Tips for Learning Spanish
- Immerse yourself
- It took you one to two years (or at least 8,760 hours) of hearing your own native language at least twelve hours a day to understand what others were saying. If you only attend a language class 3 days a week for an hour each day for 32 weeks a year, you'll only have 96 hours of language acquisition each year. However, if you supplement classwork with the tips listed here such as listening to our free podcasts, doing our exercises for subscribers only, or learning vocabulary from Edufone's products, you will learn the language much more quickly.
- Listen to the language via the radio, internet radio, and or television.
- It's especially easy to learn vocabulary via commercials since they repeat the same words many times during the commercial. Even if you don't understand most of it, you become used to the rhythm of the language. Since it's easy to understand what's being said via body language, watching the same soap opera every day will teach you a lot of vocabulary.
- Download our free Spanish or English podcasts
- Listen to them several times a day. Great times to listen are when you're driving, sweeping or mopping, waiting for thus bus, or before you fall asleep. If you're an intermediate Spanish speaker, download the English podcast also since most of the dialog will be in Spanish.
- Learn words and phrases
- Once you're learned to understand and say "how are you?" in another language, you no longer have to translate each individual word in that phrase. Thus, practice understanding chunks or phrases in the language, and this will improve your comprehension and the speed at which you comprehend the foreign language.
Also keep a notebook of the words and phrases that you're learning and try to review it on a daily basis.
- Train your tongue and mouth to form the new sounds
- - The more senses we involve when learning something, the more we retain it. In addition, our mouths need practice making sounds that are in the new foreign language. Repeat after the speaker as much as you can while you listen to the foreign language.
- Read and listen to children's materials in the foreign language
- It's much easier to learn when we involve more of our senses. Children's books that come with cassettes or CDs, help us learn the vocabulary by associating it with pictures (just like you learned your native language by associating it with the images around you). Many of these books are also available at your public library or through ILL (inter-library loan). Learning via stories and dialogs makes it much easier to remember the vocabulary.
- Form a partnership
- - find a native speaker of the foreign language you are studying who wants to improve their knowledge of your native language. Try to meet at least once a week to practice one half hour in each language. Not only will you learn more of the language, but you'll learn about the culture, and probably form a friendship.
- Practice, practice, practice
- Practice whenever you meet someone who speaks the language that you're trying to learn.
- While doing mundane tasks such as fixing dinner, driving to work or school, or getting dressed in the morning, try to talk about what you're doing in the foreign language. For example, if you're cooking, say the names of the foods you're preparing in the foreign language, or talk about what you're doing in the foreign language such as "I'm cutting onions." Say as many of the words as you know and look up the rest when you have time. It's ok to talk to yourself as you drive as long as it's in a foreign language.
- If possible, live or travel abroad. You can often learn more in 3 months of living abroad than you can in 3 years of study. In 3 months of living abroad, you may hear up to 720 hours of a foreign language and you practice speaking the language a lot. However, before going abroad, acquire as much vocabulary as you can so you'll be more comfortable with the language when you need to speak and understand it on a daily basis. Also, if you go abroad, try not to speak your native language at all. Seek out friends who only speak the language that you are trying to learn so you can take full advantage of your time abroad.
- Sponsor a foreign student to live with you. Agree to speak to him or her certain days of the week in English and to have them speak to you in their native language other days of the week.
- Use mnemonics
- Just as you many use mnemonics to help you remember the name of a street or hotel, use mnemonics to help you remember a new word. For example, the Spanish word for countryside is "campos." To help remember "campos," you can think of the word "camping" in English.
- Tips for intermediate and advanced students:
- Read magazines in that language.
- Write vocabulary on index cards and quiz yourself whenever you have a few free minutes.
- Listen to our podcasts for native speakers of the language you're trying to learn. For example, if you're an intermediate Spanish speaker, download the English podcast also since most of the dialog will be in Spanish.
- Listen to the BBC in that language. I have wireless headphones that I plug into the computer so I can listen to the BBC via the internet while I do household chores.
- Look up words on this great site WordReference and read through the forums there or ask questions on the forums. They also have a nice verb conjugator.
- Look up definitions in Spanish at the Real Academia Española. If you look up a verb, at the top of the page by the verb, there's a blue button 'Conjugar'. When you press it, it gives you a nice table of the verb conjugations.
- How can I help my children learn Spanish?
- There is lots of research on raising Bilingual Children in this very readable book, The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language Some of the tips include reading to your child in Spanish (this is very important), speaking to your child in Spanish, etc. It was refreshing to read that we don't have to speak Spanish well to teach what we know. Something is better than nothing. The more we teach, the more we learn so it's an activity that we can share with our child. Our knowledge of Spanish and our child's can grow as our child grows.
Book Recommendations / Libros Que Recomendamos
Escuche y Hable ¿Es Usted uno de los miles de personas que han pasado años estudiando el inglés y todavía tiene problemas cuando trata comunicarse con norteamericanos? Finalmente, hay sistema que puede ayudar a las personas que hablan español a entender los pasos y distinguir los sonidos que componen las palabras al conversar e identificar los sonidos al escuchar. ¡Recomendado ampliamente!
Los resultados de este entrenamiento acelerarán el proceso entero en la adquisición del nuevo idioma independientemente del nivel de inglés en el que se encuentre.
The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language Excellent suggestions for raising bilingual children. Highly recommended!
Correct Your Spanish Blunders: How to Avoid 99% of the Common Mistakes Made by Learners of Spanish Highly recommended!
English Grammar for Students of Spanish: The Study Guide for Those Learning Spanish (Fifth Edition) Highly recommended!
Speaking Spanish Like a Native Highly recommended! The author also has a good sense of humor.
Spanish Grammar for Independent Learners Highly recommended! Excellent explanations!
NTC's Dictionary of Common Mistakes in Spanish A good reference book. Not as easy to read as the previous 3 books.
501 Spanish Verbs: with CD-ROM (Barron's Foreign Language Guides) Very useful reference!
Inglés para latinos: nivel dos