438 days adrift at sea, podcasts, and vocab overload

October 22, 2023

Hello friend,

A storm is brewing in this week's featured story, El náufrago. After you listen to the harrowing tale of this ocean-bound castaway, check out our tips on using podcasts in your study routine and avoiding vocabulary overload. If you keep reading, we've got a primer on using gustar, explain what a "cinderella skill" means to linguists, and point you to a personal essay on dreaming in multiple languages.

A child-like illustration of a man in a simple white boat, alone on the sea at night as a sea turtle swims up toward him.

Featured story
El náufrago

In 2012, two fishermen leave the coast of Mexico as a storm brews. Over a year later, one washes up on an island halfway between Hawaii and Australia. As Salvador Alvarenga recalls his harrowing voyage in the full story, Soundbites explore topics like making vocabulary stick, the subtleties of the gringo accent, and shark hunting in Mexico.

Want the full El náufrago story? Subscribe to unlock our entire catalog of Stories and Soundbites.

Artwork by Regina Rivas

Listen on Jiveworld

Language tip of the week
Avoid vocabulary overload

When encountering new vocabulary as a language learner, you may be tempted to add every new word to your list. These infinite, ever-growing lists can actually be counterintuitive to learning and remembering new words.

When it comes to vocabulary, quality over quantity is key. It is better to master fewer words, and actually know how to use them in conversation, then it is to remember a long list of out-of-context definitions. Experts recommend focusing on 10-20 new words per day.

There are always going to be more words to learn — even in your native language. Here are two tips for avoiding vocab overload:

  1. When listening or reading in your target language, only jot down the words most practical and relevant to you. Stop and ask yourself: “Can I see myself using this word in the near future? Does this word fit into the skill set I currently have?” For example, if you’re reading a news article and come across legal or scientific jargon — although it may be interesting — this is probably best left aside for the moment.
  2. For as much new vocab as you learn, make sure to review old vocab as well. Solidifying what you’ve already picked up lays a better foundation for new information.

In the Jiveworld player, you'll find vocab hints within story chapters to highlight the most relevant, useful and interesting terms to keep you focused in your Spanish learning journey.

ICYMI: Podcasts and comprehensible input

Did you know 22% of language learners use podcasts as a study tool? Listening to real, spoken Spanish is critical for achieving fluency — and it is a powerful way to break through the intermediate plateau. Watch this video for advice on how to incorporate podcasts in your study routine (in addition to Jiveworld of course). It touches on:

  • choosing the right podcasts
  • comprehensible input
  • active and passive listening
  • tracking vocabulary
Preview image for a YouTube video featuring advice on using podcasts to learn a new language

Want more videos like this? Subscribe to the Jiveworld YouTube channel for regular language learning tips.

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Thanks for reading,

Team Jiveworld