ABOUT DIEGO & SPANISHTOMIND
Do you tend to freeze and panic when someone speaks to you in Spanish?
Or maybe you feel like native speakers don’t choose the words you know when they are speaking?
Actually, if you’ve been learning Spanish for a while now, you probably feel like you’ve worked very hard and that you should be doing better by now.
In truth, you definitely SHOULD be doing better!
The problem is that even though you already went through a textbook and took Spanish lessons, you still feel as though:
- No matter how hard you try, it seems like native speakers talk very fast.
- People are always leaving you in the dark when they speak quickly.
- You feel like Spanish speakers don’t pronounce words properly.
- People in real life speak rapidly and unclearly.
And that’s just when people talk to you, because when it’s your time to respond and speak in Spanish:
- You get your grammar backwards.
- Anxiety fills your mind and you get embarrassed, and nervous.
- You know the words but they don’t show up in your mind when you need them.
- It feels like you’re very slow to conjugate verbs correctly and you do not follow a normal speaking cadence.
- You keep making mistakes and saying “lo siento” for every pronunciation error you make.
And if you can relate to any of these points, let me tell you…you’ve come to the right place.
Because I get it. I know what it’s like, I’ve been there too, and I know that learning a language can feel like a frustrating experience.
However, in my case, I was struggling with your mother tongue: English!
You see, I’m Colombian, and in this country, children are supposed to be learning English from kindergarten onwards.
When you hear that somebody has been studying a language since childhood, you probably think that learning was a piece of cake for this person.
After all, we’re all familiar with the saying that claims it’s easier to learn a language when you’re young.
But that was not my case at all.
Thankfully, I found a breakthrough that took me to a high proficiency level in English.
Eventually, I began to share this solution with people who wanted to learn Spanish and it became their breakthrough as well. It was the missing piece they needed to become fluent in Spanish.
¡Hola! Mi nombre es Diego Cuadros y es un placer conocerte hoy.
I help people who have been studying Spanish for a while now, but still feel nervous, insecure, and silly when they try to speak Spanish with people in real life.
Even worse, despite a long time spent studying Spanish, they keep feeling like native speakers talk too fast for them.
My goal is to heal that frustration and lack of confidence in speaking Spanish so that you can communicate clearly, make friends, connect with the Latino culture easily, and have daily conversations in Spanish without a problem.
If you’re curious about my story & how I conquered my second language after years of struggling with it, read on…
When I was in my last year of high school, I was having a rough and stressful time.
You see, the year before, my parents decided to send me to a new school because the previous one was closing. That made me the new guy at a place that required all their students to know English and to certify a certain number of hours in English training.
I thought this wasn’t going to too much of a challenge for me because back when I was a kid, I had been through several English courses.
In other words, concepts like the present perfect tense, irregular verbs, phrasal verbs – none of these were new to me.
However, I was failing English in this new school, and my teachers told me that if I couldn’t catch up to my classmates, I wasn’t going to graduate.
That was really bad news for me because the school year was nearly finished, so I spent months taking an extra course.
I thought that was the way to go if I wanted to learn English. After all, I had always wanted to learn this language.
The course was all about the classic activities used to teach languages:
- Using songs and listening to music.
- Grammar explanations.
- Vocabulary memorization and using lists of words.
- Describing your daily routine or your family members.
- Memorizing the conjugation of verbs.
- Fill in the blank activities.
- Written tests, speaking tests, and so on….
You know what I’m talking about, right?
The bottom line is that I tried hard, passed all my tests, and happily graduated.
My English tests said that I was proficient enough to hold conversations in the language.
The problem? It was a lie and I believed it.
Two months after graduation, my uncle and his two little daughters were coming from the US to visit Colombia.
These two little bilingual kids had been born in an English-speaking country, and they were now telling me things in this language, asking questions, laughing at me, playing around, and using the language in a fast and indecipherable way. They were REAL NATIVE SPEAKERS, and guess what…
I couldn’t catch a single word of what they were saying, and even worse, my pronunciation was terrible and unnatural. I had to think hard if I wanted to say anything in English.
They were just kids, and I felt silly every time I tried to speak. I was struggling so much to communicate with them. Once I told one of my little cousins “I like soap” in an attempt to say, “I like soup.”
Of course, that was funny, and my cousins were super sweet, so I just ignored my mistakes. However, meeting them made me realize that I had spent my entire life studying this language, but I couldn’t even have a normal conversation in English.
