On Part 1 of the Spanish subjuntivo series, we’ve learned what the subjuntivo is all about! The Spanish subjunctive allows us to express ideas, thoughts, desires, possibilities, and doubts.
Always keep in mind that the subjunctive is not a tense, the subjunctive is a mood! This means that it can be found in different tenses! Today, we’ll explore the conjugation of the subjunctive in the present tense!
Subjuntivo Conjugation in Present Tense
The conjugation of regular verbs in the subjunctive mood is really simple! Have a look at the table below, and take a note of your observations!
These are some rules that will help you learn the conjugation of verbs in the subjunctive even faster:
- The conjugation of -er and -ir verbs use the same endings:
-a, -as, -a, -amos, -an, -an
- In the case of -ar endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘a’ with an ‘e’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘e’
- In the case of -er and -ir endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘e’ with an ‘a’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘a’
As we already know, the conjugation of Spanish verbs is plagued with exceptions. In order to make it a little easier for you to learn them, we’ve separated them into groups!
As you can see from the examples above, even irregular verbs seem to follow a pattern! I told you when we started looking at the subjuntivo that there was nothing to fear, and as we disentangle all the little details of this verb form, it starts to make even more sense!
Conjugate the verbs in parenthesis! Remember that in Spanish, you don’t need to use personal pronouns like you do in English, so use the English translations to make sure you conjugate the verb in the correct form!
Yo quiero que _____ (venir) mañana.
I want you to come tomorrow.
Tú no crees que _____ (tener) suficiente tiempo.
You don’t believe we have enough time.
Ella busca una blusa que _____ (tener) rayas.
She’s looking for a shirt that has stripes.
Nosotros no pensamos que eso ______ (ser) cierto.
We don’t think it is true.
Ustedes dudan que _____ (llegar) a tiempo.
You all doubt he will be here on time.
Ellos necesitan que _____ (escribir) una carta.
They need you to write a letter.
Practice makes perfect! Book a free class with us and so that we can practice together everything we learned on the 1st Part of the subjuntivo series (when to use the subjuntivo), and combine it with what we’ve learned today (conjugation in the present tense)!Read More
School is back in session. Kids are heading back to class, and teachers are putting together materials to get their students excited about Spanish. However, it can be hard to get kids to focus and work together after a summer of freedom – especially in another language! That’s why icebreakers can be so helpful: they’re fun, engaging, and educational all in one.
These icebreakers aren’t just for Spanish teachers to use. Parents homeschooling their kids, parents looking to enrich their child’s education outside of public school, co-op leader, and tutors can all take advantage of these games. Let’s take a look!
Simon Says (Simón dice)
Who remembers Simon says from their childhood days? Yes! I’m sure most of you have played this at least a couple of times. This is a great one to use with energetic young kids who can’t sit still. Get them all up on their feet, either at their desks or in a circle, and give them commands in Spanish starting with Simón dice… This is a great one for kids starting out with Spanish because you can do the action as you say the command, making it easy for them to connect the Spanish with its corresponding action. You can introduce new vocabulary, phrases, and complex grammar in a very easy and fun manner. Here are some commands to get started:
Pónganse de pie – stand up
Salten — jump
Siéntense – sit down
Canten – sing
Bailen – dance
Griten – shout
Cállense – quiet down
Now, in the real Simon Says game, the kids only do what you say if it is prefaced with the phrase ‘Simon says.’ If you give a command without saying ‘Simon says’ and some of the kids do the action, they are ‘out’ and have to sit down. However, in an immersion preschool Spanish class, explaining that rule may be a bit complicated. If you are comfortable with using English in the classroom, go ahead and explain that rule. However, it is completely fine to play it without that rule; the students are still learning through Spanish exposure.
If you want to step it up a bit, you can give them full sentences, like Pongan la hoja debajo del escritorio. (Put the paper under the desk). You can include more vocabulary applicable to your specific class with this method.
The Question Ball (La pelota de preguntas)
Ages: Elementary – adults
You may have seen these balls in English; they are divided into different sections with a question in each one. However, as a language teacher, it’s better if you make your own with vocabulary specific to your class’s age and level. Take a plain rubber ball or even a balloon and divide it into sections. In each one, write a question or a command (¿Cuál es tu animal favorito? – What is your favorite animal? Enumera cinco de tus comidas favoritas. – List five of your favorite foods.) and let the games begin! Have your students sit in a circle and start off with an example. Toss the ball up, catch it, and read the question where your right thumb lands. Answer it in Spanish, then toss it to one of your students (or kids)! Use it as a teaching moment if they are struggling to answer correctly and enjoying getting to know each other better!
Conversation Time (Hora de conversar)
Ages: Preschool – adult
This icebreaker is a perfect way to begin a class; it gets the students engaged and teaches Spanish questions and answers implicitly – no writing required! Get everyone in a circle and grab a ball to toss between you all. If you are playing with complete beginners, you need to go slowly and repeat a lot! Take the ball and say Yo me llamo… and say your name. Toss it to a student and walk them through the sentence and have them say their name. Have them toss the ball back to you and repeat the sentence. Then, toss the ball to another student and walk them through the sentence. Once they seem comfortable with that phrase, introduce the question ¿Cómo te llamas? Start with an example, saying both the question and answer, then toss it to a student asking them ¿Cómo te llamas. They need to respond in Spanish, then toss the ball to another student, asking them the question.
