13th Mar 2012
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are– if it doesn’t agree with experiment it’s wrong.”
– R.P. Feynman
Maybe it was the locking myself out of my flat last night and having to ask neighbours for a ladder to crawl into my first floor window after a failed spiderman wall climbing approach, or maybe it was the many failed in-person and over telephone attempts to get broadband internet installed into my new flat before pleading to landlord, but I’ve realised two things this week – (i) a sad look of desperation works at times; and (ii) my Spanish and my Catalan sucks!
So, I’ve decided that I need to become conversationally fluent in the Spanish language very quickly and then just as quickly I need to learn Catalan which is important before I can ever call myself a local, or more importantly, before I can chat with and pick up chicas . Obvious next question was how to do this in quickest and cheapest way possible and within self imposed time limit of 3 months for Spanish language and without a budget to pay an ongoing €25 an hour to the language teachers here.
Here is what I am currently doing for my experiment and in 3 months time, I will let you know if it has worked!
1. Forget about paid language classes
1 hour a week is not going to cut it. I also doubt whether 20 hours a week will do it either because if you think about it, how much of your hour is spent on idle chit chat at beginning and end of session – and when you launch into a sesion, it is all grammatical – learning words in isolation that do not always register in your subconscious, especially for those not in an area where you can practice with locals. This focus on theoretical knowledge can be a waste of time, and when you leave a language class each day, do you really go home and do your homework review exercises or do you look at Facebook instead? If you chose facebook, then point 3 below is definitely for you in having your cake and eating it too.
If you really want local interaction – head to local library or language school and check out the notice boards – almost always, there are some locals looking to meet up and practice learning respective languages – in my experience it is the quickest method to lasting langauge memory (they dont give you homework which is nice and if you are really lucky, they will set you up with their single friends – extra nice!).
2. Break the language down -
It doesnt matter what your native or targeted language is – in almost any language, there is a core set of words (approx 100-1000) that are used predominantly in any conversation. By learning those words for your targeted language, you instantly get more bang for your buck and set yourself up for situations where you need to order a coffee, an internet dongle or a litre of beer for upcoming St. Patrick’s day festivities. For Spanish – here is the link to the 1,000 most commonly used words.
3. Learn while you surf -
I am a mixture of busy and lazy at the best of times – so I wanted to find a way I could learn Spanish alongside my cycling training and commited work for Camco, which like most people today, mostly involves sitting in fromt of a computer. And that is where Mind Zoom comes in – it feeds subliminal messages to your mind via your work screen at a rate of up to 1800 messages per hour. I have populated the Mind Zoom software so that it feeds me the 1,000 most commonly used spanish words with English translation repeatedly. Are you doubting whether subliminal messaging works?? That’s fine – so am I, and who knows as yet if it will help my Spanish but there is more than enough evidence out there to prove how it can influence consumer purchasing decisions when the viewer has a linked desire towards the messaging being broadcast at you – in this case, learning a language.
4. Listen to targeted language as much as possible-
We are not experts on how our brain operates but several leading individuals claim that our brain can register and learn dialogue even when we cannot consciously understand the words – it is somewhat akin to the theory on how do babies learn to speak. To that extent, I have been playing Spanish radio and television in background for past week, even while I sleep, despite not yet understanding more than a few words. It can be frustrating (and quite frankly annoying) listening to it at times but all things take patience. I have also been bringing my laptop to local cafes during daytime to work from there and soak up background converations.
Overall, this is intended as a general alternative guiding steer to how a langauge may be learnt in possible quick time. Let me know if any feedback from your alternative efforts or if any additional suggestions.