The Telenovela Method of Learning Spanish
Zero to Fluent in 6 Months Flat
What I’m going to show you here is my favorite Spanish-learning technique – this is the method that I used to go from zero to fluent in 6 months flat, this was my language-learning Eureka! after years of trial-and-error failure. Not only is it extremely effective but it allows you to use whatever Spanish-language media you would like (TV shows, movies, songs, books, etc.) thereby also making it much more fun, engaging, and interesting than any sort of course, class, textbook, or workbook. It’s one that I designed personally, myself, though I can’t claim to be the one who came up with the basic concept that it’s based on, that is at least a couple hundred years old. Here’s what you do summarized in just 4 simple steps:
- Choose whatever form of Spanish-language media you like, that you want to learn Spanish from. Pick something you think will interest you and that you’ll enjoy watching, listening to, or reading. It could be a movie, TV show, video on the internet, song or music video, book, magazine, newspaper, comic, etc.
- Look up all the Spanish that’s used so that you understand at least most, if not all, of the words, grammar, syntax, slang, and expressions. I’ll show you exactly how to do this in the video demonstration below (just 15 minutes long).
- Work on listening comprehension – this means listening to the Spanish being used over and over again in such a way that you “train your ear” so that you can actually comprehend what’s being said, each individual word, as it’s being spoken by a native speaker at full speed. Yes, you can even do this with written material thanks to some fantastic free online resources I’ll share with you below and tell you how to use. This teaches you how to be able to understand whatever a native speaker is saying in Spanish, at full speed, which is of course the first half of being able to talk to them.
- The second half comes next: speaking ability. That is, learning how to actually speak the Spanish that you’re learning in precisely the same manner as the native speaker is, meaning that, if you do it right, you’ll learn how to sound just like a native Spanish speaker (because that’s who you’re learning from!).
Are you interested? If so just watch the quick 15-minute video below where I’ll teach you the very basics of the Telenovela Method by demonstrating it with a clip from an actual Mexican Telenovela. If it seems like something you want to try then be sure to read everything below it where I’ll tell you how you can take it much further and learn all the advanced stuff (listening/speaking) beyond just learning the Spanish itself. Here we go (click the box in the bottom right of the player to expand to full screen if it’s too small for you)!
I want to learn to speak Spanish! How to get started right now!
If this sounds like something you’d definitely like to try – learning how to comprehend as well as speak the Spanish you’re learning from your favorite movie, TV show, song, or book, learning how to use language exchanges with that Spanish you just learned from them, etc. – you can download my 214-page e-book called The Telenovela Method: How to Learn Spanish Online for Free Using Spanish TV, Music, Movies, Comics, Books, and More, which also includes over 7 hours of videos of me demonstrating everything contained therein, directly below right now.
I’ll save you the trouble: Yes, it costs money, but I’m going to let you rip me off, ok? Here’s what I mean:
Normally, in the online marketing world, with an e-book like this, of this length (over 200 pages), and especially with this many videos – over 7 hours worth – you’d see a package deal where the product would be called not an “e-book” but instead a “course”, “program”, or “package” and you’d be paying for, typically, a PDF file that wold be the e-book as well as a bunch of video files, all of which you would have to download, and this whole thing would be priced at something like between $47 and $99. Because I insisted on selling this e-book on Amazon, it was basically impossible to price it that high. Let me explain…
I decided that I had to sell this book on Amazon because I wanted it to have the credibility and legitimacy that goes with that – you’re not making it onto anyone’s “Best Seller” list by selling your book just directly through your own site as a PDF or via an affiliate network like Clickbank or something like that. I wanted this thing to have a shot at making various Best Seller lists and book club lists and what not so I knew I had to sell it on Amazon, but Amazon only pays their full 70% royalty if your e-book is priced at $9.99 or less, if you go above that it drops immediately to 30%. They did this in an effort to standardize e-book prices at $9.99, and it worked. As a result of this, very, very few other Kindle e-books on Amazon are priced above $9.99 – so that’s what people are used to, that’s what they expect – so I knew that if I priced mine above that not only would I receive less money (unless I priced it really high) but also it would be perceived as overpriced by customers since they’d be comparing it to the other e-books on Amazon.
