Common conversational comprehension problems

Do you have any of the following problems, or maybe all of them?

We know that mistakes are the basis for learning, but even so, we find it difficult to accept our mistakes with joy..

I have to admit that I often enthusiastically celebrate my students' mistakes in class. When this happens, I know they are getting closer to their goal.

The same happens with a child while playing with his pieces: we can see how he makes mistakes over and over again until he achieves his goal; and marvel at how these mistakes do not distress him, nor overwhelm him, nor diminish his efforts to achieve his goal.

When we listen to a real spontaneous conversation, it is normal not to understand everything they say. I can assure you that, in some conversations, I don't hear or understand all the words either (and I'm a native speaker!).

However, many people think that in order to understand a text or a conversation they have to understand all the words. But this is a false myth.

In this entry I will explain other three problems of conversational spanish or, in other words, 3 false myths.




Problem 1: "I don't understand well because I don't know enough vocabulary".

This is, without a doubt, one of the star phrases. By star phrase I mean one of the phrases I hear the most among my students.

But it is not true.

To read, you do need to know a lot of vocabulary for the simple reason that we use many more words in writing than we use in speaking.

Most people who often say this phrase know more vocabulary than they need to understand a conversation.

What they don't know is how to hear those words! They know how to understand them if they read them but not if they hear them, so more than expanding your vocabulary, what you have to do is to learn to listen to it.


Problem 2: "When I don't understand a word, I get distracted and don't listen to what is coming next".

This happens to me too, when I don't understand a word I get frustrated, sometimes; I keep thinking about what they might have said, other times; I even tell myself that I need to start studying seriously, other times.

In one of my conversational comprehension classes this week, while working on a real conversation, one of my students confessed to me that there was a word that she had not understood and that had thrown her off and, therefore, she had not been able to understand what they had said next.

Do you know what the word was that I didn't understand?

\"let's go

But not the verb "to go", was a crutch. The phrase went something like this: "Sure, come on, I'm looking forward to it".

What I had to understand in that sentence was the positive meaning "of course" and "wishing" and just the word with the least meaning and the one she should not have paid attention to threw her off track and caused him to miss a bit of conversation.


Problem 3: "I listen to the radio every day, I trade, I listen to podcasts... and I can't seem to get any better".

This is a practice problem, ie, in conversational Spanish, quantity is not important, quality is important..

It doesn't matter how many times you listen. You can get stuck on a level simply because you don't know how to listen.

That is why it is not enough to listen for the sake of listening, you have to listen in places where, in addition, teach you how to understand what you hear with pronunciation strategies and activities. In Spanish, we would call this "barrer para casa" 😎 😎 😎 😎 😎 😎 😎 😎.



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