The materials in this book have been developed to present Spanish as a spoken language, and the skills of understanding and speaking are accordingly emphasized. The method of presentation will likely be new to students acquainted with more traditional methods of language teaching. In order to understand the materials, one must first understand the method upon which they are built.
The method is known as GUIDED IMITATION. It may appear to be new, but actually it has been used by a considerable number of teachers for many years, though its greatest popularity has come since the second World War. Its goal is to teach one to speak easily, fluently, with very little accent, and to do this without conscious effort, just as one speaks his own language without conscious effort. There are two very important aspects of this method. First, learning a relatively small body of material so well that it requires very Iittle effort to produce it. This is OVERLEARNING. If a student overleans every dialog and drill as he goes through this book, he will almost certainly experience rapid progress in learning the language.
The second aspect is learning to authentically manipulate the sounds, sequences, and patterns of the language. The important implication here is the reaIity of both the model and the imitation. The model (teacher, recording, etc.) must provide Spanish as people reaIIy speak it in actual conversations, and the student must be helped to an accurate imitation. Above all, the normal tempo of pronunciation must be the classroom standard; slowing down is, in this context, distortion.
The complete course consists of sixty units, each requiring sorne ten cIass and Iaboratory hours plus outside study to master. The course 1s a six-hundred-hours course which may be studied intensively over a period of about six months, or may be spread at the rate of a unit a week over a period of sixty weeks (four college semesters). Either a native speaker or a teacher with very little accent in his Spanish is necessary as the model for imitation.
The first two units are focused primarily on pronunciation problems. Drills on other aspects of the language are deliberately postponed because of the importance of developing good pronunciation habits from the very beginning of the course. Pronunciation is extremely important. It is the basis of all real fluency. A person is readily able to understand anyth1ng he can meaningfully say himself, if the correlation between the way he heara it and the way he says it is reasonably similar. Probably the more similar, the greater the ease of comprehension.
The basis of the student's imitation is of course the teacher, whose pronunciation, if he is a native speaker of an acceptable dialect of his own country, is the ultimate source of authority. The fundamental classroom procedure for learning new material throughout this book (except the reading materials) is repetition by the student in direct immediate imitation after the teacher. The imitative repetition may at first be done in chorus after the teacher, and subsequently by each individual, or it may be individualized from the start. In either case the student should wait for the teacher's model. Imitating after another student too frequently results in compounding the errors of both. If a person is fortunate enough to begin studying a second language before the age of eight or ten, the powers of imitation are normally sufficient to insure excellent results in pronunciation without resorting to technical explanations of what happens to various parts of the vocal apparatus. If occasionally an individual has managed to retain this gift that all of us had in childhood, so much the better, but most adults need more specific guidance based on an awareness of the particular problems of producing particular sounds. The drills and explanations in the first two units are devoted to the specific problems an English speaker with his English habits of pronunciation will have in accurately imitating the sounds and sequences of sounds of Spanish.
This course was made by combining the hundreds of years of Spanish teaching experience of our Live Lingua Skype Spanish lessons teachers and the FSI language courses to create a full langauge learning experience for our students. This conversion is still a work in progress, and the course may still have some transcription errors that we missed. If you find any, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know so we can fix it.
While the Live Lingua online Spanish course is very comprehensive and will take you a long way towards reaching your goal of learning Spanish, sometimes you may have a question about the material. But don't worry, we can help you with that as well. Sign up for a free 60 minute Skype Spanish lesson with one of our professional Spanish teachers and they can answer all your questions for FREE!