Learning Spanish



We are very happy because this week we bring you an interview with Milena, the girl in our first guest post. Why her? Because she is a student of Spanish, just like you.

Milena is the charming lady behind englishmadesimple.net, a blog focused on learning english on a very easy way. Reading her words can be of great help to you.

The interview is very interesting because she tells us, among some other things, her reasons for learning Spanish, what was harder, what surprised her the most from Spanish and she even gave us her best advice for further improving in learning this language.

Spanish is a language spoken by millions of people, more and more every time. If you’re interested in speaking it, read on to find out how other people have achieved this easily.

The Interview

Milena, Why did you decide that Spanish would be the third language that you were going learn?

Well, one of the reasons I decided to learn Spanish as my third spoken language is because my husband is from Chile, so I needed to be able to chat with his family! Another reason is that, I’ve always been intrigued by the Latin culture, it is very much alike to Serbian culture. When I came to Melbourne, Australia, I started organising meetup events to meet friends as I was new in town. I’ve noticed that most of the new friends I was meeting were Latinos and I had so much in common with them.

Then, aside from being able to communicate with your husband’s family, has Spanish worked for you professionally?

Yes, that’s correct. Being able to speak Spanish has served me well professionally. When I lived in Chile, I worked as a translator, translating resumes or CV’s (curriculum vitae). Then I started translating websites, blog articles, and business presentations and so on. I was also teaching English around the same time and I started English Made Simple (www.englishmadesimple.net) so that I can continue helping my students in Chile as I had to return to Australia. The English Made Simple Podcast has really taken off, and I am reaching people from all around the world! It’s quite exciting!

What about the language has surprised you before speaking it that you didn’t know before?

One thing that surprised me the most is the placement of accents. For example, ESTA or ESTÁ, they have different meanings if used with and without the accents. This was harder to grasp, because we don’t have these rules in English and Serbian, (but we do have other confusing rules though!).

What has been the hardest and the easiest thing to learn?

Interesting question. The hardest thing to learn was the slang! Chilenos speak slang all the time. When I was learning Spanish, I didn’t learn slang, it wasn’t there in my Spanish for Beginners book! It took a little bit longer to get used to, but now estoy cachando! That’s Chilean for estoy entendiendo.

I do remember, when we moved to New Zealand as a family, we had difficulties understanding kiwi slang (people from New Zealand are called kiwis). But then I started to get used to it, and didn’t mind it. A few years later, I moved to Australia and they have different slang to the kiwis. So again, trying to mingle and integrate was a bit challenging.

What I found easier to learn, was talking about my job or my daily routine, because it’s just something that I would use often, so it just rolls off the tongue.

Do you think that by having Serbian as your mother language has helped with the Spanish phonetics? Do sounds resemble at all or are they completely different?

Definitely. I do think that since my mother tongue is Serbian it does help with pronunciation of some Spanish words. The way we speak is quite similar to the Spanish, we pronounce every letter, and every letter has a sound. We also roll the ‘rrrr’s! Something that native English speakers would have difficulties with, but it’s not impossible, you just need a bit of practice!

And what about English, has speaking a second language perfectly helped you learn a third language faster?

Yes, for sure! As a matter of fact, I think that the more languages you know the easier is to learn a new language. I learnt Italian and Russian when I was younger, but I don’t speak them as I didn’t have anyone to practise with. Although, I am familiar with those languages and if I had more time, I wouldn’t mind learning them again. What I would really like to learn next is Portuguese, I like the sound of both Portuguese and Spanish. They both sound so exotic!

In your guest post, you gave advice to learn a language without sitting hours and hours in front of a book. Tell us more about that. Is it really so effective to learn a language signing up for fun activities and listening to songs or watching movies? What are the benefits of doing it this way? Which of these alternative ways do you like to use the most?

I think it is easier to learn another language if you are doing something fun. My cousins in Serbia are hooked on telenovelas, and now they can understand Spanish quite well. Maybe they have to practise speaking, but listening to the language is the first step you should take when learning another language. It worked for me. I now live in Australia where I don’t practise a lot of Spanish, the only way to keep up is by listening to different podcasts, watching movies and playing Spanish music. I only play Spanish music in the car!

Have you considered traveling to any Spanish-speaking country? Which one do you want to visit the most or which one is your favorite?

I would have loved to have spent more time in South America and Central America, especially Argentina and Colombia. I wish I had more time to explore those countries while I was living in Chile, and I would’ve also liked to have spent more time getting to know the South of Chile. Oh well, there is always a next time! Also, on my next travels, I would love to visit Europe and spend more time in Western Europe, Spain and France.  I heard from my friends that both of these countries are amazing.

What is your favorite part of knowing how to speak Spanish? I don’t know… watching telenovelas, listening to Shakira, getting Chilean jokes… lol?

The best part is that it’s cool, and I can impress my friends in Australia! I still need to understand Chilean jokes though, they speak with a lot of slang and it is still a work in progress for me. Anyway, now I can watch movies without English subtitles, and that’s a bonus J I have always been interested in the Latin culture and by being able to speak the language I can completely immerse myself in the culture.

And now finally, what are your top 5 favorite words in Spanish?

I had to think about this question a little bit. All the Spanish words have appealing phonetics, that’s one reason why I love listening to the Spanish language. When you speak it, it sounds like you are singing and you can easily rhyme the words. Some words that come to mind are, “vamos”, “muy rico”, “afortunadamente”, “muy interesante” or “importante”. I love saying, muy interesante!

As always, we look forward to your comments. Milena and we will be attentive to your concerns. And if you only want to stop by to say hi, go on, you know that we love it.

¡Hasta pronto!

About the Author

Somos Alicia Duarte y Nuria Camacho, profesoras de español para extranjeros y apasionadas por la enseñanza. Nos encanta ayudar a personas interesadas en aprender español y guiarlos hacia sus objetivos.

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