Any reason to learn a new language is good. More human-friendly weather in Spain is one of them.

About week ago I started learning Spanish. There are a few reasons for that. The weather in Spain is way better than in Poland during Autumn and Winter (no sun, no fun). The language sounds nice (German moved at the bottom of my languages-to-learn list, sorry). The other most important reason is to try out techniques, tools and methodologies I’ve learnt during past few years.

From low effort acquisition to output

It’s said that the more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another one. Learning any foreign language, when you consider how much time and effort is required, is one of the most difficult things to acquire. I don’t mean all those phony ads Berta learnt Swahili in 10 days spending as little as 150 seconds each day.

A simple mind map made me realize that there will be at least 5 stages. Let me babble about first ones.

Stage one-first language acquisition

In stage one, I decided to expose myself as much as possible to audio content. This initial phase is meant to acquaint me with the sound and melody of the language. This stage, I hope, will last up to three months. At the end of that time, I will have listened to up to a thousand hours of audio content.

My first audiobook was Steve Jobs biography. After a few hours, I decided to drop it as the voice of the narrator was dull and flat. After a short research, I gave Byte Podcast by Pixo technology podcast a try. Please note that I did not pick a random topic / category. You’d better listen to or read to content that interest you.

For now and next few weeks I will not understand a word except keywords like Apple, Google, Tesla and the like. The first stage is almost effortless: I just listen to the content instead of listening to music.

Stage two-learning basic grammar

Recently a colleague from Selleo reminded me of Duolingo, one of the apps I always wanted to try out. A short review of the current state of the app made me realize that in stage two, after being exposed enough to Spanish, some simple grammar could help me transitioning to another stage of language exposure. Simple grammar rules can help noticing patterns leading to understanding more of what I listen to. Probably this stage will starts sooner than I think, overlapping the first one.

Stage three-second language acquisition

As I wrote above, some grammar rules can help understanding the patterns in the Spanish language. You know, what comes first: noun, verb, preposition, etc. This will allow me to move from words to compound phrases.

Next steps

Apart from Duolingo a list of tools or apps on my todo list is following:

There are numerous web apps to hire an online tutor, but I also consider signing up for ‘offline’ course or attending local meet-ups.

Krashen, languages, and coffee for longevity

If you’re interested in learning why learning languages are all about acquisition or being exposed to input, not about studying grammar, watch Stephen Krashen. He will also tell you why learning languages is good for your health.