No cramming!

20120923-061632.jpg¡Qué?

Spanish shouldn’t be a head turner. Work on it 20-30 minutes a day and you’ll see a huge improvement. Cramming isn’t the way to learn a language.  Your brain is not interested in more than one way to communicate. It’s good to go with whatever language you already speak.  If you try to bombard your brain with a new language too quickly, it will reject everything. Slow and steady wins the race with language learning. The more breaks you can take, the better you will remember what you have studied. Instead of studying 3o minutes straight, try intervals of 10 minutes each. I try to study my language materials first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Associating language learning with sleep seems to deeply ingrain the new vocabulary and grammar structures in my brain. Try to record yourself saying the vocabulary, reading dialogues from your textbook or new verbs. You can put the .mp3 on your iPod and listen to it all day long! It’s kind of weird to listen to your own voice, but you get used to it quickly. It’s way better than staring at the textbook for hours and not remembering anything. You can also try writing. Many people find that writing the vocabulary or verbs in their notebook a few times can be really helpful. It’s can be tedious and boring, so make sure to take frequent dance breaks. I recommend SALSA!!!! Or merengue if you’re super hyper :-).  Remember, flash cards only work for about 10% of students, so if it’s not for you, give it up! It’s better for the environment anyway.

Don’t you already speak Spanish?

I mean, really.  Most of you that were born after 1980 have had some kind of Spanish instruction in your lifetime.  You say you remember nothing? Not true. That information is stored in your brain and all it takes is some magic to unlock what you already know.  Maybe it’s a song you learned from your 4th grade teacher or the lyrics to “la cucaracha”, but there’s some Spanish up in your brain. Let’s tap into it. 

Attitude is everything!

Learning Spanish requires most people to change their attitudes.  You have to remember to be patient with yourself and to expect to make mistakes.  You also have to get out of the mindset that your language is the only one worth speaking and all languages that do not behave like your own are stupid.  Every language that you learn is going to seem strange to you at first. The more open minded you are about learning and structures, the better off you’ll be.