So, you're learning Spanish.
You feel like your head is full of gobbledygook.
You try to understand and wrap your mind around this new communication system.
When you try to use the language your brain freezes, goes blank.
Or you just make mistake after mistake.
This is stressful, uncomfortable, painful.
Even for the greatest of polyglots out there, language learning is painful.
The difference between those who gain fluency and those who don't is that the first group learns how to minimize their pain while learning Spanish and at the same time maximizing productivity in their study.
Here's the #1 tip for maximizing gain and minimizing pain: Scaffolding.
Building yourself up
In the field of education, scaffolding is the idea that teachers should give their students tasks that are just slightly more difficult than the student's current level.
This means that the student may have some difficulty performing the task, BUT the difficulty is small enough that with a little bit of hard work and effort, the student can complete the task. Thus, the student improves!
If the difficulty is too great, the student can feel discouraged and give up.
This all means that the student has to go through a bit of pain and discomfort in order to grow.
It makes sense, right? No pain, no gain.
However, people have different tolerances for pain in language learning.
Even for different skills (like reading, writing, speaking, grammar, listening) the same person can tolerate pain in one area better than another.
What you should do as a Spanish learner is to scaffold yourself when learning.
If you feel too much pain when doing a task, think to yourself how you can break it down into smaller parts and scaffold yourself to conquering it.
Here are some ideas:
- Minimize speaking pain: learn a bunch of vocabulary and phrases for one topic only (for example, the weather). Tell your online tutor that you want to speak only about this topic for one class. This will give you the comfort of familiarity and minimize unpredictability.
- Minimize listening pain: Take our training course and follow the instructions to seriously minimize the pain. You can also follow the tips found here.
- Minimize grammar pain: re-visit grammar exercises. If you don't get it, do them again. Ask a tutor to explain each item to you. You don't need to put the pressure on yourself to understand everything in one go!
Get to it!
Minimizing pain does NOT mean giving up and to stop doing the activities you don't like.
It just means to break it up into smaller bits and be honest with yourself about your own pain tolerance.
Polyglots who speak over 10 languages still feel some pain when learning a new one. They just know how to manage that, and they are top scaffolders!
Need some extra help scaffolding yourself?
Our Spanish Academy scaffolds the lessons for you. In our courses, we break it down and raise students up.