Traveling for 6 months in South and Central America you would think our Spanish would have improved immensely. The sad truth is our Spanish was better when we first started in April. We have got progressively worse as we’ve traveled but since arriving in Panama 2 months ago we have tried harder to learn and retain what we’ve learned despite our remote house sit assignment. We have the time now to read and write and learn more and we are taking advantage of that.
Here are 4 language learning tools we use and love:
Rob bought Rosetta Stone for me for Christmas almost 4 years ago. I went great guns learning in the beginning and then my commitment to learning became more sporadic. The program is really easy to use and very detailed and repetitive to help the learning stick. I have started the program again and have been reminded why so many people swear by its effective approach to language learning. The key for me is to do a little bit everyday. Units are short and comprehensive. Only minutes a day, consistently are needed to learn speech, accent and spelling.
Duolingo- This little app helped reignite my Spanish learning efforts. Totally free, Duolingo offers a ton of quick written and dictation lessons. There is less spoken practice but I found it very effective it in conjunction with Rosetta Stone. I use it on my computer and on my smart phone when I don’t have my laptop with me. Its easy and convenient to use and Duo, the owl is so cute and motivating. A great learning tool for kids.
Memrise- I have just recently discovered this free site and I love it! Memrise uses flash card and learning techniques that aid in information retention. Also available as an app, Memrise is my favorite tool right now. I like the concepts it uses (planting thoughts and watering to continue growth). It politely reminds me via email to review words I’ve learned to commit them to memory. The lessons are quick and effective. Memrise uses mnemonics to help users remember phrases. I have found this very helpful for committing phrases and spelling of words to memory.
Flash Cards– We are using flash cards to help Makai learn to read. They have been so effective we thought using them to learn Spanish would be good for all of us. We were right. Using flash cards to learn information is proven to be an effective method to retain new information. All of us are visual learners so flash cards really have helped us retain more of what we’ve learned.
I think one of the things that’s most important to learning a new language is consistency. You really need to commit to doing a little bit a day on a consistent basis. The tools we love make it easy to learn and review using anyone of them 5 to 10 minutes a day. The real truth about learning a language is no tool is going to work if you don’t try to speak the language regularly. The tools are only 50 percent of the process. You also have to really want to learn the language, have a true desire to speak and understand it.
Being in a remote area in Panama may be great for finding time to use the programs we love but we know we will need to make the most of our trips to town to practice speaking with local people. Practice really does make perfect so look for opportunities to use what you’ve learned. There are meetups all over the world for practicing new languages. Maybe there is one in your home town.