It’s funny that I just learned what Comprehensible Input was. Even though it’s a new concept to me, it’s the way I’ve been teaching for the last five years and the most obvious practical and efficient way I know to learn ANYTHING. Not just language!
Basically, Comprehensible Input means that you learn best through focusing on things you like. So if you’re learning to read, you read stories that interest you. If you’re learning to cook, you cook foods you enjoy. And if you’re learning a language, you speak, read, and write about things you actually care about!
We learn faster that way. Doesn’t that make complete sense? I have no clue why schools haven’t caught on yet. Interest based learning feels like the best way to learn not only because it’s been proven efficient, but because it’s FUN!
I teach through this method by directing conversation in Spanish or SPANGLISH. We talk about things my clients actually like. Currently i’m working with a client who is preparing for a restaurant internship in Spain. Next week we will be cooking something together in my kitchen speaking only Spanish to get her ready for her adventure! Another client is into tech, we talk about computers and his next outreach in Mexico of building a computer lab.
These kinds of lessons get you involved and pull you along so that you want to continue forward instead of feeling like you’re dragging through grammar all day and learning words for things you’ll never actually use! Geeze! Come learn Spanish with me. Through conversation and interest we will grow together! ¡VAMOS!
Image: Valparaiso, Chile
What the heck is an Infinitive?
Some of these grammar terms feel like their own language, but i'm here to make it easier for you! An infinitive is a verb. It means it is not conjugated. “Huh?” For example “SER o no SER” means “TO BE or not TO BE”… SER is a verb, but it is not conjugated. It does not have a subject. A conjugated verb DOES. Like I AM Brittany. I AM is conjugated for ME! YOU ARE a Spanish student. YOU ARE is conjugated for the subject, YOU. SER is just TO BE. I would never say I TO BE Brittany. NO! I would say I AM Brittany.
So the conjugated verb has a subject. The un-conjugated verb is called an infinitive. An infinitive always starts with TO in English. Like: to walk, to talk, to read, to drink, to eat. In Spanish it always has the ending, -AR, -ER, or -IR. Hablar, comer, beber, caminar, leer. So the -AR -ER and -IR endings in this case mean TO. Once you understand what an infinitive is, you can start spotting them and listening for them in the language! I hope this helped clear things up for you. Keep practicing and moving forward!
How to not be afraid to sound stupid
You have to be fearless to learn a second language as an adult. This is hard for everyone. It takes guts to talk to someone in Spanish. It takes guts to sound stupid while learning. It takes guts to keep trying to express yourself in something that at first feels so far from natural.
My dad taught me this at a young age. When we went to Mexican restaurants he would fearlessly say the stupidest things in Spanish like calling me a “cabeza de piña” (pineapple head!) in front of the staff to encourage laughs. He was intrepid to say the least. His goofy style of communicating just to connect with someone and glimpse a smile on their face is the best tool I could offer anyone and has continued with me throughout my language acquiring.
When I doubted myself and was scared to talk to others I remembered it doesn’t matter if I screw up. It’s about trying. It’s just another human in front of me. They will understand. The majority of people are delighted you are even trying to speak to them in their language. This is so important to remember!
Keep putting yourself out there. Keep communicating in your target language. Keep smiling and stumbling and using gestures to get your thought across. Being fearless and ackowledging that it’s okay to sound stupid is your greatest asset. Risk sounding stupid and learn to laugh at yourself when you do! Call someone a pineapple head! Don’t give up!
Reach out for more tips to becoming fearless through language speaking.
Castle in Segovia, Spain
Brittany is a bilingual Spanish teacher who has lived in Spain and Argentina. Through this blog, she hopes to relate her travels, insights, and Spanish speaking journey!