If someone asked me what I would recommend as the most important preparation for expatriating to Mexico it would be, Learn Spanish. You would think this is obvious, right?
I get many who write and ask what I recommend they do exactly in their language-learning quest. The first thing I tell them is to understand that unless they move to one of the uber-expensive resort towns or San Miguel de Allende, you will have to speak Spanish in the rest of the country. The rest of Mexico is not going to cater to the monolinguals no matter how big of a fit they pitch over it. I mention this because shockingly, this is exactly what monolinguals do when they come to Mexican towns and find the locals are not bilingual. In their fit-pitching tirades there is the usual, now get this, accusing the localsto their facesof speaking English only pretending not to.
Here is what I would suggest you follow before moving to Mexico. It will cost you. It isn’t cheap. But, you will not be wasting your money like you would if you began taking classroom instruction before developing a high degree of Spanish spoken fluency.
· The Learnables Languages This picture-aural system follows the last 40 years of linguistic research in second language acquisition. You receive true immersion in the language.
· Pimsleur Spanish This is the second stage of acquiring spoken fluency. First, you engaged in INPUT with The Learnables, and then you begin your OUTPUT stage with The Pimsleur Spanish system. This is your first attempt at speaking the language. You will develop much vocabulary and learn how to speak the language.
· Learn Spanish Like Crazy This course is much in the same style and approach of The Pimsleur products. They use the same methodology as Pimsleur. You will learn a tremendous amount of vocabulary as well as get massive exposure to how Spanish is spoken in Latin America. Pimsleur is excellent in giving you the exposure to how Educated Spanish speaking people converse. However, when you are on the streets of Latin America you will hear a lot of difference in the Spanish you learned with Pimsleur and what you will learn with Learn Spanish Like Crazy. My suggestion is that you need both. The reality is that if you only learned what is spoken on the streets of Latin America and then tried to interact with educated Latin Americans in a formal setting, you will come across like a rube. The reality is there is street Spanish and there is formal Spanish. You have to know both and be able to switch back and forth.
· Immersion Plus Spanish One of the most misunderstood parts of becoming fluent in any language is the necessity of training your ear in the target language. What I mean is if you cannot hear the euphony or music of the language you will rarely, if ever, be able to understand what someone in speaking to you in the target language. I live in Mexico and can tell you though I went through massive Spanish preparation before coming to Mexico what I did not count on was the speed at which the locals spoke Spanish. It is remarkably fast! This course, by its design, will help you with this problem. It addresses this common issue.
· Smart Spanish This will help further train your ear in the music of the language. It is a great program in that it records live interviews with Spanish speakers from Colombians to Spaniards. It dissects the interviews for grammar and vocabulary and then speaks at different speeds so you can follow with or without a transcript.
An issue with many American second language learners is they claim because they are “visual learners” they have to take notes, read books, see something written on a classroom chalkboard, or whatever. This is a myth. The courses I list stress listening first, speaking second, and reading third.
What someone is saying when they claim this, related to language acquisition, is if they were born blind they never would have been able to learn how to speak their native tongue. The mechanisms involved in second language acquisition are the very same as when you learned your native language. If your claim to be a “visual learner”, relating to second language acquisition, were valid then if you were born blind, you never would have been able to learn your native languagelogical, no?
Before embarking upon your expatriation journey or even coming to study Spanish in Mexico, use what I have outlined above. You will save money in the long-haul and not watch it float down the drain while sitting in a classroom lost and unable to know which end a Spanish verb is up.