The whole thing, the e-book and all the videos, are a grand total of: $9.99 U.S., that’s it (if you’re outside the U.S. it’s priced to be equivalent to $9.99 U.S. unless you’re in India in which case it’s cheaper for some strange reason I don’t understand), and you can just buy it through Amazon via your Amazon account. The link to the book on Amazon – where you can read the reviews on it, of which, by the way, there are currently 30 with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars – is right below. I’ve also included links to my book on every single country-specific Amazon site as well, so if you’re in the U.K., Canada, or wherever, you can buy it through your Amazon site.
If you’re not in the U.S. and there is an Amazon site specific to your country, I’d recommend reading the reviews on Amazon.com and then buying it through your country’s Amazon site where you have (or can get) an account via one of the links below (all these link directly to my book on that country’s Amazon site):
Amazon U.K. (Amazon.co.uk) – Amazon Canada (Amazon.ca) – Amazon Australia (Amazon.com.au) – Amazon Germany (Amazon.de) – Amazon Spain (Amazon.es) – Amazon France (Amazon.fr) – Amazon Italy (Amazon.it) – Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) – Amazon Mexico (Amazon.mx) – Amazon Brazil (Amazon.com.br) – Amazon India (Amazon.in)
What if I don’t have a Kindle?
You don’t need one! You can buy my e-book from Amazon and read it either online through Amazon’s website or download it along with Amazon’s free Kindle reading app (that they make for nearly every operating system and device under the sun) and read it on your computer (Windows or Mac), smart phone, tablet (e.g. an iPad), or netbook. I have a post about it with a video demonstrating precisely how to do it here: How to Download My E-book to Any Device As Well As Read It Online via Amazon. Regrettably the book is not available in print (hardcopy) yet, primarily because it contains over 400 links to various websites therefore making an e-book a much more practical choice, but I do plan on doing one in the future though it likely won’t be for a while (figure at least a year out from now, June 2014).
Quick tips and awesome free Spanish-learning sites!
Next I’m going to give you a couple of quick but invaluable tips on learning Spanish as well as talk about several free sites that will greatly help you out. Please note that all of the sites mentioned will be linked to in a neat, orderly list at the very bottom of this post under the heading of “Free Stuff” – I felt that was better than just randomly scattering them throughout the article since it would allow you to come back here whenever you wanted to for reference and easily find any one of them just by going to the list at the bottom instead of having to scour through the whole thing.
Quick Tip! The most common “gringo error”: accidentally saying you’re pregnant!
Here’s a quick free tip: the most common beginner error that native English speakers make is with what’s called a ‘false friend’ – a false friend is a word in a foreign language that looks like a word in your own native language that you already know and that you will naturally assume means the same thing, but doesn’t. The one that causes the most problems for English speakers learning Spanish is the word “embarazada” – English speakers see it and think it means “embarrassed”, so later on when they want to say “I am embarrassed” or “I was embarrassed”, they’ll say something like “Estoy tan embarazada” (“estoy” means “I am” and “tan” means “so” as in “very”). “Embarazada” means “pregnant”, so what they’ve just said is “I am so pregnant!”.
Now, the word that’s most commonly used to express embarrassment in Spanish is “vergüenza”, which literally means “embarrassment”, and the way it’s used is to literally say that something gives you embarrassment, like this: “Eso me da vergüenza”, where “eso” means “that”, “me” means “me”, “da” means “gives”, and vergüenza means “embarrassment”, so what I just literally said there was “That gives me embarrassment.” Got it?
An invaluable free website that will help you learn Spanish from any written material right now!
There’s a website (free to use and linked to at the bottom) that will help you do precisely that, that’s part of my technique for dealing with written materials, and that I’ll tell you about very quickly right now: it’s called “Forvo” and what it is, is basically just a database of words being spoken by native speakers. That is, you can look up nearly any word in Spanish and they’re almost guaranteed to have it, and you can then listen to a recording of an actual person, a native speaker, pronouncing the word for you so you now know how it’s properly pronounced.
And at this point it contains almost every word currently in use in the Spanish language! As of this writing Forvo has 66,350 words pronouned, by native speakers, in Spanish on its website. Even better, many words have been pronounced by multiple speakers meaning that you can hear them pronounced by people from different regions in different accents – yes, there is a difference in how a Mexican would pronounce “Llegar”, for example, meaning “to arrive”, versus how a Spaniard would pronounce it and an Argentinean would pronounce it a third way different from either of those two! This is very useful if there’s a particular dialect you’re looking to imitate (e.g. you want to learn Spanish as it’s spoken in Northern Mexico, or Buenos Aires, or Madrid, or whatever).
