I’m Italian, and I work as a language coach. A language coach helps people figure out the best method for students to learn a language by themselves. Basically, we’re going to do a master class in Spanish. We’re going to spend a few hours getting into the mechanics and dynamics of language learning. I’m trying to learn Spanish because I’m going to Cuba in 3 weeks. I’m coming from a place where I’ve never properly formally learned a language before.
What I hope to achieve is to change his mindset to tell him, “Man, you can do it and this is how you can do it.” The first tip is actually to clarify the student’s objectives and goals. It’s really important because it gives you a direction of what, how and when to do something. The course of this masterclass is basically going to hinge on your answers. If your goal is to learn Spanish fluently in the long run, we’re doing something. If the goal is to be able to communicate and enjoy your trip, that’s another matter.
Imagine being in a city, you want to reach another city and you have to understand where you’re going. Otherwise you just start the journey and you don’t know where to go, and you get lost. The second most important step is actually to get input. People want to speak as much as possible, but I think in order to speak you have to understand. So the very first thing is to get comprehensible input that they can consume in order to get their listening comprehension to a great level and start speaking.
How and where can you listen to Spanish? I was looking at downloading some podcasts, to listen to Spanish through that and of course using Babbel and learning online. You have to build your listening comprehension in a progressive way. So my advice would be to go back and use as much as you can what is called comprehensible input — which is basically audio with text. So you can use any platform that has text that you can read and understand and then you have audio.
It’s really important to know what to do and how to do it but when to do it is extremely important. People say, “I have or I don’t have time.” The truth is that you create time according to your priorities and I help students to plan their time to learn a language according to their goals. First question: how much time do you think you can create for Spanish every day? I think an hour in the evening. You have to try to do something every single day. Preparing beforehand allows you to have a plan of action that you can actually execute.
Normally I show students that they can communicate and they can start using the language from the very beginning. I’m Luca. What’s your name? I’m Haroun. Where are you from? I’m from England. England The North of England. Where? Which city? Even if you know almost nothing, you can learn a few words and you can start using these wordsin a conversation with a nice person talking about things you like or talking about personal things. You have to get the information across.
That’s all that counts. I lived in Spain— Yes. when I was seven years old. In Latin they used to say, “Verba volant sed script manent” which means that spoken words fly away and written words stay. You have learned today enferma, right? Now, probably in a few hours you will not remember this. You think, “Yeah, of course, I’m going to remember” but it’s very probable that you’re going to forget it. But maybe, if tomorrow you review it then you will keep forgetting it, but less quickly.
Make sure that whatever you do when you have a conversation, you speak the language, whatever you always have some kind of device to helps you jot down the things that you’re learning on the fly. And reuse and review these words. That’s extremely important for your memory. Piece of paper and a phone, and you can use the combination of these two to jot down all the things that you’re going to remember.
And when you have a great conversation the very first time you land there then you will want to have another conversation and another conversation and you will come back here and you’re going to say, “I want to learn Spanish.” I feel pretty excited to take everything that I’ve learned today and actually put it into practice — the ideas of scheduling and stuff. Some really simple but effective ideas have been brought into my mind. I felt like I was being taught how to learn a language, not just being taught a language.