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Learning Spanish: Begin By Listening - Part 5
To maximize our brain's ability to store visual and auditory impressions in the target language, we must constantly, each day, create an atmosphere in which we are hearing and seeing the language we seek to acquire in an immersion situation. This is not only possible to do in a country in which the target language is not spoken but is being accomplished all the time. Mexicans living and working in the Mexican resort cities have learned English and continue to learn it without the advantage of living in America or in any country in which English is the main language. Though extremely advantageous, it is not absolutely required to live in the country where the language you seek to acquire is the predominate language.
One of the chief complaints of students, young or old, who seek to learn Spanish is that what they hear is "machine gun Spanish." They've reached a point in which they can say pretty much what they want to say in Spanish but when the native Spanish speaker replies to them, the response still sounds very much like a string of gibberish. I can attest to this.
I am at the point where I am just beginning, after more than four years of living in Mexico, to be able to make some sense out of rapid-fire Spanish. I can pick out of what sounds like gibberish just enough words to figure out what is being said at the speed of light. The point is that though you can ask friends and co-workers to slow down a bit when talking to you, on the street you will find yourself in situations in which you can't do that.
When we had a fire at our house in the middle of the night, I had to call "066"�Mexico's 911�and talk to a very rapidly speaking Mexican dispatcher. I could not very well ask him to slow down. I was forced to deal with a situation that required understanding no matter how fast the Spanish came at me.
However, I went to the doctor yesterday and he knows, from previous visits, that if he speaks slowly to us we get exactly what he is telling us. I listened to my wife in the consultorio (office) and was extremely proud at how she seemed to converse as freely and easily in Spanish as she would have in English.
You can't always ask a native speaker to slow down. The situation could demand otherwise.
There are ways to master the speedy Spanish and, believe it or not, there commercially available products that target this aspect of mastering fluency.
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