If you live in the United States, chances are you took language classes in high school. Maybe you took Spanish for a few years and got a strong foundation for the language, but after graduation, you never practiced again. It may seem like you blew any chance to speak another language, but much like learning to ride a bike, the language you studied is still in your head. It’s just been latent for a while, so you’ll need to pull it out and bring it back to life.
Babbel challenged three Spanish learners to compete in a series of competitions to show off their language skills in the real world. The contestants were all beginners but a couple of them, Deb and Jenna, had studied Spanish in school, so they were using Babbel’s app to refresh their memory. They only had to practice their Spanish with Babbel for 15 hours before they were able to have basic conversations! Watch the video above to see how they fared in the competition, and read on to learn their secrets for refreshing old language skills, no matter how many years it’s been.
1. Go Over Vocab Words (But Be Selective)
Vocabulary makes up a huge portion of the material you study when you learn a new language. The sheer volume of words related to various topics makes it nearly impossible to remember all the vocab you learned in school. Before the competition, Deb and Jenna reviewed words and phrases related to topics that are useful in real-life situations. Babbel offers lessons covering specific vocab, like words and sentences related to food and drink, transportation and travel — even feelings and attitudes. Go over the sections that are most relevant and practical for you, rather than getting bogged down with thousands of words you’ll never use.
2. Speak, Speak, Speak
Getting comfortable with speaking a new language is often the most difficult part of language learning, and going years without practicing can make it particularly nerve-racking. The contestants made use of Babbel’s speech recognition technology to get back in the speaking groove and to make sure their pronunciation was on the mark. Babbel’s app has sections on speaking to help you fine-tune your pronunciation and get comfortable talking out loud. You can review vowel and consonant sounds and even try your hand at some foreign-language tongue twisters!
3. Practice In The Real World
Once you refresh your memory, it’s time to move from the app to the physical world. It’s hard to know for sure whether you can really speak the language until you try to have a conversation with a real person in real life. Babbel created the real-world scenario for these contestants, but when you’re ready, you’ll have to find a way to make this happen yourself, whether through travel, a language meetup group in your area, or any of these methods for immersing yourself in a new language. After just 15 hours of study with Babbel, you’ll be ready to have basic conversations in Spanish!