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Episode 16: Learn Spanish on Autopilot

Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

Episode 16

How to Learn Spanish on Autopilot

Stop setting goals and do this instead

Do you struggle to stay on track with improving your Spanish?  Have you started learning on one app, only to quit when it got boring, and then later started another program and then stopped that too because you got busy?  In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to make learning Spanish as effortless as possible. I’ll give you some practical advice and 3 action steps to help you incorporate learning Spanish into your daily life.



Transcript

Time Transcript
This episode of Learn Spanish Con Salsa is brought to you by the Spanish Conversation Mastery Course. Start speaking Spanish with confidence and just eight weeks. The Spanish Conversation Mastery Course will give you the essential phrases, vocabulary and practice you need to build your confidence. Speaking Spanish, learn Spanish through dialogues with real Spanish speakers and over 17 audio lessons covering and diverse range of conversation topics so you’ll be ready for almost any situation. Easy fill in the blank. Scripts are provided to help you develop your conversation, talking points and minutes. Use the code SPANISHCONSALSA to get 15% off lifetime access to the course. Go to SpanishConversationMastery.com and start speaking Spanish today. That’s SpanishConversationMastery.com [SHOW INTRO]
01:29 Hola, Como estas espero que todo vaya bien. I hope all is well. In this episode we’re going to talk about how you can learn Spanish on autopilot. So how to it make learning Spanish as effortless as we possibly can. Now I’m not talking about learning Spanish in your sleep, not THAT effortless actually have seen some videos on youtube that claim that if you listen to them while you sleep, you can learn Spanish overnight. So let me know how that’s working for you if you’ve tried that. But we’re not talking about learning Spanish in your sleep, but we are going to talk about some ways that we can make learning Spanish as easy as we possibly can and incorporate it into our lifestyle. So I’m going to share a little story with you before we get started. Now, this happened years ago when I had a pretty sedentary lifestyle.
02:19 I had an office job and I wasn’t doing a whole lot of physical activity. So I really wanted to get out of this sedentary lifestyle and I wanted to be active. So I decided like most people do, I joined a gym, right? And at the time I actually had a friend who was trying to lose quite a bit of weight. So I decided, okay, I will be your gym partner and now tag along with you at the gym and at least get my body moving in some way. And I was talking to a friend of mine, so I was so excited and I was explaining to him that, oh, you know, I’ve started going to the gym, I’m working out now. So I was kind of patting myself on the back. And he asked me, well, how often do you go to the gym?
03:00 And I looked at him with a straight face and I said, well, I go once a week. And his response was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought he was going to say, Oh wow, you’ve been consistently going to the gym once a week. That’s awesome. Right? That is not what he said. He looked at me and he laughed and he said, well, why go at all? Right? And I was so devastated. I was shocked. I thought, oh my gosh, how could he say that I haven’t been doing anything at all, have this office job? And I finally took the step to join the gym and I’m telling him about how proud I am of myself. And he laughs at me and says, well, why go at all? And at the time I really didn’t get it because I thought, well, I’m doing something and that’s better than nothing.
03:45 Right? But as time went on and I wasn’t really seeing any results or any changes in my body or my energy level or my strength at all, I realized that once a week really wasn’t enough. And that anyone who was really committed to a healthy and fit lifestyle, they go to the gym at least three times a week. And most people that are really committed find some way to work out and be active every single day. So that’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way and I wasted a lot of time kind of spinning my wheels, just going to the gym, doing the same boring workout. Trying to get on the elliptical or maybe one or two machines and feeling like, Oh yeah, I’ve done my workout for today or for the week, you know? And I really felt like I was accomplished, but I was really wasting a lot of time.
04:36 And that’s because I didn’t make fitness a habit or a part of my lifestyle. So that’s what we’re going to discuss. How do we actually make learning Spanish a habit? So it’s something that we do more than just once a week or every now and then or when we feel like it or when the inspiration hits us, you know, how do we really make Spanish a part of our life and really start to learn on autopilot? Since we’re talking about making Spanish a habit, it will be useful to know exactly what it is that we’re referring to. Okay. So a habit is a routine behavior that is repeated regularly and it tends to occur unconsciously. So a routine behavior that we repeat on a regular basis and we tend to do it without thinking about it. So without it being in the forefront of our conscious mind, that is the definition of a habit and in order to develop any new skill, you have to work on it consistently and frequently in order for it to really take hold.
05:43 And that doesn’t just go for learning Spanish. That’s if you’re trying to learn how to play the guitar or to ride a bike or to dance. It’s something that you have to do on a consistent basis and you have to do it more than once in a blue moon. I always tell my coaching clients that when they’re trying to come up with a study schedule, I always say that frequency is more important than duration. And what do I mean by that? Well, let’s take this example. Let’s say you have one hour per week to learn Spanish. That’s all the time you have because you’re super, super, super ridiculously busy and you can only squeeze one hour out of an entire week and that’s actually really low. If you think about it, you have 168 hours in a week and if you can only manage to find one out of 168 hours, then you might want to revisit, are you really committed to learning whatever it is that you’re trying to do that you only have an hour for.
