My apologies in advance: I am going to come close to killing the recipe metaphor in this article, but the truth is, there really IS a recipe to learning the basics of any foreign language. All you need to do is develop the right mindset and apply three simple learning tools: word lists, audio recordings, and some online practice. It’s that simple. So, that said … let’s start cooking!
Directions: Lay the groundwork with three basic steps.
ADD CLEAR LEARNING GOALS: If you are learning basic Spanish, your goals might include: “I’d like to introduce myself and ask someone’s name”, “I’d like to order a meal in Spanish”, or “I’d like to give directions to a taxi driver”. Goal setting will do wonders for your motivation; it works for successful people all over the world, and it will work for you, too.
MIX IN SOME AFFIRMATIONS: Tell yourself with conviction “I am good at learning Spanish”, and “I going to reach my Spanish goals”. Do this often.
BLEND WITH VISUALIZATIONS: Set aside a quiet time to imagine yourself achieving the language goals you have set for yourself. Make the scene as vivid as possible and feel the satisfaction of your imagined success.
Add the following ingredients
FOCUSED VOCABULARY LISTS: Make a written list of the words and phrases you need to reach your short-term goals. Write the lists in a notebook that you can easily carry with you so you have it on hand whenever you have a few spare minutes. Keep your lists short and focused; don’t go overboard by adding too many words at once. Review these lists as often as you can. Quiz yourself.
AUDIO RECORDINGS: Use your smartphone to record your list of words and phrases, plug-in your headphones and listo: you can now convert long line ups, your daily walk, or a solo coffee break into a golden opportunity to memorize your target vocabulary.
SPEAKING PRACTICE: Practice speaking Spanish to anybody that will listen to you, but of course, your best audience is a Spanish-speaking language teacher who will fine-tune your word choice, polish your grammar, encourage your efforts, and gently correct your pronunciation. Thanks to the Internet and Skype, you can now get daily practice speaking Spanish with an online tutor from the privacy and convenience of your home.
Your online Spanish teacher will be key in helping you define what your next learning goals ought to be. There is a logical progression to language learning, and your tutor knows the path, and with this step, you will have come full circle and can begin again.
Good luck with the recipe. Follow it, and I promise that you’ll savor the results.