This is a great fun way to introduce new questions and phrases. It’s a way to introduce conversational phrases that doesn’t use a textbook or a whiteboard (you can later review the sentences on a whiteboard) that is more natural. Just remember to be patient with them!
Hot Potato (La papa caliente)
Ages: Preschool – middle school
Everyone knows how to play hot potato! Now we are adding a twist to get those little learners engaged in learning Spanish! Get some music and a potato (or anything, really – a ball, whiteboard eraser, etc.) and create a circle with your students. Turn on the music and start passing the potato. When you stop the music, the person holding the potato has to speak in Spanish. Depending on what class you have, you can modify this to fit their level. For example, you can have them just say a short sentence about themselves, you can ask them a question in Spanish that they must answer in Spanish, or you can write a grammar/vocabulary element on the board that they must incorporate into a sentence. There are so many different ways to make this simple game a great learning activity and an icebreaker!
Two Truths and a Lie (Dos verdades y una mentira)
Ages: Elementary – adults
You’ve probably played this one with your friends before, but it’s a great language-learning tool as well! It is super easy to play. Each person prepares 3 sentences in Spanish: two that are true and one that is false. The students can either write these down and read them out loud, or this can be a strictly oral exercise. If you’re playing this with a class of students, it would be best to have them sit in a circle to make it more personal and conversational instead of a teaching setting. After each student reads their three sentences, the class discusses which one is the lie. The student then reveals which was the lie. If you are using this with your kids, you can ask them to come up with sentences about their friends or something they’ve learned (a science or history topic) since you will most likely be able to easily guess the lie.
Teach with the icebreaker. Depending on what the students are learning and their language capabilities, you can ask them to include certain vocabulary and grammar in their sentences. For example, if they are learning the present perfect tense, then they would have to write each sentence using that tense. As the students’ language capability improves, they can say which one is a lie in Spanish instead of English. For first-timers, they can discuss which is a lie all in English. With time, they can use Spanglish – “Oh, that was the mentira,” – and incorporate more and more Spanish as their vocabulary improves until they can respond completely in Spanish.
Mystery Words (Palabras misteriosas)
Ages: Upper elementary – adults
This one requires a little bit more logical thinking, so I would suggest not playing it with preschoolers or kids just going into elementary school. On the whiteboard (or a piece of paper if you are doing this at home), write about ten different words that describe you or something about you. For example, you can write azul if you have blue eyes, or veintisiete if you are 27 years old.
The students can either work individually or in teams to come up with what these words are referring to. For beginning levels, use words they are familiar with and they can guess in English. As they progress, have them find the question in Spanish that you wrote the answer to. For instance, going back to our examples, the questions would be: ¿De qué color son tus ojos? ¿Cuántos años tienes?
This is a great exercise if you a new teacher wanting your students to get to know you a bit together. You can continue to use this activity throughout the year, asking the students to lead the exercise instead of you. Feel free to use harder vocabulary and grammar if your students are more advanced!
So, now you have six new icebreakers to use this school year! You can reuse them throughout the year since they don’t have to be JUST icebreakers. Feel free to alter these games to fit the needs of your classes or come up with your own!
If you are looking for ways to better your Spanish or provide additional Spanish material to your kids or students, sign up for a FREE online Spanish class! Our classes are live with native speakers, and they are a great supplemental source for any Spanish class! Learn more here!
If you have studied Spanish for a little while, you have probably noticed that there are many connections between English and Spanish. Since they both have roots in Latin, there are many similarities, making it pretty easy to identify the meaning of new words in Spanish…or so you think. While you may be able to stick an ‘o’ or an ‘a’ to the end of some English words or change an -tion to a -ción to make them Spanish equivalents (tranquil — tranquilo, education — educación), it is not always that simple!
These words that look alike and have the same meaning are called cognates. Let’s look at some more:
- Plate — Plato
- Intention — Intención
- Capital — Capital
These examples either have the exact same spelling or just slight differences. There are other examples where the words may not look exactly the same but look enough like each other for us to make the correlation between the two:
- Necessity – Necesidad
- Lamp – Lámpara
While these connections between the two languages are great and can help us understand a lot more Spanish than we expect, it can often set us up for some awkward situations. How many times have you not known a word in Spanish and tried to just put a Spanish ending on the English one and hoped for the best? This often works (like with education and educación), but not always. There are numerous false cognates, or false friends as they are often called, that create confusion and miscommunication. Possibly the most common example of this is embarrassed and embarazada. They look similar, so they must mean the same thing, right? Wrong! Embarazada is actually pregnant, and the correct translation of embarrassed would be avergonzado(a). Can you see how false cognates can cause a lot of problems? Let’s look at some more.
Phew! That’s a lot of false cognates. Don’t stress, though! I learned a lot of these through trial and error, and it’s okay if you confuse these, too. Keep practicing, and be sure to talk with one of our certified Spanish teachers if you have any questions. Sign up for a FREE class now!
Unless you’re homeschooling your child, you don’t have much say in what curricula teachers use in your kid’s classes. Are the curricula designed to help your student succeed? Are they teaching what your student actually needs to learn? Now, if you homeschool, you do get to choose what program and books you use to instruct your child. However, how do you know which curriculum is the best?
