If you really want to test your Spanish and use it as well as a native, there are two things that you truly MUST do. One is to SPEAK Spanish. The other is to LISTEN to Spanish.
Does reading and writing not test my Spanish too?
Yes, of course it does, however, those two activities are far more passive, they are less spontaneous and, let’s be honest, they are the least challenging of the four activities.
Do them all.
Whatever the case, if you limit yourself to only one medium of learning, your Spanish will be unbalanced. It would be like only exercising one of your arms. We recommend that you do some of each activity each day.
However, in our book, Speaking and Listening is the real way to test your Spanish. For that reason we always end each series of Podcasts with one specific session designed to test your Spanish and your ability to actively listen.
The trick to listening well.
We always say to our students that when they listen to Spanish being spoken, they should always listen a minimum of three times. That’s because the first time you are really just getting an idea of what the topic is about. You capture the overview the first time around. Then, the next few times are more focused on picking up the details. Our advice is that you NEVER listen only once to something, especially if it’s challenging.
Then, once you have listened enough to know that you can’t capture any more of what was said, THEN you listen with the transcript if you have one. (The transcript for this video is available here.)
After having listened three times, your mind is quite literally screaming out to know what the words were that you couldn’t quite catch. It’s that desperate interest that makes the learning stick. Often, when you see the word or phrase written down you say to yourself: Of course! How easy! And from that point onward it will be. Your mind learns quickly and puts the sound-word into it’s memory banks for the next time.
Once learnt, never forgotten.
Once you have that particular sound sequence logged in, your mind will recognise it when it crops up again. And it will, be sure of that. The issue comes when we just don’t know what they’ve said and we carry that confusion and frustration with us. Every time we hear that same thing said, we feel confused and frustrated.
We even invent meaning.
One person asked us: Why do you say: ‘Mi negro’ in each video? Of course, we weren’t saying that at all. We were saying: ‘Me alegro’. = I’m happy for you.
So, if you want to test your Spanish, always try to listen to something that your have the transcript for, That way you will learn at a much faster rate.