Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day

by Gray Cargill on April 5, 2011

Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day

Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day

A couple of years ago, I decided to get serious about learning Spanish. Mostly, I wanted this skill for travel, whether to Spanish-speaking countries or areas of the US with a larger Spanish-speaking population than Vermont. But I didn’t want to take a class; I wanted to learn on my own time, when I could squeeze it into my schedule (the same way I do weight training).  Rosetta Stone was way too expensive, so I bought the SPANISH in 10 minutes a day® AUDIO CD by Kristine K. Kershul. The theory behind it is that you can learn Spanish just by spending 10 minutes a day on the process. This appealed to me, since I’m pretty busy as it is, and wasn’t sure how much time I could devote to it.

It’s a great system, in my opinion, because it offers tools for different types of learners. The kit comes with 6 audio CDs, a workbook, sticky labels you apply to various objects around your house, flash cards, a pronunciation guide, and a “cheat sheet” featuring restaurant terms you can carry with you to a restaurant. So how’s it working for me? Let’s just say I’m having mixed results.

Spanish flash cards

Spanish flash cards

I listen to the CDs in the car on the way to and from work. That’s about 20 minutes a day, actually. The sticky labels were very useful at first in helping me remember the Spanish words for things around my house (rooms, furniture, curtains, windows, etc.), but after awhile, the stickiness wore off and they started to fall off everything. I’d come home and find sticky labels littering the floor like dead moths.

For awhile, I replaced them with Post-It notes, but it became a little embarrassing every time visitors came to my home to have to explain why I had post-it notes on everything. The flash cards are very helpful in drumming into my head the words I’m having the most trouble with (like verbs). And the workbook helps me get the spelling straight. One limitation of the CDs is that some of the speakers pronounce “v” as “b” and vice versa; so it’s nice to refer to the workbook to see how a word is actually spelled.

Restaurant "cheat sheet"

Restaurant "cheat sheet"

So why isn’t this system working for me?  Several reasons.

1. I think pretending that I can learn a foreign language by only spending 10 minutes a day on it is a bit unrealistic.  For me, anyway, it requires more time and focus.

2. Lack of motivation. After using it for 6 months, I was looking forward to testing out my limited Spanish on my trip to Puerto Rico last year, but almost everyone I encountered there spoke perfect English, so there was no need. When I returned from Puerto Rico, I had no other trips to Spanish-speaking countries on the horizon. So my motivation waned, and I stopped listening to the CDs in the car on the way to and from work. I packed away the workbook and flashcards one day while I was housecleaning, and they never got unpacked again. I forgot about it.

3. If you don’t use it, you lose it. I took five years of German in high school and college. And yet by no stretch of the imagination am I fluent in German today. Why not?  I’ve had no opportunities to use it since then. Same is true with Spanish. Now that I’m planning a trip to Spain, I’ve launched back into my studies, but it was almost like starting over from scratch. I’d forgotten so much in the last year.

One argument in favor of taking a class or joining a Spanish language club is the opportunity to practice on a regular basis with other human beings. I’m also thinking immersion studies would have the desired effect. In any case, I am trying my darnedest–with the limited time that I have–to learn as much as I can before my trip to Spain in May. I desperately want to be better equipped to communicate with the locals than I was when I went to Paris.

Have you had trouble learning a foreign language, even when you’ve put a lot of time into it? What ultimately worked for you?

Gray April 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Thanks, Christine. I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to speak more Spanish than I did French…though of course that’s not saying much. 😉

GRRRL TRAVELER April 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Damn, that package comes with a lot of tools! & I love those little flash cards it comes with! But true, 10 minutes a day is a bit unrealistic. I feel like the queen of self-study language learning sometimes- Living Language series tends to be my personal fave but it requires time and effort. In the end though, conversation practice is the key and the hardest thing to acquire unless you’re immersed in the environment. I can learn to read and listen/comprehend the language but I get shot down when it comes to speaking actually… it’s about developing consistency and fluidity. But each person has what works for them and doesn’t.

I applaud your intention a foreign language! If you stick with it, you’re sure to walk away feeling some level of success, though you may not realize it until you actually hit the country and put it to the test. 😉

Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 5:00 am

And some of the activities are fixed by the members who speak the language and can also correct others in work trying to learn English.

Hotel Thirty-Thirty

Frances April 13, 2011 at 3:01 am

My mom and I always say that if you want to learn spanish, watch the novelas and listen to the music in conjunction to the classes and everything else. When we first moved here, my mom had a pretty good base in English because they teach it in the schools in Puerto Rico, but she wasn’t fluent. She really learned by watching the news and programs in English as well as going out there and speaking it. Perhaps you could find a webcam friend to practice with or something like that?

