“The sentence mindset” – An easier way to remember Spanish

We know we have been talking a lot about learning phrases or sentences instead of words. And guess what? We will keep talking about this because for us is very important that you get this mindset, “the sentence mindset”.

Why are we so insistent with this? Why is that important for us? Well, from our own experience, we know that learning a sentence, instead of learning word by word improves the possibilities for anyone to learn a language and improve the knowledge of the language they want to learn (or the language they are learning at the moment), in your case Spanish.


When we are learning a new language, we tend to think that every single word will have a perfect translation in the target language. I’m sorry to bring you back to earth, but that doesn’t happen in any language. You can’t expect German to be like Mandarin, and sorry, you can’t expect English or French to be like Spanish. There may be similarities in the structure of the languages or some meanings, but that’s the end of it.

If we go back in history, and read what the Bible says about the babel tower, languages were created to confuse people. These were created so all the people would not communicate as one. So learning a language is a challenge, but it is not impossible, we have done it and we believe you can do it.And for this to happen you need to use the right methods.

The process is going to look a little bit tedious and difficult because your brain is used to a language, and now you are going to train it to learn another one. And the most effective way to do this is to learn phrases, not words. Once you get hold of this mindset, you are going to fly in your language learning process. Learn phrases not word by word.

Why not word by word?

Let’s say you want to learn a word, what is the thing you usually do? Well, most go to the dictionary or ask the word and its meaning to someone (translation). Then, they try to memorize the word by repeating to themselves the word and its meaning. but guess what? Learning doesn’t happen here because it’s something impractical…it doesn’t work.

Do you teach children a word and then translate the word or teach the “meaning” in another language? No, you don’t. Younaturally teach children sentences and then you add words to the sentences they already know.

And there they are, “children, the ones that can easily learn languages”.That’s right, they use the right methods to learn languages.

Some on the contrary (usually adults), go and put a word in their brain that they may remember in a week, but then they will be putting more words that are not related, and then in a month or two they will be asking themselves things like… “Is it Patoor Parto or Patron? I know it starts with a P”.

Do the things that work, aproven methodis learning phrases and sentences instead of word by word. Here is a great example of what you can do to learn Spanish faster and in an effective way.

There is this group of friends that came to Colombia,and didn’t even know what “Hola” means. They’re still on a basic level. However, they are going step-by-step and now they are moving around the city with almost no help.

They came three months ago and wetaught them basic sentences, they left Colombia and went back home. I happened to go out with them this week, they just arrived here in Medellin and they still remember the majority sentences, isn’t that amazing?

They might not remember some words in the sentences, but they remember at least 75% of all the sentences they were taught. What did they do? They didn’t focus on a particular word or learning word by word. They focused on learning sentences, transmitting ideas, and making themselves understandable in certain situations.

What can you do?

To start, think about a situation that happens to you regularly, or situations you think you will need to know some sentences in order to survive. For example, on a taxi ride, when you just got to the airportor buying food. Then, start learning basic sentences that you can remember and the ones you will apply in these situations.

A few things that are helping the group of friends I just told you about to improve their Spanish, is that they don’t care what people think of them and they practice as much as they can.

Why am I telling you this? Because some people will look at you with this weird face, some others might strive to understand you at the beginning, and some will even laugh at you. However, that doesn’t have to matter.

My friends understood something you have to understand too in order to learn, they have to do uncomfortable things… liketalking to people you don’t know and let them know you are learning.

learning a language is a challenge, but it is not impossible, we have done it and we believe you can do it.

No one was born knowing anything, so take it easy and enjoy the process. You will make fun of yourself at the end, looking back on time thinking of the nonsense that you used to say in your language learning process.

The other thing that we mentioned is that these friends practice. They listen to how native speakers say the sentences, and then they repeat and repeatuntil they get it right. After that, they keep repeating until they can remember it.

At that moment, what they are listening and practicing is engraving in their brains. After that, they look for opportunities to practice that sentence and of course remember it.

You can do the same, just follow those steps; get a simple sentence and listen to the pronunciation until you get it. Practice saying the sentences to yourself, of course understanding what the meaning (the idea you want to share) is, and look for opportunities to practice with other people.

You might forget a few words, but it will be getting easier as time passes by. And that’s the first step to learn more sentences and add words to it, just playing with that one sentence.

What if I need to learn a specific word?

Let’s say you cannot get hold of a word. You have been trying for months with the old methods, but you need that one word specifically. Well, if you need to learn a word,you can put that word in sentencesthat you want to learn, or conjugatethat word in simple sentencesthat have a proper meaning to a Spanish speaker, and then you will remember the meaning of it. You see? it’s not that difficult!

So remember, sentences will help you reach a greater level of fluency,while learning just words will make your process slower, and if you are just starting to learn a language, it will be a nightmare for you to learn it word by word. So, use the right method: learn sentences!

Now you know how important it is to have “the sentence mindset”. We will be posting more content,keep tuned to master the Spanish language here at spanishtomind.com.

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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