What makes the difference between success and failure? Many believe it is luck, intelligence, the right family or a brilliant strategy. But when you study success, in any field, you realize that having a good system in place beats anything else.
Imagine a set of routine procedures and habits relentlessly pushing you forward. Sooner or later, you will hit the target.
Learning Spanish, or any other language or skill, is no different. That’s why when you ask the most effective language learners about their number one tip, you will hear again and again the same mantra: build good learning habits.
This is the key to making real progress over time.
Practicantes de español
And this is how we, at PractiSpanish, understand the term “practice”. It’s not just about doing grammar exercises or reviewing your notes (which we do encourage). It is, above all, about building your daily habits so Spanish becomes a part of your life.
In the Podcast introduction I say it is made for “estudiantes y practicantes de español”. This is actually a ‘guiño’, a wink. The word ‘practicante’ comes from ‘practicar’, to practice. But in Spanish ‘practicante’ is normally used to refer to someone who follows a religious lifestyle. So ‘practicantes de español’, in fact, can be understood as people who practice their Spanish skills but also as people who follow the “Spanish Learning Religion Lifestyle”…
What does that mean? It means having your Spanish brain cells in shape by regularly using them. It means having daily habits that connect you, as frequently as possible, to the Spanish language and culture, thus learning much more efficiently.
“Developing strong language learning habits is an amazing idea!” At least, that’s what all my students always tell me at first.
But then I see how difficult it is sometimes. More than getting the ‘ser y estar’ dilemma right, more than pronouncing correctly and (¡sí!) even more difficult than subjuntivo.
Why is it hard for most of us? It’s difficult because building and sticking to your new Spanish learning habits is a challenge that goes far beyond learning Spanish. And this is precisely why, when you succeed, the benefits you rip go far beyond language progress and fluency.
Developing your language practice habits will bring up a better version of yourself. Let me explain.
One day, Sarah, a good friend of mine living in NZ, made a decision. She wanted to be able to cook an amazing dish she remembered from childhood and only her grandmother, no longer alive, knew. Saying it wasn’t an easy goal is an understatement. It was complex and full of obstacles. But the day she finally succeeded and her taste buds were satisfied, her reward was not only enjoying the taste and feeling proud of herself.
She developed her patience and her perseverance. During her research, she rekindled the contact with many distant family members and she met new amazing people. She learnt about her grandma things she could not even imagine. She discovered some new cooking techniques. Her kitchen was suddenly equipped with old cooking instruments that revolutionized the way she cooks even classic dishes. She felt more connected than ever to her beloved grandma. And she was more confident than ever about her ability to achieve anything she wanted.
Building your Spanish learning habits will also bring you benefits much beyond the language itself. It will open up a whole world of rich cultures and amazing people. But most important, it will unlock a part of your potential and make you GROW.
You will know yourself better. You will find the techniques and methods that work best for you. You will discover huge spots of untapped productivity. You will strengthen your self-discipline and learn how to motivate yourself when necessary. In fact, you’ll be set and ready for your next big life goal.
Learning how to learn and putting it into practice (i.e., building strong language habits) will bring the best version of yourself simply because it will require the best version of yourself. That’s the magic of overcoming a challenge that requires continuous practice.
So perhaps, a few minutes ago, you thought you were just learning Spanish. Now you know there is much more involved. Just do what it takes, create your Spanish habits and welcome to Upgrade Mode! You’re now raising your game as a whole. No sólo español.
How to develop your language habits
Now, I haven’t forgotten it is difficult. But you don’t have to do this alone. Some do, and I salute them. If you have a teacher or a private tutor, you should ask for help and advice about your learning habits as passionately as you ask about the use of the Pretérito Imperfecto.
Ideally, you will learn how to develop your own, strong and effective Spanish learning habits, either by yourself or with your tutor’s help.
There is also a way now to enjoy the best of both worlds: the recently launched Language Habit Toolkit, created by top language coach Kerstin Cable and specially designed for independent learners.
Don’t let the indie word mislead you. We could argue that all learners are independent, only receiving different types of help. In any case, I hope my own students start using this Toolkit. They will become much more effective learners and that will make my job easier. Todos felices.
Systems beat goals, remember? The Language Habit Toolkit is an adaptive and supportive system. It helps you create a language learning routine that fits into your life. Imagine having your own language coach, working for you everyday, any time of the day. And for the price of a couple of sessions.
Your Top Priority
Until the day comes when we’ll be able to download and implement programs “Matrix style”, there is no shortcut for learning a language. And even then, practice will remain the key to fluency and mastery, as it has always been.
As a Spanish learner, developing and strengthening your daily language practice habits should be your top priority. It is the proven system that makes any particular course, teacher or method work.
But not only that.
Like Popeye’s spinach or the secret potion of Asterix, it will also set the scene for a better version of yourself. Sounds like a good deal?
*** If developing your Spanish habits resonate with you, definitely check out now the Language Habit Toolkit.
*** Kerstin is also giving away one free copy everyday until June 3rd! To enter the Giveaway, just leave a comment below AND register at the Language Habit Blog Tour, where you’ll also find more ideas and reviews from top language experts.