Disclaimer: I don’t actually have any friends. Especially not a “Joey”.
Being in Spain the best part of a year I’ve always admired the passion and excitement that my Spanish friends have always had in their attempt at being fluent English speakers. Compared to their British counterparts learning Spanish? Well, there’s simply no comparison. These dudes are hardcore.
During my adventures I’ve always been happy to adhere to their pestering of me to teach them how to pronounce words they’d heard on television or crappy movies. David Silgado, god bless him, was a devil for that. Yes, at times I did laugh at them (as they did me) but as time went on I learned like the true redemptive blog character I am. I came to understand there is just as much fun and joy in being a fluent English speaker as there is for someone attempting the same thing in Spanish. So consider this my reverse look into the way they do it. Because everybody’s sick to the back teeth of hearing about my half-arsed attempts. Isn’t that right Mo?
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: Starting from Scratch
Casting a glance at this useful infograph from Kaplan about how to learn English, I noticed that the friends I’d met in Spain had pretty much been doing all the same things outlined.
Starting from scratch was the way forward. With friends who’d just started learning, I’d discourage them from memorising long or short sentences and instead got them to focus their attention first on learning the alphabet and second the pronunciation of vowel sounds. Doing the same in Spanish seemed to help me anyway!
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: Computer Games
Computer games have completely revolutionized the way we live in helping us to relax after a hectic day of work and creating am army of virgin geeks the world over. Seeing my friends play games like FIFA and the World of Warcraft with their sound modes set to English, I noticed how fast they were able to learn basic phrases and secondly just how far I’d fallen from the “cool crowd”. Perfect for them cybering with me on Skype in the future though.
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: TV Shows and Movies
Encouraging my brethren to watch English language TV shows (or the waterboard torture that is Friends) and getting them to watch movies with English subtitles on seemed to ramp up their skills. Grasping different English styles, words and phrasings, the visual stimuli works well for locking in focus. Unless you get stuck watching a film with Orlando Bloom. About as useful (and fun) as piercing your gooch.
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: Carrying a Pocket Dictionary
Taking the smart move of purchasing a translation book that contained English words corresponding to the appropriate Spanish seemed to work well for one or two of my Spanish homeboys. Helping them construct simple English sentences direct from their native language, pocket books soon proved sexier than the covers they rock. Still not convinced they can supersede Anki though. That’s like meth for language learning.
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: Listening to Music
It may well be written and sung in a different language but the sentimentality of music crosses all borders. Spanish learners of English dig American music a lot. It plays everywhere. From clubs, to bars, to pensioners homes. With that kind of broadcasting it’s hard not to pick up and learn a few phrases.
How My Spanish Friends Learned English: Setting Goals and Making it Exciting
I did give my friends the challenge of always ensuring they write down the words they learned each day so they could see and track the progress they were making. Recording their results, similar to how I did in my progress videos, seemed to turn them on to learn more.
All in all I’d say it only took a month for my friends to clearly know how to construct basic English sentences and be able to understand what I was jabbering on about. Their determination and urge to fully learn? Was definitely met with the techniques outlined.