Be A Master Storyteller In Spanish

I am a big fan of memorization.  In fact, I think it is by far the most effective way to study a language (and perhaps most subjects).  Many people will say that it is too boring and not fun at all.  Well, I don’t agree, but here is a way to make it fun and entertaining. Everybody likes a good story, so why not become a master storyteller?  I did exactly that.  The short stories of Horacio Quiroga are my favorites, so I decided to memorized a few of them just as an exercise.  Later I polished them up and began to tell them to my friends.  Sometimes I let them know...

Storytelling In Spanish

Latinos are really big on family and they love to be with their kids.  When I was living in Mexico and Colombia I always made a point of spending time with my friends’ young children.  There simply was no better way to progress in a relationship. Kids love stories, so I learned several of the standard children’s stories like Caperucita roja, Bambi, and El gato con botas.  I learned them by heart and practiced them until perfect.  After a while I had to keep learning more stories because my friends’ children kept asking their “tío John” to tell another story, and another,...

Effective Spanish Study Includes Decompr...

If you are really serious about you Spanish studies, I am sure you are working long and hard—and if you are like me—maybe you are even a little compulsive about it.  (You know who you are: It takes you 20 minutes to look up one word because along the way you found 20 more words that you didn’t recognize and just couldn’t pass up.) Part of your plan of study has to include decompression time.  For me, I can’t effectively learn in blocks of more than 45 minutes.  It is not that I can’t go on for more time, but that I am not effective.  (I study to “own” not just to “rent.” ...

Learn Spanish By Doing Translations

One of the most effective and fun ways to better your Spanish is to do translations.  It has always been a core learning activity for me. Even if you don’t want to be a professional translator, doing translations will make you “up your game” significantly because it requires you to pay great attention to detail.  This is so because a good translation must be faithful to the original, maintaining its meaning and tone in the translation.  Getting a translation “almost right” is, by definition, a bad translation.  Translating makes you think of precision in communication....

When Will I Be Fluent In Spanish?

I am frequently asked how long it takes to become fluent in Spanish.  Being a lawyer for more than 30 years, I know that the only answer is “It depends.”  It depends on your circumstances, resources, opportunities, and talent.  Most of all, it depends on when you decide you will become fluent.  Let me explain. Years ago I saw an interview with a world-famous classical guitarist who had been a protégé of Andrés Segovia.  The interviewer chided his guest for not wanting to teach other promising students of the guitar.  After all, Segovia, the master, was getting old, and...

Success In Spanish = Fun In Spanish

Most of the feedback I have received from my book, How to Become Fluent in Spanish (Not for Beginners, Not Quick and Easy, but Really Effective), has been positive and very encouraging.  The negative comments tend to be that my method requires too much work and too much time.  One unsatisfied reader even opined that my way of studying Spanish would kill any interest he had in learning the language and concluded that my method was not practical (even though I used the method myself to become fluent!)  While his comments were meant to be disparaging, I think he was really...

Talk Back To Spanish TV

When we went to visit my Italian grandmother when I was a little kid, we often would find her watching her soap operas.  It was hilarious to see her so involved in the stories, talking back to the screen in her thick accent.  As the cheating boyfriend would arrive on the scene, for example, she would get a disgusted look on her face and tell us, “Watcha outa for data guy.  He is a real stinker!” I watch a fair amount of Spanish TV these days for practice even though I usually don’t care for the content.  Spanish-language soap operas are way over the top for me, reality...

Are You Studying To Become Fluent In Spa...

Years ago I used to go to weekly Spanish club meetings where we all went to practice our Spanish.  The idea was that if we wanted to speak Spanish, we had to actually talk to someone in Spanish, hopefully a native-speaker.  We would get better if we did this long enough and frequently enough.  Simple. Nevertheless, I really didn’t notice any of my buddies’ getting better at Spanish, including the ones who had been coming for more than a year.  Some of them were even Spanish majors and studying hard.  So what was the problem? There is a big difference from studying...