Problems with Spanish
Filed under (Spanish Ear Training) by marcus @ 04:30 am
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Quite a few people asked if I would be able of help them with dealing with Spanish spoken quickly.
The answer is yes, large sections of the audio newsletter will be dedicated to training your ear for Spanish. You’ll learn to understand everyday Spanish, the way people naturally speak and express themselves, and you’ll learn to handle the pace at which they speak.

You can expect to get a significant tune up for your ear every month and improve you ability to deal with the rapid pace of spoken Spanish.

That’s why; I’ve named this blog Spanish Ear Training so we can get focused on helping you develop your ear for Spanish.

Many people also asked, will I be teaching the subjunctive, por vs para, reflexive verbs etc. The answer is yes, I will, but not in way you’re used to.
After all… the way that many of you have been taught these structures, is the reason why you’re so confused by it all.

Frankly, I think the importance of these parts of Spanish are very often overemphasized. Especially, when they are isolated and taught as a formula to memorize. That works in an exam, but out on the street… good thing it’s not self defense… or you’d be dead.

Instead, I’ll explain these parts of the language as they come up in real Spanish conversations, contexts and situations. I’ll show you what’s behind these structures, so you’ll understand on a much deeper level. Then your Spanish becomes more intuitive.

In fact, any Spanish that will really serve you, has to be intuitive… it all passes by too fast to be thinking about the 28 rules that govern “por vs para” and so on.

Let’s get real

Who can possible be juggling 28 rules for por vs para, while simultaneously trying to listen to Spanish spoken at 4 words per second?

What you really want is to be able to keep up, and to do that you can only focus on one thing.

You either focus on listening or you focus on rules.

It’s been my experience that once your ear develops enough for you to participate in conversation your skill on all parts of Spanish develops very quickly. Then one day, you realize you don’t have to think so hard about it – and you don’t have to concentrate so hard to understand either.

And the rules — they just seem to fall into place all by themselves, just like they did when you learned English. It becomes more intuitive everyday.

That’s the end goal here, and that’s what we’ll really be trying to help you develop with this newsletter.
Expect to meet Spanish in real contexts and from real life Spanish sources.

If explaining why the subjunctive, por vs para or reflexive verbs were used in the real context leads you to better intuition, then sure… I’ll be glad to explain it.

However in at least 3/4 of the audio newsletter you won’t be passively listening to explanations. Instead, you’ll be actively involved in expanding you ear and also extending your speaking ability to be able to talk on a wide range of topics.

That way, you’ll have a much deeper, more intuitive, more natural understanding of what’s really happening in the Spanish you hear. You’ll be much better able to keep up, tune in and get involded in real world conversations.

The third thing people told me was that they had a problem finding people to practice Spanish with, they live in places without a Spanish speaking population.
Obviously that’s not something that I can help with very much. However, here is a webpage that I wrote some time ago with a couple of options that you can use wherever you live.

And here is an group that helps people make exchange visits to other countries.

Please leave your comments on this blog, I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts.

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48 Comments posted on "Problems with Spanish"
ChristineNo Gravatar on August 14th, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

Marcu, you have been and continue to be so very helpful. I always preferred learning to speak French rather than Spanish. However, with your much easier approach to leaning Spanish I am having fun and learning at the same time.
Un dia ecriviria ?? todos en espanol.



HazelNo Gravatar on October 6th, 2007 at 9:43 am #

i have been in spain for 3 years and still cant speak spanish may be a few word’s but not einugh. i have try’d almost every thing to learn. if you could teach me spanish. Then and only then would i say. your way work’s. so i will give it a go. and let you know. feel free to email me on this.


eddieNo Gravatar on August 29th, 2007 at 3:38 pm #

hello and thank you for expaning my spanish speaking abilities. it is always so rewarding when u find that your hard work is being paid off by understanding and communicating with friends that speak spanish
all the best and i look forward to being involving in future courses like this!


