Ready to REALLY Learn Spanish? Here are a few tips…
Here are resources that will help you along your Spanish learning journey. One of the pillars of our educational model is the autonomy and responsibility a student has over his or her learning process. That means you can learn at your pace, in a group or privately, online or in person. Of course, we think that the Anda Spanish Adult Course Series that consists of four 16-week sessions is an awesome way to learn Spanish. We focus highly on conversational fluency and not so much on reading and writing. That being established, if you would like to have some additional resources to accelerate or assist your classes, these are some awesome ideas/ resources that we have seen really help students understand different parts of the language.
Apps: Sometimes apps like duolingo get a bad reputation because you use and use the app but you still can’t speak Spanish. But honestly, an app can’t teach you how to speak a language. It can only provide information. To learn to speak, you must speak. Inn order to speak, you must have information stored somewhere in your brain. So, honestly, we think apps like duolingo are awesome. You can learn a ton of vocabulary and you surely will come up with questions to ask in class like why a certain sentence is phrased in such a way. It’s definitely helpful.
Also, there are flash card apps (see flash cards below) like Tiny Cards that will help you drill the vocab in your head so that when you are practicing conversation you have a place to start.
We highly recommend using flashcards to learn vocabulary. You have to fill your brain with words in order to make sentences. And you need sentences in order to make sense when you talk. So… how are you going to do it? Now, we do support immersion as much as possible. Babies don’t learn new vocab by using flashcards. They learn in context. They hold up a banana and you say, “That is a banana” and with a ton of repetition, now they know four words. And this learning happens all day everyday, and then after a couple years, babies start forming sentences. Who has that kind of time??? So you need to speed things up and just start memorizing words the best you can. Now, you don’t have to learn 100 words a day. Find a reasonable weekly goal for your circumstances. Is it 50 words a week? Is it 20 new words a week? If that’s the case, start with five flashcards. Learn them like it was your job. Use them outloud all day, even if your roommate thinks you’re super loco. Add them to sentences out of context. Don’t be tempted to learn them for five minutes and then move on to new words. Seriously commit to learning them. The next day, add five new words to the previous five words. Don’t forget about the first five words, use them the same way you were using them yesterday. But now you can make more interesting weird sentences because you know TEN words!
Learning verb conjugation doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. Tackle it the same way you tackle your new vocab but on whole different flashcards. The infinitive of a verb should be included with your regular vocab cards. But conjugations are different. Add all the English conjugations on one side and all the Spanish conjugations on the other. Learn five verbs backwards and forwards and add them to your new vocab! You will thank us for this method as you go on learning different tenses and moods.
If you just focus on grammar you will probably become a pro at reading and writing Spanish. In class we teach grammar to provide a foundation, but Anda truly is a program that focuses on conversation and comprehension, the things we really want to do.
There are a plethora of videos and free worksheets on the internet that you can find to help you explain different grammatical structures. Start with a search of the particular thing you’d like to practice and you will find so much out there.
We love studyspanish.com
Under the grammar tab you can have any grammatical structure explained in a simple way accompanied by examples and mini quizzes.
It’s like a dictionary for verbs. This book really helps to wrap your head around all the verb tenses and moods. What does that even mean? Don’t worry, if you are beginning with Anda we focus on the present tense in the indicative mood pretty much the entire first session. But there are so many more 😀 This book is a must for those who plan to continue on and continue learning beyond the basics.
Music- Songs are a very effective way to practice comprehension for many reasons. Music activates a part of the brain separate from the language center therefore creating more pathways for memory and retention. Also, because the lyrics are easily obtainable on the Internet, one can look up the Spanish lyrics and learn new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. A student can listen to the same song over and over again while engaging in different activities, therefore effectively learning syntax, cadence of the target language, and new vocabulary all while working out or driving their car etc.
Other Media: Try watching a Spanish movie or TV. Try original Spanish language movies and your favorite show with the language changed to Spanish. There are also a ton of podcasts, audiobooks, news clips etc. You surely can find something that interests you. The key is to find something relevant to you and your interests to keep the language learning fun and consistent.
Humans: Have access to people who speak Spanish? Talk to them! Ask them to slow down, ask them not to speak in English. A lot of times this isn’t the convenient option but the effort will pay off!
The absolute best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. So pack your bags and go to Colombia for 3 months! Can’t do that? Oh. Well, no worries. Our founder Nicole learned Spanish fluently without ever leaving her home state of Indiana. There are many methods to master a language. How can you do it? One thing is for sure: It takes effort. While Anda has great teaching methods, an hour or two of Spanish a week will not get you to fluency very quickly. You need to immerse yourself in the culture and language. Our suggestion is to follow your passions and look for your people who speak Spanish who share that passion. Really love reading? Search for a social media book club that has online discussions about books in Spanish. You may not be able to participate much in the beginning but you will as time goes on! Love to dance? Find a local spot with salsa dancing and share your love of dance with those who speak another language. Love food? Um, yes ~ us too! Find all the local spots where people who work there speak Spanish. Develop relationships, be authentic. Whatever you do, investing your time and your effort getting to know other people will not be a waste of time and is truly your ticket to gaining fluency in another language.
Pro tip: When you are speaking Spanish, try your best not to speak any English. You will find that when your brain is really struggling to find to right words you have two choices. 1. You can search the recesses of your brain for the right expression or a different way to communicate what you are trying to say. New neural pathways are formed and you grow! 2. You revert back to English and give your mind a break. No growth, No new pathways, but you really eased that struggle. Guess which option will help you get to fluency faster? This is the language equivalent of no pain, no gain. Struggle through those moments when you sound and feel like a two year old trying to learn to speak again. Yes, you are a grown adult, but you are a beginner at this!! This is normal.