Spanish in a Month – Learn Spanish Documentary

Wow. Alright, all good, set up? Yeah. All right. So, what do you know already? Um, well, hola, como estas, gracias. Oh, God. [Connor] This probably sounds familiar. Like you, I’ve taken a stab
at languages a few times. Three years of Chinese in school, of which I remember almost nothing. An attempt at Indonesian
that lasted two weeks. It never stuck. I couldn’t keep up the motivation. I didn’t have the language gene. I wasn’t a little kid anymore,
so languages were harder. All this was complete
bullshit, I soon found out. But first, a little about me. I’m a 20 year old digital nomad. For the last year and a half, I’ve been travelling and
living around the world from Saigon to Barcelona, working wherever I could find Wi-Fi. I lift weights, rock
climb, tinker with my diet, take nootropics, read books, and mingle with like-minded people. And apparently, I have an addiction with learning things in a month. Last June, I learned to DJ in Prague, and in November, I gained 26
pounds of muscle in a month, after a lifetime of failed attempts. And now, I’m in Medellin, Columbia, where I’ll do the same with Spanish. Before we get started,
it’s important to define what exactly I’m shooting for this month. It’s easy to get caught
up in the word fluency, but what does that really mean? I aim to be functionally conversational, meaning I can have friends
who speak no English, and get by fine, and have
normal conversations. But I’m not perfect, and I
still don’t know some words. It’s an ambitious goal for one month, and I’m going to need some help. Luckily, I have a few people to call on. Hello? This is Benny Lewis, author of the most-read
language-learning blog online, Fluent in 3 Months. He speaks close to 10 languages, and has helped tens of
thousands learn before, so his advice will be pivotal in my overall learning strategy. – [Benny] Ah, reaching level
B-1 requires minimal grammar. It does not, it requires
a little bit of grammar, but not a lot, so I would highly recommend for the next month that you do
not worry about conjugation, and you don’t worry about um, getting the masculine
and the feminine right, and all of these things that
are associated with grammar. These are not going to help
you out in this project. As you go beyond, once
you reach that B-1 level, then that is when I do recommend people actually get their head into a grammar book to tidy it all up. But if you, if a lot
of your time and energy is put into learning tables
to speak correct Spanish, that’s going to slow down this project. Because you want, you want
to just express yourself. So I would just say, “Today I to write”. “Yesterday I to write.” “Tomorrow I to write.” And it is not correct, but it
is completely understandable, if you say “Hoy yo escribir”,
“Today I to write”. So, I would try to keep that in mind that your goal, as you speak, is not to speak correct Spanish, but to speak something in Spanish. What I would do during
my intensive projects, is at the end of my day, or
at the, after a study session, I’d open an Excel sheet,
and I’ll create a list. Left-hand side first column, left-hand side is Spanish words, right-hand side is English words. You export that as a CSV file, and you import that CSV file into Anki, and then you have a flash
card that is pre-made by you specific to the words
you’re learning that day. If you find that the biggest
thing holding you back from having comfortable conversations is a lack of vocabulary, then lean towards studying more words related to the topics that you talk about. Um, and, Keep in mind if you don’t like the tutors that you find in person, you have a wealth of online tutors. One thing that I found when I was learning Mandarin
in China, in Taiwan, sorry, is I had three or four
teachers, and I just found I wasn’t learning with them
as quickly as I could learn. So even though I was in the
country that speaks the language I still got Skype-based lessons, because then I had a
wider range of teachers, and I found exactly the right teachers to help me with the project. – [Connor] Luckily, the
teacher I found in person was incredible. (door clicks) – Connor? – Hola, como estas? – Bien. Voy a, it is your typical “going to”. So we have … – Same usage in Español as English? – Yeah, it’s like future, short future. It’s similar to English, when you say “I’m going to,” Carulla. That’s because that’s a
destination, that’s a place. – Right. – And you can use it to, eh, like this. – That’s —
– right? – If it’s how you say here,
how it’s going to be used, how I’m gonna hear it,
that’s how I want to learn it – [Connor] It’s important to note that I’m not deferring to
Adrian for what to study when. I’ve lined up the most
important things to learn first, which is why we’re already
covering “I’m going to” before I know how to
talk about the weather, which usually comes way too
early in traditional textbooks. I have a small set of
