“Why is Spanish So Hard to understand?” That’s what I hear from students time and time again.
Many of them feel competent in Spanish but always have trouble understanding it.
They frequently miss words, ask for repetition, and feel like they need a long time adapting to new accents.
If this has ever happened to you, it’s not that you are missing some Spanish learning gene. This problem is usually caused by something pretty easy to fix…
Today I’ll be explaining why this happens and how you can try to overcome this problem.
Click play to watch the video below:
First, I hate to blame the school system, but they are one of the biggest reasons we struggle to learn and understand new languages.
The way they teach us to Learn Spanish is entirely opposite of what we should be doing to improve.
In school, they make us focus on verb conjugation and grammar rules.
Think about how much time you spend consuming Spanish content, other than reading a few boring pages from the textbook. Not much, right?
I would say this is the primary reason why Spanish is so difficult to understand.
We just don’t listen to it enough. We believe we know Spanish because we can get good grades in class, but that doesn’t mean we can speak it.
And just because you can speak, it doesn’t mean you will get a good grade in a class.
But what would you prefer?
Of course, to speak it fluently, that’s the point.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take Spanish class seriously if you are studying Spanish but realize what is needed to comprehend and Speak Spanish and why what you may be doing now isn’t helping that.
Once we get past that fact, it can be difficult to understand Spanish because Spanish is spread across so many different countries.
This means there are many different ways of speaking Spanish.
I was just talking with someone the other day, and they spoke about how learning Spanish was a struggle because Native Speakers always tell them that the way they speak Spanish is incorrect.
What happens is if the only input you’re getting is in school —which there aren’t many— or you’re getting one type of input, that doesn’t mean you will easily understand Spanish from another country.
For example – I’m Puerto Rican, and when I was growing up, I spent a lot of my time with Puerto Ricans. I also spent time with Dominicans because I have Dominican cousins.
So that “Caribbean” type of Spanish is the type I wanted to learn when growing up.
But a few years back I went to Spain for the first time.
And I’m not going to lie, It was a little adjustment because their Spanish was so different from my Spanish.
I remember one night my fiancé and I went to dinner with a friend and his wife.
I’m the only one that spoke Spanish, and the waiter came there and asked me something, but I didn’t know what he said.
But I nodded as if I knew what he was talking about.
When the waiter left, my friend asked me what the waiter said, and I said that I had no idea. We all laughed, but it was embarrassing because I was supposed to be the Spanish teacher, yet I couldn’t understand what the waiter said.
Another time, I went to Colombia with my cousins from Puerto Rico, we all had trouble understanding the speakers.
My cousins are native Spanish speakers that only speak Spanish.
So again, if you have trouble understanding, it’s not your fault.
There are many reasons why this may happen.
The first thing is for you to realize that no matter how much you listen to Spanish, you may have difficulty understanding someone from a country that speaks a type of Spanish that you are not familiar with.
Don’t let that stop you or make you insecure.
This happens even to Native Spanish speakers. The next thing to realize is that to improve your comprehension, you need to listen to a lot of Spanish.
Every day you should be listening, reading, and interacting with Spanish.
This is the best way to help you out.
But here’s the thing, you want to focus on the Spanish that you come into contact with most of the time.
So when you listen to Spanish, choose the type that you will come into contact with.
The problem with only consuming Neutral Spanish like what you would probably hear on any audios in school or on the news is that people don’t really talk like that in the streets and everyday lives.
So it’s not smart to only consume this type of Spanish. Another thing you want to avoid is consuming too many types of Spanish at once.
Because this is the equivalent to the “jack of all traded, master of none” analogy where you are accustomed to hearing Spanish, but you aren’t comfortable with any one.
It’s best to focus and become comfortable with ONE type of Spanish, and then from there, it will be easier to comprehend other types when presented to you.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope you have a better understanding of why understanding Spanish may be difficult for you, but don’t let that hinder you from pushing forward and continuing to get better each and every day.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep pushing forward.
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