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Archive for the 'Success Stories' Category

How to Overcome the Top 4 Spanish Learning Fears

Every Spanish learner will have these fears“I’m not good enough yet.” “I don’t think I’m making any progress.” “What if I never reach my goals?” Spanish learning fears – we all get them from time to time. What are yours? And are they worth being scared of?

how to overcome learning fears

In this blog post, we’re killing the top 4 Spanish learning fears – 1) what are the fears learners tend to have the most and 2) how you can overcome them!

Here are the top 4 language learning fears according to our users:

1. “I’m not good enough to start speaking yet.”

Do you feel like you’re not good enough to start speaking yet? It’s a pretty common fear or misconception that most learners have. Here’s how you overcome it:

  • The best way to get good at speaking is to start speaking from day 1.
    So if you’re holding yourself back, because you think you’re not good enough, well, that’s exactly why you’re not good enough. You need to open your mouth and start talking!
  • If you think you’re not good enough, just learn Spanish lines you want to say!
    In our lessons, you get the exact phrases and scripts for introducing yourself making small talk, ordering food, expressing opinions, and much more! So if you think you’re not good enough, the lessons will give you the exact lines to say.
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    2. “I’m afraid I’ll never be fluent.”

    Many successful Spanish learners worried about that, only as a beginner. They started learning Spanish and, it’s funny because the better their Spanish got, the less they were worried about that. So, how can you overcome this?

  • You’ve got to set small, specific goals.
    Fluency is a big vague goal. Arguably, we don’t even speak fluent in our native language. There are over a million words and we use about 2,000 words only. So you should focus on smaller goals like being able to introduce yourself or having a 5-minute conversation. Or 10 minutes. Something you can measure so you know you reached it because you can’t really measure fluency. It’s a pretty vague goal! But you can measure small goals like having a 5-minute conversation. And as these small goals add up, you’ll be speaking very comfortably!
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    3. “I’m afraid that I’m not making any progress.”

    In other words, getting stuck. If you’re afraid you’re not making progress, there are two things you can do right now.

  • Use the dashboard to track your progress.
    If you need numbers to believe it, our dashboard tracks all the lessons you’ve completed and shows how much you’ve accomplished.
  • Try a harder lesson on the site.
    It sounds crazy and you might not understand it but you will in minutes. Our lessons come with line-by-line translations and the lesson hosts explain everything. THEN, you’ll be making progress because you now understand something you didn’t minutes ago.
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    4. “I’m afraid of not understanding anything I hear”.

    This is very common. You hear advanced grammar and vocabulary and it goes completely over your head. To beat this…

  • If you’re taking an advanced lesson, simply read along.
    Reading along with our line-by-line tool is the best way to instantly understand advanced conversations. The translations and scripts are right in front of you.
  • For real-life situations, learn useful phrases.
    Like “Can you say it more slowly?,” “Can you use simpler words?” or “I don’t understand what that meant.” There’s nothing wrong with saying that you didn’t understand something or with asking for help. And our Survival Phrases lessons cover must-know phrases like this.
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    So, these are the top 4 fears and how to overcome them. And if you want to have the perfect tools to overcome them, don’t forget to create your Free Lifetime Account at SpanishPod101.com!

    5 Tips To Motivate Yourself While Learning A Second Language

    5 Tips to Motivate Yourself

    1. Schedule your time.

    One of the most important factors in keeping your motivation up is developing it into a habit. Whether it be 20 minutes or 3 hours, schedule time to study every day and stick to it. Regular exposure solidifies what you learn and keeps you progressing. To make sure you stick to your routine, a great idea is to build a schedule for your day and decide that every day/Monday/weekend, you study from 6pm to 8pm. Just remember that 30 minutes a day, every day, is better than a binge 8-hour study session at the end of the week (though it’s obviously better than nothing).

    2. Learn a word a day with our great Word of the Day learning tool.

    Trying to learn everything at once and getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of words in your new language is not a good idea. Sometimes, even if you do learn new words, you forget them quickly because you haven’t heard them enough in context. As mentioned above, daily exposure to new words is an important factor in solidifying your target language. Our Word of the Day tool delivers you daily words and phrases, shows you how to pronounce them and use them in different contexts. Since you can get the WOTD via email, Facebook, or Twitter, this is a passive way of learning a language that fits into your existing daily social media routine. It only takes 3 minutes to review a word and practice its pronunciation, so you can do it on the way to work, in the gym, or even before you go to bed.