There are so many questions that come up about curricula, especially when you are looking to have your child learn a foreign language. Most parents don’t speak the language their child wants to learn, and even if they do, they might not know how to best teach it. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the curricula options, we are here to help take one subject off your plate – Spanish.
If you’re still on the fence about what language to teach your child, check out our blog that explores why Spanish is the best foreign language to learn in our increasingly connected world.
How is our Spanish Curriculum different?
You want the best for your child. However, what makes a Spanish curriculum the best course for your child?
First, we need to talk about how you learn a language. It is not just memorizing words and phrases; learning a language is learning a new way to think, express yourself, and look at the world. To gain that knowledge, you need exposure and repetition. If you have kids, think about how they learned to talk – did you teach them a list of words and have them memorize it? Did you expect them to be fluent in a year? Were they able to speak immediately?
The best way to learn a language is as close as possible to the way we naturally learned our native tongue. This means lots of exposure and relating vocabulary to images or objects – NOT relating them to the English words.
Think of it this way – if you always relate a new Spanish word to its English equivalent, when you go to have a conversation, you will constantly be thinking of your answer in English, then taking time to translate it to Spanish. It’s hard and time-consuming! You would be better off creating new relationships between the Spanish words and the objects or ideas. One easy way to do this is by labeling things in your house with the Spanish word (check out more ideas here).
So, that’s great in theory, but how can it be applied to Spanish classes? Well, here at the Spanish Academy, we have developed our own curricula that our native-speaking teachers use in each class. The curriculum utilizes images to relate each new vocabulary word and phrase to a real-life situation. Many of our teachers also use physical objects in class and encourage their students to as well. This combination of images in the curriculum and physical objects in the virtual classroom help the students avoid translation and directly create relationships between the Spanish word and the object.
Levels of Fluency
When your child first started learning their native tongue, did they immediately start talking? No, of course not! There are multiple areas of language learning and fluency. A child first learns to understand a language before learning to respond. As we said before, we want to teach Spanish in a similar way to how we naturally learn a language. Therefore, the first step towards fluency is exposure and auditory comprehension.
All our teachers are native Spanish speakers, and they make conversation a priority in each class. While your student may not be able to reproduce the teacher’s questions and comments or respond to them right away, they are developing auditory comprehension, just as they did as a baby learning their first language. If your student is able to read and write, our curricula also combine this auditory comprehension with written practice, so your student grows in all areas of language learning – reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
How many times did you have to teach your child the colors before they could remember them all? Did they remember everything the first time? Of course not! When learning a new language, we are actually building new pathways in our brain, which takes time and dedication – or repetition. A lot of other curricula, especially the ones used in school settings, move too fast and don’t take the time to reinforce learn vocabulary.
The Spanish Academy curricula apply learned vocabulary in the following classes to make sure your student remembers what they learned and can actually use it. Furthermore, the teacher always starts the class with some quick conversation and pointed questions to review and reinforce previous lessons. Instead of learning one topic and moving on, our curricula builds upon itself, deepening those pathways in your brain until speaking Spanish becomes second nature.
One size does NOT fit all
While finding pieces of clothing that are ‘one size fits all’ is great because there’s no hassle of finding the perfect size for you, that thought process cannot be used when learning a language. As a child grows up, they learn differently, and their Spanish curriculum must reflect that. That is why we have all the following programs:
- Preschool Curriculum
- Elementary Curriculum
- Middle School Curriculum
- High School Curriculum
- Adult Curriculum
Each program is specifically designed with the student’s age in mind. For example, the middle school years are a time of preparation and transition, and our curriculum takes that into mind – while addressing Spanish grammar topics head-on like the high school curriculum, it still goes at a slower pace to make sure they are truly learning. It’s like an introduction to a high school level course, which is what those middle school years are all about.
Creating the Perfect Curriculum for Your Child
While we offer different courses for each age level, every child is unique and may need something tailored specifically to their learning needs. You don’t usually get the opportunity to adjust courses in many classroom settings, but our curriculum can be altered as needed. If your student needs to just review certain parts of a curriculum because they have already mastered some topics, our teachers can start them right at the appropriate lesson, so they aren’t bored with the classes. On the other hand, if your student needs more time to review a tricky topic, our teachers take the time to get extra review materials and make sure they master each lesson.
All of our Spanish curricula have homework, quizzes, and tests built into the programs, but you can opt out of those and do a freestyle course of study. Keep in mind that if you are looking for high school credit, your student will need to comply with all parts of the curriculum. For any other course, however, the assessments can be optional.
Some students would like to focus more on conversational Spanish, while others already speak fluently but need help with their written Spanish. Either way, our teachers can accommodate and adjust the curriculum for your student’s needs.
Additionally, we have worked with numerous students that have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Just let your teacher know and they will accommodate accordingly. We are here to make learning Spanish easy for your child!
High School Courses
So many world language courses don’t offer options for high schoolers – they focus more on younger kids and avoid high school classes because of the strict standards required for high school Spanish. However, the Spanish Academy offers Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV for the high schoolers. The classes include graded homework (10%), quizzes (40%), and tests (50%), and we can provide a transcript for each completed semester.
These classes are perfect for if your student needs high school credit for Spanish, if they struggled in school and need reinforcement, or if they are looking to get a head start on their high school credits. We have received numerous testimonials about how our unique high school curriculum has helped students succeed in high school and be well-prepared for college classes. Download a sample here!
Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”– Kim Collins
Here at the Spanish Academy, we want to be constantly improving our classes. For that reason, we are making some exciting changes to our curriculum. The flexibility and teaching methods will be the same, but we will be bringing you a lot more content, with some extra special products for all you parents!
One important change will be our alignment with the ACTFL standards and level system. You will be able to see what fluency level your student is at and what they need to work on at each level. This will give you a better idea of how soon they will reach their Spanish fluency goal and how you can help get them there.
Stay tuned for the coming changes and sign up for a FREE class in the meantime!Read More
When learning a language, there are so many different curriculums to choose from. Even with the Spanish Academy, there are five different more programs (with more on the way)! Deciding which program to start with can be a bit confusing if you aren’t familiar with the specifics of each curriculum. Some of the most common questions we get are “What is the difference between the middle school and high school curriculum? Which one should my child study?” Well, hopefully with this blog, we can help you make an educated decision on which curriculum is best for your child!
Who Is the High School Curriculum for?
While the name of the curriculum may make it seem like this program is only for students in grades 9-12, that is not actually the case. Even though the majority of our students in the high school course are within that age range, we do have children as young as 8 or 9 studying at the high school level.
Some kids start studying Spanish in preschool or take courses in an immersion school, which helps them reach a high level of fluency at a young age. The elementary and middle school curriculums, therefore, may not provide the vocabulary and grammar they need to continue improving their Spanish skills. Because of that, our high school curriculum is open to any student who needs to appropriately challenge themselves in the Spanish language.
High School Credit
Just like some colleges offer students the opportunity to earn credit while still in high school, the Spanish Academy gives students the chance to get ahead in their studies. Younger students who would like to get their language credits out of the way are more than welcome to study at the high school level to make sure they get credit for their studies. In the United States, nearly all high schools require one or two language credits to graduate. With the Spanish Academy, students can earn those credits while still in middle (or even elementary) school and open up their future schedule for other classes they may want to take.
Middle School Versus High School
Speaking of credit, can the completion of any other Spanish Academy course transfer to high school credit? The answer is yes. A student who starts at the middle school level can earn up to one full credit for their studies. Let’s delve into the differences between the two programs so you can choose the best option for your Spanish student.
Choosing the Middle School Curriculum
All of the Spanish Academy levels start with the basics – Hola, ¿cómo estás? Mi nombre es… The middle school program is no different. However, it does move at a different pace than the others. While the elementary program has fun exercises designed for those little learners, the middle school program takes a slightly more mature approach to language learning. However, it is not as intense as the high school program; it teaches some grammar but does not move as quickly through the material.
If you want your child to master the fundamentals of Spanish learning before jumping into grammar and advanced conversations, the middle school program would be the best option for you. The lessons move at about half the speed of the high school lessons, giving the student time to truly dominate the learned topics before moving on. The middle school course would give your child a strong foundation moving forward into high school. Additionally, your student will build their speaking confidence as they take their time learning correct pronunciation and phrasing with the teacher.
Choosing the High School Curriculum
Now, if your child is a fast learner or already has the Spanish basics down, you can opt for them to start with the high school program. Just like the middle school one, it starts with beginning topics but moves much quicker through grammar and vocabulary.
This program is designed for teenagers, but as previously stated, can be taken by any student needing a challenge or high school credit. If you are trying to decide between the middle and high school curriculum for your teen or pre-teen, it ultimately comes down to two factors: their previous Spanish experience (do they already have the basics?) and their learning style (would they do better in a fast-paced environment?).
Moving from the Middle School to High School Curriculum
Of course, if you start your student off with the middle school curriculum, it only lasts for a couple of years. Eventually, your student will need to move on to the high school curriculum. Before making the switch, there are a few things to consider.
Are credits important?
When moving from middle school to high school Spanish classes, credits need to be taken into consideration. Only the first two semesters of the middle school curriculum can be transferred to high school credit. In other words, middle school 1A and 1B are equal to high school 1A. After middle school 1B, the classes no longer transfer to high school credit because they do not follow the same path as the high school classes.
So, if you want your student to earn high school credit but start at the middle school level, the best plan of action would be to take only one year of middle school before transferring to high school. They would get the basics, master some fundamental skills, and then move forward with high school 1B at a quicker pace.
If earning credits is not as important, your student can complete all levels of the middle school curriculum and then test into the appropriate high school level. Keep in mind, though, that only one semester of high school credit (0.5 credits) will be given for the middle school level, no matter how many semesters they have completed.
Is your student ready?
Since a student can start the high school classes at any point, it is imperative that you consider your child’s learning method. Most students take 25-minute classes all the way through middle school, so the transition into 50-minute high school classes can be a big change (they can take 25-minute classes, but it would take longer to complete the program, and each lesson is designed for 50-minute segments). Additionally, the high school curriculum covers a lot of grammar – it has about double the content per lesson as the middle school program. Make sure your student is ready to advance and can handle the extra workload.
What is your language learning goal?
This goes hand-in-hand with the question about credits. What do you want your child to achieve through their Spanish classes? Is fluency your goal, or do you want them to earn 4 high school credits? Do they need Spanish to talk with their family members or to go on their college application? Whatever your goal is, we can work with you to help you meet it. However, it is something you should consider when choosing the best curriculum for your child.
