Ideas and Validation February 26, 2020

Why I love writing in Spanish and how I made a project out of it.

Max @maximal

I have been learning Spanish for many years now, it has not been a continues journey, almost like with anyone there has been on and off times. Nevertheless, in all this time that I've been learning Spanish, I have tried and experimented with many different methods. I've used traditional textbooks, tried different mobile apps, listened to various Spanish podcasts and even used Netflix to help me learn the language. I still think that many of those resources can be quite helpful. However, after spending many many months using those resources to learn Spanish, when the time came to having actual conversations with Spanish speakers, I've noticed that I am not making that much progress and still struggle to have a proper conversation.

I realised that I needed much more practice. Speaking to Spanish speakers is probably as practical as you can get, however, most of the time you don't have a Spanish speaker by your side ready to practice when you want to. Second, conversations are dynamic and you don't have much time to think and properly structure your response. There is no opportunity to sit and think about how to actually use a language when you have to speak it in conversation.

So what I found to work quite well for me is to practice Spanish through writing. Writing for me is like having a conversation but in slow motion. Once I've taken the time to figure it out on my own, it became much easier the next time I want to make a point out loud. It helped to develop the ability to truly communicate.

I would practice by thinking of some topic and then would write a few paragraphs on it in Spanish. Conveniently, I have a great friend, who is the Spanish speaker, to whom I have then passed these notes to see if he can correct any mistakes that I've made. I found this process to be very helpful. Nevertheless, there were still some problems with this method, like inconsistency, need to think each time of the topic to write about and inconvenience of passing the notes to my friend. So being a Product Designer, I could not stop but see how this analogue model of writing paper notes to my Spanish friend could be brought to the digital world and made more efficient. So that's where Letters to Pablo idea was born.

If you put your email down on the website (http://www.letterstopablo.com), every week we will send you an email with a question prompt, to get you writing quicker. You can simply respond back to the email with your response and Pablo (my Spanish friend, Miguel, who kindly agreed to freely volunteer his time) will read and correct your response so that you can learn. It's absolutely free. This is not supposed to be a promo post, but if you do decide to give it a go, let me know below in the comments if you have any suggestions on how to make it better.

  1. 1

    I love this idea and the simple design! Have you thought of turning it into a brand, LettersTo*, and supporting many more languages? Personally I'd be interested in French and (Traditional) Chinese!

  2. 1

    Encontré algunos errores en las correcciones, estaría feliz de ayudar si lo deseas :)

  3. 1

    Interesting idea. I've tried to pick up spanish a few times but never stick with it. I think I'd be more motivated with some two way interaction like this, or having a spanish speaking pen pal, as opposed to using an app or textbook.

    1. 1

      Thank you for your feedback. Give it a try and let me know if you find it helpful. I really hope you do!