    Click here to get the Spanish Word of the Day for FREE!

    3. Make friends!

    Make friends!

    If there’s a community of people who speak the language you want to learn in your city, start attending those events! Friendship is the easiest way to get comfortable with the slang, intonation, and mannerisms of a new language. The key to learning any language is speaking a lot, so try to find a native speaker who can be your conversation partner. Having friends that speak your target language means that you will find yourself in situations where you have no choice but to speak that language. But since they are your friends, you will be doing things you enjoy with them. So these situations will probably have little or no stress. These friendships will also mean that you have someone you can ask about language, culture, and so on.

    4. Take a break!

    Break time

    If you’re having an off day or if your brain is already tired of studying, see if you can take a break and do something fun AND useful. Comic books, illustrated stories, and cartoons are a fun way to keep learning while reducing the target language text load for weary eyes. Plus, the images help you plant lasting seeds of memory, as researchers say humor opens up cognitive doors. This is a way to keep the target language active in your brain without the strain of studying a textbook.

    Don’t get stuck with the same content though. When things start to bore you, move on. Change up your books, movies, anime, music, dramas, and so on when they start getting old.

    5. Don’t give up!

    As with any goal, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. You’d have to be incredibly determined to never have an off-day or consider giving up. And when you do it’s ok, but the important thing is to pick yourself up after this temporary setback and keep going. Knowing you’ve overcome a few obstacles is only going to make the moment you have your first conversation in another language that much sweeter. Like the Spanish proverb says, ‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’

    If you need more motivation, check out this list of the Top 10 Inspirational Quotes in Spanish.

    5 Benefits of Learning a New Language

    5 Benefits of Learning a New Language

    “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” - Charlemagne

    Learning a new language is an achievement anyone can be proud of and it’s exciting and beneficial at all ages. It offers many practical, intellectual and aspirational benefits. A wave of new research shows the incredible psychological benefits of learning a second language. These benefits extend far beyond being able to order a cup of coffee abroad or ask directions to your hotel.

    1. Learning a Foreign Language Boosts Brain Power

    Medical studies have shown the positive effect learning a second language has on the brain. A foreign language is a whole new system with distinct rules, etymology, and meaning, which are just a few of the complexities of a language. Learning a new one puts the brain to work by recognizing this new language structure. As the brain works out meaning and makes full use of this new arsenal to express ideas, it sharpens its reading, negotiation, and problem-solving skills. The fact is, language centers in the brain actually grow in the process of learning a second language.

    Boost your brain power!

    2. Stave off Alzheimer’s and Dementia

    Knowing a second language can postpone the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 4.5 years. This is significantly better than the best Alzheimer’s drugs, which can only delay symptoms by 6-12 months. Brain scans have found a noticeable difference in the brain activity of bilingual seniors. Their brains work much more efficiently, more like those of young adults. Scientists believe these seniors’ brains have more reserve brain power that helps compensate for age-related memory loss.

    Click here to learn how to introduce yourself in Spanish!

    Want to learn how to introduce yourself in Spanish?
    Click here to check out this FREE Spanish video!

    3. Improved First Language

    As we go about our everyday lives, we rarely give a second thought to our own grammatical structure and vocabulary. However, when learning a new language, many people find they have a greater understanding of their first language. Learning a foreign language draws your focus to the mechanics of language: grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes you more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills can make you a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and writer.

    4. Boost Your Memory

    We know that people who speak more than one language fluently have better memories and are more cognitively creative and mentally flexible than people who are monolingual. The more the brain is used, the better its functions work. Learning a new language structure entails becoming familiar with vocabulary and rules, and applying this memorized information to communication. This strengthens your memory because your brain’s ability to associate information with mnemonics has been boosted, and it is better at retaining information.

    5. Improve Understanding of the World

    A language is a doorway to a particular culture. Learning a new language enables a person to have a broader understanding of that culture. You will have access to a whole new array of film, music, and literature, and a greater understanding of the history and culture of the nation – and ultimately, a better understanding of the way the world works, including politics and international relations. You will be able to connect through books, TV, and the Internet and converse with a whole country’s worth of people, which broadens your horizons, interests, and views. A whole new world will be open to you.

    Click here to learn new and unique Spanish vocabulary and phrases with FREE Vocabulary Lists!