If you are only interested in fluency, then there is no need to jump right into the high school curriculum (unless they are at an advanced level). If you want them to have several language credits for their college application, then it would be best to move into the high school program sooner rather than later.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a Spanish program for your learner, but nothing can beat actually experiencing a class. Try a FREE class today, and you can even explore your curriculum options further with a live teacher! Also, download a sample lesson from each curriculum to see what your child would actually be learning at each level. Get them speaking Spanish today!Read More
Education is the foundation for a bright future, which is what every parent wants to provide for their child. The Spanish Academy isn’t just for homeschooling families; this program is for anyone looking for an affordable, high-quality Spanish program.
Many homeschool programs may just offer a Spanish book for the parent to teach from or provide funds for a program like Rosetta Stone. But where is the native-speaking teacher to help you with the pronunciation and conversation? Now, schools may have a native speaker teaching Spanish classes – they may even have a language immersion program! However, your child will probably not get the one-on-one attention needed to thrive in a classroom setting. For that reason, many parents opt for private Spanish tutors – if they can afford them, that is. A lot of people even travel abroad to get that authentic learning experience in a personalized setting with a native speaker.
All of the affordable options seem to be lacking, but the authentic teaching experience may be out of your budget. What the Spanish Academy offers is the best of both worlds – authentic teaching with native teachers at a price you can afford! Let’s see what a year with the Spanish Academy looks like.
How Often Are the Classes?
Throughout the school year, most of our students take classes twice a week. This is the perfect balance between overwhelming a student with loads of information every day and not spending enough time studying for the information to stick. Let’s say the student studies on Mondays and Wednesdays. What about the other days of the week? Will the gap in learning affect their progress? The answer is no. After every class, the teacher provides homework which takes about the same amount of time as the class. For example, if the class is 50 minutes long, the homework will take about 50 minutes as well. That way, on days that the student does not have class, they are still exposed to the language. Our curriculum is also available on the student’s profile so they can print out sheets and practice when not in class.
By taking classes twice a week, the student will finish two semesters of Spanish study in one school year. Each semester is about 30 classes, or 4 months, giving them plenty of time to finish the two semesters from September to May.
While many of our students take classes twice a week, it is NOT mandatory. Remember, the classes are designed to fit your schedule and lifestyle. If you want your student to progress quickly, he or she can take 5 classes a week; if you would prefer less frequent classes, that is also completely fine. The schedule is completely up to you.
Do the Classes Have to be Completed in a Certain Time Frame?
Since our program fits your schedule, the classes do not have to be completed by a certain date. If you would like your school year to be a full 12 months instead September to May, that is completely fine. If you would like to start the school year in the summer to get a jump start, that is also fine. Basically, you make the schedule – the start date, end date, and weekly schedule are all up to you.
The only time the classes would ever expire is if you do not take classes for a full year. Other than that, there is no deadline for completion.
What is Covered in Each Class?
While we can’t go over every topic in this blog, I will briefly describe the general outline of a class.
Each class starts with a brief conversation to engage the student and build a relationship between the student and the teacher. As the student progresses, this conversation will have more and more Spanish components.
If there was homework assigned in the previous class, the teacher will take time to review it with the student and go over any questions they missed. This is a great time for the student to ask questions and clear up any confusion they may have regarding the vocabulary or grammar.
The teacher will also take a couple of minutes to review the previous lesson and make sure the student remembers the material. We make sure not to push the student too fast, and reviewing material from the last class is a great way to make sure the student is ready to move forward.
The teacher will pick up where they left off in the previous class. Each lesson has multiple components, starting with a presentation of the vocabulary/grammar followed by multiple exercises to practice the information.
While the goal is to complete a lesson in each class, that is not always the case as some lessons are more complex than others. The teacher moves at the student’s pace, making sure they are truly understanding the content.
Depending on the student, this part can take many forms, from a simple conversation to an interactive game. The goal is to apply what was learned and end the class with a fun review session. The teacher will then assign appropriate homework to be completed before the next class.
How Fast Does the Student Progress?
This is a complicated question as each student has a unique learning method and our teachers take their time to make sure each student truly knows the material before moving on. That being said, the students, in general, do progress more quickly than in traditional classroom settings because of two main factors.
In a normal classroom, the teacher is in charge of anywhere from 5-30 kids which makes it extremely difficult to help each one individually. Since our classes are one-on-one (or two-on-one in the case of paired classes), the student gets the teacher’s undivided attention. They can ask whatever question they need, review difficult topics, and get extra help where needed. This ensures the student moves towards fluency at a quicker rate than the students in a traditional classroom.
All of our teachers are native Spanish speakers. A lot of Spanish teachers in public schools are not native speakers, and therefore do not have the mastery of the language that a native speaker does. Having a native speaker as a teacher ensures you will hear correct pronunciation, accurate sentence structure, and authentic conversations. This helps the student progress quickly towards fluency because they are being immersed in the language and culture.
Now, those two factors help a lot with fluency, but fluency is an intangible thing. What exactly will the students be able to do after a year with the Spanish Academy?
Spanish Skills after One Year
If your student is studying at the high school level, they will be able to have basic conversations after one year of studying with HSA. They will be able to use the present, past, and future tenses as well as talk about places, wants, and questions, just to name a few.
