Learning Spanish hasn't simply been sitting down with a textbook for me. That is how I began, but it became far much more than just that. Literature, films, television, cartoons and simple conversation have all been a part of my learning.
I finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Spanish a few weeks ago. It took me more than a year to do so, not because it was difficult, just because I wasn't reading often. I turned some pages blue with underlining while others remained relatively untouched. I underlined vocabulary words I didn't know and sometimes different grammatical structures. Although I didn't always understand some of the words, I knew what was going on.
And there has been plenty of television in Spanish while being in Spain to practice my listening. But conversation is by far my favorite. Living somewhere a language is spoken is the best way to learn it. During college it could be annoying when instructors didn't translate things we didn't understand in a Spanish class. But now I see why they didn't. During the conversation last night people kept translating. I didn't learn much and don't feel like I could really understand Spanish. But when no one translates, eventually my brain switches over and I begin understanding more and more. Lesson learned: translating = bad. Unless, of course, translation is the purpose.