It was so disappointing. I thought that it was impossible. I decided learning languages wasn’t my thing, and I was constantly thinking:
“Man, all this time wasted studying English…what is wrong with me?”
The most interesting thing is that even though I realized that I couldn’t speak English, I also realized that the short time I spent with my cousins had been the time in which I learned the most English in my entire life.
I had a lot of fun with them and that made me think that perhaps it wasn’t me, maybe the methods I had been taught to learn English were all wrong.
And that’s when it happened…
I began to do my own research online, and I found a guy called AJ Hoge.
From AJ, I confirmed that my problem was because of the terrible and traditional methods I had been using all my life.
It turns out that the “classic academic approach” to language learning has terrible consequences on students, and it leaves you with all the symptoms I had:
- I knew the theory, the conjugations, and the grammar rules, but I couldn’t get them right when I wanted to speak.
- Understanding native speakers was terribly difficult.
- Natural and spontaneous conversations were impossible.
- I froze and panicked every time a native speaker asked me a question.
It all made sense to me. It was like waking up from the matrix and seeing the lie that I had been living. I had been made to believe that I could study English and learn the language that way.
The solution was quite different, though:
AJ’s advice was “learn playfully, like a child,” and “learn with your ears, not with your eyes.”
It made so much sense!
That was the reason why I had learned more English with my cousins than during all those English courses I took.
The best thing about this solution was that instead of boring lessons, I could hear short and funny stories in English.
These lessons were so powerful that even today I remember some of the stories and the expressions I learned there, and this happened almost 12 years ago!
After some months of listening to these stories and following AJ’s advice carefully, I noticed that I was able to understand TV in English with less difficulty.
I began to express myself clearly in English when I talked to my cousins through Skype. I even made friends with foreigners that I met in Medellín (the city I grew up in).
It was beautiful.
I finally was able to have conversations in English, I could understand people, and I could express myself correctly and clearly.
Over time, in 2014 I had the chance to visit the US for the first time in my life, and it was so rewarding because I didn’t have any communication problems with anyone over there.
Stories became such a powerful instrument to learn English with that they became an automatic task for my brain. I didn’t need to think about verbs, grammar rules, or any of that!
Back in Medellín, I was looking for a job as an English teacher. Yes, I wanted to try to use my English skills to get a job, but there was a problem…
I was proficient in English, but I didn’t have a certificate to demonstrate that I was able to teach, so I decided to go to an academy and get a certificate.
In the academy they made me take a proficiency test to prove that I was ready to take the certification course.
I took the test in this empty classroom along with another guy who was planning to become a teacher too. What happened after that blew my mind.
The manager of the academy called me to his office and said:
“Normally, we don’t do this to our students, but it’s really hard to find people who really speak English well in this town, so we’d like to offer you a job as a teacher. We would also like to give you space to take the certification course…”
It was such a surprise; I was becoming an English teacher right then and there.
As a teacher, I began to use stories to help my students just like I used them to learn English myself, and all the students who had been learning for a while without making much progress began to reach out, just like me, back in my learning days.
Eventually, partly in thanks to the foreign friends I met in Medellín, I realized that people who wanted to learn Spanish were facing the same problems as people who wanted to learn English.
This became even more apparent when I went online and found out that Spanish students all around the world were having the same struggles I used to have with English.
That’s when I began to write my own stories for learning Spanish and shared them with Spanish students, who once again, began to make progress.
That’s why I am passionate about helping people who have been studying Spanish for a while without getting the results they want.
My goal is that they can have daily conversations without any problems with words or fluency, so that they can communicate with native speakers, make friends, and connect with the Latino culture, just like with me and English.
Now, I’m sharing all my experience and knowledge to help create a future in which Spanish students stop using traditional, ineffective, academic, and frustrating methods to learn Spanish, and instead encourage students to feel the results of their efforts so they can speak with real Latinos and understand when native speakers talk so that they can make friends and connect easily with the Spanish-speaking culture.
If you’re feeling stuck with your Spanish, and after reading my story you feel like I can help you, then the first step you need to take is to download my free guide: 10 Secretos que nadie te dice para hablar español como un nativo:
This guide contains everything you need to know to help you breakthrough, so you stop freezing and panicking when Spanish native speakers talk to you, and instead of that, you begin to experience daily conversations in Spanish with ease.
I’ll see you there!