You are probably wondering what makes this program any different from the other language programs you may have encountered? Well, probably the biggest difference is that I developed this program based on my own difficulties learning a second language in a classroom and using audio tapes. My first attempts to learn French and Spanish in a classroom setting were not very successful. I also tried learning French and Spanish using audio tape programs. Again, I wasn’t very successful.
Every class I attended, and every audio program I listened to, moved too fast. I needed more repetition at a slower pace.
With my background in recording I tried looping spoken phrases. This helped. However the repetitive phrasing got a bit boring and I would usually end up tuning out–probably a classic case of attention deficit disorder. I needed something to keep me interested and something to engage my body. That’s when I put together music, gestures and repetition.
Music, Gestures and Repetition
What do I mean by music, gestures and repetition?
The repetition was simply a repetition of the phrase. I knew repetition was important. Research suggests that a person needs to hear a phrase 54 times before it is internalized. This seemed to make sense. I remembered my interactions with my own children often incorporated repeated phrases. For example, while I would be helping my children put on their shoes I would say “Let’s put on your shoes . . . putting on the shoes.” You know, what works with children often works with adult novices. So, I knew I needed to hear the phrase a lot. That got a bit boring without the music. So, I added music.
While the repeated phrases with the music helped a lot, it was the gestures that really helped. I incorporated bodily gesture, movement or action, along with the phrase. For example, when I would say or hear the word futbal (soccer) I would pretend to kick a ball. When I heard or said the word tenis (tennis) I would motion as if I were hitting a tennis ball with a racket. The interesting thing about incorporating body gestures is that there is a good deal of evidence to support this sort of learning. Visit any primary classroom and you will notice a lot of songs with gestures. Teachers intuitively incorporate lots of songs with movements. We think of them as being fun. Actually they do a wonderful job of connecting the body to the language.
Finally Something Worked
Finally something worked for me. I started to hear the words, and feel the words.
Everything fell into place. I could create repetitive phrases with music, learn the phrase with a gesture, then put the tapes on in my car and listen while I drove to work. I could feel the meaning of the phrase without even doing the gesture because that is the way I learned it. The repetition began to create pathways in my brain—at least that the way I like to think about it. After I had developed a bodily connection with the phrase, when listening to the phrase in the car, I would feel the movement and visualize the meaning every time I heard the phrase. You can see how different this is from writing a word on a piece of paper and trying to memorize the word. You can see how different this is from sitting in a classroom without really getting a chance to move your body as you learn the words and phrases.
Now, for the first time, when I listened to someone speaking Spanish the odd word started jumping out at me as plain as day. And what really struck me was that the verbs began jumping out just as much as the cognates (those are words that sound very similar in Spanish and English, like rodeo or camera). Finally, I was learning Spanish without feeling like I was memorizing at all.
What Will We Do In This Course
In this course, I will help you learn Spanish vocabulary and phrases, step by step. I will share with you the very techniques that worked for me. You, of course, can take from this whatever works for you.
A Couple Things I Had To Accept
There were two things that I really had to come to understand before I really began to feel as though I could learn Spanish. The first was that it is not necessary to memorize the language. We feel the language with our body. If that sounds a bit weird, please just try to accept this now and I will explain more as we continue.
The second thing I had to understand was that there is nothing difficult about learning a second language. I was convinced that I couldn’t learn a second language. But everybody can. What we need is comprehensible input (that just means we have to understand what is being said to us) and we need adequate repetition. We shouldn’t be beating ourselves up when learning a second language doesn’t happen in two weeks, like many of the audio programs suggest. Truthfully, learning a second language takes time. As you will see though, the slow but steady success you will be making will keep you excited about your progress. You never have to feel as though you are not making any progress. I think this is the thing that will strike you as being different about this course.