    Open up to a while new world.

    Immersed in..English Speakers! Help!

    One of our long time listeners is a writer in Mexico. Meet, Phylis Collier. She sometimes finds it difficult in some areas to find natives who don’t speak Spanish! That can be real discouraging when you’re trying as hard as Phylis is to learn Spanish.

    Hear about how she toughs it out and tries her best to still practice.

    “I have been living in Mexico for about three years. I lived in Oaxaca when I first came and my Spanish was coming along really well, mainly because so few people spoke English. However, when I moved to San Miguel de Allende that luxury changed. There are scores of Norte Americanos here and although the upside is more conveniences because of them, most Mexicans encountered in stores, restaurants etc., speak English.

     What I do is to go to the Jardin (what they call the Zocalo here) where you find all the Norte Americanos on benches facing the church, and most Mexicans sitting everywhere else. So I sit “everywhere else” and seek out non-English speaking people. I’ve been fairly successful and my goal is to increase my number of Mexican friends.My biggest problem is that most of them speak Spanish very rapidly, and I have to keep asking “por favor, mas despacio”! That’s why I am so happy to have found SpanishPod 101, because while improving my vocabulary it will certainly help train my ear to this language that I love.

    I like being able to replay the conversation over and over, until I really understand every word and phrase, and of course, I speak along with it, improving my accent.

    I am about to begin classes again, and I can only think that continuing to use SpanishPod 101 will be a strong supplement.

    Estoy agradecida!”

    Great job Phylis! Does anyone else have a similar situation? What do you do to practice when facing the odds?

    Confused Passenger, Saved!

    This week we’d like to share a story from John Miller.

    John enjoys listening to Spanish while working and had a great experience with being able to use his Spanish to help out a fellow passenger on a plane.

    “I came across this podcast via iTunes, in the best of 2008 listings. I am and have always been totally blind, and therefore I obviously learn best through audio. As one who has made repeated attempts to learn this language, I thought your offerings might well help.

    Since then, I’ve actually dated a Spanish woman who resided in Madrid. Of course, being in a relationship is a difficult way to learn a language.

    I’ve tried other couple online sites that helped a little as well, although according to the woman in Spain their teachings were a little sketchy. So, I eventually left them alone out of fear of learning too much of the wrong thing. However, SpanishPod101 has not let me down yet!

    For example, on one of my return flights from Spain I had to help a young woman who knew no English as she attempted to communicate where she needed to go next to the airport workers. Luckily, I knew just enough vocabulary to aid them in sorting the whole situation out, and she ended up on the correct connecting flight. Everyone was very happy with my limited Spanish in that case.

    And to wrap this long e-mail up, I listen to the show on my Zen Stone MP3 player to aid me in passing the long hours at my incredibly boring job. I work at a factory for the blind at the moment, although if I can get into grad school I’d start classes this August.Thanks, and it’s a great show!”

    Great job John!  Keep up the studying so you can always help out others with your Spanish!

    “When we got lost, I saved my group!”

    This week we’ll announce our Mail Bag Contest II GRAND PRIZE Winner! Give a big congratulations to Tobie from Melbourne, Australia!

    Tobie had this to say about his Spanish studies and travels:

    “Querido Amigos,

    I am an Australian student and you have been of great help to me over this past year and a half!

    I began using it before I started to officially study it. I listened to each podcast just before I go to sleep and then the next day I would write a letter or a journal entry. I found that these were 2 great ways to explore and experiment with my abilities and knowledge.

    Fortunately, 6 months ago I was given the opportunity to travel to Spain. I went to Toledo, Granada, Barcelona, Madrid and Cordoba. It was an AMAZING experience for me and my friends. And thanks to SpanishPod101 podcasts I had many more tricks up my sleeve than I was able to use. Tobie, in Spain, saves group with his Spanish learned from SpanishPod101!I was able to order my food, the bill, ask what type of beers they had and question the foods and dishes (this was very useful in impressing the girls we were with). Also, when we got lost, I saved my group because I knew how to ask where we were, and how to get to where we wanted.

    But most importantly I found that because of SpanishPod101, I was able to understand the rapid speeds of the local Spaniards, meanwhile everyone else was unable to keep up!  That’s one advantage I have thanks to Spanish pod!!