starting versatile words that I’ll be front-loading. These are specifically chosen, as they will get the most mileage, but also help me express myself in a wide variety of situations once I add more vocabulary. There are connectors like before, after, but, so,
still, yet, because. There are heavy-use verbs like tener, ir, estar, ser, and hacer. There are directional words like north, south, left,
right, straight, go back, and some coping phrases like please repeat that, how do
you say, more slowly please. I’ve taken a big list
of these important words and wrote them down on my
window, a makeshift whiteboard. When I know each word
cold, I can erase it. Before I start memorizing
things too much, though, I need to make sure my
pronunciation is on point. This will help with listening as well, but it will prevent me
from memorizing a word with the English pronunciation in my head and then not recognize it in speech with proper Spanish pronunciation. Luckily I know just the
guy to ask for help. This is Idahosa Ness,
creator of the Mimic Method. He’s famous for speaking
with no accent at all in each of his six languages, and the rhythmic phonetic
song training he uses to hack each language’s sounds. Learning pronunciation first
speeds up everything else. Idahosa’s system is the best out there. – You acquire your first language as well as any foreign language through mimicking native speakers. Any when I say mimicking, I mean, the sounds they make and
recreating the sounds they make to communicate. We really get technical, and train your ears, train your mouth to be able to create those sounds. So for example, you as an English
speaker learning Spanish, how to tune your mouth, the position of your tongue, to the vowels and the
consonants of Spanish, to the rhythm and cadence of Spanish and speakers in Colombia. And once you have that ability, then all these things that
trip up most language learners like understanding native
speakers when they talk fast and being able to
communicate fluently without tripping over your tongue and stuttering. All of these kind of core
abilities of communication come together once you
train that foundation. Most people, when they learn a language, they learn by paper, they learn how to read and write, and can think, someone learning English, for example, they might know the words, what, are, you, doing, and tonight, they might know those words, but then struggle to understand
someone like me or you, speaking casually like, “Yo Connor, what are you doing tonight?” You know, because, it’s different sounds, a different reality in how we speak than how we write. So, this kind of training allows you to process those sounds much quicker, and get a better sense of what people are actually saying when they talk every day on the street. We have a musical process where you learn how to articulate the lyrics of a song in Spanish. And your goal is to be
able to articulate it and to pronounce it with the
exact same pronunciation as the original artists, the native speaker who made those lyrics. And what we do is you break
it down syllable by syllable and we explain each syllable in detail and then you make your attempt. You have uh, we’ll do a line-by-line and then through a process, like it’s, it will take about like 20 or 30 minutes of trying to memorize this sequence of syllables. You don’t know what you’re saying yet, you’re just memorizing
the sequence of syllables. Once you have it, you record yourself, submit your recording to us, then we listen and we pinpoint the exact sound you’re mispronouncing. And then we can actually tell you what you’re doing wrong with your mouth and what you need to
adjust to fix that sound. So, to give an example in English, if this, if the lyric was, you know, “everybody sit down,” and we would break that down
into its component syllables of, eh, vree, bah, dee, sit, down, and we kind of transcribe
those syllables so you can see and listen to each one, and then put it to a beat, so you’re, “everybody sit down, everybody sit down.” Then you record yourself. Now, obviously this’ll be easy to you because you speak English, but if I were uh, Colombian for example, I don’t speak English, I might say, “everybody seet
down, everybody seet down.” And then we listen and we pinpoint that, on the word, “sit,” you’re saying “seet,” and there’s uh, the vowel is wrong. So you wouldn’t be able to hear
that until we point it out. We point it out and say, “Hey Connor, you’re saying ‘seet’ instead of ‘sit.'” This is the physical difference. Observe these diagrams, your
tongue needs to be lower here. Listen to this audio several
times, you’ll be able to hear the difference
between ‘seet’ and ‘sit,’ and then do drill ABC, and once you think you have it, record yourself again. And the next time around you’re
like, ‘everybody sit down.” And through that process,
you have now tuned your ear to that subtle
