I’m Shay Spence, the founder of Español en 3000. I arrived in Medellín, Colombia in June 2017 on my own personal mission to conversational Spanish fluency.
But after I advanced past the beginner’s stage I really struggled to find great resources to study real-life conversational Spanish!
After working closely with some amazing local teachers, I decided to build my own! And that was actually an early version of the Español en 3000 we have here today.
Now, I am not a Spanish teacher, I am a Spanish learner just like you… maybe just a few steps ahead.
So what I want to do, is be your guide in the experience of how to get the most out of the resources our amazing Spanish teachers have created for you!
What is Conversational Fluency?
HERE IS MY DEFINITION
You can find many technical resources that will explain language fluency in the following forms, A1, A2, B1, B2, etc… all tied to an academic framework.
Concentrating on these metrics is useful in the beginning to get your baseline of grammar, vocabulary and comprehension skills.
But ultimately given the nature of all academic frameworks they are designed to help you pass exams, and as we all know… the real-world ain’t nothing like the exams!
For me, the definition of conversational fluency is totally focused on my ability to connect with other people in a comfortable and relaxed way and not my ability to use perfected complex grammar.
Let’s put some metrics on it:
Can I have a long effortless conversation (over 30 mins) with a native speaker that I have only just met and they don’t feel like they have to modify their word choice in the conversation, adjust their conversation speed or repeat things for me regularly? The conversation must be a normal back and forth varying conversation jumping from topic to topic at random (as any normal conversation) and this shouldn’t bother me or stress my ability. I may ask the native speaker for help if I run into a word or phrase I don’t understand but I can never reference google translate or any other resource.
In my experience, at the end of a conversation like this, it’s common for the other person to say “¡wow, hablas muy bien Español!”.
This my friends to me is conversational fluency!
If you’re not there yet – I want to show you how to get there.
If you’re at this point already – I want to show you how to go beyond and keep progressing.
Why “En 3000” Is The Key To Fast Fluency!
THE FIRST THING EVERY SPANISH LEANER SHOULD HAVE LEARNED…
The traditional language learning methods that are taught usually focus on the “more is better approach”…
…studying as many words as you can, every possible conjugation and all it’s seemingly endless irregulars!
With little to no regard for the actual goal…
Which can leave you confused, not hitting your target fluency goals and feeling like…”It will take me years to learn all this!”
And for most of us, the goal is real conversations, with real people, in the real world… right?
But did you know? That you actually only need a vocabulary of 3000 words to speak completely fluently in 94% of real-life situations!
A study conducted by Brigham Young University, USA has scientifically proven by analyzing 20,000,000 Spanish words…
That if you concentrate on learning the 3000 most commonly used words…
You can communicate completely fluently in 94% of real-life situations!
Given that the average native English speaker knows between 20,000 and 50,000 words…
I feel that the goal of only 3000 words in Spanish is very achievable for us! And it makes a lot of sense to me to be concentrating on stuff like this and not worrying too much about the textbook vocabulary…
Which way back… had me studying all the names of body parts, professions, household items and other random stuff like that – before I could even have a 1-minute real conversation!
That’s why we’re called Español en 3000!
Where it makes sense and it’s practical we base everything we produce on these 3000 most common words.
But we also consider it more of a philosophy that all Spanish learners should live by during their journey to complete fluency.
To concentrate on the most commonly used vocabulary, verb tenses, and conjugations for you, your personal situation and the locations you want to use your Spanish.
In order to make maximum progress in the shortest amount of time!
Which is what it’s all about, right?
Bridging The Gap From The Classroom To Real-Life…
CONVERSATIONAL FLUENCY IS NOT LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM
As an intermediate or advanced Spanish learner, you already have a pretty good handle on “how the language works”.
You know… the verbs tenses, conjugations, reflexives, masculine, feminine and all that fun stuff in Spanish!
But as we all know, actual communication is so much more than all that grammar!
Yes, grammar is essential…
But only as a tool for conversational fluency.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that have been studying Spanish for years and years, some for even 10+ years in schools, colleges and universities…
But when put into a real-life conversation… they really struggle!
But they have a perfect technical understanding of all the grammar and can recite the perfect complex conjugation in El pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo…
But the average native Spanish speaker has absolutely no idea about any of that stuff… nor do they really care!
It’s way more important to have real connection and natural flowing conversations rather than worrying about perfection.
Classroom resources are also normally manufactured and designed for language learners and because of this, have very little connection to the flow of real-life conversational communication.
They work very well and are essential to help you to remember and understand verb tenses, conjugations, and other grammar points – because well that’s what they are designed for!
Ok, so now we get that we need to bridge the gap between the classroom and real-life…
But how do we do it in an easy and fun way?
This is how I would recommend you go about it:
1. Study Real-Life Conversations
Study real-life conversations to have real-life conversations… seems obvious, but in my experience, it’s very uncommonly put into practice.
The best way to do this is by listening to the conversation and following along to a word by word transcription.
For me, this immediately started to drastically improve my listening skills and my ability to understand people in conversations who spoke at their normal speed in Spanish (one of the hardest things, which I am sure you know already).
Once I switched to studying this conversation and transcription combination all of a sudden all the grammar I was learning and had learned made so much more sense.
I was able to follow along to the conversations and actually see the verb tenses, conjugations, vocabulary, etc, play out in real-life situations.
Which gave me real-life context to what I was learning…
Which made it so much easier to remember and use in my own conversations!
This is where it all started to click for me and I was hooked to studying in this way.
2. Have As Many Conversations As Possible, As Often As Possible!
This one doesn’t need an explanation because we all know this, right? You need to practice and practice and practice as much as you can in as many different real-life situations as possible.
And don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
I still make a heap of errors everyday in my everyday life living here in Medellín, Colombia…
But to me, that’s the goal and always has been!
Make as many mistakes as I can per day…
Because mistakes mean you’re pushing yourself and that’s where you learn!
How Can I Get Started?
MY TIPS ON HOW TO GET STARTED
Our podcast episodes are real conversations recorded in the streets, bars, cafes, homes, universities and more of Medellín, Colombia.
You can’t get any more authentic resources for studying real-life conversational Spanish!
In the beginning, you may find it challenging if you are taking the jump from classroom resources to our podcast episodes…
But trust me, if you keep at it and listening to the weekly episodes and following along to the fluency training transcriptions (more on that later) you will start to notice the progress very quickly!
Or for some suggestions to start with – here are some of my personal favorites:
It’s Free Episode Friday!
BE THE FIRST TO GET ACCESS TO THE LATEST EPISODES
I send out an email every Friday with our latest free podcast episode and also from time to time, any other interesting resources that I may find during the week to help the serious intermediate and advanced Spanish learner.
It’s super short and my favorite way to easily communicate with our community so I do share the best stuff exclusively with this list.
Get immediate access by clicking the button below and I hope to see you there!
I Appreciate You!
THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE
I’m here for you as both a guide and as a friend.
I want to hear your stories. I want to know how else I and all of us here at Español en 3000 can help you.
If you want to contact me or the team you can do so via the “contact” page.
I truly believe that learning Spanish as a second language is a journey that actually never ends… if you’re really serious about it, that is.
There are always ways to improve and it’s about integrating into your everyday life interesting resources in Spanish that are fun and enjoyable to consume.
That is why I started Español en 3000 and why I am honored to have you here.
I hope you enjoy what we have built for you.