The high school curriculum progresses the fastest in terms of vocabulary and grammar, but even if your student is studying at the preschool level, they will be able to participate in simple conversations after one year as well. For example, in their first year, they will learn about introductions, family, and foods to name a few topics. They will be able to ask and answer questions and understand basic conversations.
As you can see, the main focus of every level is getting the student to conversational fluency, which is something you will be able to see clearly after just 2 semesters with HSA. The difference in the curriculum options is that as the age level increases, there is more focus on grammar topics, and they progress more quickly through vocabulary topics. However, no matter the age or level, you can expect to see great progress in conversational skills after a year of study, if not after just one semester!
For more details on the different curriculums available, click here.
Are the Students Graded on Anything?
In each semester, or 30 classes, there are four quizzes and four exams. The student will receive a grade for each of these that will count towards the final semester grade. Quizzes are worth 40%, exams 50%, and homework (graded on completion, not accuracy) 10%. Before each quiz and exam, there will be ample review to ensure the student is thoroughly prepared.
In the case of the younger students, they will not be told they are taking an official exam. Instead, the teacher will treat it more as a review, so the student does not stress. It is just a way to check their progress and make sure they are picking up on vocabulary and grammar.
We do offer freestyle programs if you would like your student to focus strictly on conversation and not worry about grades.
Do the Parents Need to Be Involved in the Classes?
If you have a younger student, we do advise that the parent be around when the student is taking the class. This does not mean they have to sit in on the class (although they may if they prefer to do so), but if the student has any technical difficulty, it is always good to have an adult close by. At the middle school and high school level, the parents can be as involved as they would like to be.
When purchasing classes, the parent creates an account that has access to each student’s class, homework, and syllabus information. If the parent would like, they can track the student’s progress there, print out the materials, and practice with the student. However, if they prefer a hands-off approach, they can leave it completely up to the teacher.
There are periodical parent-teacher conferences to make sure the parent is aware of the student’s progress. These usually happen during the first or last couple minutes of class, and the parent is notified of the meeting with sufficient notice.
Again, our program is very flexible. If you would like to be completely involved in the program, that is definitely an option. If not, our teachers are more than capable of ensuring the student’s progress.
Now that we’ve looked at the different components of our Spanish classes, it’s time for you to experience it for yourself! Sign up for a FREE class today and see if it’s a good fit for your child. If you would like more information on the curriculum and specific topics your student will be taught, you can download a sample curriculum here. Give your student a bright future today!Read More
So, you’ve been taking Spanish class for a while now, and you’ve got the basics down. You feel confident enough to have your first real-life conversation with a native speaker. Everything starts off well – you introduce yourself with the correct phrases and ask the right questions. And then they ask you how long you have been studying Spanish and you can’t quite remember the word for ‘ago.’ You start stumbling over your words, not knowing how to continue, and all your newfound confidence slowly wanes.
Have you been there? Have you ever just needed a moment in a conversation to collect your thoughts, remember the correct translation of that tricky word, or recall how to conjugate irregular verbs in the past tense? I have. Oh, I have been in that situation too many times to count. Even now, as a fluent Spanish speaker, I still have moments where I get confused between Spanish and English, or a particular tense trips me up (yes, this happens to me in both languages now). Are we destined to always stumble over our words while we think of the correct way to express ourselves? The answer is no. There is a trick I’ve learned over the years that can give you those extra couple seconds you need to remember the past tense of decir in the ‘usted’ form.
Have you ever noticed how native speakers – of any language – pause naturally to think about what they want to say? It is usually accompanied by a transition word to let the other person know that they just need a moment to gather their thoughts. For example, how many times do you use ‘uhm’ or ‘like’ in a conversation as a transition word between sentences? If you’re anything like me, it would be a lot. Very few people can hold a conversation flawlessly without using these little words to help them along. The only issue is…they aren’t international.
There are some words that take a lot of work to switch into our second (or third or fourth) language because they are second nature. For me, the hardest phrase to translate was ‘I mean….’ I would be speaking fluent Spanish and out of nowhere, I would stick an ‘I mean’ into my sentence. I have heard other native English speakers trip up of words like ‘alright,’ ‘like,’ and even ‘uhm.’ If your goal is fluency in Spanish, then these words can be a small but impending obstacle. However, I have put together a list of phrases that I have learned to use as transitional words to give me some extra time to think and put together my thoughts in my second language.
Let’s start simple. ‘Uhm.’ I can’t even tell you how many times I use this word in a day. We use it when we’re thinking, as a pause, when we don’t understand, etc. It is such a common word that it may seem weird that it is not universal. Of course, if you say ‘uhm’ while speaking Spanish, you will be understood, no question. However, you may start to notice that native Spanish speakers say it a little different.
Instead of ‘uhm,’ it’s more of an em sound. Here are some examples to look at:
“Em…la verdad no sé.”
“Uhm…honestly, I don’t know.”
“Él habló sobre, em, el tema de desigualdad.”
“He talked about, uhm, the topic of inequality.”
So, we started simple. This one is just a change in pronunciation. Let’s look at another simple word
Since English has become the international language of business, many English words have infiltrated various languages, especially Spanish. This means that Spanish speakers understand and even use this word, ‘okay,’ but it is not as common as the Spanish equivalents – and let me tell you, there are many. If it is your goal to become fluent in Spanish, it is always good to know the correct way to say things in Spanish and not just use a common English word in its place.
