Most Common Teaching Yourself Spanish Mistakes and Challenges - How to avoid them

You’ve just started your self-training, you’ve chosen the right Spanish learning program for you (thank God, no teachers with outdated methods, no classmates, no obligation to spend a couple of hours in class after work several times a week), but what is really the most important – you are fully in clear what you need Spanish for.

Suddenly some problems appear. They can bring a mess in your language self-training, yet there is a good solution for each of them.
It’s a good idea also to imagine how you would feel if these problems occur if you had subscribed to a Spanish language class.

1) Problem: you don’t have time for regular Spanish learning sessions

You don’t study regularly because you think you don’t have enough time…believe me, it’s just a plain excuse.
Solution: Try to find at least half an hour a day. In a self language study you should every moment be aware what you win and what you lose.

In this case you’ve won the opportunity to have these couple of hours free after work. Then try to take advantage of this – turn 3 hours in class in half an hour or one hour effective study.

If you were in a Spanish class: You go regularly to your classes but you could lack enough time to study regularly.

You can do little about it, you have to find time to write your homework, learn your new words, get prepared for the next lesson.

You cannot however move your classes to another day because you’re not alone in the group. You cannot reduce the duration of the class time, and you know that the highest ability to be concentrated and to study is in the first 30-40 minutes of your class lesson.

2) Challenge: you feel all the stuff with Spanish is very difficult and you want to quit

Solution: Try to identify what is really difficult for you. Just don’t say “everything”.

Read your lesson again and listen to it again. Make vocabulary learning more interesting by using associations for those ones you find hard to remember.

You could also make flash cards, you can write them down and review them couple of times a day, speak them aloud and record your voice.

This is beneficial for developing your speaking skills and pronunciation.

Record your voice reading the lesson, then pronouncing a word, making a pause (which you can use either to remember its meaning or to repeat it), then another word, and so on.

For more listening tips, please see here.

If you were in a Spanish class: If you were attending a Spanish class, you would not have enough time to repeat and review what is the most difficult for you.

You spend, let’s say 4 hours two times a week, or a total of 8 hours in class.

You spend another 2 or 3 hours for writing homework and self-preparation.

That means more than 10 hours a week, while 7 hours a week – 1 hour of self study every day can bring you far more progress!

What is more, in your self-study, if you find something which is both difficult and insignificant, you may also skip it and go to the next lesson. If you come across the same issue, you can go back and practise it until you learn it. You can’t do that in class. Often not you realize something is not clear for you not before you come home and sit to review on your own what you have seen and heard in your last lesson in class.

3) Challenge: you set yourself unrealistic targets and you always think you don’t progress fast enough

Solution: To be tolerant to yourself and don’t be angry when making mistakes.
There are 2 scenarios – either you should find more time per lesson or you should change your target.

Start studying every day and increase your learning session time. You could take your lesson in the evening and make exercises, repeat them the next morning, then listen to your lesson once again in the evening and make one more revision of the exercises, before proceeding to the next lesson.

Of course, you are not supposed to take every evening a new lesson. Be sure to make enough revisions of your older lessons, so that you keep in your mind what you’ve learnt so far.

You would probably ask – how often to make revision after revision? The answer is – till Spanish becomes one of your habits and gradually you start thinking in Spanish.

It’s very difficult to describe how you’re going to feel it, but you surely are going to notice the change.

If you don’t have time for dedicating more time to your studies, then you’ve set an unrealistic target.

Your 2 months may expand into a longer period. This is not important; what really matters after this initial period is whether you have achieved your goals or you’ve just lost your time.

Often time is even more valuable than money.

If you were in a Spanish class: you can do nothing – neither when you see you’re falling behind your classmates, nor when you see that everyone except you is progressing too fast.

As you’ve paid a fair sum of money, it is unlikely to just quit your course. Most probably you would get angry and frustrated but this is surely not going to improve your situation.

4) Challenge: you’re not happy with your speaking and listening skills so far

Solution: Be patient. Listening and speaking skills are harder to develop than reading skills.

Try do discover, to distinguish every new word in a radio or TV emission.

 Don’t get worried that you understand just a few of what you hear. The most important is to understand these words that you already know.

That’s why it’s very important to exercise them.

Repeat what you hear, repeat words, then phrases, then sentences.

If you were in a Spanish class: It’s time to ask a couple of questions whose answers are obvious.

How much time is your voice heard during the lesson?

Can you pronounce every single word, so that the teacher can hear and correct your pronunciation?

Or you can do that not until you get home and have enough time for exercises?

 While in class can you play and rewind the lesson as many times as you want, listen to it sentence by sentence?

The teacher in class never has enough time to work individually with every student – the lessons are too short and every student shows different progress.

Instead there are usually lots of explanations, most of them in English, everything is explained a couple of times, everything is compared to English.

I hope you still remember the recommendation to be tolerant to other languages’ specifics and not to ask too many questions or search too detailed explanations about some language differences.