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Readers Respond: Begin To Think in Spanish

Responses: 69


Learning from radio

I travel frequently, so I try to make use of downloaded podcasts, etc., while I'm on airplanes and in airports. To test my comprehension, I program some Spanish radio stations (news, if possible) into my rental car radio. It's amazing how much English radio content the mind absorbs, even when I'm fully focused on driving. I like to test my Spanish comprehension in the same way. When I get to my hotel, I'll sit down for a bit to mentally review how much of the broadcasts I was able to retain, and what gave me trouble. It's a very effective barometer of how capable my Spanish skills really are.

Find out how you learn best

I have learned the value of teaching students their learning styles before teaching them Spanish. Once they realize how best they'll learn the lessons, it's amazing how quickly they take charge of their own education. True story: One child was teased one day for trying to write every word of the lesson down, to which he replied, "Leave me alone. I'm a kinesthetic learner." I had only started this testing and was stunned. The kids feel empowered! Very nice.
—Guest AMcMurray

Keep on trying

I am trying the things I have found on this blog and elsewhere, but find it extremely difficult. I had two years of Spanish in high school and two years in college. Although I passed it I found it difficult then. I have been out of college for 18 years and twice have tried to go back and learn Spanish. Right now I am in a learn-Spanish phase. I just find it difficult, the words just wont stay in memory. But I am still hanging in there and trying ...
—Guest hardtime

Speak Spanish whenever you can

I have only had a nine-month intensive course of Spanish, but one of the things that helped me was the fact that I was not afraid to use what I knew. I have used it many times when I really did not need to. I always told people that I was not afraid to speak Spanish and I would probably make mistakes. I feel that was a big key to my thinking Spanish and I still think of Spanish when talking to someone in English. Many times a Spanish answer to their conversations comes to my mind and sometimes I even answer with short words like "sí" when "yes" is needed. I love speaking in Spanish. Another way is to gain Spanish-speaking friends on the Net and I have many from various countries. We chat back and forth every day or two.

Try Live Mocha

All of the above but also you might check out LiveMocha.com where you can practice with native speakers from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Yes, it's free.

Going Beyond Translations.

I try to look up the meaning of the word in a monoligual dictionary instead of relying upon translations This has opened whole new meaning of words that I wouldn't have gotten if just rely on the translation.
—Guest Margaret Nahmias

Find ways to talks with native speakers

Once you develop a comfortable level you may want to surround yourself in places where the target language is spoken by natives. Language exchange programs or join a "Spanish language club," volunteer for part-time work at a grocery store or the coin laundry or if possible a public library in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood. If may surprise you to find out that finding a Spanish-speaking friend who likes playing chess, checkers, dominoes, etc., might have plenty of rewards, and you will come out a winner! Many years ago I had a friend who was working on her English. We used to meet once a week for approximately two hours each session. We would walk around, visit museums, parks, etc., and talk in English. We did as many speech related things and tasks as possible. In short time her self-confidence, vocabulary, speech patterns and overall language competence improved. She worked hard to learn and acquire English as second language. That was about 25 years ago and even today she works at it.

Talk to your pets

I live in Guatemala, so I'm cheating a bit, but you'd be surprised how much English you can speak here if you're not careful. So around the house I talk to my dog and cat in Spanish, all day long. I find then that when I'm talking to friends in my head, even if they're English-speaking, I tend to speak in Spanish. For me the biggest trick is switching back and forth, in a mixed group, or when translating. Can't do it! I'll speak English to the hispanohablantes y vice versa. But immersion of whatever type is the key. There is probably a latino barrio in your town ... seek out someone to talk to. As others have said, TV and periódicos. They're in most towns in the U.S. too, especially California and along the border.
—Guest Miranda

