How to Avoid Wasting Time By Reading Materials that Are Below Your Level

¡Hola otra vez! Hello once again and welcome to a new episode of Translate from Spanish to English; Today we are going to learn a principle that will surely save you at least a few months in learning Spanish! Whether you are trying to just learn Spanish for writing or speaking; for a job or travelling, you’d want to learn as soon as possible right?

I will get to you straight; there is no easy way to just LEARN SPANISH in one week or a month or so; but the good news is we are going to teach you a VERY important principle to avoid wasting your time.

Pay Attention! ¡Fijate!

So what is this principle? Simple; It is that when trying to learn Spanish or any language for that matter; Always expose yourself on literatures and materials that are BELOW your level.
You cannot just go BELOW like WAY BELOW your level; just a little bit. SO HOW WILL YOU KNOW? If you’re getting bored of course- it is way below- for example I wouldn’t want to listen to beginner’s podcasts on how to say ¡Hola! Or “yo soy. . . “, that would be way too low for my level; how did I know? It will bore me off course. There was a time when I immersed into that kind of level and to be honest I still go back there from time to time but most of my time now is spent on listening to intermediate level stuff (not advanced).

Now why not go ABOVE your level? Simple: Have you ever tried reading a book which leads you searching for words in a dictionary every single line? It will get boring off course and that is why it must be avoided together with the VERY LOW level- they are both boring and we all know that boring harbors no results.

OKAY let’s make it a little bit easier for most of us to understand. If you have ever played RPGs or role playing games wherein you kill monsters; then level up, then you’d look for higher level monsters until you get to reach level 99(or higher in some games)? What monster levels are the most efficient as “GRINDING SUBJECTS”? Aren’t they the monsters that are at least 3 to 5 levels lower than your character?

And for those who don’t know; what happens if you fought higher level monsters? It will take you like several minutes to get like 10% points whereas it would have been enough time to kill 10 to 20 lower level monsters which will give you 2-3% experience points each? OKAY those are not VERY accurate figures but the gamers would agree with me that more often than not; that would be the case right? Except if you of course level up with a party (which is another case let us not get to that now).
Now what would happen if for example your character is let’s say…level 75 and then you would grind and level up with level 1 monsters? It would take you forever to get even 1% experience points! Total waste of electricity, internet connection and most importantly: time.

Now with the example above I hope you got the point of this post; just stick to listening and reading materials that are just slightly below your level. THIS IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IN READING SINCE READING REQUIRES MORE VOCABULARY and it’s easy to get bored while reading than while watching Spanish TV where you could even go above your level and not get bored at all.
That is why I emphasize READING and LISTENING here; watching movies is very effective that your brain could adapt to visual cues to make up relations of each words subconsciously; not the same with reading or just listening where there won’t be any visual cues at all.

So to wrap it up to find out if the material is not too hard or too soft; like baby bear’s porridge: if you are getting too bored like “I already know these all. .z.z.z.z” it must be very easy: look for a little bit higher level stuff but if the material strikes you like you must go see the dictionary every sentence to translate the WHOLE SENTENCE then it’s too high for you.
AND if you’re still in the dark try this: If it’s boring: it’s too easy. If it’s too boring because it’s too hard; therefore it’s too high level for you. As long as you are not enjoying it anymore it’s no good. Believe me or not I am currently reading a piece here called Noli Me Tangere.

Noli me tangere

I had it in my computer for at least 2 months. The first time I read it; it was too hard for me! It took me 5 minutes to even finish one line looking up the dictionary. But what I did was instead of reading it I just added some of its lines to my ANKI SRS and continued getting some phrases from it from time to time. I left it there for 2 months while getting myself immersed in Spanish through some other means. Then came today I came back to reading it and Whalla! I can actually enjoy reading it! It took me five minutes before to read each line, now I can last at least 2 to 4 sentences without needing to look up a meaning on the dictionary.
But well let’s be honest here; who among you have read their first novel at 4 or 6 years of age which is basically the level of vocabulary that an ADVANCED Spanish learner has.
Books are actually the last thing most of us gets interested in despite them being in our first language (at least for me) or in English for non native English speakers who are comfortable with English. Because books have different and deeper vocabulary and one book being a bunch of paper stacked together with let’s say 300 pages or something it’s not really that attractive is it?

So it is really just right to take reading nice and slow. Remember this post on sticking with a level which is a little lower than your present state especially if your main goal is learning Spanish to “write” and “read” novels, poems and etc in Spanish. Remember EFFICIENCY and not rashness is our goal. ONE SIMPLY CANNOT RUSH ART because doing so actually makes things LONGER!

Que Dios te Bediga.

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About the author

I go by the name of Magallanes in this blog. My mission here is to influence you folks in the most effective way to learn the Spanish language. Welcome to my fleet!