When will I feel like I understand what they're saying in Spanish?!?

These days I'm having so much fun living the dream!  While doing phone interpretations today in Spanish/English and allowing my latest intern Alaina to shadow me (a whole new way to look at tutoring), she asked:  "When we're listening to the clients, I still don't always know what they're saying?  When did you finally start just getting it when you were interpreting?"
I shared with her, smiling, that my first in person interpretation was ROUGH.  But to answer her question more directly, from my 20 years experience vantage point, I couldn't remember exactly HOW I finally got over the hump. 
As I thought back, I could remember that it has a lot to do with smiling, laughing, being personable, and LOVING THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE you are interpreting.  I also recommend finding a close friend (and perhaps even better boyfriend/girlfriend) to get to know up close in your target language. 
The most important question is when will YOU start understanding Spanish as it flows into your ear, mind, heart?  I have a system to help you get there.  I live locally and work globally.  It is my honor to join you on your language learning journey!


It definitely helps to try and think in that language. I lived in Colombia for 11 months teaching English and I remember when my mom picked me up from the airport that I said a word in Spanish to her in the middle of a sentence speaking English. You simply have to speak it with people. However, there are times that I still have limited vocabulary. It's like a puzzle and takes time to do. 
Agreed, Thomas.  Fluency is as fluency does.  When people ask me if I'm "fluent" in a language these days, I tend to ask back:  "For what purpose?"  Doctors are fluent in medical English in a way I may never be as are lawyers in legal English and certainly mechanics in car English!  What a wonderful logic puzzle is interpreting the human brain through language.
Living in the language and the culture are the best ways to "get it."  But if you can't do that, immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. First of all, as Thomas stated, don't translate in your head, but think in that language.  Give yourself plenty of input: listen to songs in the language, watch TV shows, movies, news, sports, etc. in the language.  If it helps, turn on closed captioning, in that language, especially if they are speaking fast or using slang or idioms or have a different accent or pronunciation than you are used to.  Read anything that interests you in that language.  You can find materials at every level and on every subject.  Make as many friends as you can who speak that language, and only speak that language together.  Join a conversation group, and so on.  The more input you get in the language, and the more you are actually using the language, the sooner you will start to "get it."  


Rachel S.

Spanish, French, & ESL for children age 10 to adults

20+ hours
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