Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Spanish Tips

Americans without a doubt do not seem to be able to grasp that one does not learn how to speak a second, third, fourth, etc... language in a classroom.

I was counted among that group until I began researching why I could not speak Spanish after having taken classes in high school and college. The extent of my spoken repertoire was being able to say yes, no, thank-you, and where's the potty.

That was it!

It was from the research papers of a few enlightened second language, or L2, researchers that effected a profound change in my thinking: If I didn't learn my L1 (first or native language) inside a classroom, textbook, workbook, then why am I trying to learn my L2 language in such an artificial and unnatural way? Was there any other way to learn a new language that worked?

There indeed was another way.

For the sake of brevity let me suggest some Google terms to search. Go to Google and type:

1. second language acquisition
2. Stephen krashen
3. comprehensible Input


The natural method that we all unwittingly employed when learning our L1 is that we listened. As newborns we could not do much more than lay there and hear sounds. One day, after a true total immersion experience of just hearing literally hundreds of thousands of repetitions of our Mom and Dad speaking to us, we tried to reproduce out of that experience of just listening sounds out of our own mouths.

That is, by the way, true immersion. Listening in an environment of hearing nothing but sounds, words, phrases, then sentences in the L1 language.

Listening came first.

No one in the history of humanity came out of the womb reproducing speech. There was listening first then the reproduction of the L1 second.

Again I ask, why then does the majority of the world resort to paying a fortune to take Spanish lessons in a classroom, or coming to Mexico to "study Spanish"?

Can you find in the pages of a textbook the ability to speak in Spanish?

There has to be a period of silence in which what you do is just listen to Spanish and listen to Comprehensible Input in Spanish.

How are you going to be able to explain to a Mexican doctor what's wrong with you by reciting Spanish verb conjugations?

That is what you will learn whether you take classes in the States taught in English or classes in Mexico taught entirely in Spanish.





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