Posts Tagged ‘Spanish’

Make Learning Spanish Fun – Mix Up the Learning Experience

Monday, January 6th, 2014

That old adage that variety is the spice of life is absolutely true. When it comes to learning Spanish by mixing up your learning experiences you will have far more fun learning the language and will come into contact with a wide range of Spanish too.

While it is great to enroll in a Spanish course and faithfully attend your lessons, this should not be the total extent of your flirtation with the Spanish language. There are many great resources available to you that will make learning Spanish fun.

If you are taking a Spanish language class, look for classes where the teacher does not just stick to a course book. Spending hours looking at grammar tables in a text book is a sure shot way to kill off motivation to learn. Your teacher should employ a variety of exercises in a lesson that uses both visual and kinesthetic materials as well as auditory work. Classes should also have a strong communication focus, which means you are required to talk. Let’s face it, the teacher already knows how to speak Spanish, they should be talking as little as possible and allowing you to speak and try on the new language.

Social networking is the past time of this generation, so why not do it in Spanish too? There are more than 400 million native Spanish speakers around the world and many of them have Facebook and Hi-5 accounts or use Twitter and Messenger. By hooking up with these people online you can practice your Spanish, learn new vocabulary, slang and see how Spanish is used in the “real world”.

Instead of visiting your favorite websites in English change the screen language on the site to Spanish, or find similar sites that are operational in Spanish. By reading them in Spanish you will be steadily improving your language skills.

Make Youtube your best friend and download music videos and programs in Spanish. Singing along is a wonderful way to improve your pronunciation, intonation and to increase the speed with which you can vocalize Spanish words. You can also get a little listening practice in by visiting Spanish news websites and downloading pod casts to your MP3 player. These are good to listen to while you are commuting or working out at the gym.

If you are inclined to a little light literature, then check out some of the Spanish poetry available on the Internet. It is impossible to read Pablo Neruda and not fall in love with the Spanish language. For something a little less intense, look out for free Spanish e-books on topics that tickle your fancy. Reading is a guaranteed way to help improve your Spanish, especially your vocabulary.

Regardless of how old you are everybody loves a game every now and again. Check out online games such as Scrabble in Spanish or crosswords. You can play them completely free on many websites with the help of a simple Google search. Playing games like this will help to boost your vocabulary and retain new words in your head.

Start a conversation club with some of your fellow class mates or find Spanish speaking groups, there is always one around somewhere. It is very important to practice speaking to develop your fluency and by conversing you will also get much better at listening.

If you do things in the same way all the time, even the world’s most fun activities soon lose their appeal. The secret to staying motivated with your Spanish language learning is to keep trying different things and mix up the learning experience. If you do this, then mastering Spanish is well and truly within your grasp.

How The Internet Can Help You Learn Spanish

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

What would we do without the Internet? It has changed our lives in so many ways, one of which is helping to learn a foreign language. The Internet is flush with millions of Spanish language learning resources that are waiting for you to utilize them. There is no doubt about it, the Internet has drastically changed the way teachers teach languages and how students study.

These days most Spanish classes are more dynamic than in the past, thanks to the Internet. Teachers can get many creative ideas on how to teach a language point in the classroom as well as using fabulous online resources such as Youtube and hardware such as interactive whiteboards. There is no doubt that the Internet has truly changed the face of teaching languages.

In the past it was difficult to find Spanish language resources and they were generally very expensive. To learn a language effectively, one was much more beholden to their Spanish teacher, who stockpiled worksheets and other resources they had either made or found. Students of languages such as Spanish are more autonomous in their language learning nowadays. Thanks to all the Spanish language sites on the Internet, students can really take control of their own learning and complete extra worksheets or grammar points found online to consolidate their learning outside of the classroom.

There are two categories of resources that you can use on the Internet: resources that are designed to teach elements of Spanish and resources that are authentic materials. Both of these can be used effectively by you to further your Spanish study in different ways.

