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  5. The Stages of Learning Spanish


The Stages of Learning Spanish

STAGE #1: ¡Qué guay!

This is the stage where everything is just simple, guay, fun, and basic. You can't believe you already know so much, and neither can you believe that you hablas español! Even though you'd never admit it, you think you're pretty cool. You just want to show off to everyone, and text your friend saying "buenas noches, amigo".

STAGE #2 ¿Qué?

Hoooold up. What is that?

So wait, wait. Yo soy, and yo estoy = I am?

I can omit the subject?

What the heck is going on? Why are there two "verb to be's", two "what's" two "for's". Why, why, why? Why is this language so complicated?

Oh well, let's just wait.

Buenos noches, amigo

Send text.

Oh, that's right, "buenas noches."

This is going to be hard.

Stage #3: Todo está bien =)

Let's admit it, the whole ser vs estar thing hadn't been that confusing, and you've wrapped your head around it pretty quickly. You still mess up por and para, but you're getting there. You don't even know why you ever confused qué and cuál. Now it's time to get those conjugations drilled into your brain, then todo will estar bien ;) (BTW, you can't wait till you're able to say that in Spanish)

Stage #4 Ayúdame

So, last night, you've finally decided to get a language partner. You've been doing great . . . until you slipped up and made a mistake, saying sabo instead of . You both laugh, and you correct yourself, then tell your language partner that you're embarazado.


Your partner is stunned, and your cheeks can't stop getting redder. What did I say wrong? ¡Ayúdame!

Thankfully, your partner bursts out laughing and tells you that you just said you're pregnant.

Dios mío.

You excuse yourself to the bathroom.

That's the last conversation you two have ever had.

Stage #5 Ya no puedo más

Spanish is hard. I can't. Too many conjugations, too many irregular verbs. The past tense? Don't even get me started. I give up. I quit.

Espera un minuto y déjame llorar . . . sniff sniff . . .

Stage #6 Tal vez . . . no es tan difícil

You look at your tree, take a deep breath, and start again. This time, you think, I'm going to do it! I'll learn Spanish! You get back to learning and studying and you're more serious than ever. Your cerebro hurts, and quieres dormir but that doesn't matter to you. Not until you can read that novel you just bought. You're determined, and you're not going to give up.

Stage #7 LO HE HECHO

Wow, you can't believe you've ever even thought about giving up. Spanish is such a beautiful and rich language, and guess what? You speak it! YOU. SPEAK. SPANISH. That golden tree looks so good you could just keep staring at it all day.

You pick up the novel and read it. Of course, you have to stop every now and then to look up a word in your dictionary, to think of the grammar, to think what the heck? but it doesn't matter.

¿Por qué? Porque lo has hecho, enhorabuena ;)

Note: The idea was originally another Duolingoer's, who wrote about "The stages of learning German".

June 1, 2016



Oh my gosh, you absolutely NAILED it.

The only stage I would add is the subjunctive, which isn't really a stage, since you discover it, try it on for size, wear it around proudly for a while like a new sweater, and then bury it in a chest with some mothballs and never remember to pull out and put it on again.

You find yourself thinking "Well it may be wrong but I know they'll understand me anyway and is it really worth going to THAT MUCH trouble to learn something so weird and confusing when I can just tromp all over the beautiful language with my muddy boots and be understood anyway?"

That's the stage I'm at. O.o

June 1, 2016


So true. I'm there too :P

June 2, 2016


This is great!! That's so IT, Lrtward! I also briefly passed through the 'using the subjunctive TOO MUCH' phase...before putting it into the mothballs & tromping, haha!

June 2, 2016


Yes, there's definitely a time when everything must be subjunctive. Probably because you yourself are so confused that nothing seems definite any more.

June 2, 2016


Yes, proficiency in subjunctive mood is key for fluency in Spanish!

I think Spanish language learners should be exposed to subjunctive early on as soon as they start learning present tense. Once the indicative mood has established firmly it is hard to change. Children that has learned Spanish as a native language did not wait until later to learn subjunctive. It came along with indicative and for that it is very natural for them.

