”, it is BUENAS.

This is because día is masculine and tarde and noche are both feminine.  Hence “buenos día” and “buenas tardes”.

Hearing that was like a massive “THWUD” to the brain.

I did not know that before.  But now I did.

I knew the greetings from before, but had mistakenly thought the “buenos” bit was the same for them all.

That minor tweak of understanding registered massively in my brain.

When I realised that was the case I suddenly had one of those “aha!” moments.

It was a moment of pure understanding.  A moment of blissful realisation.

It felt good.

I had experienced true learning.

Whilst driving I literally whooped for joy because it felt so good.

To reinforce it even more I made a quick little mental mnemonic to remind me when to use the “A” in “buenas” and when to use the “O” in “buenos”.


And I have not forgotten it since.

Become Addicted To That Feeling

I believe it is those sort of learning experiences that will make me want to continue to learn Spanish.

And so now I am seeking them out at every opportunity.

They don’t happen every single day.

But they happen with enough regularity that I keep coming back looking for the next one.

It is addictive… but in a good way.


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