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2 Effective Tips for How to Study Spanish (and really learn it!)

2 Effective Tips for How to Study Spanish (and really learn it!)

Two easy tips for how to study Spanish!

Dollarphotoclub_59025424-300x200Almost all Spanish tests, when you break them down to their most basic components, are a combination of vocabulary and grammar.

If you can make sure that you know well and can confidently use the vocabulary and grammar that will be covered on the test, you will probably end up with a good grade on your test. Here are a couple of tips that teach you how to study Spanish:

Tip 1: Study your vocabulary from Spanish to English and from English to Spanish.

Don’t lose easy points because you can’t recall or produce the vocabulary that you’re responsible for. The mistake that many students make is only studying their vocabulary words from Spanish to English – or – from English to Spanish, and not studying the terms in both directions. The direction in which you study vocabulary actually strengthens different language competencies. When you study vocabulary from Spanish to English you’re working on your ability to understand Spanish.  When you study from English to Spanish, you’re working on your ability to express yourself in Spanish. This is why language learners have preferred to use flashcards for learning vocabulary for so many years. It’s easy to turn them around and study your vocabulary list in the other direction.

Tip 2: Treat grammar like vocabulary as much as possible, using flashcards.

When you’re working with grammar you really have two different objectives: to understand the concept and to apply it correctly in the right situations. For example, when you’re studying the preterit and imperfect verb tenses you have to know the conjugations of AR, ER, IR and irregular verbs for both tenses AND you have to know when to use each tense. By breaking this situation down into its parts, you can study it like simple vocabulary, using flashcards. Here’s how you would do it with the example above:

  1. Make individual flashcards for AR, ER, IR conjugations with an example verb that fits each category, so that’s 6 cards total that cover the regular conjugations for both preterit and imperfect. One example card:
    Front of card: -AR Preterit
    Back of card: Caminar (yo caminÉ, tú caminASTE, etc.)
  2. Make one individual card for each irregular verb in each tense.  This will take quite a few cards, but it’s worth it.
    Front of card: Ser – Imperfect
    Back of card: yo era, tú eras, etc.

    1. Make separate cards for “ -car, -gar, -zar” verbs in the preterit.
      Front: Jugar – Preterit
      Back: Jugar: yo jugUÉ, tú jugASTE, etc.
    2. Make cards for the different IR stem changing verbs in the preterit.
      Front: Dormir – Preterit
      Back: Dormir: yo dormí, tú dormiste, él/ella/usted dUrmió, etc.
    3. Make a card for each use of the past tense, so you can quiz yourself on   whether preterit or imperfect should be used:Front: Telling time in the past
      > Back: Imperfect (Eran las diez de la noche…)
      Front: One-time completed actions in the past
      > Back: Preterit (Ayer yo hablé con Carlos.)

Even though you’re studying some complicated grammar topics, managing multiple tenses and dealing with vocabulary that sometimes has you thinking “I don’t even use this in English”, you can succeed at Spanish if you break it down into simple flashcards and make sure you’re memorizing information in both directions.

Of course we all know there is no better way to learn Spanish than through a well planned Immersion Program.  Consider traveling with Common Ground on our Spanish Immersion Programs.

Whether a Spanish immersion program is right for you or not, you’ll definitely want to check out our latest project called the High School Spanish App. It’s a comprehensive Spanish study tool for anyone who has an Apple device. Download it today!

If you’re feeling like you really need some extra help with your Spanish, consider scheduling a Spanish tutor with Common Ground.

Rory
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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