06:40 Now I know, I know you’re saying, well obviously there’s a lot I have to do in that 168 hours. So let’s say you get eight hours per night of sleep, right? And you say, Oh, well some of that time I’m obviously sleeping. Then that still leaves you with 112 hours that you have to do other things. And you might say, well, you know, I work 40 hours a week. Uh, okay, so sleeping and working you now still have 72 hours left to devote to something that you want to do. And obviously you have some social activities and you want to and you’ll want to eat. You know, obviously some basic things you’ll have to do. So with 72 hours of free time, I’m sure you can find some time to learn some Spanish. But let’s go back to our example of one hour. So if you only have one hour per week, I always tell my clients it’s much more effective to break that hour down into four 15-minute learning sessions versus waiting till Saturday where you may have a one hour block of time that you can commit to study.
07:42 Now you might be thinking 15 minutes really isn’t a lot of time to learn anything, right? But you’d be surprised at how far you can get with 15 minutes of focused attention versus an hour of semi-focused, semi-distracted attention where you’re taking a break to answer a text message or check Instagram or Facebook or get interrupted by a friend or you get hungry so you go grab a snack in the middle of it? I mean, one hour of focused attention is really hard to maintain and these days all of us have shorter and shorter attention spans anyway. So 15 minutes of high quality focused attention is actually very valuable. And if you struggle with this, something that will really help is setting a timer because that will really help you focus. As you see that time ticking down, you’ll realize that, oh, I need to maximize this time right now that I have dedicated to Spanish because it’s going to be over pretty soon.
08:37 So that really helps you get focused if you have a problem holding your attention. So both consistency and frequency are key. When you’re trying to establish a new habit, it just makes it much easier for your habit to become automatic and that is what we want. For example, you probably don’t consciously think about all of the steps involved in taking a shower. It’s probably just something that you do the first thing in the morning when you wake up and you also don’t spend every single day trying to decide whether or not you should take a shower, when you’re going to take a shower, what type of soap you’re going to use, what kind of towel you’re going to pick for that day. You simply wake up in the morning and you take a shower. It’s completely automatic and that’s the point you want to get to with your Spanish.
09:24 And I’ll give you two very effective ways that you can begin to learn Spanish on autopilot. Now, the first thing you can do is link learning Spanish to an existing routine. Now the reason is you’re much more likely to stick to a new activity if it’s tied to something else that you already do consistently. So for example, if you wanted to start the habit of flossing your teeth because your dentist told you that they’re all going to fall out if you don’t start flossing every day, you get decide to start flossing right before you brush your teeth. Since that’s already one of your daily activities, hopefully, hopefully that’s already something that you do every day. So it’s much easier to link a new behavior like flossing onto something you already do daily, like brushing your teeth, because that makes it less likely that you’ll forget or stop doing it all together in the future.
10:15 It becomes automatic because it’s just an extension of an existing habit that you have. So I’ll give you some examples of some existing habits that you may already do each and every day. For example, wake up right? That’s something we all do every day. Get dressed in the morning, have breakfast, take a walk, walk the dog commute to work or to school every day, whether that’s on the bus or in your car, on the train. You might work out every day, go grocery shopping, watch TV. You may have a daily status meeting at work. Cooking is something you probably already do every day. Running errands, taking a break from work, commuting home from school or from work, having dinner, taking a lunch break, and preparing to go to bed at night. So those are some things that you probably already do every day to give you a sense of what some of your existing habits might be.
11:13 So if you’re trying to establish a new habit, find a way to tack it onto one of those existing habits that you already have. Now the second way that you can establish a new habit is to set a specific time. So pull out your calendar, make an appointment with yourself to do your new habit, and in this case we’re talking about learning Spanish. So for example, you can dedicate 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM every single day as your Spanish study time. This will make sure that you don’t miss your study time and you don’t have to figure out every single day when you’re going to fit studying into your schedule. You’ve already planned it out. And this also helps you deal with conflicts. So let’s say someone wants to plan a meeting with you at four o’clock you can say, oh, can we meet at 4:30 because they already have something on my schedule for four o’clock so it also helps you be able to manage conflicts in your schedule should they arise.
12:10 Now this works if you’re really good with scheduling and calendars and routines. If you’re a person that’s driven more by time, than by activity, this will work really well for you. But if you’re someone who really doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the time and you’re not very time conscious, someone like me, for example, who really is not good with time, you might want to stick with the first strategy of linking Spanish to an existing habit. But if you’re a person that really likes schedules and planning, this approach might really work for you as well. So how do we put this all together? I’m going to give you three action steps to start learning Spanish on autopilot. So go ahead and pull out a piece of paper and a pen to take notes. Or if you have an app on your phone where you like to take notes, go ahead and pull that up now.
