While you’re practicing Spanish, did you know that your brain is going through the 5 stages of learning a second language? Research shows that these are common stages for students. Although every learning experience is personal, every learner progresses in similar ways. Here, we’ll detail the 5 stages you’ll go through so you can see where you are and where you’re going.
According to the researcher Stephen Krashen, this is the very first stage that everyone experiences when they start learning an additional language. However, the amount of time that you spend in each stage can vary. Typically, people are here from 0-6 months. This stage is called “pre-production” because it’s typically when students don’t speak much.
Here, students have a difficult time understanding what someone says, and may shake their head for “yes” and “no” instead of verbalizing. In addition, you tend to point a lot in this phrase and rely on physical cues and gestures.
2. Early Production
Students are usually here for 6 months-1 year. At this stage, you have limited comprehension skills, but you can make one or two word responses. Typically, full sentences are rather difficult. Students tend to use more key words or familiar phrases.
In addition, students typically use the present tense when communicating. In fact, it’s similar to how babies speak, if you’ve ever listened to a toddler!
3. Speech Emergence
It’s exactly what it sounds like- the student is starting to speak more. In the first two stages, students tend to be more nervous and anxious to speak because of low listening comprehension skills. In this stage, which lasts about 1-3 years, students can produce simple and complete sentences.
Since there is more production in this stage, there are also more errors. Here, students tend to make grammar and pronunciation errors. In addition, although they can understand more, colloquial phrases, idioms and jokes are still challenging to understand.
4. Intermediate Fluency
This stage is typically around years 3-5 of learning a language, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re just starting out! These skills take time to develop, and you can’t rush time. Here, students have excellent comprehensions and make smaller errors.
This is where people might start feeling more confident talking to native speakers, since their comprehension is much better.
5. Advanced Fluency
After 5-7 years of consistent practice and dedication, many students reach this stage of advanced fluency where they have a near-native level of speech. This is usually where confidence is at a high and anxiety of speaking is at a low.
Remember, these timeframes are just guidelines. It always depends on how much time you put in, your pace, level of immersion, etc.