Methods and Resources for Learning Spanish

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Escrito por ZihuaRob desde ( el día jueves, 26 de abril, 2007 a las 13:56:49 horas :

En respuesta a: Best way to learn Spanish? escrito por Bayla desde ( el día jueves, 26 de abril, 2007 a las 10:38:06 horas :

I remember well my first Spanish classes in second grade at I.N. Bloom in Louisville. They were television classes with "Señorita Robinson" as well as in-class book studies. I took to it like a dog to a bone, mastering the alphabet the very first day like it was my own. I looked forward to Spanish class more than any other, and when I saw photos of places in Mexico with gazebos in tree shaded parks with old men in big sombreros sitting under them and movies of uniformed schoolchildren going about their daily activities I experienced my first pangs of affection for the culture.

I managed to study Spanish throughout my school years and into college, yet the best practice and learning experiences for me were without a doubt being in situations where there were no people who spoke English and no interpreters. Before you begin to speak Spanish you need to learn how to listen to it and hear new words even if you don't know their meaning. You need to know the correct pronunciation of the alphabet as well as to get accustomed to regional accents. That way you can hear a new word, and if you don't have a dictionary handy and you can't understand an explanation of the word in Spanish from a Spanish-speaking friend, then at least you can look it up later. And you need to look up new words until it seems you've read the dictionary cover to cover several times.

After you get the alphabet and numbers down and know how to pronounce a word by reading it as well as to look a word up by hearing it, then you should try to dominate verb conjugation, starting of course with the simple present, then the past and the future, then tackle the subjuntive and imperative forms, then the perfect tenses. In English you only use six basic tenses, while in Spanish we use fourteen. I recommend concentrating first on the equivalents of the same six tenses used in English (three simple and three perfect), which should be easy to get used to. Then go for the subjunctive and conditional tenses.

The best book for learning verbs I've ever seen or used is Barron's 501 Spanish Verbs. The best dictionary I've ever used is Larousse (the Larousse/American Heritage version is my favorite).

Once you start getting into the verbs, then I recommend watching news, sports, popular programs and movies in Spanish. Sports and news are easier to follow than you may think. Sopa operas (telenovelas) are also good for practicing to follow dialogue. The older movies from the 40's, 50's and 60's are the best: Tin-Tan, Cantinflas, Pedro Armendariz, Dolores Del Río, Pedro Infante, María Felix, Resortes, Jorge Negrette, and El Indio Fernandez are some of the best actors and actresses to look out for.

Try listening to songs in Spanish to understand them and to learn their words. Guadalupe Pineda, Roberto Carlos (a Brazilian who also sings in Spanish), Juan Gabriel, Ana Gabriel (no relation to Juan), José Alfredo Jiménez, Lola Beltrán, Los Bukis, and Maná are some of my favorites who sing songs clearly enough to understand their words. Even Linda Ronstadt and Vikki Carr would be excellent singers to listen to since they both have albums in Spanish, especially Vikki Carr.

Try also reading newspapers (many are online, see my News page) to help build up your vocabulary. You'll know you're doing well when, instead of looking up an English translation of a word, you can understand its definition in a Spanish dictionary.

Remember that you have to start simple, like a child; so reading books and comics, watching movies and programs and listening to songs meant for children are a terrific way to get accustomed to simpler language skills first, especially building a useful vocabulary.

If you really want to learn Spanish your best teacher will be yourself.

Some good online resources are:
Spanish verbs -
Real Academia Española
Spanish Pronto! Spanish Alphabet
Yahoo! Diccionarios - American Heritage Spanish Dictionary (Diccionario inglés-español)

Good luck with your studies! I hope you find this info helpful.

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