Eldon Mirjah is the creator of Gritty Spanish, a program that helps people to learn Spanish on their own while listening to realistic conversations. The product features audio and written text so that subscribers can follow along and learn to both read and speak in a new language.
Eldon, can you tell us about your background?
I was born in Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean. I came to New York with my family when I was 10 years old in 1989. Interestingly enough, prior to that, I wasn’t exposed to Spanish – I never heard Spanish being spoken on TV or in person.
How did you get involved in Gritty Spanish?
It’s something I thought about creating after hitting a couple of those inevitable “brick walls” during my Spanish learning journey. I had used music as a tool and thought it was extremely effective, because it was catchy, the length of each song wasn’t too overwhelming, and there was so much emotion and passion displayed.
I wanted to create something that was just as fun, short, memorable, and oozing with passion and emotion as music but using back and forth dialogues. Spanish speaking people are very passionate, so I wanted to capture that significant element. Initially, it was going to be something for my own use, but I added a great deal to it once I decided that it was going to be an actual product.
Why was the name “Gritty Spanish” chosen?
The name was chosen because of the raw emotion in each of the audio stories. The characters’ attitudes plus the music and the sound effects and overall dark tone gives it a real gritty feel. I came up with the name at 4am in the morning laying on my sofa listening to my first few recorded episodes.
What is the major point of differentiation between your business and others in the industry?
Well, prior to creating Gritty Spanish, I was actually searching for something exactly like it – a program designed for learning Spanish, but with an edge. I wanted the overall tone and the characters’ voices to be more of a reflection of what I heard in the real world. That alone makes it extremely unique, it’s definitely not a “safe”, “politically correct” Spanish learning program. I guess I was the only one crazy enough to create something like Gritty Spanish.
Why are Gritty Spanish courses so useful?
One of the biggest challenges most people have is understanding what they hear. Gritty Spanish gives people learning Spanish the opportunity to listen to the language as it’s spoken in the street. The stories are short and very entertaining so it makes people WANT to listen to it over and over. They’ll want to understand what each character is saying. Repetitive listening is super important, but when you’re having fun, it is extremely effective.
The voice characters are not always “happy go lucky” and they display a great deal of emotion; you’ll hear them get extremely angry, sad, sarcastic, etc. which keeps the listener engaged, as they subconsciously pick up on a plethora of Spanish verbs and other useful vocabulary
How often would you say you people should study in order to speak Spanish fluently?
As much as they can, it almost has to become a part of their everyday lives. You have to make sure you have fun with the language. I had given up reading the New York Daily Newspaper during my 1-hour commute to and from work and used that time to focus more on improving my Spanish. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to be a “5 minutes a day” thing. Like being on a diet, you have to be fairly consistent to see progress. You have to expose yourself to the language as much as you can.
Is there anything about learning Spanish that most people might not know?
People overlook the importance of being open-minded, thinking in Spanish and just having fun with the language.
Most people feel they can learn Spanish in a few months, but that is not the case, unless you possess an extremely rare gift when it comes to learning languages.
Many also put a lot of pressure on themselves to understand everything they read and hear, and when they don’t, they’re severely disappointed.
Many are also amazingly obsessed with Spanish grammar, etc., which I believe hinders the learning process. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s important, but when you’re overly obsessed with it, then it becomes toxic. This gets you further and further away from thinking in Spanish and makes the entire experience less fun.
Always remember, the ultimate goal is being able to communicate in Spanish.
I think most people who has had success with learning Spanish are very open-minded and make it a point to ensure they are having fun as well – people often forget that.
Thank you Eldon for sharing your thoughts with us!
You can follow up with Eldon Mirjah at www.grittyspanish.com