Learning a language isn’t the same as studying for physics or history.
For a native English speaker to learn Spanish for example, requires learning a brand new set of rules for grammar, spelling, and even punctuation! And that’s before the tons of memorization that’s required for vocabulary. In math, you have to learn the formulas, but you don’t have to memorize every problem.
If your student is struggling in Spanish class or just wants to have a better language-learning experience, we’ve got you covered. Here are our secret weapons for studying Spanish (and other languages too!)
8 Secrets to Studying Spanish
Get clear on the instructions. Doing Spanish homework can be twice as hard: not only do you need to execute the assignment, but you have to make sure you understand the instructions, which are typically in Spanish, as well! Students should spend the necessary time to make sure the instructions are crystal-clear before diving in.
Read actively and take plenty of notes. Students should approach Spanish homework with a dictionary by their side. When they find a word they don’t recognize, they can look up the definition. But instead of looking up a word and immediately forgetting it, students should keep a notebook of new words and definitions. That list will be a great reference, and the act of writing down the word and its definition helps boost retention.
Use the right resources. Speaking of dictionaries, a paper dictionary will be far more valuable than an online one in many cases. There’s something about the act of thumbing through the pages and scanning to find the right word that seems to cement a student’s learning. However, online resources have their place. Rae.es is a highly reputable website that defines Spanish words . . . in Spanish!
Accept the awkwardness. Many higher-level Spanish classes are English-free zones. There are a lot of benefits to an immersive language environment, but students can be intimidated by the inevitable embarrassment of making an error—literally saying the wrong thing. Students should mentally flip the script and accept that mistakes are part of how they learn.
Be persistent. In that immersive environment, students should stick with the conversation until they get what they need from it. For example, if you don’t understand the answer a teacher gives to a question, ask for clarification or phrase the question a different way. If your question isn’t getting the answer you need, try asking more slowly or using different words. Showing that you’re making an effort will go a long way.
Learn to love flashcards. Any language requires a lot of straight memorization to get the foundational rules down pat. There will, of course, be many exceptions to those rules, which also need to be memorized! Flashcards are simple but continue to be an effective tool for rote memorization of vocabulary and grammar rules. Check out Quizlet for an interactive, fully online flashcard experience (and more).
Connect with a native speaker outside the classroom. There’s so much to be learned from casual conversation with a native speaker. Students should actively seek feedback from their language partner (“Please be nit-picky and correct me; I want to learn what I’m doing wrong.”). These conversations will also improve accent and pronunciation, which makes communication easier—not to mention that your student will go beyond what’s in the textbook to learn how people authentically speak.
Incorporate language into everyday life. Students can watch movies, listen to music, or even switch their phone’s native language to Spanish for extra practice. Watching familiar movies can be especially useful; since the plot structure isn’t a surprise, students can keep an eye out for how to say specific phrases in conversational Spanish.
Learning Spanish or any other language has its own set of challenges, but also its own rewards. If your student needs help with Spanish class, the Signet team is here to help. We’ve got expert tutors in Spanish and a host of other languages. Contact us today. Hasta luego!