Teaching materials include items like online lessons, grammar tables, online dictionaries, quizzes and worksheets. There are several sites on the Internet where you can get lessons on different aspects of learning Spanish, either for a low price or for free. Generally these lessons will explain a grammar point, give some examples of its usage and then provide some type of study material such as an online quiz or a printable worksheet. Resources such as online dictionaries are also a useful tool when studying at home on the Internet. There are many web newsletters you can sign up for that will send you new phrases or vocabulary everyday into your inbox – a quick and easy way to build your vocabulary.

Authentic materials can also be used to help you learn Spanish. An authentic material is teacher speak for something that a Spanish speaker would actually use in real life. It can be any item that uses Spanish and in a cyber sense would be things like online newspapers, forums, Youtube clips in Spanish, Twitter accounts in Spanish or any other Internet site that uses Spanish as its medium of communication. By engaging with authentic materials you can experience the way that Spanish is used both formally and informally around the world. You can develop a sense for the grammar tenses that are used most frequently and learn slang from informal Spanish sites. On formal sites you can learn how Spanish is used correctly in writing and develop your reading skills.

There is no doubt that the Internet has completely changed the way we learn languages. Teaching of Spanish as a foreign language has become much more interesting and creative and lessons are generally more communicative in their approach. Teachers can find new ideas and resources much more easily than in the past.

For Spanish language learners there are profuse amounts of resources that can aid their learning. There is really no excuse to rest on your laurels when learning Spanish. By utilizing the vast amount of Spanish resources out there in cyber space you can really accelerate your learning and have fun doing it.

Be Realistic, Learning Spanish Takes Longer Than Six Weeks

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

People often sign up for a six week Spanish program and are shocked when they complete the course and cannot communicate with aplomb in Spanish. If this statement sounds like it holds just a grain of truth for you, then you need to be realistic. Learning Spanish takes longer than six weeks. Think about this: I bet it took you longer than six weeks to learn English. Am I right?

Toddlers and young children who are flung into new situations and have to learn a completely different language learn fast and easily. But even these guys with their sponge like brains take longer than six weeks to decipher the ins and outs of Spanish.

Unfortunately adults are much slower at picking up languages. We are no longer producing new brain cells and making connections between neurons is a lot more difficult. We also have many years of using our own language to fight against. Adults sometimes have a tough time accepting that sentence structures may seem backwards to what we are used to, or prepositions don’t always translate across from English to Spanish.

The truth is that different languages structure communication differently to English. Often, as is the case with English too, there is no logical reason why something is the way it is, it just is and you have to accept it. This can be a bitter pill to swallow for people who are accustomed to wanting to know the whys and wherefores of things. Asking questions like “But why is it a regular verb in English and it is irregular in Spanish?” or “Why does mano end in ‘o” but has la as its definite article?” will hinder you in your language learning. There are certain things that you have to accept with childlike credulity when learning a language and then get on with it.

In my experience as a language teacher, there are people in this world who are more pre-disposed to language acquisition than others. Some people find it easy to untangle the web of Spanish grammar and can ram it into their brains with relative ease. Others struggle to remember how to conjugate the present tense. If you belong to the former group, then you are lucky; if you belong to the latter, then you are not alone and with persistence you will make it.

Another reason it takes us English speakers longer than six weeks to pick up a language is that by and large we are not very good at it. I know this is a terrible stereotype, but since English is so widely spoken, there is less motivation and necessity for us to master other languages. It is true than you can generally find an English speaker anywhere on the globe. As such, we do not grow up learning different languages in the way that other cultures do and the languages taught at school are not compulsory into the upper reaches of secondary school, nor are they taught with a communicative focus.

With realistic expectations you will be able to become a great Spanish speaker. It will take you more than six weeks; in fact if you are serious about it you will continue learning for the rest of your life. Just as we learn new words or phrases regularly in our native language you will continue to do so in Spanish too. After six weeks you can reasonably expect to have mastered some of the basics of Spanish that will form the foundation for the rest of the language to flourish in your brain.