difference in English between “seet,” “sit,” “feet,”
“fit,” you know, “heat, hit,” which means that, when people talk to you, you can now hear it. When you speak, you can now
make it a little better. And uh, it’s an iterative process where each time you submit a recording, we’re tweaking small parts here and there. And that process of
tweaking your ear and tongue goes a long way once you’re back out there on the streets listening to everyday Spanish. (Latin music) – [Connor] Now that I
have my strategy in place, it’s time to set some stakes. I’ve got a lot of motivation already, but this project requires
an extra kick in the ass. This is Brian Kwong, founder
of the Add1Challenge, a language and learning
accountability community that has helped hundreds stick to their language
and learning goals. Given the magnitude of my challenge, I’m gonna need some serious accountability and Brian’s just the guy to help. – [Brian] So, okay, now
we got the end goal. Now we gotta break it down. So you have thirty days. So you already set
speaking for three hours. – What I’ll be doing is I’ll
be having a private tutor for three hours a day. And then I’ll be doing, at least in the first week, probably two hours to
Idahosa’s program a day, just up front, um, and then some vocabulary training, through Anki. – So now we’re breaking
down the accountability. So if we don’t know exactly
how much you’re gonna do, we can’t hold you accountable. That’s why I’m asking you these questions. So, now I’ve got three hours of speaking, two hours of Idahosa’s program, that’s five hours. – Correct. – If there’s no, there’s no,
there’s nothing at stake, then you, then you can just
like, “Oh I didn’t do it.” You know, then, you know? So we have something that’s
painful, or hugely rewarding. Usually, you know, some people are more
motivated by, by punishment, some people are more motivated by rewards, but some people can have both. So what works for you, in terms of putting something at stake? – I think I need, I think a major sting if I don’t follow through. – Ooh, so what is that sting? Tell me, what is that sting? – If I do not follow
through on any given day, it’s $500 dollars that I’ll send you. – $500 dollars each day? – If I don’t make it on any
day, if I miss three days, that’s $1500. – Oh wow. Well you got the goal, and we got, what your weekly goal is and what total you are accountable for, and we got something at stake. Now, the next part is to, tell everybody. So now all of your friends
know about this, not just me. – [Connor] Now that I have
so much money on the line, it’s time to get to work. – [Recording] One, two, three, four, – (unison) dah-ti, dah-ti, dah-ti, dah-ti. – [Through computer] Ste-ah.
– Styah. – [Through Computer] Steah.
– Steah. Ma-hoohn, ma-houhn, -houhn. – [Connor] This process
may look a bit weird. What am I really achieving here? But it works. Per Idahosa’s promises, after two weeks of doing
this two hours a day, slowly tuning my tongue and ear, my pronunciation is on point. But more importantly, I understand people when they speak. It will take some time
to work up to speed, but I’m having limited conversations now without too much trouble. With pronunciation on point, and basic grammar in place, I began adding vocabulary. By walking on the treadmill, I improved my recall and reduced boredom. Now, I’m ready for the
halfway milestone conversation to track my progress. You may have noticed that I
had made quite a few mistakes. But I don’t regret a single one of them. In fact, if I hadn’t been
willing to make lots of mistakes, that conversation would
have never happened. So let’s talk about the thing holding back millions
of language learners. Perfection. With any language, there
are two main milestones: communication and perfection, fluency. In 30 days, you can go from nothing to expressing almost any idea. You can communicate almost any
idea after 30 focused days. The mistake most people make
is they try to be perfect. And when you try to be perfect, this is how far you can get in 30 days. Get to here first, and be
able to express any idea, and then worry about refining
that towards perfection. To illustrate this, I had two tutors. The first one wanted to
help me communicate first, and the other, perfection. The perfection teacher was worried about conjugation for every verb, which past tense was best
for different situations, gender, and other details that aren’t necessary for communicating. Whereas, for communicating, you need to conjugate less than 10 verbs, and you only need one past, one future, to hack by using “I’m going
to” instead of “I will”, and one present. If you screw up the gender, someone is still going to understand you. Once you can communicate, then you can worry about perfection. But if you try and be perfect, it’ll be a long time before
you can ever truly communicate. – It’s, it’s just for that? – Emotions? – Yea? – Ah, no, it’s the verb “poner” -and what is “poner”?
