Lesson 9.3 Phrase 37
February 10, 2020
February 11, 2020
Thank you very much for your question!
When you're first starting out with a new language, hearing all aspects of what's being said can indeed be one of the hardest parts. It's quite common for new learners of a language to actually be unable to hear certain sounds in the language they're learning - this is because these sounds don't exist in their native language. Over time, with practice and lots of listening exposure, your ears will tune these new sounds in. You'll also become more familiar with how certain sounds might change when they follow others, especially vowels. For instance, when the word dijiste comes after por qué, the "D" sounds less clear than when dijiste is used to start a sentence. It is still being said, but it's more subtle and it sounds a bit blended with what came before it. Ears that are newer to Spanish won't be familiar with this phenomenon, and might not be able to pick it out.
At the beginning, this inability to hear things and to separate words that sound blended together can be quite discouraging! My advice would be the following:
- Try out a handful of lessons (say, three or four), and then go back and try those lessons again from the beginning. You'll find with each pass, you will get more exposure to the sounds you're hearing and you will start to pick up more.
- It's very tempting to do so, but try your best to avoid translating in your head! Translation takes your brain more time and more effort than simple comprehension does; students of languages who always translate what they're hearing and what they're saying find that they are slower to understand and speak, and this makes the process much more frustrating and exhausting. It will take some practice at first, but let the words enter your head without sending them through an English filter first.
- Incorporate Spanish sounds into your life in a more relaxing way so that your ears get used to them. I personally find listening to music to be a great help when learning new languages, particularly because songs are so repetitive and because singers tend to enunciate more clearly than most speakers do. Watching Spanish movies or TV can be helpful as well, even if you don't understand what's going on - just hearing more speakers and the way that they combine words can be helpful. You get some extra cultural exposure too!
- Finally, if you find that the sentences in the lessons you're doing are being spoken too fast or are too complex for what you're able to hear or for the amount of vocabulary that you know, it may be that you need to take a few steps back and start at a lower level.
Above all, don't give up! Starting out is the hardest part with a new language - there's so much to learn and so much you don't know, that it can feel overwhelming and just impossible. The key is to take things one small step at a time. It may feel like it will take you forever, but once you've got the basics down, you will start to build momentum and your learning speed will increase.
I hope that this was helpful! Do let me know if you have any more questions.
February 11, 2020
February 12, 2020
It is definitely true that it's easier to start with speakers talking at a slower speed, so that you can really absorb all of the sounds and practice using them yourself too. Since the lesson you'd mentioned, 9.3, is in our Spanish Premium Plus (Level 2) course, I might recommend starting with (or revisiting) our the Spanish Premium (Level 1) course. How fast the native speakers are talking is taken into account with each level, so you should find the speakers in Level 1 talking at a more manageable speed for a beginner. Even if you feel that your grammar understanding is more Level 2 than Level 1, concentrating on just listening to and repeating after the speakers in the Level 1 Interactive Audio Course lessons might still be helpful.
I hope that that helps!
February 29, 2020
March 2, 2020
Thanks very much for sharing that link - I'm sure other forum users may want to give it a read as well! I'll be sure to pass it on to the Spanish development team to take a look at.