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Monday, December 12, 2011

NBTMV - Step 2 in learning Spanish is to Listen and Understand

I have been using a 3-step process for learning to speak Spanish: (1) Listen and Repeat, (2) Listen and Understand, and (3) Start Speaking (of course, you also have to study vocabulary and grammar along the way). For the Listen and Repeat step, if you use the Pimsleur method, as I did, then you’d have already learned the basics -- Spanish pronunciation, alphabet, numbers, days of the week, and so on and you would be speaking some Spanish already.
However to get ready for conversations in Spanish, you need to complete the next step -- Listen and Understand Spanish so that you can understand when someone talks to you. I started this second step by watching a free online streaming video program called Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish that’s essentially a telenovela with 52 episodes, each 30 minutes long. I watched all 52 episodes twice and only then I could begin to understand them comfortably.
Next, I began listening to a local Spanish radio station on my commute to work. And, when possible, began watching TV programs on Telemundo or Univision.
When you first begin listening with the intention of trying to understand, you’ll found it difficult to keep up, as I did, but just keep at it and slowly you’ll begin to understand more. Although the basics you learned in Step 1 should get you going, you should also study some vocabulary on the side. I read Mastering Spanish Vocabulary to expand my vocabulary. That attempt also got me started with reading Spanish and I realized how easy it is to read in Spanish -- you just say words as they are written (you know what I mean if you try to read Fench :-)
By now, I can speak some Spanish, but I still have more grammar to learn and, even now, I cannot fully follow along when people speak fast on the radio. But the main point is that by first devoting time to listening and repeating and then spending tons of time listening and understanding, I was able to get to the point where I could begin speaking Spanish. I’m sure you can do the same with my method for learning to speak Spanish.
Here's some more information to help you...
For my previous videos on the 3-step method for learning Spanish and the details of the first step, see:

To watch the Destinos streaming video, visit the Annenburg Media web page at: and click the VoD (video on demand) link to the right of an episode. 
Here's the vocabulary book I found useful:

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