– Put – Put
– To put, something – I was going, – I, I was going, – Yeah. – I was going – I was going? Going… I always forget It’s 4 AM on a Wednesday, and I am doing my Mimic Method, because I’m an idiot, and I
put it off until really late, and uh, well, when you have $500 dollars of accountability on the line, you choose getting the work done, getting the training in, doing the practice, over
losing $500 dollars. This is more ideal than, back-and-forth with text, because this is training
your listening skills, and it’s training your uh, it’s training your skills on the speaking, so you’re actually having a conversation even though it’s over messaging. If you don’t understand something, you can play the message over and over again, back and forth. Um, this is way better than texting back and forth with your teacher. – [Connor] I’m consistently finding that the lack of vocabulary is the
biggest thing holding me back. As I’m not quite done with
Idahosa’s pronunciation program, Brian agreed to letting
me change those two hours into vocabulary training, as long as I finish
this program by the end. – For those unfamiliar,
I’m training my vocabulary using an SRS, or Spaced Repetition System. It’s like normal flash cards, but after you get something right, you don’t see it again for a day. The next time, four days, the next time, 20 days,
then two months, and so on. Getting it wrong brings it
right back to the start. The point is, you see a word just before you’re about to forget it, which is the point where recalling a word creates the strongest memory. There’s a lot of research on SRSs, and it’s one of the most
efficient and effective ways to memorize lots of
information, especially vocab. It’s important to put
English on the front, as you want to train
recall, not recognition. If you can generate the word from memory, you can recognize it, but
usually not the other way around. But it’s not all roses. – There’s an interesting
dichotomy going on with my tutor being really
happy with my progress and thinking that I’m, doing amazing, and me just being frustrated with not being able to say or understand the things I want to say
that I, or understand. And it sorta seems to flop
between this, day in, day out. So I knew all this would
be mentally exhausting, but I really underestimated
how physically exhausting all of this studying, and all of this speaking, uh, would be. I find that, almost every day, I have to take a nap for two hours. And then the flip-flop between good days and bad days continues. Uh, I had a couple
really, really great days, but the last two or three days have felt like my Spanish is where it was, you know, a week ago, or more. But this is something I
haven’t brought up, yet. (clears throat) But I’m not
only doing Spanish right now, I’m still working. I still have clients, I’m still working just
like any other person, this is not a one month of
complete focus on Spanish, just by the fact that I’m spending
five hours or more per day, I still have other stuff. (computer audio)
– (singing along in Spanish) It’s 1 AM, on the last day. And my accountability was, I had to finish the Mimic Method before the end of the month, and I’m an idiot, and I procrastinated, and I put all this shit off
to the last couple days, and here I am, last night,
trying to get it done, and it’s late, and I’m
fucking slurring all my words, and uh, there’s absolutely zero chance of me finishing this tonight. And that means I owe Brian $500. Well, the challenge is over. $1350 dollars spent on
90 hours of tutoring, $150 bucks on the pronunciation course, and now $500 dollars paid to Brian for failing my accountability. Let’s see if it was all worth it. (footsteps, door opens) Guevon! (bro) – David. – David? – David. – Look, nothing I did is special. All I did is focus on
the things we know work. Lots of speaking with a native. SRS training. Understanding that language is just sound. Learn the most useful
grammar and vocab first. Focus on communication, not perfection. And then just put in the time. I spent about 150 hours this month, and I’ve seen that
number with these methods be about true for others coming
to a conversational level. Whether you do it in one
month, three, or six, you don’t need a better piece of software. You need to talk to a real human.

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