My younger brother recently moved to Colorado to start a Ph.D. program (such a smarty) so we have to call, text, or Skype when we want to talk. I got to chat with him on my way home from work last week. He told me about the lab he is a TA for, how he is enjoying his classes, and how great the mountains are (so jealous). I was catching him up on my life, including writing this blog, and he said that he had gotten to read a few of my posts and enjoyed them (woo!). He said they made him think about how he needs to brush up on his language skills and how his Spanish listening comprehension is much better than his speaking ability. The next day, the tip that popped up when I opened my Pars Omni Spanish Voices software was about that very thing. Isn’t it great when that happens?
While language development is different in children and adults, there are connections that can be made and valuable insights to be gained from doing so. Children spend a long time at the beginning of life being exposed to and absorbing speech before producing it themselves. As adults, when we start to learn a language, we immediately want to be able to do it ourselves. While it is important to speak the language you are learning early and often, it is also important to have realistic expectations about which parts of your language ability will progress faster than others.
As the pictured tip states, the words you can understand will always exceed and precede the words you can produce yourself. Knowing that this is normal can be helpful in not getting discouraged and in measuring your progress. Just because you can comprehend more than you can say doesn’t mean you’re behind or that you don’t really know those words, you’re just in the beginning stage of learning them and need to keep on keepin’ on.
While my brother has a lot going on with classwork and being a TA and working in a research lab and therefore might feel like he doesn’t have the time or energy to brush up on Spanish, I am going to keep encouraging him to at least listen to Spanish because of the personal and cultural value of language. I have a feeling he’ll be surprised by how much doing so would help his Spanish fluency, whether it’s listening to news stories, music, or educational materials like the stories told by native speakers in the Pars Omni Spanish Voices software. Whatever your motivation for doing so, you can significantly improve your language abilities by listening to that language. In fact, it is essential for developing not only comprehension skills, but also pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and many other skills that make up language proficiency.
Spanish Voices is an ideal tool for listening to the language because you hear native speakers speak authentic Spanish, you can access the content from your own computer and take it on the go, and you can customize the content and tools to your personal preferences. Download it for free today!