Photo by Barry Yanowitz
Many want to learn Spanish and they want to learn it now. No wait, they want to speak Spanish and they want to speak it NOW. They don’t want to go through the trouble of learning another language but want to speak it as soon as possible.
And many language learning products on the market tell you (or at least want you to believe) you can learn Spanish within 20 days, or within 200 hours. Bee es! There’s no such thing as learning Spanish within 200 hours. Every idiot can cram enough Spanish for his upcoming holiday in Cancún, and that’s fine. But don’t expect to have a decent level after 200 hours, especially not if you’re going for the input-based approach, because that’ll let you rock harder in the end but will take more time upfront.
I like to compare learning another language to running a marathon. You don’t wake up one day and think: “Dude, I’m totally going to run the marathon of Los Angeles today”. No, running a marathon or any significant distance requires practice and a healthy lifestyle. If you can’t or don’t want to do that you’re either going to fail or run yourself to death.
If you dive into this language learning thing without a plan you’re probably going to fail. Step one in order to succeed is setting a realistic goal and a realistic timeframe. Expect to be able to produce some Spanish that makes sense after 6 months (with enough input), but don’t expect to be even near fluency. For that you need more time, more input and more dedication. It’s simple as that.
Also, don’t expect to instantly win this ‘marathon’. It takes years of practice to end high in the rankings. In the sense of language learning it also takes years of input and practice to really become fluent. You can become more or less fluent within 2 years, yes, but true ownage only starts after that. It’s not like that you say one day: “Now I’m fluent”. It’s a gradual process and you need your time to get to that phase.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re not progressing as fast you would like. The ultimate goal is to learn Spanish, not how fast you learn it. If you want to learn it within 2 years then that’s fine and absolutely possible with the right approach. However, if you can’t spend enough time on Spanish to become fluent within 2 years but you need 3 or 4 years instead, then that’s fine as well. Just don’t burn yourself out.
In the end the most important thing is having fun. It’s not that you’re only going to have fun as soon as you’re fluent in Spanish, no. The most ideal situation would be that you’re having fun from day one. That way you’ll be able to continue to incredible journey without burning out. Pick native materials that you like and don’t waste time on some lame learning product. If you’re having fun and just relaxing while learning this cool language you’re only doing good things. Next to that, you might end up fluent without a pain!
The most important thing is reaching the finish line, no matter how long it took you to reach it.