Unconventional ways to learn Spanish if you are a shy learner or can't find fitting methods

By justosaka | justosaka | 14 Aug 2020

 I would go on watching videos about how to learn it and then the moment the video was over ,I realised it was not helpful. It was watching videos and reading posts about things anyone could write. I never saw out of the norm tips to get on well with it.Frustration was high on the list. I was browsing and browsing and browsing but no one would ever give unconventional ways to deal with learning it. I won't focus on the usual ones such as watch series or listen to podcasts or language buddy but moreover on some steps some people can take when they feel intimidated by the task. I focus here on Spanish as I think each language is its own world but I would not say you cannot try it with any other language as it could be a foundation to help improve your pace. Again, I am not a language teacher. I just gathered up the courage to write it because It could truly help someone out there because I was that person once. I even invite people to share their own process because the web needs more variety of tips as your process can help unlock somebody else's and start sharing quirks that are needed in the language learning community. I never thought I would write something like this. This is not per say the solution to your issues but it could lead you to understand what you were dealing with in the first place. My journey with Spanish has been quite eventful all along but always fun. It started in middle school when I had to pick a subject to incorporate into my curriculum, I went for Spanish. I think I had German and Italian as an option but I had been following Spanish soccer teams from Spain so my choice was a bit biased here. 


  • The first thing I want to say is you can choose your learning method depending on your character, I don't mean in a introvert or extravert way but rather identify natural tendencies. As a teenager learning it I paid attention in class, I would pay attention to how the teacher would express an idea when she was describing a document or even have us talk in class. 

For example, "tengo la impresión de que nadie quiere participar hoy, alguien para leer el texto?" would be different from " Pues hoy vamos a hablar más,he preparado una actividad para alcanzarlo" or even "alguien me puede resumir lo que hemos hecho en la última clase? These example sentences basically want to say " we need to work on our speaking skills today, let's get to it. One of my teachers would get us straight from the start talking before doing anything else. A warmup sort of exercise. I was very shy but paid attention in class so I tried to put those both character traits to good use. I was invested in the class but in my own way. I knew that I wanted to learn how to express a thought and feeling beyond just using grammar and conjugation which is partly why I paid attention. My level was more advanced given the few classes I had had so far and minimum revision at home. My point here is that I had no goal in mind because I knew it was a lifelong decision to learn it. She would give me and my other classmates tests on said conjugation and grammar skills but she would also ask us to go home and write about a certain topic. In those writing pieces I was more adventurous than I was in class. Writing for me was my way to show I actually liked the class a lot.Through these graded tasks she realized that writing was an outlet for me. She came up to me saying I was doing well in writing but I was really quiet in class. I used my writing to give me the courage to participate in class because I liked the subject a lot. Then she added more creative activities where we would write a dialogue in Spanish and recite it in front of the class. For some reason I was not terrified because it was my own writing. I only see now that I would be petrified to do it today. I would say pick the most obvious things in your character and start from there. I listened a lot but I also wanted to express myself. At some point I was able to raise my hand and focus on communicating how I felt about a topic. I think it was to exercise the "me gustaria/me encantaría " structure. I started growing confidence because I felt I was allowed to do so. I was not focussing on the material but just that I wanted to participate more in class. I had nothing to achieve and I think I worked well for me.If you have a more outgoing character things like working on listening first can help; the idea is to avoid starting with what seems easy but go for what scares you first. Your brain needs to know that which part of the listening ,writing etc you are most apprehensive about so that you develop it overtime. For some people not having a goal to achieve is essential for their progress and they do not even know it.I hear a lot of people say you have to set your goals to know where you are going. I already feel what is needed , I just need to find the best and efficient ways to do it. My character traits allowed me to adopt a different mind space that down the line helped my progress.

If you are a shy learner, I would also say try integrating speaking as soon as possible. I was committing myself to one sentence that grew into more. It might not be starting a convo with anyone , it could be saying something like "hoy he comido arroz con carne". The important part here is to allow yourself to think of something , even "quiero aprender español" progressively leads to you to say quiero aprender español porque ..... " and then later on "Pienso que hoy va a llover mucho porque el cielo está despejado" which means " I think it will rain a lot because it is overcast." The structure "pienso que" helps with giving your opinions and feelings about something without it being daunting. That got even the shyest students to talk in class. We had lab sessions where we would listen to audios and work out activities. The aim was to fill up the answers as much as we could. Even if somebody only had half of the answer, we were encouraged to share it. I think that in retrospect helped me because you really feel like you could just say what you heard. I was not worried about the correctness of the information as much but trying to phrase out what I had just heard. We would figure it out as the session progressed. I sometimes participated more in those classes than in the normal classroom setting. A contradiction you may say. I would feel bad not having tried. I ended up focussing more on speaking to the point I even starting doubting my writing. Now my listening helps my speaking which helps my writing because I started with what scared me the most.


  • The time of the day matters as well. For me sometimes around meal times I try to practice saying things in Spanish. Because I can focus on the food instead. I do not distract myself , I try to redirect the nerves .Another thing with food is it is rare to find someone who hates eating. 


  • If you say you want to learn Spanish, then you may hear several versions of that same language, you need to be very specific. Is it in Spain , where exactly in Spain Bilbao,Oviedo, Teruel. You have to be location specific. To maybe search content from that specific region , listen to the radio from Oviedo or etc whatever suits your boat. This helps with "i am scared of getting started" feeling. For example for "hey you" to address yourself to a male person you could hear tío, hombre, chaval(for youngsters) etc. Some cities might use distinctive ways to say it.


  • Use it at work. You do not need a "hispanohablante" near you but great if you do. For example if you are a customer service agent. Pick up a random sentence the customer said and try to find a way to say the same thing in Spanish. If you are a radio presenter, start your show with hola Cómo estáis todos hoy". I mean that's an example, you are the one who decides how to do it in the end. 


  • Try searching online "examen de bachillerato de español ,sesión 2015-2016"for example. High school Graduation language exam in the country you are interested in. That one could work for any language really. I chose that level especifically because it is the equivalent of a higher B2 level , in other words in that level you are conversional. You can do it at the very beginning, as long as you can read the scripture in that target language. 


  • In my case I write songs in Spanish sometimes. Because I am into creative work in contrast with the advice to" write a journal entry in Spanish. I would even say find a creative activity you would do in your native tongue and do it in Spanish. No one has to know but if you feel comfortable sharing it then here you go.


  • Last but not least if it makes you feel nervous to learn it, accept it. You cannot get any results by ignoring that it may terrify you to learn it. The "I do not know how to improve learning Spanish" feeling, I was sort of not aware of how scared I was to speak it in the first place. The second you admit it, your brain goes "aww I did not know you were scared". Later on,It tries to find ways to ease on these nerves. In other words try working with your brain not against it, sometimes it knows the way.

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A shy person that writes sometimes.


I am just a shy person who likes to be creative.

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