Although there are many ways to say ‘okay,’ we are going to look at one that is incredibly popular in Latin America – va. It can actually be used in two main ways. The first would be short for the word for vale, which (also) means okay. The second way is actually short for the word true, verdad, and is used at the end of sentences. Let’s take a look:
“Necesito que llegues a las 8 en punto.” “Ah, va. Está bien. Allí estaré.”
“I need you to be there at 8 sharp.” “Ah, okay. That’s fine. I’ll be there.”
“Tengo que estar allí a las 8, ¿va?”
“I have to be there at 8, right?”
Now, for the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on the first use. It is normally used as a response to someone to express your understanding and agreement, but you can also use it to give you some time to process what that person said before responding.
This transition word is va, pronounced more as a ‘ba’ than a ‘va.’ Although the correct pronunciation would be with a ‘v’ sound, the majority of people pronounce the ‘v’ and the ‘b’ as a combination of the two sounds, leaning more towards the ‘b’ sound. You probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between botar and votar based on pronunciation alone. You would have to use context clues to know which word is being spoken.
“Well, I’m not sure.” How would you translate this sentence to Spanish? What about, Bien, no estoy seguro. Unfortunately, that would be incorrect. Although ‘well’ does often translate to ‘bien,’ it has a completely different translation when used as an interjection. The correct word to use would then be pues. Let’s look at some more examples:
Pues, creo que estás equivocado.
Well, I think you’re mistaken.
Pues, necesito terminar aquí primero. Dame 5 minutos.
Well, I need to finish up here first. Give me 5 minutes.
If you are unsure of how to respond to someone, the word pues can give you that little extra time you need to form your response without making it seem like you are struggling.
Have you ever been in the middle of a great conversation and then been interrupted? In English, we usually return to the previous conversation by saying ‘anyways…’ If you are unsure of how to use this word in Spanish, you may be stuck frantically racking your brain for a way to return to that great conversation you were having – as I have many times. Don’t worry, though! This short, simple phrase will convey that you would like to return to the conversation topic that you were involved in before the interruption: pues sí.
This phrase literally means ‘well yes’ or ‘so yes,’ but it would be most accurately translated colloquially as pues sí. Let’s imagine you’re talking with a friend at a café, and another friend stops by to greet you.
“¡Qué gusto verte otra vez! Hablamos después. ¡Adiós! Perdón, Alex. Pues sí…”
“It was so great to see you again! We’ll talk later. Bye! Sorry about that, Alex. Anyways
Maybe you are talking to someone outside and see a car run a red light, almost causing an accident:
“¡Ay, Dios mío! Qué miedo. La gente debe ser más cuidadosa. Pues sí…”
“Oh my gosh! That was so scary. People need to be more careful. Anyways…”
No matter the situation, pues sí is your key phrase to get you back into the conversation you were having – and it’s the perfect excuse for a pause to collect your thoughts as you switch gears back into the previous topic.
For a long time, I thought the English word ‘alright’ had no appropriate translation. When I was teaching my classes in Spanish, I would always change topics by saying ‘alright’ in English. I knew it sounded strange, an English interjection in the middle of Spanish conversation, but I was stumped by how to correctly express myself in Spanish. After listening closely to Spanish conversations, however, I realized that there is such a word in Spanish – bueno.
Yes, yes, bueno does mean ‘good.’ As you have seen with these transition words, they often have multiple meanings. Part of the beauty of learning a language is discovering all the different ways you can use one small word.
“Hacer ejercicio es bueno para la salud.”
“Exercising is good for your health.”
“Tenemos buenos recuerdos de ese lugar.”
“We have good memories of that place.”
“Bueno. Empecemos en la página 28.”
“Alright. Let’s start on page 28.”
As you can see with the last example, when used at the beginning of a sentence as an interjection, bueno means ‘alright.’ You can use it to wrap up one topic and start another – or as a way to quickly organize your thoughts before starting a new subject of conversation.
It’s just that…
This next transition phrase is by no means official, but it is extremely common in informal conversation. Have you ever found yourself saying phrases like ‘it’s just that…’ or ‘it’s like…’ to introduce an explanation or reasoning to something? There is often a pause following these phrases as we figure out how to best express ourselves. Guess what? There’s a similar phrase in Spanish: es que.
This literally translates as ‘it’s that…’ which is very similar to the English counterparts. You will hear this very often as native Spanish speakers organize their thoughts or think of how to better explain something. It’s time for you to try it out as well if you need some extra time to form your sentence in Spanish.
“Es que…necesito averiguar que haya tiempo para esa actividad.”
“It’s just that…I need to check that there’s time for that activity.”
“Es que…la razón por la cual dije eso es porque no quise ofender a nadie.”
“It’s just that…the reason I said that is because I didn’t want to offend anyone.”
This phrase often has no connection to the following sentence but is just used as a filler while the speaker decides what they want to say. This makes it perfect for all you Spanish learners – you can use this trick to sound just like a native speaker while you search your memory for those tricky rules about the subjunctive tense.
We all have trademark phrases that we use way too often. One of those phrases for me is ‘I mean…’ This was made blindingly obvious to me as it came out in English all the time while speaking Spanish with my husband. While he eventually understood what I intended to say, it frustrated me that I was lacking a key phrase in Spanish.