Multiple approaches

When I started to learn Spanish I first practiced the alphabet to work on my pronunciation. I also looked online and found a list of the 100 most common Spanish verbs listed in rank order. I did the same for the 500 (1,000 also available) most common words used in Spanish also in rank order. I also accessed some articles on sentence word order. I have a couple of iPhone apps ("Basic Spanish for Dummies" and Ultralingua for Spanish are excellent). I cut and paste the words from the online content into my iPhone notepad so I have a handy list wherever I go. I can then cut and paste from the notepad into the Ultralingua search box which saves on typing. I rent Spanish movies with English subtitles options and English movies that have a Spanish subtitle or dubbing options. Spanish children shows are also a good option. I have a couple of friends who speak Spanish fluently whom I practice with about one a week.
—Guest Liam

Pensando en ingles

I think the critical moment came to me as a teacher of ESL when I saw connections of words over literal translations. Don't put English words and Spanish words in the same order. When I made the Latin root connection between current, corredor, correo, all meaning the path, the route and the messenger and current I rethought learning AND teaching. Another example: Thor is the god of the sky hence thunder tormento. Sometimes substituting a vowel(s) and a "t" for a "d" or similar is all you need to visualize the comparative word and IDEA, Looking outside in helps as we all smile, have needs, problems, love, want and share.
—Guest recyclerdave


When I started to learn Spanish arduously, I was about 12 years old. Now I'm 14 years old I have done a lot of experiments during that period. First, when you learn the pronounciation and new Spanish words be happy, not afraid of its pronunciation; say it aloud many times. While I did that I noticed i began to say it when I was going out, playing and doing other stuff. My advice to you is when you learn necessary facts of the language behave as though you know Spanish as a native. If you have learned a lot in a short or long period of time, put together what you learned to form sentences (this applies to any other language). Try talking to yourself in Spanish mentally and when necessary speak aloud (this isn't foolishness, it's dedication, this also makes you feel accomplished). Listen to CDs, music, Spanish news, attend Spanish lessons and (navege la red) search the Internet for interesting stuff to arouse your Spanish experience. It's fun, Please try your best to learn it
—Guest Oladele Manifld

Learning Spanish - many steps

I had Spanish 30 years ago in college, and then reviewed the second semester 10 years ago. I have wanted to be able to understand and speak it so I started by downloading Spanish vocabulary flash cards to my iPhone. The next step was watching children's cartoons Monday-Saturday. They are very entertaining and it doesn't take long to understand them. I also started listening to Spanish radio and television. Next I downloaded some free interactive podcasts to my iPhone. I have gone from about 2-3% comprehension to almost 25% in about six weeks. I try to read a chapter in my old Spanish textbook about every 10 days although it is my least favorite way to learn. Around the house and on my daily walks, I have question-and-answer sessions in simple Spanish. I am looking for a Spanish speaker whose English is at the same level as my Spanish so that we can help each other learn.

Active practice - speak!

I am a Spanish minor and this semester just finished where I took an oral, writing and grammar class all at once. Each professor spoke and expected us to speak in Spanish. This was probably the greatest thing to ever happen to me, although terrifying. At first I thought my level was much lower than others, however even when making stupid mistakes, actually stumbling through it and practicing it OUT LOUD is key to improvement. As another stated, I now sometimes think and dream in Spanish, because the knowledge is there but you must practice it out loud to fluently speak to others. I can read well and listen well but speaking requires much more practice, so I highly recommend immersing yourself where you can practice speaking with someone who will help you!
—Guest Chantelle

I learned!!

Si tu ves películas en spanish, si oyes música, si hablas contigo mismo en tu mente en spanish, si lees un libro, si practicas con otra persona que habla spanish ... those are my methods.
—Guest Kyla

Immersion works

Immersion is the fastest way to learn to fluently speak and think in Spanish. I have always wanted to learn Spanish, and so I decided to visit Argentina. I am here now, and after only three months, I have thoughts, and even dreams in Spanish. Though maybe everyone can't have this opportunity, try listening to Spanish music on the radio, make friends who speak fluently in Spanish, set your phone so that everything is in Spanish. Every little thing helps!
—Guest -brooke-

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Begin To Think in Spanish

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