This solves one of the biggest problems with learning to speak and understand spoken language from written material: how are the words pronounced? This website is only a small part of my technique for dealing with written material (you can get shockingly close to fluency with just written material plus good free online resources like Forvo), but it’s a very valuable one that I’m sure will immediately come in handy for you.
Where to look up Spanish slang and curse words online – the absolute best reference for this purpose in existence!
Oh, and here’s that website I mentioned above where you can find more Spanish slang expressions and curse words than any other reference – book or website, paid or free – I’ve ever seen. It’s a website you may have heard of already and it’s called: Urban Dictionary. Yes, I’m serious. It was originally intended to just be an online dictionary of slang expressions in English but has now become such a reference for a number of other languages as well, most prominently Spanish. What’s better is that the definitions of the Spanish slang in it are all in English, so they’re easy for you to understand. In my years of learning and teaching Spanish I’ve looked up hundreds of Spanish slang terms and phrases in dozens of different references – online and off – and the one which I’ve found to be by far the most likely to have the definition of whatever I’m looking for, is Urban Dictionary. It’s even better than anything out there that actually bills itself as a Spanish slang reference (books, other websites, etc.)! I’ll put a link to it below, and we’re almost done here, just stick around a second longer.
Yes, ok, you’ve endured my sales pitch and I hope you give me a chance and buy my e-book but, as promised, here are the all free online resources mentioned above that you can use to help teach yourself Spanish with a short description of what each one is:
SpanishDict – This is, by far, the best Spanish dictionary and verb conjugator I’ve ever tried, online or in print. I highly recommend this is what you use, and I especially love the lessons and videos they include with the definitions of words (I even wrote a whole post about why they’re the best). Oh, and you can find their verb conjugator here (or just click on “Conjugate” in the menu bar at the top).
Forvo – hear any word in Spanish (or many other languages) pronounced for you by a native speaker. Great for use with written material where you don’t know how the word is pronounced.
Urban Dictionary – Best reference for looking up Spanish slang and profanity in existence. They won’t always have what you’re looking for but your odds are better with them than anyone else, check here first. Also, please note that it’s obviously NSFW/obscene since it serves as a reference for profanity and that it frequently has curse words and sexual references on the front page (I know I have a lot of parents and teachers using my resources so I put this out there as a warning for them, primarily).
Additionally, I recommend you check out my post on My Top 9 Spanish-learning Resources and Tools – it includes short videos where I demonstrate how to use the site in question for many of them.
Get my list of the internet's top 33 FREE Spanish-learning resources here!I put together a list of the internet’s Top 33 Free Spanish-learning resources, my favorite language exchanges and Spanish chat rooms, and more. I’ve spent a great deal of time putting together a 3-part series of articles for you on the internet’s best free resources for the Spanish-learner that you’ll get when you sign up for my newsletter–in addition to all of what you get below, I’ll be sure to send you any updates about cool new sites, resources, and learning tips and techniques that I come up with (I’m currently putting together a whole series that will teach you in great detail precisely how I go about learning a new language):
Part 1: A very long list of my favorite Top 33 free online Spanish-learning resources (tools, references, sites with free lessons, articles, blogs, forums, etc.) that’s far too long to include here, especially with all the other stuff I’ve got here that’s available just on this site alone, and I’d like to offer it to you (completely free, you don’t have to do anything other than sign up) right now.
Part 2: I explain what language exchanges are (essentially they allow you free access to an unlimited number of native speakers to practice your Spanish with), why they’re absolutely essential if you’re teaching yourself (I’m serious when I say this: it’s impossible to get fluent without them if you’re learning a foreign language on your own), how to use them, and which ones are the best.
Part 3: I cover chat rooms which are specifically devoted to connecting you with native Spanish speakers who want to learn English so you can chat with them in Spanish (and they’ll help and correct you) and then you do the same for them with their English (these are completely free to use, but rather hard to find, but I’ll tell you where the best ones are!). Sign up below!