Focus Spanish Learning With The 80/20 Rule
While you may or may not have heard of the 80/20 Rule, were you aware it applies to learning Spanish too! What is the 80/20 rule? It's basically a rule used mainly in certain fields like management and sales that states that 80% of the results attained are generated by just 20% of the effort. Imagine the implication of this tried, tested and well-known rule on your Spanish studies.
The Spanish 80/20 Rule
That's right - a lot of wasted effort. In a typical endeavor of almost any kind, a large percent of the effort does not produce the desired results. You obviously don't want this to happen to you as you go about learning Spanish, or doing anything else you do. The 80/20 rule applies to many areas and fields... And you can apply this rule to learning Spanish too. That by focusing and concentrating on the correct 20% of the important things you need to know, and avoiding or limiting the 80% of unimportant things in Spanish that you don't need to know (at least for this present moment) you could be learning most of what you need, learn the Spanish you need faster, and enjoy the process of learning more.
500 Words Or 70,000 Words
I read once that most of our day-to-day conversation consists of the same 500 words spoken over and over. In the scheme of things that's not really very many words to learn. But I notice that the Spanish dictionary on my desk (paperback with the cover worn off) contains over 70,000 words. Clearly, there's a lot of information we don't need to concentrate on as we begin the process of learning Spanish.
Believe me, no one has spent more time learning the less-popular words than yours truly. I learned and studied many words that I've never used, and words that have never come up in countless Spanish conversations. It's a fact of life and it's normal that some unnecessary information will be learned, but the less you can make it happen, the better, right?
The Steps To Take
Anyway, what can you do to avoid learning unnecessary words? What steps can you take now to stay in the 20% of study that will get you the 80% of the results you want? One thing you can do is to learn the focused, industry-specific words and phrases on this site. These words have been specially chosen and filtered for your reason for learning Spanish. Hospital, doctors' office, restaurant, construction site, landscaping job site, phrases for apartments, cars, all kinds of specific situations -- the Spanish spoken at these places is listed with audio in the pages on this web site.
Another thing you can do is record your conversations with Spanish speaking friends. Use a recording device of some sort, and later play the recording back and take notes of the popular words and phrases your friend used. Then study these words over and over.
Third, television and radio are pretty good sources of important and popular words. You can be pretty sure if words are being used in popular shows, these are popular words being used and understood by the majority of Spanish speakers. And you may want to use caution with some books and printed materials because you might spend time and effort learning words that are rarely used. While these books certainly contain good quality words you're interested in the 20% of words that will give you the 80% of value.
Some might disagree, but don't get too bogged down in learning a lot of grammar at first. Learn the simple grammar rules you need to get by. Grammar is important and you'll eventually want to know it all but it can slow you down and dampen enthusiasm for some people. Also, be careful about learning a lot of words from books. Many books contain a lot of words that are seldom used. Good words, without a doubt, but you're interested in the 20% of words that will give you the 80% of value.
Applying the 80/20 rule to learning Spanish isn't an exact science, but it can help save you a lot of time. A big part of it is just having an awareness that what you're working on is leading you toward your goal. From time to time, you might want to ask yourself if your current course of Spanish study is leading you towards the type of goal you have in mind.