2 things you need to know about your brain to learn Spanish more efficiently.

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When you learn Spanish, one of the most exciting and rewarding moments is when you find yourself using a word that you didn’t even know you knew!! It took no effort and it waltzed out of your mouth with grace and precision leaving yourself shocked. These are the moments that we need to foster and what this post will be focusing on. How do I create more moments like this for me?

Let me tell you a story

When I was a college student majoring in English as a second language, I spent most of my time learning and speaking English. One day, while taking the public bus home from university, I noticed a truck next to the bus with oversized windshield wipers. I thought (in English), “Wow! Those windshield wipers are really weird!” But then, it struck me: “When and where did I learn how to say windshield wipers in English?

It was such a random word to know. It was not in my school books, nor in the vocabulary lists I memorized for exams, and not even in the literature I was reading for my classes. I couldn’t trace back when I learned that word.” This incident has stayed with me as a great example of how the brain works.  

Conscious and Unconscious learning

Our brain learns consciously and unconsciously as well. Conscious learning involves taking deliberate steps such as attending classes and making flashcards. Doing all of this is great to control and boost our learning the most we can. This is stored first in our short term memory. Practice and use will move it to the long term memory which is exactly where we need it to be.

Unconscious learning happens when we are relaxed and engaged in conversation, allowing our brains to pick up new words and concepts unconsciously. This kind of learning is very strong and you are very likely to remember it for a long time. A very important factor for this to happen is our emotional state. We need to be relaxed and receptive. If you are having trouble relaxing, this post might help you.

Tips to use conscious learning to learn Spanish

This is how you can boost your conscious learning for better and faster results:

  • Use books and tutorials to help you understand the grammar. See our Youtube Channel for free tutorials
  • Join Spanish classes to learn with a community of peers.
  • Have fun making your own flashcards.
  • Use apps for repetition
  • Find your own anagrams or ways of remembering the target words.
  • Make up your own songs and rhymes

Tips to make unconscious Spanish learning more available to you

  • Listen to songs you like! If you need inspiration, check out my playlist for learning Spanish.
  • Watch series for enjoyment. Use Spanish or English subtitles if needed. Let the language permeate your brain.
  • Engage in conversation with an open mind and open heart. If you don’t understand a word, smile and ask for clarification. Have fun figuring it out.
  • Follow Spanish content that you are interested in social media. If you like cooking, follow recipes and hispanic nutritionists for instance.

So, how do I use this to learn Spanish faster?

As adults learning Spanish, it is important that we profit from both kinds of learning, conscious and unconscious.

Conscious learning requires us to do the work: go to Spanish classes, make flashcards, write down the words, think of ways to remember them better. It is essential to our Spanish learning process. It directs our learning in the direction we want to go. Unconscious learning is fun, unpredictable and not easy to control. It stores information directly in our long term memory with no conscious work on our part. 

Knowing this, helps us realize that our brains can do much more than we think they can. If we create an atmosphere both physical and emotional for both kinds of learning to happen, we will become proud Spanish speakers and our learning will thrive. 

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