There I am, sitting on a chair, in the middle of an important meeting, trying to pay attention to what the speaker is saying. I am so sleepy that I finally make an internal decision to stand up, go to the bathroom, and put some water on my face to wake up.
Before I make any move, the person next to me stretches his arm offering me a small candy. I see this warm smile on his face, and he says: “wake up and eat it man!”.
I decide to try to remain sited for a little longer. I take the candy, put it into my mouth and then I feel the taste, “it’s coffee”, I think to myself as I enjoy the flavor.
Suddenly, I get a flashback in my mind. I go back in time to when I was five years old, visiting my grandmother, and enjoying the privilege of her attention. She used to give me the same kind of coffee candy that I’m having during this important meeting. It’s such a sweet memory.
Have you ever smelt or tasted something that makes you remember about a certain place, person, or time in your life? I don’t know the science behind this process in your brain, but I’m sure that most people have experienced these flashbacks.
I’ve been through this “phenomenon” when learning languages too. Every time I hear certain words or expressionsin a foreign language, there’s a flashback coming to my mind, remembering me the first time I heard it, when I learned to pronounce it correctly, or a specific situation that happened to me, related to the words I’m hearing, or even pronouncing.
Your brain will do all the job
I remember talking to an American friend one time, and along the conversation I said the word “Focus”. My friend hates swearing, and the way I pronounced “focus” that day, sounded like if I was saying the “big boom F” people say to swear in English.
My friend, with a terrified face, immediately turned to me and said: “what’d you say bro?”. When I explained that I was trying to say “focus” instead of swearing, he explained to me that, to say focus, you need to make a little emphasis on the “o”, “fOcus”.
Ever since that little fun memory, every time I hear the word “focus”, my scary and surprised friend’s face comes to my mind.
Another expression that always brings a flashback to me is, “it dawned on me”. I heard it for the first time on a story from AJ Hoge.
The story was about earthquakes, and I remember that the speaker said: “it dawned on me”. On that moment, the story gave me a vibe of fear because, he was telling a scary experience with earthquakes. The story had an emotional impact on me,and that is why, this expression is so easy to remember.
As you can see, using flashbacks, your powerful and extremely well designed brain, will bring you the meaning of the words, the correct pronunciation, and the right grammar rules of the new language you want to learn, in fact, this will all be automatic.
Your brain will do exactly the same thing to learn Spanish than mine did to learn English. If you use the right method to make it create memories, and bring flashbacks to you every time you use Spanish in your life.
It’s different if you sit down in front of a book to memorize a bunch of grammar rules, lists of words, or if you just repeat the drills your teacher use in the classroom. These kinds of things don’t have an emotional impact on you, they’re just academic topics that you need to memorize, and that is why they are so weak.
Expose your brain to Spanish and let it work
“How do I get my brain to work automatically to learn and remember Spanish?”, this is probably the question you have, after reading my experiences above.
The secret is actually, very simple. All you need to do is to expose yourself to Spanish. How do you do this? By using listening as your main source of learning Spanish.
“Listen to what?”, that is probably your next question. On this matter, you need to be sure that the things you listen, actually have an impact on you. When you watch TV shows or movies you really like, your brain will be more receptive to what you hear.
Listen to interesting things, look for podcasts about the things you like, watch comedies in Spanish, look for interviews in Spanish about artists that you like. Look for videos on YouTube of things you enjoy in Spanish and listen to them.
Hanging out with friends who learned to speak Spanish, or with actual Spanish native speakers, will always have an impact on your brain because, every time we interact with people, our brains need to make decisions on whether it likes what people say or not.
People will have an emotional, positive, or negative impact on you, and your brain will tie memories with these people to the words, or expressions they use in Spanish.
Your brain is a wonderful tool that can be automatized. Memories are automatic, take advantage of them to improve your Spanish, this is a very powerful way of taking literally Spanish to your mind.
Expose your brain to Spanish, try to do this every day. Take the advice I gave on this article for your Spanish learning, and hey, let me know how it goes!
Leave some experiences in the comments, about how you learned some words or expressions, and why you rememberthem. I’m sure many of them are good memories that will go with you for the rest of your life.