I have decided to enhance my understanding of Spanish verbs by learning one verb inside out, backwards and forwards, so well that I can run through all the conjugations in all the tenses in all the voices … in my sleep.

At least that is my plan, I’ll report back once I have learned one verb inside out, backwards and forwards … and tell you whether I have applied that command of one verb to all the other verbs.

So how is that going to work (you might ask) in light of the fact that there are “AR verbs,” “IR verbs,” “ER verbs,” and irregular verbs? No sé, pero estoy aprendiendo si es un buen idea. Besides, the only way to prove whether an idea has salt is to test it.

So the next question is … which one verb is the best verb to concentrate on? I guess that depends on the learner, but it seems best to choose one of the most commonly used verbs … and in that case, should my experiment not succeed as well as hoped, at least I will know one verb inside out … all the tenses … in my sleep.

The verb that I have chosen to focus on is HABLAR (to speak). It is one of the top ten most commonly used verbs, and it appears to be highly regular throughout all of the tenses. Nonetheless, the other reason I have chosen HABLAR is to give a nod to the learning theory behind Pimsleur.

According to Pimsleur, “meanings reside in the sounds of the spoken language.” When we were children, and before we started making sense while speaking, we would hear (ESCUCHAR) people speak (HABLAR) with meaning. Gradually, we learn the meaning of the speaking, and at some point we begin to speak with meaning ourselves … and for the first few years of our language development, it’s all about hearing and speaking and grasping meaning.

Pimsleur goes on to say that “speaking a language is the necessary first step to acquiring the ability to read a language with meaning.” For those who are able to hear and speak, hearing and speaking come before reading and writing. Moreover, reading can be defined as “the act of decoding graphic material in order to determine its message;” or to put it another way, “reading consists of coming back to speech through its graphic symbols.”

I am not a learning theorist, but this makes sense to me. However, the problem is that when we begin to learn a second language, we tend to focus primarily on reading and writing … but maybe we should concentrate instead on hearing and speaking long before we ever pick up a book.

I have followed several paths hoping to accelerate my understanding of Spanish, and Pimsleur is the method that has helped me the most. Now I hope that hearing, speaking, and HABLAR will enable me to grasp fully that second spoken language.