June 2, 2016


Buen comentario, güera.

Dos correcciones menores.

güey, no guay [corrección: yo estaba equivocado, son dos palabras distintas]


Ayúdame (lleva tilde)

Buenos nachos, amiga :)

June 1, 2016


Thanks for the corrections!

I think you confused guay and güey, they're two different words as far as I know. Guay means cool, while güey is sort of like "dude".

June 1, 2016


Gracias por enseñármelo. No había visto guay antes. Mi diccionario dice que es de España. En México, usan güey a menudo.

June 1, 2016


I don't recall ever hearing "guay" or "guey" until my second year of learning Spanish. I recognize it whenever it comes up, but I am guessing that it is mainly used in Spain. Am I right?

-Edit, I just read the wiki, I guess it is Mexican. Or, at least "guey: is.

June 1, 2016



Your post is awesome. I truly laughed because I'd lived all these stages ;D.

¡Ojalá hubiera más publicacciones así! :)


June 1, 2016


That's great to know ;)

¡Saludos desde Egipto!

June 1, 2016


¡Saludos desde Polonia! :))

June 1, 2016


No es simple a estimar dónde estoy....estadio seis o cuatro? No sé xD

June 1, 2016


Very good, and accurate!

June 1, 2016


Wow, I almost laugh actually because everything that you write is what happened to me during my progress of finishing my Spanish tree. You did a great job describing it. By the way, I've seen some of your posts and most of them are interesting, keep up the good work :)

June 2, 2016


Thank you! =)

June 2, 2016


Thanks for the laugh and the motivation to stick with it!

I've been stuck for months at a stage where I'm definitely learning new vocabulary (6? no wait, maybe 4?), but I'm failing to learn the proper way to use it ("they'll understand me...")

I guess it's time to go back and learn things the right way.

June 4, 2016


Puedes hacerlo. Buena suerte =)

June 4, 2016


Even though I'm a native Spanish speaker I found your post really entertaining :D

A todos los que aprenden español ¡les deseo muchos éxitos!

June 1, 2016


XD I know the feeling.... haha, Spanish.... me encanta el idioma guapo...español....

June 1, 2016


Hahaha, nice, though I think you're missing 8-10! ¡Ojalá se hiciera fácil de verdad después del séptimo paso!

June 1, 2016


This is spot on.

June 2, 2016


What an interesting post, congratulations!, well I have to say those were the early stages because I think that there are too many more out there, such as your first travel abroad, and when you meet a native, and so on, anyway it is excellent what you made up.

Que post más interesante, felicitaciones! bien tengo que decir que esos fueron las primeras etapas porque pienso que hay muchas más por ahí, tales como tu primer viaje al extranjero, y cuando tu conoces a un nativo, y así sucesivamente, de todas maneras es excelente lo que es inventaste.

June 2, 2016


Me gusto este cuento mucho. Gracias!

June 3, 2016


Never mind that the sentence in the novel is a paragraph long. Goes to show that Duo users must also supplement the learning with other sources. Nice job.

June 4, 2016


Guay mensaje!

June 5, 2016


scary... i'm going through philosophical twisters thinking... should i start from basic or just focus on situational stuff and be happy that i can order a coffee without milk!

June 5, 2016


This is so true!

I am currently going through stage 5, but your post is very encouraging!

June 5, 2016


How to get through stage 5:

Revision, revision, revision. That's all you need. =)

June 5, 2016


I'm on stage 3, realizing that it's going to be wayyyy harder than I thought. I haven't even learned the subjunctive yet.

February 9, 2019


This is so funny and so accurate. lol

September 30, 2018


You left out stage #0. Spanish refusenik. After French and Latin, didn't see the point of learning another Romance language. But then you have to for some reason, and it's beautiful. Lots of false cognates though.

July 8, 2019


Haha that's so true !

July 23, 2019
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