13:01 So I’m going to give you three action steps that you can do right now to begin to incorporate Spanish in your daily life as a habit. All right, step number one, brainstorm a list of all of your current habits. So this is that first strategy we just talked about. Write out a list of things that you do on a regular basis, whether that’s something you do every day, every week, every other day. If it’s something that you do pretty regularly, write it down. So this is a brainstorm. So don’t edit yourself. Don’t censor yourself. Even if it sounds silly, just write down everything that you do on a regular basis. That is step number one.
13:44 Step number two is to identify habits that we can link Spanish to. So I recommend picking your top three existing habits that you feel the most confident you can incorporate some Spanish learning into.
13:59 And you’re also going to identify whether you can incorporate Spanish during those activities before or after. So for example, let’s say my top three activities are, let’s say waking up in the morning is one. I do that every single day. Kind of hard not to do that. Number two, taking a lunch break every day at 12 o’clock and number three, getting ready for bed at night. Okay, those could be my top three habits. So for the first one, waking up in the morning, I would link learning Spanish too after that existing habit, right? It’s kind of hard to learn Spanish before you wake up in the morning, unless of course you already started downloading one of those videos that claim you can learn Spanish in your sleep. Try that out, see how it works for you. But it’s really hard to do that before, right? So after I wake up in the morning, it would be a good time to incorporate some Spanish exposure.
14:54 The second activity, taking a lunch break at 12 o’clock I could probably learn some Spanish during my lunch break. And for my last habit of getting ready for bed in the evening, I’m more likely to be able to tie in some Spanish right before I start getting ready for bed. So you’ll want to do that for each of your top three habits. Now, step number three, link a Spanish learning activity to each habit. And you’ll want to make that something that’s practical for each habit. Something that you’re more likely to be able to incorporate into your schedule during that time. So, for example, if one of the habits I picked was going grocery shopping every day, and I know I have to stand in line, I wouldn’t tie that to the activity of having a one on one session with a tutor, right? Because that’s going to be pretty hard to do while I’m standing in line.
15:46 However, one thing I could do while I’m standing in line is pull out my phone, open up my flashcard app, and review some vocabulary while I’m standing there waiting. So that’s something that’s very practical that you can do while you’re standing in line at the store. So for each of your three top habits come up with a list of activities that you can tie to each existing habit. And I really recommend making this list as long as possible. The reason why is this, if you’re doing these things consistently every day, or at least three or four times a week, they’re going to start to become routine. And what happens with routines is sometimes we get bored, right? So if we’ve already identified several activities, we won’t run out of things to do during those times. So, for example, for my morning routine, if I want to incorporate Spanish into my morning routine, after I wake up in the morning, I might decide that I want to watch the news in Spanish for my lunch break.
16:42 I could decide to listen to a podcast in Spanish while I’m eating my lunch and as a part of my evening routine. I might decide that right before I get ready for bed, I want to read a novel in Spanish. So those are all activities that really fit with the habits that I’ve identified. And if you have trouble coming up with some activities that you can tie to each habit, go to our website learnspanishconsalsa.com/habit and you’ll find a list of 28 creative ways that you can incorporate Spanish into your daily routine. So we have a list of suggested activities and also resources that correspond with those activities that you can pull from to incorporate into your own language learning habit. So that is it for this episode, how to learn Spanish on autopilot. We talked about the importance of both frequency and consistency in forming a Spanish learning habit, and we looked at two ways to establish a regular habit of learning Spanish, linking it to an existing habit or simply scheduling an appointment with ourselves so that we commit to our learning.
17:49 And I gave you three action steps. Number one, brainstorm a list of all of your existing habits. Number two, pick your top three habits that you can link to learning Spanish. And number three, identify Spanish learning activities for each of your top three habits. So those are your marching orders and as always, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about some ways that you’ve incorporated Spanish into your daily schedule. You can reach out to us on Instagram at @learnspanishconsalsa, or you can leave a comment on the show notes page at learnspanishconsalsa.com/habit. I’d love to learn all about your Spanish habits.
18:31 And don’t forget that 28 creative ways to incorporate Spanish into your daily routine. That list is also on our show notes page, so check that out if you get stuck with step number three. So that’s it for this episode. In our next episode, we’re going to talk about how to stick with our habits. So in case you’re worried that you might get off track after you’ve established your new habit, I’ll talk about some techniques that we can use to keep ourselves on the path and stay consistent and not fall off the wagon. So that will be in the next episode. So make sure you look out for that. And as always, I hope you learned something valuable in this episode that can take you one step closer on your journey from being a Spanish beginner to bilingual. Hasta luego.

Show Notes: learnspanishconsalsa.com/habit

📋 Download Episode 16 Transcript

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