post

New Language Mission: Spanish through LR (Listening – Reading) Method

Hello! As many of you know, I’ve been hard at work for the last few months on writing and marketing new language related books. It’s been a roller coaster and I am ready to dive back into some real language learning again and today is the day I’m going to start a new language challenge!

So, the new challenge is to learn Spanish to a true level of conversational fluency utilizing only the LR Method, AKA: the Listening Reading Method. The LR method has been around for awhile and has a few fans who are adamant about its effectiveness. It is also, however, looked upon with quite a bit of skepticism in the language learning community as it seems to be fairly difficult to find very many people who have actually tried it and reported on its results. In fact, I routinely see questions on forums, Reddit, and Facebook groups asking about it with little to no real responses. I’m going to change that.

challenge-accepted

What exactly is involved in this Spanish language challenge?

I am going to dedicate 40 hours over the course of the next 30 days to using only the LR method to learn Spanish to conversational fluency (approx: B1-B2 CEFR level). The book I am going to use is “The Poet” by Micheal Connelly. I have both the English and Spanish texts as well as the audiobook in Spanish. I plan to:

1. Listen to the Spanish audio while following along with the English text. (18.5 hours)

2. Listen to the Spanish audio again, while following along with the Spanish text. (18.5 hours)

3. Relisten to only the Spanish audio of my three favorite chapters. (3 hours)

At the end of the challenge, I am going to record a 30 minute iTalki tutoring session with a Spanish native speaker who is familiar with CEFR levels and ask them to asses my Spanish.

I will use no other reference materials, books, audio, or video involving Spanish for the next 45 days.


What is my Spanish level now?

My current level of Spanish is approximately A1. I know maybe 100 words (outside of cognates)in Spanish and a few dozen basic phrases here and there. I am not functional at the moment. A few years ago, I could function around A2, but haven’t used any Spanish for at least 2 years at this point.

I truly have no expectations at this point and have absolutely no idea whether or not this will prove to be even the least bit effective. I will post updates at least once per week.

Wish me luck!

Getting The Most From Your Language Exchange

exchangeAre you using online language exchanges to practice speaking in your target language? If so, are you taking full advantage of this amazing learning tool? In this post, I’ve got some advice for getting the most out of your online language exchange. I’ll also compare and contrast a language exchange with an online tutoring session to help you decide which is right for you.
Read More

How Long Does It Take To Learn A Language?

How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language?

I’ve managed to go 2 1/2 years without writing a post on the topic of “How long will it take me to learn ____?”. Truthfully, I could go another 2 1/2 years without addressing it and I would be just fine. However, I continue to see this question asked on Language forums, in Facebook groups, on Twitter, and in my email. Somehow being able to quantify things like this just seems to be part of human nature. Well, I’m going to talk about this in depth and answer (or at least try to shed some light on) this question once and for all! So, how long does it take to learn a language? Let’s find out.
Read More

How to Start Producing – Transitioning from Input Only

productionSo, you started learning a language. You’ve been diligently studying vocabulary and grammar. You’ve been working on your listening skills and perfecting your pronunciation. Maybe it’s been 2 weeks, maybe it’s been 2 months. Regardless, you have decided that you are ready to start speaking and/or writing. The massive input phase has been fun, but now you’re ready to reap the benefits of your hard work and start actually producing something. Ok. So, what next? The answer certainly isn’t the same for everyone, but I can tell you what works for me. Read More

Another Vocabulary Post – Some New Thoughts

Wordle-vocabulary-1p1s4xh-300x178

 My previous post about vocabulary was very focused on methods and what has worked for me (and what hasn’t). With this post, I’d like to dig a little deeper and discuss some of the finer points of vocabulary acquisition.

