Spanish is commonly spoken 20% faster than the English language (proven in multiple studies).
Spanish words can roll together, because so many Spanish words end in the letters “o” and “a”.
This drives many new Spanish speakers crazy…especially me when I was first getting started.
You have two ways to face this challenge.
1. You can say “más despacio por favor”
It means “more slowly please”.
Most Spanish speakers are very gracious and will slow down for you.
But wouldn’t you rather blend into conversations? Speak with your friends with confidence and freedom. Fit in like a local not an outsider. Watch as your amigos become so impressed with your Spanish they treat you like any other native speaker.
2. Tap Into the Spanish that is invisible to most English Speakers
Soon you too can understand more Spanish at the normal pace. Speak authentic Spanish and comprehend more of what your amigos say to you.
This is a step by step system that opens your ears to Spanish.
And as your ears open to Spanish, the Spanish world opens to you.
This is what I needed when struggling to keep up with my amigos.
Sometimes keeping up with the speed of Spanish felt like climbing Everest without a Sherpa or even a map.
Often, I felt lost and on my own.
You don’t have to go it alone.
I’ll be your guide and hand you an easy to follow map to understanding Spanish
I first discovered how vital this was when I was teaching English in Tijuana.
Tijuana can be jarring to the senses. It’s barren, crowded and dangerous.
Yet for my Mexican students who had to learn English…the city and it’s 1,000 factories represented opportunity for a better life.
I loved helping my students take better care of their families through language.
But one day it seemed like the class went crazy.
The students were boisterous.
They were middle level managers. Yet they were acting like preschoolers drunk on tequila.
They were usually so dedicated. They would learn English from 5 -7 pm after a 10-hour work day that started at 7:00AM.
Yet, this day for some reason they were bouncing off the walls.
I was clueless about why they were acting this way.
I was desperate to control the class. But nothing I did held their attention for more than a few seconds. It was like I wasn’t even there.
All the laughing.
“What are they laughing about?”
I couldn’t tell because I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
“Are they laughing at me?”
“Are they making fun of me behind my back?”
Finally, enough was enough.
“Either bloody pay attention to what I am saying or go home to your families and stop wasting your time and mine. ”
You should have seen the shock on their faces.
I’m a pretty easy going and quiet guy. They’d never seen me like this.
The silence was deafening.
Then Marisol spoke up “Sorry teacher, we are excited because we are going to spend Friday training at the Oasis Hotel.”
I knew the hotel well. It was a couple of beaches over from my house.
They were in ecstasy about the view, ambience and location that I enjoyed every day.
I took for granted what sent them into a frenzy of excitement.
Que idiota fui. (What an idiot I was.)
I felt 2 inches tall.
I blamed the students for being unruly. But the culprit was my weakness in understanding Spanish.
Even though I was teaching English in a Spanish speaking country, I wasn’t living the full Spanish experience.
Sure, when people spoke “despacio” (slowly) I could hold my own.
But when they spoke among themselves I was lost.
And when they were as excited and animated like my students were about the hotel I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
I felt paranoid, vulnerable and left out.
This had to end. Here’s how my quest to fully understand Spanish led me to a breakthrough and…
How My Breakthrough Will Fast Track Your Spanish Life
I already knew it wasn’t about torturing myself with grammar and traditional textbooks.
I already suffered through por vs para, ser vs estar and indirect object pronouns until my eyes popped out.
Studying all the mistakes you can make in Spanish makes you fearful to even open your mouth. You get so stuck in your head that you can’t tune in to the flow of the language.
And obviously, immersing myself in the language didn’t work. I was already immersed…in the deep end…and ready to drown.
You’ll never expand your Spanish simply trying to eavesdrop on things you don’t understand. That’s like trying to become a dentist by getting lots of fillings.
I begged my friend Bill, a wily old Spanish teacher, to help me with my problem.
He said “you are close. you could pick up a lot just by reading in Spanish.”
Are you joking?
That sounded easy. I could do that.
I read in Spanish every day.
It helped. I picked up vocabulary and felt more familiar with Spanish. I could understand more, and it even transferred to conversations.
But there was still a giant chasm between me and my amigos whenever they picked up the pace.
I dug deeper.
I expanded my vocabulary by thousands of words. (this was a huge mistake that I’ll tell you about soon, so you don’t make the same error.)
The extra vocabulary was useful. It gave me more clarity.
Yet other times I understood all the words, but still couldn’t understand the conversation.
Why did I know so many words but understand so little?
There was something missing, but I had no clue what it was.
Eventually I stumbled upon the missing pieces of the puzzle.
The discovery came from an obscure book that talked about collocations.
They are words that combine to create new meanings. And they are very different in Spanish than in English.
For example, in English we say, “at the most” in Spanish they say “cuando mucho”.
Word for word, “cuando mucho” translates to “when a lot”. That’s very different to what it really expresses which is, “at the most.”
Finally, I discovered the treasure that tied the Spanish language together for me.
It was like I had discovered…
a whole new world of invisible vocabulary.
Here’s more of the invisible Spanish vocabulary: “de vez en cuando. ”
Word for word it’s completely different to the actual meaning.
The words say, “of time in when” the meaning is, “every now and then.”
This invisible Spanish appears all the time, in almost every sentence.
It’s like buying a new car. Before you start thinking about the car you hardly notice the model. Now you see it everywhere.
The background hum of Spanish was starting to go from white noise to sweet music.
Then one day I was watching La Academia; a reality TV show a little like the Got Talent and Idol shows.
As the host dramatized who would go home, I realized I was understanding everything.
I was watching the show without any struggle or strain. I was comfortable understanding Spanish
What red letter day.
“Por fin” (At last)
A few days later I was driving around San Diego, California.
As I flicked through radio stations between Spanish and English I felt no disconnect. Listening to Spanish was like listening to English
I was com