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AlwaysSpanish is Retiring!

After a long awkward silence, here's something to break the ice – all over again. I can totally see why you should be upset to see no action from the Burro for over a month now, but trust me, your wait was all worth it. The news here is that your beloved Burro has just moved into a brand new home – one that's a whole lot richer, swankier, and easier to live in. I'm talking about PeppyBurro. That's the name of the new website! Isn't that cool? At least it tells you all about the Burro's pepped up temperament right off the bat, right? This post is not about Spanish-learning tricks (although I will drop in a couple out of habit, I guess) or grammar lessons. This one's all about our new home!

The Witchcraft Of Spanish Vocabulary

The very first step to conquering a language is to tame its vocabulary. And sadly, that's the part that puts off most novice learners because memorizing strange-sounding words is too darn boring! A never-ending chant of rote rehearsal and a nervous prayer can see you through an upcoming test, but the process just won't cut it if your goal is to actually use the language in the street. It's a mystery how this incredibly inefficient method has survived this long and still continues to be perpetuated by schools and educators around the world. So is there any nirvana around this assault of monotony in our miserable lives? Anything that could make learning foreign words less painful?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Spanish has retired. Please visit the new blog at for all future articles.

Spanish Everyday, Spanish Everywhere

Welcome to yet another post on Spanish language immersion. Your visit here indicate that you are a lazy yet serious learner of this beautiful language and I am hoping you are making reasonable progress in your endeavor. Uncanny as it sounds, being able to communicate in Spanish as comfortably as native speakers doesn’t have to be as frustratingly difficult as them academicians would have us believe. I have always advocated total immersion as the only route to the Holy Grail of native-level proficiency. The benefits of immersion are applicable to Spanish as much as they do to any other language including our native tongue.

Total immersion is no rocket science

Live the Spanish language everyday
Live the Spanish language everyday
Photo credit: Paul Hamilton licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Immersing yourself in Spanish is the only and, luckily, the quickest way to attain every language learner’s Nirvana. Over the past few posts on learning Spanish via immersion, we have already explored some quite powerful immersion techniques, i.e., music, movies, television, books, etc.

Here, we explore some more. It will only help to note that I am not inventing these techniques on my own. What I have done, instead, is explore the possibility of using Spanish for and in everything I do using English. So, in effect, I am just exploring things that I would usually do in English and start doing the very same things in Spanish. Easy-peasy! Now this doesn’t sound like something you cannot do, does it? In fact, if you look around and reflect closely enough, you will easily discover many more ways of building Spanish around you which could immensely help our community of learners.

Podcasts for that input overdose

Spanish language podcasts are best for immersive input
Spanish language podcasts are best for immersive audio input
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
One very ubiquitous immersion tool that I missed out on in my earlier posts is podcasts. There are tons of wonderful free podcasts out there for the discerning listener that can give your ears the desperately needed acclimatization for the Spanish sound system or accent.

As with other methods, understanding every sentence, or any at all, is far from important in the beginning. Just focus on the rhythm, the intonation, the music of the language. Make it your second nature to be able to tell Spanish from any other language in the world, however close. Even as little as 30 minutes of listening a day will cast its spell on you and the magic will manifest in as little as 6 months if you are consistent enough.

I would also like to point here that you must be careful while choosing the right podcast for this purpose. If acquiring Spanish is your goal, the podcast you subscribe to must have authentic, native speakers from the country whose dialect you wish to eventually emulate. It is very important to avoid non-native speech as it will potentially give you a train-wreck of an accent, not to mention the utter inability to ever tell Spanish from its close cousins. Also, no matter what your level of Spanish is, always gun for podcasts where Spanish is being spoken at a natural, native pace. Most podcasts, particularly those aimed at learners, tend to have conversations at ridiculously slow rates of speech, not to mention the dumbed down vocabulary. Not only is this detrimental to your learning, but will also keep you ignorant of how Spanish is really spoken by real men and women. Remember that your sole motive here must be to develop an ear for the Spanish sounds. You got to to hit a stage where you can catch the drift even when half-asleep and everything sounds more or less fuzzy to you.

Label your world!

Post-its® are great for Spanish vocabulary
Post-its® are great for Spanish vocabulary
Photo credit: Spark Truck licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Another powerful technique for absolute immersion is labeling your surroundings. Post-It® was the noblest of all inventions in human history from a Spanish learner’s standpoint. Make labels for every conceivable object in your environment both at work as well as back home. I can understand how silly this might sound to the rookie learner but the immersion effects of this activity is understated at best. This is the quickest and easiest method to remember the Spanish for some of the most useful words in your daily life. This is also one of the least intrusive ways to unknowingly make Spanish integral to your lifestyle, the key to native-level fluency.

The acceleration that this activity can bring to your Spanish learning program more than compensates for any amount of embarrassment.

 Having done this myself, I can strongly vouch for the efficacy of labeling all items in your household. I bloated my vocabulary out of proportion just by labeling my world and keeping them on for a month!

Keep in mind that perfection comes from practice. You can retain new words more effectively if you use them in place of the equivalent words in your native tongue as far as possible and wherever practical. For instance, when learning Spanish, substitute ‘uno’ for ‘one’ and ‘cena’ for ‘dinner.’ In time, the words will become second nature to you and you’ll understand them when you hear them spoken. You’ll be amazed at your ability to understand Spanish when you hear it spoken.

 Learning Spanish or any new language does not have to be so painful or painful at all. The beginning may be a little rough, but in time it does get a lot better. You will become fluent if you persevere and make good use of as many tricks and tips as possible.

The BIG RED BOOK of super quick Spanish vocabulary using mnemonics and other unconventional memory shortcuts is out and ready to make Spanish accessible and fun once again. 1,442 pages packed to the brim to help you nail difficult Spanish words @ THE SPEED OF THOUGHT.
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Master Spanish, one post at a time
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