About Santiago

↓ Summary     → En español

Hi there! My name is Santiago Madrigal. I am 27 years old (since I last updated this page), and my face looks like that. Right now I will tell you about my experiences learning English, how I managed to master it, and why the heck you should pay attention to what I have to say. Let's go!


How did I master English?


The truth is that I didn't master English by following exactly all methods and materials I recommend here at Inglesk. I took English classes in a renowned English academy in my city of birth for 4 years and a half during my childhood. I took one semester of classes in that same academy before traveling to the US as an exchange student for a year. And when I got back to my country, I even took 2-3 weeks of classes to pass the SCAM TOEFL exam thing.

All those classes I took during my childhood and before traveling to the US helped me with my English, I don't deny it. As they say, thanks to those classes I developed a "base", a "scaffold" in the language.

But I do assure you that if I had relied on just taking English classes for my learning, without complementing them with anything else... I wouldn't master English nowadays. I would still be struggling and dragging myself, wondering why after years of study (which translate into just a couple hundred net hours of study) I can't read articles in English or understand movies in English or talk with English-speaking natives.

Some would say that living in the US for a year is the reason that I managed to master English. I used to say the same, that it was thanks to living for so long in an English-speaking country. Nowadays, I know that that's not what's important.

Living in an English-speaking region makes it easy for you to find physical content in English (like printed books, magazines, DVDs, etc.) and to interact with people who only speak English. But as many immigrants do when they end up living in an English-speaking country, I could have lived in a Spanish bubble that entire year I was there, and I would've learned no English... but I didn't do that. I didn't allow that to happen.

The point is that English was not magically given to me. If I managed to master the language as I master it nowadays it's because I worked it, because I did many activities in English when I lived in the US, and I kept doing them when I returned to my country.

I read books in English. I watched videos and cartoons in English (mostly on Newgrounds.com). I heard and talked with people who could only communicate with me in English. I heard music in English. I lived in English, and I mostly do nowadays. And every time I read something in English and didn't understand it, I would look it up in my monolingual dictionary.

Consume content in English and look up what you don't understand. Or, in other words, consume comprehensible input in English.

That is, in a nutshell, how I managed to master English, and in the long run, that's how everybody masters their target languages, whether the content they consume comes from multimedia like books, music, movies, etc., or comes from direct interactions with natives.

I don't master English 100% perfectly, of course. But I can understand practically everything I read in English and almost everything I listen to in English. Most of my daily activities are in English, and I learned a bit of Japanese (seriously considering learning French now, I'll explain why later) using English as a "ladder" language.

I also consider I write well in English. You just read this "About..." page written by me, so you be the judge. You can also check all other articles in English I've written here at Inglesk.

I can speak and communicate in English without any major issues. I can function as an adult in any English-speaking country even if I have no access to anything in Spanish (my native language). If you throw me in the middle of New York City and you tell me that I have to find a specific address, I'm absolutely sure I can ask for directions and help to guide me without any major problems.

My spoken English might not be so good I could become a professional speaker right now, but hey, my English was (and is) good enough for me to get hired in a bilingual call center where 99% of the calls you receive are entirely in English.

If you want to get an idea of how I speak... in the next iteration of this website, I will narrate in English all articles in English I write. So... until then :)

Why the heck pay attention to what I write here at Inglesk?


What authority do I have to talk about learning English... or anything, really?!!

Well... look, I don't have an undergraduate degree in modern languages, or a PhD in English pedagogy, or any of those academic things. What I do have is experience in learning English (I master it) and learning Japanese (I don't master it at all, but did improve it a tiny bit). I've also researched on my own, for a long time, what works and what doesn't when learning languages.

As I mentioned before, I didn't learn English following exactly by-the-book all I recommend on this website, because at that time I didn't have access to the knowledge about language learning I do have now. But the fundamental principle is the same: Consuming content in English and looking up what I didn't understand is how I mastered the language.

That's how all human beings learn languages: Through comprehensible input. This is called the Input Hypothesis. If you want more complete and specific evidence that proves the reality of the input hypothesis I invite you to read the Further Reading section at the Input Hypothesis article on Wikipedia. There you will find several publications with case studies that demonstrate the hypothesis (which should be called a theory by now...) I also found this interesting case study if you want to check it out.

So... why pay attention to what I write here at Inglesk? Because the methods and materials I recommend follow the principle of comprehensible input, and thus they work. They worked for me and my English, even though my learning process was not word-by-word what I recommend nowadays. Ask any successful language learner out there how they mastered their target language – receiving some sort of comprehensible input in their target language will always be the basis of their success.

And why did I decide to create this website?


Because I think that from all the the things I could be doing with my life, this is the one that will have the biggest impact in other people. I want to help, even a tiny bit, to encourage other people who really have the desire to learn English to do it in a self-directed way, using content in English they actually love, and by following methods that would be the most bearable to them, and that would give them the best results.

I want to help a bit in creating a bilingual world :D


Ok now, if for some reason you want to know even more about me and who I am and what I've done with my life and all that crap (STALKER!!), you can check out this article on my personal blog (article in Spanish). If enough people demand it I will translate it in English lol.


Summary


Even though I took classes for 4 years and a half during my childhood, and I lived in the US as an exchange student for a year, those things were not what made me master English (even though they helped a bit). I managed to master English because I did (and do) a lot of activities in English (like reading books, listening to music, watch videos, speak with natives from the US, ETC.), and because I used my monolingual dictionary to look up anything I didn't understand.

I master English. You are checking my writing right now, so be the judge of how well I write.

Why pay attention to what I write here at Inglesk? Because my recommendations follow the principle of comprehensible input, and that's why they work. Comprehensible input worked for my English, and it worked for every successful language learner out there.


Last updated: April 28 of 2016

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