Read these 17 Learning Spanish Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Spanish tips and hundreds of other topics.
Online dictionaries and translators can be helpful on a word by word translation basis. However, it is vital that you actually know how to use and read a dictionary properly, thus ascertaining if you're getting the right word for what you look up. (This is true for print dictionaries as well.) The biggest problem with online dictionaries and translators is that people plug in sentences or even whole paragraphs and get a word for word translation completely out of context. A favorite example of mine is when a student once tried to translate the sentence "I can fly." into Spanish. The translation came back "yo lata mosca." Which means: the word I, the word for a tin can, and the word for "fly" the insect. "I tin-can small insect with wings." Classic. It is imperative when using any dictionary to take note of what part of speech you are looking up. N. means noun. Adj. means adjective. V. means verb. Adv. means adverb. Etc. Otherwise, you end up with nonsense. So, take whatever any dictionary gives you with a grain of salt. And also, never forget context, use, and idiomatic expressions. Idiomatic expressions (ex: It's raining cats and dogs) rarely translate directly into another language. Some dictionaries, however, have a "phrase book" which can be useful for looking up those kinds of expressions.
Adding gestures to new vocabulary words that you are learning is a great way to put them in your long-term memory, especially if you tend to be a visual or kinesthetic learner. Pick an action that makes sense to you, and as you repeat the word, do the accompanying action. Having trouble thinking of an action to use? A great resource is American Sign Language signs. Many of these are visual representations of the word--perfect for adding to a new Spanish word! This is a great website to find ASL signs: http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm
You simply find the word you are looking for in the alphabetical list and click on it. You will be given a written description of how to sign the word as well as see a video clip of a person demonstrating the sign. Just add your Spanish vocabulary word and you're set!
Why is learning to Speak so horrifying? Because, it means you have to try to speak when you don't know what you're saying. In other words: to really learn a language you need to try to speak and write in that language on a daily basis. But, to start with, you're not going to know the grammar or the vocabulary. So, in order to get your meaning across, you have to put yourself out on a limb and try to express yourself even though you may sound like an idiot. You're used to your native language. You're used to always being able to come up with the right word for something. You're used to expressing a single sentence in a matter of a few seconds or less. It can be very intimidating to make yourself speak in a language that you are not familiar with and it's easy to be self conscious about it. But it's a necessary part of the learning process and you won't get better without practice. The good news is, if you're in a class, everyone else is in the same boat, and even the instructor has been in your situation way back when. The truth is, when it comes down to it, it's really not that horrifying as long as you can get over yourself and just give it your best shot.
The best way to learn ANY language, not just Spanish, is immersion. Total immersion in the language and culture. In other words, living in a country that speaks the target language. Unfortunately, this is not a possibility for everyone. But, the remaining possibilities are many and varied.
If you're wondering why you should consider learning Spanish, there are several good reasons to do it. * Learning Spanish will help you to communicate with more than 300 million people around the world who speak Spanish. More than 35 million of these are in the US. * Learning Spanish is useful for traveling in Spain, Mexico and Latin America. * Learning Spanish will extend career choices. There are many jobs which ask specifically for bilingual people. * Learning Spanish will allow you to have new cultural experiences. * Learning Spanish can ease communication with Spanish-speaking co-workers and employees, especially in countries with a large Hispanic population. * Learning Spanish or another language improves memory skills. * Learning Spanish will help you understand the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. * Learning Spanish will help you understand English better. Learning the grammar of another language can help to improve English grammar skills and knowledge.
An Internet search for 'free Spanish lesson plan' will help teachers to find online resources to assist their students with learning Spanish. Some of the free online Spanish resources include: * EspañOlé.org has a section for teachers. In addition to Spanish lesson plans for both older and younger students, the site has information on Spanish history, Spanish literature, Spanish-speaking countries and cooking. These resources will help students who are learning Spanish. There are also links to Spanish teachers' sites, professional associations and book publishers. * BBC.co.uk has a Spanish section on its website. One section of that site contains Spanish lesson plans for Spanish teachers. Each Spanish lesson plan covers a different subject, such as greetings, leisure, shopping and much more. There are also downloadable worksheets to help students with learning Spanish on their own. * Spanishprograms.com offers free tools that teachers can use to help their students with learning Spanish. These include verb conjugation worksheets, verb games and a newsletter on Spanish culture. * Teach-nology.com has links to more than 50 free online Spanish lessons that that teachers can use to support their students. These are just a selection of the Spanish lesson plans that are available free online.
Without a doubt the younger you are the easier it is to learn a foreign language. To such an extent that it is recommended to read or talk to your infant in another language to get he or she accustomed to the sounds of the target language and other languages in general. The easiest way to become bilingual (or multilingual) is to become so from birth. However, for those of us that don't have bilingual parents, or never got a chance to learn another language early on, there's still hope. It's true that the longer you wait the less likely you are to reach native speaker pronunciation. But, with hard work and determination you can still become fluent in another language and even not completely sound like a foreigner. Some people, gifted with an ear for languages, can even reach near native pronunciation, even at much later stages in life. So, while you're better off the younger you start, you can always learn a language later in life if you are willing to put your mind to it.
Many Spanish language schools offer free Spanish lessons. These lessons are usually samples of a much more extensive Spanish course, which has to be paid for. Some Spanish language schools offer entire courses which cover basic grammar and vocabulary. For example, a free Spanish lesson on these courses might cover: * The Spanish alphabet and counting * Greetings * Ordering food and shopping * Common household items * Traveling (hotel bookings, car hire, directions and so on. A free Spanish lesson is a good way of starting to learn Spanish before going on to a more advanced course.