JulienneNo Gravatar on August 28th, 2007 at 8:06 am #

just getting started and can understand a few things and plucking up courage to go out and speak now – it is much easier than traditional gramatical learning – just speak who cares what the rule is – learn what you need to use – can’t wait for the next bit to come through


MichelleNo Gravatar on August 19th, 2007 at 9:28 pm #

Thanks for all of your help. I speak pretty well already but I feel some days as if I were swimming in a soup of collocations and idioms that I just don’t get. After asking nicely a few times, I was able to get explanations for a few of them. I guess Spanish speaking people feel the same way here in the US.


RitaNo Gravatar on July 26th, 2007 at 8:20 am #

can’t wait for the next installment


Anthony LouisNo Gravatar on July 25th, 2007 at 12:18 pm #

This sounds like an excellent approach to improving listening comprehension. How do I sign up?


helen andertonNo Gravatar on July 25th, 2007 at 11:26 am #

hi marcus i am having problems signing up for spanish eartraining there is a problem with the page and i cannot submit my email


Dede SpontakNo Gravatar on July 25th, 2007 at 2:38 am #

Can’t wait. Thanks.


MakedaNo Gravatar on July 24th, 2007 at 7:42 pm #

Muchas gracias! Yes I need ear training. And yes when I attempt to speak with natives they switch to English. I am still studying Synergy Spanish and listening to the cds. I have completed two steps. I will continue to take your classes. I like the way you teach.


Sal BeislyNo Gravatar on July 24th, 2007 at 1:49 am #

I for one find rules in language learning really uphelpful and am wanting to learn intuitively as children do, this is great stuff and I’m so glad I discovered you!


AnnNo Gravatar on July 23rd, 2007 at 12:08 pm #

Really look forward to your new ideas for learning. Our spanish classes might not be continuing this year so any help you can give is great.



phylNo Gravatar on July 19th, 2007 at 11:15 am #

Hi Marcus,

your approach to Spanish learning is great. i enjoy all your lessons in Synergy and your continued assistance as you present old ideas in new ways. I look forward to the ear training as currently my means for survival when the language becomes rapid is to listen to key phrases to make some sense of it. Keep the enthusiasm high Marcus.



Brian DayleyNo Gravatar on July 19th, 2007 at 5:22 am #

Hola Marcus, Gracias por la oportunidad para estudiar con todo de ustedes, soy un abuelo,tiene 50 anos ,fue nacio’ en E.E.U.U., en Idaho, necesitare’ mas practica para desarrollar mis oidos, Muchisimas gracias…..


TheresaNo Gravatar on July 18th, 2007 at 8:18 pm #

I always look forward to and read your letters. Looking forward to it. I do have that fear of talking. I was in McAllen Texas recently and asked a woman where the concention center was and her answer was way off the charts for me. I so hate asking directions. I did ask her in spanish though and because I look very spanish (mexican and Spanish grandparents who never spoke spanish around me and rebuked my dad when he was a boy for speaking) she just went on. :^) Also many people spoke to me in passing in the stores and I got very little of what they were saying. Ah well, the quest continues.


CarolNo Gravatar on July 18th, 2007 at 7:52 pm #

Hi Marcus, CONGRATULATIONS to you for your outstanding work in making Spanish accessible, fun, and easy in a very short time!! You have and are doing a marvelous work. It is so much easier to understand phone conversations and children talking fast. You have also given me more confidence to know what I’m saying is correct, and to communicate with ease. Needless to say, I’m extremely impressed with the way you organized the language in the courses. I would be interested in any new material you create. Thank you for your endless dedication, A satisfied customer.