    When I returned to Melbourne, Australia, I went into a McDonalds to grab something to eat and I accidentally ordered my food in Spanish! Haha! I’m still was shocked that i had automatically used Spanish.

    P.S. I also just thought I would let you know my favorite lesson is about the line “Como te fue la semana pasada?” It is one of my favorites and I found it very useful!

    Gracias por todo, SpanishPod101,

    Hasta luego”

    A trip to Spain sounds like an excellent way to test your Spanish. We’re glad you listened to the our podcast or else you may have been in real trouble when you got lost!

    Mail Bag Stories - Learn Spanish with Your Classmates!

    Welcome to the new section of our blog, The Mail Bag. This is where we’ll share stories from our listeners in their endeavors with Spanish. We hope stories from fellow students can help motivate and inspire you to begin learning Spanish or give you that extra needed push and renewed sense of strength when you think it’s impossible to get become more proficient!

    Today we look at one such individual who had trouble restarting since 2 years of high school Spanish.  Meet Katrina Sanford.

    “In the past, I have tried very hard to learn another language.  First I started off with Spanish, taking 2 years in school.  That’s because my dream is to work and teach around the world! :D

    Fast forward to the present.  There are now three of reasons why I am now learning Spanish again:

    First, I love to travel and have many plans to spend a lot of time in Spanish speaking countries in the somewhat near future.

    Second, I have a huge passion for dance!  Especially Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia…  I am well known to go out many times a week to dance, and in many of the places here they speak only Spanish, or if there is English there is very little.  Which is why I would love to know what the lyrics to the songs I love to dance to are!

    Third, I live in an area in the Southwest United States that has a very large Mexican population and it would be useful to be able to converse with my fellow neighbors.

    But more importantly, I want to show my best friend and dance partner how much I care by learning his native language.  He speaks both Spanish and English fluently, but speaks mostly Spanish at home with family and friends.  His family all speaks Spanish and but very little English…which leaves both me, and the person I am trying to communicate with, feeling out of place.

    Which brings us to SpanishPod101.com. About 2 months ago I randomly had the urge to listen to the podcasts for Spanish.  SpanishPod101 was one of those in that bunch, and was instantly a favorite.  I loved how the hosts made things fun and that it was native Spanish speakers and native English speakers - together!

    So I started out by signing on for the free 7-day trial.  I loved it!  After that free trail expired I was not able to renew, because finances were too tight especially because of the holidays…  So when I got a spare $25, I quickly got online and subscribed.

    I actually just started my learning plan about a week or two ago, which was when I subscribed to your site.  My goal is to become fluent, or at least, able to converse without a problem by the end of the year.  The main part of my studies is actually SpanishPod101.com!  When driving, cleaning, doing chores, and sometimes as I am laying in bed, I listen to SpanishPod101 on my MP3 player and am constantly speaking the words aloud as I do so to try to get the pronunciation right.

    So far SpanishPod101.com has helped me an incredible amount!  Right now, I am up to Newbie lesson 11 and have also started in on the Phonetics and Verb Conjugation Series.  I love Alan and Lisy as hosts of the Newbie Series :D .  The way that the site is set up, and in particular how all the resources are, is very, very helpful!  I use everything I can that you have available to make sure that I can squeeze every ounce of learning out of this incredible opportunity.  Each day I am excited to complete and/or review my lessons for the day and can’t wait to see how much I can learn.  Unlike in high school, this time I know it is going to work out!  In fact I have already seen results that are much better than I had hoped for! I have the determination and incredible resources (SpanishPod101) to keep on learning! :D

    Thank you so much for the incredible site, lessons, and services that you provide!  I am sure that I would not even be learning right now if it were not for your podcasts.

    Looking forward to learning much more with you :D

    p.s. here’s a picture of me and my dance partner” Katrina loves travel, Latin Dance and SpanishPod101!

    I think many of us know how it is to go through the 2 years of high school Spanish and still be nowhere near conversation level.  Katrina has some great goals and motivation for learning now and she sure is making strides towards those.  Keep up the hardwork! And keep dancing!

    Now everyone, this is an ongoing project, so please share your stories! You may send these to contactus@spanish101.com with the subject line: “Mailbag Story”. Our favorite stories will win FREE premium service and be posted here to be shared with others!

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From SpanishPod101.com!

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at SpanishPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Spanish together!

    And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Spanish with SpanishPod101.com!

    Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

    From the SpanishPod101.com Team!