There is conflicting research on the optimal age for learning Spanish and other languages. Some research suggests that children can acquire a second language easily up to the age of 10. Other research refutes this view. Children who live in family with two different language groups often learn to speak both languages fluently. However, this does not mean that they have acquired all the necessary communication skills in that language. Learning conversational Spanish, for example, does not mean that the child will be fluent in formal or written Spanish. Some research suggests that children find it harder to acquire a second language after the age of five. Recent research suggests learning a foreign language while young helps the brain to develop. This is a great advantage for children who are learning Spanish.
Learning Spanish on your own can be challenging, but there are plenty of online resources to make the task easier. EspañOlé.org is an online Spanish resource for students and teachers of Spanish. The site contains: * Spanish songs * literary resources * dictionaries * Spanish chats * and links to other resources. Many of the resources are available free of charge. Both the site's founder and the site itself have won awards for assisting with learning Spanish
There are several options for learning Spanish on your own. First, consider taking Spanish language lessons with a private tutor. This means that the lessons will cover the material the student wants to learn. The Spanish lessons will also take place at a pace that matches the students' needs. Private Spanish lessons mean that students will get individual attention which will help them to learn Spanish quickly. Some private tutors also give lessons via the Internet. Another option is to take advantage of the free lessons available online to help those who are interested in learning Spanish. Some Spanish language schools provide a free Spanish lesson as a sample of what is available on their course. There are also websites that provide free online Spanish courses covering travel, business, medicine and much more. An Internet search for 'free Spanish lesson' will provide hundreds of links to resources to help you learn Spanish on your own.
There are several language schools in Spain which offer Spanish lessons for those in or entering the tourism trade. These take place in various locations in Spain, Mexico and Latin America. They can be found by doing an Internet search for 'tourism Spanish', 'tourism Spanish lessons' or 'tourism Spanish courses'. The Spanish lessons on tourism Spanish courses usually cover such areas as the Spanish tourist trade, marketing, logistics, accommodation and travel agents. These Spanish lessons enhance the professional development of tourism workers. Another option is to consider using the free Spanish lessons online to learn Spanish vocabulary related to travel and accommodation.
If you're going to be taking an immersion class, or if you're going to be traveling in a Spanish speaking country, or if you're just taking a class where the instructor insists on you using Spanish as often as possible, you should know a few key phrases to get you along without having to resort to English. ‘¿Comó se dice…?' means ‘How do you say…?” and can be used before a word in English that you would like to know how to say in Spanish. For example: “¿Comó se dice ‘car'?” would mean, “How do you say ‘car'?” The response would be “Se dice ‘coche'.” meaning “You say ‘coche.'” If you want to know what something in Spanish means in English you say “¿Qué significa…?” meaning “What is the meaning of…?” For example: “¿Qué significa arbusto?” means “What is the meaning of ‘arbusto'?” The response for which would be “Arbusto significa ‘bush'” meaning “ ‘Arbusto' means bush.” (Note that if you ask this question to a native speaker they may just give you a definition for ‘arbusto' in Spanish since you have just asked what the meaning of the word is, and haven't specified that you want the meaning in English. If you do want the meaning in English just tag on “…en ingles” to the end of your question. For example: “¿Qué significa arbusto en ingles?”)
Learning a second (or third, or fourth)language is a vital skill in today's increasingly globalized economy. Many jobs in all fields are now requiring, or at least actively seeking, bilingual candidates to fill positions. Not to mention the added benefits of feeling more confident while traveling, learning more about other cultures, and being more connected with the rest of the world. Also, learning another language can be a fulfilling endeavor in and of itself, building confidence, and communication skills, and feeling good about your accomplishment. And why Spanish in particular? Well, an increasingly large portion of the United States is Spanish speaking. Not to mention some of our closest neighbors are Spanish speaking and a large portion of the earth's total populous speaks Spanish. And last, but far from least, it's definitely useful for seducing members of the opposite sex (or the same sex if that's what you're going for).
There are several advantages to learning Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country. These include: * Learning Spanish from native speakers. This will improve your pronunciation and accent. * Getting up-to-date slang so you can speak Spanish like a native speaker. * Learning about Spanish culture from the inside. * Getting many opportunities to practice the Spanish you have learned. * Continuing to learn Spanish outside the classroom from Spanish-speaking friends and acquaintances. While some of these aims can be achieved by learning Spanish at home, learning Spanish by immersion in a Spanish-speaking country will speed up the process of learning and using the language.
There are three questions to ask when choosing a tutor to help with learning Spanish. * How long has the tutor been giving Spanish lessons? A new tutor may be up-to-date on the Spanish language (including slang). An older tutor will have the benefit of experience. * Does the tutor have any teaching qualifications? Not every Spanish speaker is a good teacher. Consider getting Spanish lessons from a qualified tutor. * Is the tutor a native speaker of Spanish? While this is not essential, getting Spanish lessons from a native speaker will improve you accent and vocabulary. Asking these questions will help you to find out whether a particular tutor is the right person to give you Spanish lessons. Once you've found out the cost of Spanish lessons and when the tutor is available, you'll be well on the way to getting help with learning Spanish.
No-one is too old to learn a language. It may not be as easy as when you were 5-, 10- or 15-years-old, but no matter what age you are now, you can learn Spanish. There are many Spanish language schools that offer special courses in Spanish for seniors. These courses can be found through an Internet search for 'Spanish for seniors'. Some of these are immersion courses in Spanish-speaking countries. Another way of getting Spanish language lessons is to try a software based immersion course such as Rosetta Stone. This type of course makes it easy to learn Spanish at your own pace. Other options for learning Spanish include private Spanish tutoring or free online Spanish lessons. These resources will help people of any age who are learning Spanish.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|