Gill WilsonNo Gravatar on July 15th, 2007 at 6:29 pm #

Fantastic news, all your lessons have been excellent and I have learnt so much, however, as soon as someone speaks I get lost, I can not translate quick enough, I am looking forward to the next step of Ear training I am sure this will be brilliant as all your lessons, cant wait. Thank you for your help you have made learning spanish so much more fun.


joanna strathernNo Gravatar on July 15th, 2007 at 11:42 am #

gracias por tu ajudar Marcus…y me gustaria tener las lecciones de ear training….hasta pronto…juanita


VivienneNo Gravatar on July 12th, 2007 at 5:24 pm #

Great news and great to hear – as I live in Spain, but as they talk so fast and use colloquial words I need the help of your ear training. Well done on all the things you’ve done so far too! Very impressed and very helpful.


Peter SchlesingerNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 5:52 pm #

Thank you Marcus. This couldn´t come at a better time for me. I am in Lima, Peru this week visiting my friend and she speaks a mile a minute. It is very difficult to understand, and I look forward to your ear training.


Mike StricklandNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 12:16 pm #

You are right on with this idea! My biggest problem with progressing is ear training and it is near impossible to get reasonable practice. I am looking forward to your audio newsletter!!


Irene McNevinNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 11:31 am #

Hola Marcus,
you seem to have hit the nail on the head yet again. Well done.,
We live in Spain and as soon as you make a request or answer a local the machine gun starts, just to complicate matters they add in some Valenciana words as well. Despacio por favor helps for the first few words then the speed returns, we look forward to more on this subject
Valencia Spain


tietieNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 10:57 am #

So very good for me .


Mark J Biberg USMC 90-94No Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 5:23 am #

I can generally communicate in spanish….in a very baisc sense. My wife is from Peru and we have vowed to learn each others’ langauge. One of the things we told each other is that we need to slow down a bit…..knowing the other person needs a bit more time to process the words. I have visted Peru 3 times and I understand a bit more. But I still do not understand much when people speak at their natural rate. When I ask them to slow down a bit my comprehension goes way up. i will continue to use your course and build upon it with conversations with my wife.
Mark J Biberg
Tuluksak, Alaska


MarieNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 1:39 am #

I think this is a great idea. I can read well but understanding normal speech of native spanish speakers is near impossible. I look forward to your ear training newsletter.


sabrina howardNo Gravatar on July 11th, 2007 at 12:56 am #

0 Comments posted on “Más despacio por favor”
sabrina howard on July 11th, 2007 at 12:52 am #
Hola marcus,
Thank you for this great Idea,whenever I hear people speaking in spanish, I could only grasp some of the words, but could never really understand them,because they would rattle off at 1000 words per minute,you are so right,we have to have an ear..Im so excited and looking forward towards your newsletter.My goal is to talk as fast as them some day..its been my dream


Dave IlligNo Gravatar on July 10th, 2007 at 11:22 pm #

I have learned more spanish from you than all of the other course I have taken combined. I am a pilot, accomplished guitarist and have taught flying and guitar. Your methods are much like the successful methods used for both of those endeavors. I think music and language are closely related and the way you teach spanish works well for music. Music theory and language grammar won’t help you learn to play or speak. Thanks to you I am conversational in Spanish. YOU ROCK! I can’t wait to receive any new learning materials you have to offer!


Harlan WolfeNo Gravatar on July 10th, 2007 at 9:46 pm #

Please hurry. I need this NOW. I am living in Costa Rica, and it is hard for me to get enough context much of the time to get the gist of what is being said. I think I would learn vocabulary much faster if I could train my ear to hear Spanish better. I hope that this will be available by download.


SueNo Gravatar on July 10th, 2007 at 9:45 pm #

This will be great! I’ve been teaching myself Spanish (Latin American, specifically) the last couple of years in prep for mission trips to Mexico. I’ve come a long way from where I was but am still such a novice. I’ve been blessed with a native Costa Rican in town and we meet weekly to ‘talk’ – at first lots of words & phrases & just recently trying to simply converse in Spanish. It slows it down a LOT but it’s great! I look forward to it every week – it’s the highlight of my week! This ‘ear training’ will only complement my other resources. Thanks!