Gray April 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

Or I could just move somewhere where they speak Spanish. Yeah, that’s the ticket! 🙂

Lavinia April 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I am taking Spanish classes in Instituto Cervantes, and I think you are definitely right. Speaking with other people helps a lot in improving the conversation skills. I enjoy it and obviously you will get beeter after the trip to Spain! Good luck and enjoy!

Gray April 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I certainly hope my trip to Spain improves my language skills, Lavinia.Thank you very much!

Jack and Jill April 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm

We’re going to start our RTW trip in South America in a week and I’ve been slacking off with my Spanish. Timely reminder. Well, English is my second language with Indonesian as my first, and I found nothing quite beats total immersion. Other than that, singing along to songs and watching foreign movies with subtitles is second best, IMO.

Good luck. Learning new languages is fun!

Gray April 7, 2011 at 12:36 am

Oh my gosh, it’s almost here! You must be stoked. Learning new languages is fun once you get to the point where you can actually say somethings spontaneously. I like that.

The NVR Guys April 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

We need to get our act together and make the leap from advanced beginners to intermediate level Spanish speakers. We just purchased Rosetta Stone, so we’ll see.

Gray April 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

Oh, you went for the big guns! 🙂 Let me know how it goes.

Candice walsh April 6, 2011 at 3:59 am

Yeah, software just ain’t the same. I miss French classes. At the very least, it keeps me from losing the language knowledge I have entirely…

Gray April 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

Yeah. I know there’s a Spanish club here in town. I’m even intimidated by that! But I may start going.

Nomadic Matt April 5, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Check out fluentin3months.com…Benny is a great language resource to help!

Gray April 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Ah, yes, Benny. I first heard about his program after I’d already bought this other one. Have you used his program? I don’t have 3 months, but I don’t necessarily need to be “fluent” either. Thanks for the reminder, Matt.

zablon mukuba April 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

i was hoping for a positive review, but then again

Gray April 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I’ve got to be honest, Zablon. It is what it is.

Aviewtoathrill April 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Gray,
I can relate. I want to become fluent in French so badly and right now….I’m just bad. lol I think you are right, we have to immerse ourselves in the language in order to learn. But with so many other obligations, it’s difficult to find the time….maybe one of these days, I will get my act together. Good luck on the trip to Spain!!

Gray April 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm

That’s exactly the way it is for me, Renee. Too many obligations pulling me in different directions to devote the kind of time and focus I should to the language learning. Sigh. We do the best we can, right?

lilmissdisney April 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Have you ever tried Busuu.com? You can use it to learn several different languages. It is free or you can also pay for the premium service to get more perks. But you do different activities to learn a language and you can even chat in the language with other members who are fluent in the language you are trying to learn. And some of the activities you do get corrected by members who are fluent in the language and you can equally correct other members work who are trying to learn English.
It is so far my favorite and most helpful language learning site!

If you have a favorite movie on DVD check the set up to see if they have Spanish under languages. If so watch it in spanish. I find doing that to be helpful to compliment studies and get use to the sound of the language.

My favorite Spanish book is 501 Spanish verbs. It has every breakdown of every verb tense. It was a book required for a spanish class in college and I have found it invaluable!

I wish you luck! I know how it is.

Gray April 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Thank you very much, I’ll check Busuu out!

Fabuleuxdestinbrenna April 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

The only way to learn a language (in my opinion) is to immerse yourself in it! But of course, you can’t do that without a large grasp of the basics. Le sigh. It takes a lot of work!

Gray April 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm

See, that’s what I think too. If you’re immersed in it, you HAVE to use it. You can’t fall back on English when the going gets tough. I don’t think it’s ever easy.

Barbara April 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I agree with you: if you don’t use it, you lose it. About 12 years ago, I had taken 2 session of Spanish at the local YMCA, followed by 1 month immersion in Ecuador and 2 weeks in Cuba. It gave me the basics. Now, I have forgotten much of it. I will be going to Alicante, Spain this summer where they have classes every morning and the option of living with a family. I won’t be staying with a family but for those who like it, it is a very good option.
I have heard that Earworms is a great way to learn but know no one personally who has done it. You can download from the internet and put it onto you mp3 player. Maybe this would be a good option to prepare for…next month! Good luck,
Barbara

Gray April 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Oh wow, and you even did immersion! That’s discouraging. Interesting…I hadn’t heard of Earworms before, but I just went over and listened to their audio spiel on their website. At least the process of learning the language might be a bit more fun, whether or not it’s more effective. 🙂 Thanks, Barbara.

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