Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Organize you own Spanish classes

First of all, do we really need an introduction to explain why we would like to learn Spanish? The answer is really simple: it is the second most spoken language in the US and one of the most spoken around the world! So let us get down to business and I’ll try to explain how to use these simple methods for learning Spanish without taking long and boring classes!

First of all, you need to ORGANIZE your study! You must decide how much time a day or a week you want to spend studying and at the begging of each week, you must also decide the topic for that particular week. Always make sure you pick a topic which is interesting enough to keep you fully awake and attentive and also a topic that you can use later. What’s the point in choosing “nuclear chemistry” if you are a dentist?

Once you made up your mind on the subject, try to figure out a way for practicing and improve each one of the following: comprehension, reading comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, writing.

To improve your comprehension of Spanish native speakers, try a quick search on youtube for some bits of “telenovelas” (the Spanish word for soap operas) and you will surely find ones with subtitles. Try to just listen to the conversation and write some ideas you heard there. Then play the video again, reading the subtitles, and see how much you really understood. Always look up in the dictionary the word you didn’t understand, write them down and repeat them a couple of times. This method also improves your vocabulary and pronunciation, for you can play the video over and over again, until you say the word in the right way.

If you want to work on your vocabulary, there are also many sites which have words in Spanish divided in categories such as “words to describe physical appearance”, “list of human body vocabulary” and many more. So choose a category for each day of your study, read the words in both English and Spanish, write each one of them a few times, read them out loud. This is good for vocabulary, reading, pronunciation. If you can’t find such a site (I doubt it, but still) you can chose a category, for example “words relating clothes”, make a list of all the words you can remember in English and use a dictionary to translate them in Spanish.

As far as the grammar is concerned, you will find in any library, as well as online, several books and e-books on “how to Learn Spanish without a teacher”. These books explain simple grammar rules and you can take one lesson at a time.

In order to make your classes at home more fun, invite over a friend who also wants to learn Spanish and work together on this. Your conversational skills will be greatly improved, you can have immediate feedback on any mistake you make and last but not least, you don’t get to talk to the walls, alone!

No matter which one of the methods you chose for organising the classes on your own, remember that at the begging of each one, you must take a few minutes to review the last class’s information so that it sticks to you. And let us not forget: don’t be afraid to give yourself homework and minus Ds when you fail in completing them. For this, you might need a friend, as we said, so you won’t do it all by yourself and you will be more motivated. Well, good luck and remember to relax – learning Spanish, as learning any language, is a long process that must be conquered one class at the time!

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