NathanNo Gravatar on July 10th, 2007 at 9:36 pm #

Thank you so much. I look forward to this. 😀


maggsNo Gravatar on July 9th, 2007 at 7:42 pm #

hi,I just know i`m going to love it like everything else you have done.how long now thanks maggs


Bill FramptonNo Gravatar on July 8th, 2007 at 3:54 am #

Sounds good to me. The structure should come through listening and participating with good grammatical speakers. Slang and idiomatic expressions should then be easier to adjust to.


Ron OudykNo Gravatar on July 8th, 2007 at 2:10 am #

looking forwards to more cd’s which i can use while driving in my car


bolbolaNo Gravatar on July 7th, 2007 at 2:22 pm #

hi Marcus
thank you for helping me to learn spanish . but I have a problem in
pronombre direct – indirect .when I put the pronombre before the verb or after.

thank you again


MaggieNo Gravatar on July 7th, 2007 at 12:52 pm #

I still have the hope that one day after reading, listening and repeating I shall be able to speak passable Spanish


DonaleeNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 11:12 pm #

Thanks I think I will enjoy this


Philip MullenNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 9:31 pm #

When I try to practice my Spanish, in my halting pace, the Puerto Ricans and contractiors quickly switched to English. I found they wanted to practice their English. How can I learn to speak better if I can’t practice?


BeverlyNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 4:24 pm #

Beautiful site! Looking forward to your upcoming audio lessons.
Muchas gracias.


Evelyn CawthornNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 3:35 pm #

What you say about learning por/para is absolutely correct. I went to nightschool for five years and although I tried hard, never mastered all the different rules. Already I know that it is “para” to mean “in order to” because of your lessons and por when talking of time e.g. for 3 days. Thank you for that alone! Evelyn


pgunnelsNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

This is a big problem for me. I think and hear too slow. I read Spanish fairly well after taking your course, but I cannot hear what people are saying in Spanish. Some words sound similar and I confuse them. This can be very misleading. I hope you can help with this problem..
Thanks for your help.



LylaNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 1:21 pm #

I’d just like to express my delight at the interest you take in helping us to improve our Spanish. You are a great support!


Mary JonesNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 11:23 am #

Michas gracias for this very helpful blog. It is so easy to get disheartened when learning another language, especially trying to remember all the rules so as not to offend anyone. Your blog has given me renewed confidence to continue the quest to habla espano!



Greg PorterNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 11:05 am #

Those issues match mine 100%. You have hit the nail on the head for me. I cannot wait for this venue to start. Thanks, Greg


Wayne E HowellNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 10:20 am #

Thanks Marcus, I look forward to it.
My ears definitely need training. I try watching spanish speaking TV, but miss most of the words. Not many people around here to pratice with.


Jerroll FryNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 10:16 am #

I think you do understand our problems and will continue to help us to become fluent.


Manie GreylingNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 9:18 am #

This is precisely how I learnt English. We did have Engl as second language at school, but I read a lot and because science-fiction was not available in my first language, I read it in English. When I wrote my finals in English, I did not refer to grammar rules. I was muttering under my breath – if an expression “sounded” wrong, I just knew it was wrong. This is what in your system appeals to me.
Something else: looking at Spanish films with translated subtitles also helps! You add the context (what you see) to the hints in the subtitles (because it is never a direct translation)to what you already know.


TangoNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 7:38 am #

You are indeed an amazing teacher. You are always finding easier and better ways to help us learn the language. And now you have even set up a blog to communicate with us. I hope you will give us a lesson on how and when to use the words “a” and “de” before a verb. Thank you.


YousefNo Gravatar on July 6th, 2007 at 7:27 am #

Hola marcus,
i absolutly agree with you! i hate pure grammer without speaking and undrestanding spanish.
please put the reflexive verbs in writing so much easy you can.
muchos saludos


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