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Thursday, December 22, 2011

NBTMV - Step 3 of Learning Spanish is to Start Speaking

As you know from my previous videos, 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 (and as I have said, you also have to study vocabulary and grammar along the way).
For me, the “start speaking” step was easier said than done and it may be the same for you. Even though I gained some basic Spanish speaking capability from my “Listen and Repeat” step using the Pimsleur method, I had the usual fear of making silly mistakes if I were to speak Spanish. Also, I was not sure of many Spanish words and verbs, even though I had already completed the “Listen and Understand” step by watching a free online streaming video program called Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish and by listening to Spanish radio stations during my daily commute.
After spending about a year completing the first two steps, I researched on the Internet and found that many people take immersion classes to start speaking Spanish. After some searching, I located a well-regarded school -- Christian Spanish Academy or CSA (if I were advising them, I’d have suggested that they keep their Spanish name Academia Cristiana de Español  and abbreviate it to ACE in English :-)  in Antigua Guatemala and enrolled there for a week in early 2010. For the total cost of $400 USD, I had 8-hours of one-on-one lessons each day plus a week of home stay with a very nice host family with three meals.
CSA follows a structured program. I was given an exam and placed in Grade B (they have grades A through G). That week of immersion got me started speaking Spanish even though I still had not gone beyond the present and the past tenses for the verb conjugations. To continue building my skills, I have been taking a two-hour class every Saturday from CSA’s e-learning program via Skype. I am now in Grade C, but, even though I still have lots of grammar to learn, the week of immersion study in Antigua, Guatemala definitely helped kick-start the process of starting to speak in Spanish for me. You may want to consider something similar to get going with your “Step 3: Start Speaking” :-)

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 two steps, see:

I have lots of information about books as well as photo with my host family in the blog post with an overview of the 3-step method. Here are
Naba Barkakati with Chris Morales (host)

Dinner with host family and other students (photo by Michael Herpy)

Photo by Michael Herpy - at dinner in host family's kitchen

Here are a few photos of Antigua, Guatemala (it's a very beautiful city):
Antgua - near the central park

Antigua - around central park

View of Antigua from a hill nearby
Volcan Fuego near Antigua, Guatemala
Update (2014)
My wife decided to learn Spanish as well and we both went back to the Christian Spanish Academy in February 2014 for a week of lesson. I have been continuing my lessons online through their elearn pogram and my wife has started the lessons as well. I can speak Spanish fairly well, as evidenced by this toast in Spanish at my daughter's wedding in Barcelona:

Here are some photos from our recent visit to the school:
At the entrance to the school
View on entering school
With Angélica

Inside the school courtyard

My wife with teacher Viki

My teacher Merly Guzmán

Classroom in open courtyard

With Nestor and Carlos (elearn program)
Anabela Ponce

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