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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.

Kill Frustration With The Language Dojo

Ever wondered why an overwhelming number of Spanish learners end up quitting hardly a few months into their programs? Even better, ever wondered why you felt like quitting learning Spanish out of sheer frustration? Where did that zeal go? Where’s that battle cry you flagged off your Spanish language program with? Today, we’ll extensively talk about a blog that answers just these questions and more! We can comfortably wager that reading the radical, game-changing notes on that blog will change the way you see learning Spanish for good because motivation is everything when it comes to learning anything. Nothing else matters.

We ran into Ramses Oudt on the Internet after extensively reviewing his blog on learning Spanish – any language, for that matter – and stalking him on Facebook. Today, we have become friends of sorts and we could never thank him enough for his infinitely inspiring work, The Language Dojo. We could connect with Ramses on several levels, being fellow webmasters and, more importantly, being fellow linguists who dig Spanish. Our mutual flair for languages meant that Always Spanish had to draw more than a significant amount of inspiration from The Language Dojo. In fact, it’s The Language Dojo that gave us the final kick despite the plans for Always Spanish being in the pipeline for over a year before it actually took shape!

Why do language learners quit?

Now, that we have given you a fair idea of The Language Dojo being an inspiration behing Always Spanish, a little digression is in order here. Actually, let’s revisit our original question – What demotivates someone learning Spanish and what can help one keep that demon at bay? Now, let’s address this question in parts; it’s primarily important that we know what demotivates us. Surprisingly, the answer lies within. Look no further, you are your best counsel! Well, it all boils down to just one thing. There could be a hundred different ways of putting this across but when chopped finely enough, all reasoning and argument essentially reduces down to a single common theme regardless of whether you are learning Spanish or Swahili. That core cause of demotivation is absence of visible results!

Learning Spanish is this easy!
Learning Spanish is really this easy!
Photo credit: Mike Burns licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
It’s only human to expect results whenever something new is started. That’s not the problem. The problem starts when your expectations cross that thin red line between what’s reasonable and what’s not. If you start learning Spanish with a goal of speaking like the natives in two months, you are most likely setting yourself up for failure. Have small, realistic goals. Take baby steps. In fits and starts, it’s nature’s honest truth that you’ll get there. As long as you are consistent. There’s no motivation bigger than success and there’s no teacher as effective as self-motivation.

So, higher your success-rate, the better your chances of getting fluent in Spanish or whatever you are learning. And the best way to ensure you succeed more often is by keeping a number of small, successive, and achievable targets. Every time you hit those targets, you’ll feel more charged-up, more empowered, and get a small baby-step closer to your ultimate goal of being native-fluent in Spanish.

What matters most is consistency. even if you can manage to dedicate only 30 minutes of your day to learning Spanish, keep it at that or more everyday. Do not bunk. Even 10 minutes of reps on Anki® is better than no reps at all. Even 10 minutes of watching a Spanish show is better than none at all. Even 10 minutes of reading your favorite comic in Spanish is better than not reading at all. Instead of fretting over how busy you are and how you don’t have time for learning Spanish anymore, think of ways to maximize your effectiveness with whatever time you have at your disposal! Even polyglots who speak a dozen unrelated tongues with native-like fluency (yes, they do exist!) have only 24 hours in their day, just like the rest of us. And most of them have jobs and families to attend to, all the while taking those baby steps toward their goals. Would you assume they would have complained about how little time they had to practice their language skills?

Well, so we have understood the importance of being consistent and keeping small achieveable targets in our language programs. Is there still something we could do to keep our motivation afloat? There, surprisingly, happen to exist some quite commonlace solutions to this problem which is what brings me to our next subject, The Language Dojo.

The Language Dojo

Ramses has been an acquaintance since his Spanish-Only days and, one must confess, he has never ceased to kick learners in the right direction ever since. If one were to summarize the qualities of this blog in one word, it would be, motivation. A casual trip to this blog will show you dozens of articles mostly by Ramses (and sometimes by Matthew, a co-author) that solely strive to keep you motivated in learning Spanish (or Xulu or Korean). What started as a hobby blog for those learning Spanish way back in the spring of 2008 has slowly evolved into a full-fledged self-hosted goldmine of motivating and resourceful articles for those learning just about any language, known by fans simply as TLD.

The best aspect of this blog is Ramses’ radical views on the various language learning methodologies in practice today. Ramses is himself a linguist from The Netherlands whose love affair with languages started when he chose to major in Spanish as a young college student. He has dabbled in several established methodologies, some conventional and others unconventional, while learning Spanish and has drawn heavily from the likes of Antimoon and Dr. Stephen Krashen. It is this assortment of extremely unconventional learning methodologies (read, for example, Input vs. Output) that make TLD an immensely indispensible resource. What motivates you even more is the fact that these methods, while being radically unorthodox, are also extremely easy to implement and it is this ease that makes them motivating (how difficult can watching TV for hours get? What can be harder than just letting a Spanish podcast rattle away in the background while you are cooking?). You start seeing learning Spanish as a more realistically achieveable enterprise when you see the methods are easy and natural and when you see that successes, though in tiny installments, are quick to come by, not to mention, visible.

Another way TLD helps you stay in the game is by offering you a couple of inspiring success stories. Nothing rakes up the adrenaline in us more than a story of someone who has started where we are today and has gone on to get where we aspire to be in a commendable span of time. As humans, we all love role-models. Read, for example, about James’ success with total immersion and tell us if it didn’t inspire you! Such tales of real success achieved by real people like us and unconventional language learning methods have revolutionized our approach to learning Spanish. And it’s our strong belief that you can draw more than just inspiration from this infinitely rich resource.

Have you ever been creative about self-motivation? Got any interesting ideas to help other lesser mortals like us find language learning a more interesting and rewarding experience? Feel free to share your thoughts!

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