A few months later Andrew returned a changed man. What were once fragile mutters limited to basic introductions and overused phrases became elaborate discussions plentiful in colloquialisms and hand gestures. It was a beautiful sight.
Tacit learning vs. classroom Spanish
|Without enough exposure, no amount of studying will help your Spanish|
Photo credit: Christoffer licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Think of tacit knowledge as intuition. It is knowledge we already have or acquired through past experiences, but we are unable to easily explain it to others. It’s what we have learned through practice, observation, and repetition. Think of knowing how to ride a bike, or more relevant, your own native language. You may not necessarily consciously understand the ins and outs of it, but you know what sounds right and what doesn’t and how to speak it. On the other hand, explicit knowledge is what you learn from studying facts, policies, and rules, i.e., your typical classroom learning experience. Both are important methods for knowledge creation, however language learners tend to spend the majority of their time developing explicit knowledge. Meanwhile those who learn a language in a foreign country develop a more extensive tacit knowledge drawn from exposure to the local environment and even television.
Total immersion is always at hand
Tacit knowledge development is precisely the reason why most “experts” will tell you that watching foreign television is a great way to learn a language. Now, Andrew was lucky that he could afford a vacation in Argentina, both financially and job-wise. But, let’s face it, such vacations are not always terribly practical or even affordable for most of us. As much as we’d love it, not all of us are blessed with the life of a freewheeling globe-trotter. There’s job, there’s family, there’s the anxiety of an alien culture, and then there’s the expenses involved. So, does that knell the doom of immersion for us lesser mortals? Not in today’s world at least, thanks to the global connectivity provided by the omnipresent Internet!
Short of taking a long break and moving to another country, the best (and the most amusing) way to immerse yourself into a new culture is through the local entertainment they produce, which reflects the language, traditions and customs of their world. An immensely useful example is watching traditional Spanish shows or telenovelas to practice listening comprehension and absorb the elaborate yet necessary colloquialisms. It’s no coincidence that this is the method recommended by many.
If you live in the United States, you may already have access to some Spanish TV channels. Or, if you’d rather watch from your computer or phone, take a look at free sites like DramaFever Latino, which allows you to watch full Spanish telenovelas online from Latin America and Spain with English subtitles.
Nonetheless, we’re not saying it will be easy: The tacit learning method requires active engagement and participation, not mere rote memorization. But it will pay dividends! Auditory learning tends to be more organic - babies learn languages by simply listening to the flow of dialogue and drawing logical connections. While you’re no longer a baby (we’d presume) your learning process will be somewhat similar. By watching Spanish shows and telenovelas you’ll be listening to real dialogue, not perfectly enunciated classroom Spanish, which will strengthen your listening abilities in real situations.
That being said, don’t burn your books yet. The best learning method is one which effectively combines traditional explicit learning with tacit knowledge creation. After all, knowing the difference between what sounds right and what is actually right can save you moments of mild embarrassment.
|DramaFever is one of the richest sources of free TV shows and novelas|
Photo credit: DramaFever Latino
Available on a wide range of platforms including iOS and Android, this library currently offers over 13,000 episodes from across 12 countries and counting. This overwhelming array of programs should be enough to satiate your taste no matter how fussy. And if you can manage to get hooked to even one such program, that’s the Holy Grail of learning Spanish! Entertainment is the best teacher, more so when it comes to learning Spanish.
You can choose to be a free member or paid depending on your financial comfort. Even if you choose to go for the free subscription, you have at your disposal the entire collection of videos, unlimited with no strings attached, albeit with commercials. A paid subscription (which is surprisingly not quite a hole in your pocket at less than $10 a month) gets you the same library but in high definition and without any commercials.
Not keen on having to sign up on a zillion websites every time you find something useful enough? Well, DramaFever allows you to login with your existing Facebook credentials so no need to waste time filling out those annoying registration forms. By the way, the paid plan is also available $9.99 a year if you’re not a big fan of paying every month. However, you are advised to first try out their free subscription before you decide to take out that credit card.
So, there you are; no more excuses for not getting enough exposure to Spanish. Just go for the kill! There is a whole world out there doing incredible number of different things to help you learn that language. It’s a shame if you still feel you don’t have enough resources at hand. Just remember: It is entirely possible to learn Spanish without spending a dime and without getting bored. All it costs is your willpower and perseverance.
Feel free to drop a note in the comment section below to share your experiences with DramaFever Latino with the rest of us. We are eager to hear you out!