Free thoughts on language learning

Discussions on learning Spanish, English and other language issues. Occasionally, we may stray from language learning topics if there is something that catches my interest.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Sorry about the silly title. It's just my occassional attempt to play with the search engines. I read today that there are many "Confidential Do Not Distribute" documents on the web and that this fact is causing people to see what they'll find when they do a seach using those words. Using, Confidential - Do Not Distribute might cause this blog to be found more often - just a little experiment. And now on with our regularly scheduled blog!

It's all well and good to have a set of phrases and vocabulary when you wish to express something but that doesn't equip you for the back and forth reality that is called conversation. I'm sure many of you have had this experience:

Mastering a new phrase
Using it with "Native Speaker"
"Native Speaker" responds at length
You admit that you are virtually clueless as to what they said.

Choose A or B

A - Conversation grinds to a halt
B - Conversation shifts to English - Native Speaker gets to practice English

What happened was that you either encountered grammar, vocabulary or expressions that were new to you or possibly you knew them but they just flew by too quickly for you to take them in. This is an issue of listening skills. Listening takes practice just as much as speaking does since they both require you to process language. What to do? (How do you get to Carnegie Hall?) Practice, practice practice!

These two sites have short videos of their children's programming and are a great way to practice listening skills. Many of these cartoons are already familiar to us such as Bugs Bunny and The Flintstones. I can't urge you too strongly to practice listening and watching videos and movies to improve you language skills. If you can find a station on TV and turn on the closed captioning you'll find this even easier since you'll have the written words to help "decode" what's going on. So don't just sit there, buy a course from and then spend 10 minutes watching cartoons! Hasta pronto.

As a closing note please be aware that this is not Confidential Please Do Not Distribute. Sorry, I couldn't resist!


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