I’d like to start off by discussing a topic that actually comes up quite a bit among both beginning language learners and polyglots alike. I’m talking about the age old question: “How many words do I need to know to be fluent in a language?” Obviously this is one of the most subjective questions you could possibly ask, but it does make you think, doesn’t it? Throw out the obvious distraction (“fluent”), modify the verbiage a bit, and you are left with a reasonable question. “How many words does one need to know to function in a language. “ Let’s see if we can find out. Read More

Tips For Developing Fluency Early

eaieoG9c4I know, I know. I used the F word. Well, for the remainder of this post, I’m defining fluency as fluidity of verbal speech. I am not defining any level of competency or functionality, just the ability to speak at a fluid, even, and unbroken pace. Therefore, the purpose of this post will be to help you develop a natural, easy, and fluent-sounding speech pattern in your target language early in the learning process.

Before I jump into the post, I’d like to share the reason that I feel like this is an important piece of the language learning puzzle. Two and a half years ago, when I started learning German, I hit the books and flashcards hard. Within three months I had memorized over 1000 words and could recite lots of obscure German grammar points. By six months, I was over 2000 words and could write large paragraphs with good speed and accuracy. I could also “kind of” hold a conversation… My speaking was ok. I could say anything I wanted to and get my point across with no problems. I wasn’t lacking vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation. My problem was my “fluency”. I stopped and started and “ummm”ed and stuttered and stammered and basically sounded uncomfortable speaking the language. Fortunately, I was able to overcome these issues in the following months and would say I’m pretty comfortable with my oral abilities these days.

What follows are some tips I’ve picked up that really work for me. Hopefully you find some gems among them:

Read More

I Have All the Language Toys! – Now What?

     If you’re like me, you are probably super excited about learning a language. You probably also enjoy what I call “The resource round-up”. What is the “resource round-up”? It’s that exciting stage right BEFORE you dive into learning a new language when you scrounge for resources to help propel your learning to new heights. I’ll talk about how to do a proper round-up in a future post.

     For now, let’s assume you are all “resourced up” and ready to explode! I’ll paint the picture. You’ve got a dozen free language websites in your favorites with all the vocabulary lists, grammar points, common phrases, native audio, and encouragement you could ever possibly want. You’ve gone on an Amazon.com shopping spree and now you have 6 or 8 or 20 new books including multiple courses, vocabulary books, dictionaries, verb guides, and who knows what else because you really haven’t looked them over that well yet. Maybe you’ve downloaded some podcasts, audio courses, or even some simple audiobooks. Maybe your bookshelf looks something like one of mine:

my shelf     Maybe it looks like a less (or even more) extreme version of mine.  Basically, we are assuming that you are 100% totally geared and psyched up to drive your shelf into Language World and kick some major butt.  You’ve got the firepower.  You’ve got the attitude and the confidence.  You’ve got the desire.  What’s stopping you?

     Oh yeah…  What do I do now?  I always run into this too.  Honestly, it doesn’t get much easier the more languages you know.  I’ve never started two languages the exact same way.  No two languages are the same, why should the methods be?

You may be saying “Great advice Sherlock, what am I supposed to do now?”  Well, bear with me for a little while longer and I will have you ready to move on from “Resource Round-up” to “Language Launch” in a matter of minutes. Read More

My First Words: Starting Out in a New Language

I get a lot of questions about how to start a new language.  In particular:  “What words should I learn first?”  Well, today I’m going to share my list of the words I prioritize when starting a language.  This is a list of 250 words that I learn first.  They are MY basics.  They are not for everyone.  They involve things that I want to be able to talk about.  They are not all encompassing and, to be honest, they will not bring you to fluency by any means.  They DO however allow me to talk about the things that I feel like talking about.  Not all of the things, but enough for me to feel like I can communicate most of the things that I need to (even if in a roundabout way) in a foreign language.

Read More

Grammar! – No wait, don’t go. It’ll be fun…

We all knew it was coming, the dreaded “grammar” post.  I promise this won’t be anything like actually studying grammar (unless you’re into that sort of thing…)  Ok, hopefully I haven’t scared everyone away because I think there is going to be some great stuff in this post.

So far, we’ve touched on vocabulary and phonemes.  We have words, which have assigned meanings.  We have a standardized way to convert those words into sounds.  What are we missing?  Yes, rules.  That’s all grammar is.  Rules for assembling words into a consistent comprehensible message that can be used to communicate.  Or, as the dictionary defines it:

gram·mar

Read More