The word ‘mean’ (used to clarify what you are saying) does not have a direct translation in Spanish, which makes it difficult for those of us who use it all the time in English! However, there are other ways to express the same thing. Let’s look at some examples:
“Reunámonos el viernes. Digo, el sábado.”
“Let’s meet up on Friday. I mean, Saturday.”
“Tu correo dice que el total es $110. ¿Es correcto?” “Oh, perdón. Quise decir $100.”
“Your email says the total is $110. Is that correct?” “Oh, sorry. I meant $100.”
As you can see from these examples, the translation for ‘I mean’ would be digo, or ‘I say.’ However, if you want to use it in the past as ‘I meant,’ it would be quise decir, or ‘I wanted to say.’
Both phrases are helpful to know, but in reference to transition words, digo is definitely one of the keywords to learn. When speaking our native language, we can mix up our words and accidentally say the wrong thing. This becomes all the more probable when speaking another language, which is why this small word will help clear up confusion quickly and effortlessly.
In other words…
Speaking of clarifying things, there is another great phrase that is used to reword something: ‘o sea.’ This can be used to reword what you have just said or to put what someone else said into your own words to ensure you have understood them. Although this looks like ‘Oh sea’ in English, the pronunciation is pretty different. The ‘o’ is the same, but the ‘sea’ is pronounced ‘say-ah.’
This phrase is a great way to give yourself another chance at explaining something or to be sure that you understand what is being said in the conversation without saying no entiendo. It literally translates to ‘or it is,’ but we would say ‘in other words’ in English. You can use the phrase ‘en otras palabras,’ but ‘o sea’ is much more common in informal conversations, and it is less of a mouthful.
“Nos falta mucho para terminar. O sea que tendremos que trabajar este fin de semana.”
“We still have a lot to do to finish. In other words, we’ll have to work this weekend.”
“Debes usar esos otros marcadores para escribir en el pizarrón.” “O sea que ¿este es un marcador permanente?”
“You must use those other markers to write on the board.” “In other words, this is a permanent marker?”
As you can see in the last example, another possible translation for o sea can be ‘mean.’ We could have translated that part as “You mean this is a permanent marker?” and it would have the same effect. Since ‘mean’ does not directly translate to Spanish, you can use a couple of these transition phrases to express yourself – just make sure you use digo only when you’re clarify something you personally said.
The thing is that…
This phrase can be literally translated to la cosa es que, but there is another phrase that is very unique. I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to translate it to English, and the phrase ‘the thing is that’ is the closest I could think of, but it doesn’t quite do it justice. Fíjate que (or fíjese que in the ‘usted’ form) literally means ‘pay attention’ or ‘notice’ something. It is in the command form, which basically tells your audience ‘listen up!’ However, in context, it has a much softer voice. It has actually become notorious as the introduction to excuses!
“Fíjese que mi hermanita botó agua en mi tarea y por eso no la traje.”
“The thing is that my little sister spilled water on my homework, and that’s why I didn’t bring it.”
“¿Ya revisaste los documentos?” “Fíjate que no. No he tenido tiempo.”
“Did you check the documents yet?” “The thing is that no, I haven’t had time.”
As you can see, colloquially, fíjate is often used to introduce bad news or news in general. This is also one of those great examples of a word that has no good translation in English – you can understand the meaning but there is no word that truly captivates its essence in the English language.
This last transition word is just as versatile as the rest – ‘look.’ No, we are not talking about actually looking at something but the interjection. “Look, I think we should start over.” We are not asking someone to physically look at something, but instead, we are introducing an idea or a solution. Either way, the translation would be the same in Spanish – mirar can be both a verb and a transition word.
The most common form of mirar that I have heard as a transition word is mirá, which is the command form of ‘vos.’ Depending on what country you are in, this form may also be popular. If you are unsure, you can always use the ‘tú’ form, which would be mira (accent on the ‘i’ instead of the ‘a’). You can even use the ‘usted’ of mirar is the occasion calls for it: mire.
“Mirá, creo que debemos rehacer esta parte aquí.
“Look, I think we should redo this part here.”
“Mira, hagamos un plan.”
“Look, let’s make a plan.”
“Mire, necesito ayuda con estos documentos. ¿Me los puede autorizar?”
Look, I need help with these documents. Could you authorize them for me?
No matter the form you use, this word is a great way to introduce ideas and give you some extra time to organize your sentence in Spanish.
That was a lot of information! I hope these words helped your Spanish conversation skills – try using them one at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed! Also, listen for these words in Spanish conversations, movies, and songs. Now that you are familiar with them, you’ll notice them and hear more of their uses! Don’t be surprised if you hear combinations of these words, such as mirá pues, pues, fíjate que, or bueno pues. This is just a short guide to all the nuances of Spanish transition words! Don’t forget to practice them with your Spanish teacher in class, and feel free to ask them any questions you may have. ¡Hasta la próxima!Read More
Raise your hand if you have a busy schedule. Yeah. That’s what I thought. So many of us have filled our schedules to the brim – not always voluntarily. As a working mother with a couple of side jobs, I completely understand having a busy schedule. However, I am a language addict. Every time I meet someone from a different country, I want to learn their language. I currently have nine languages on my practice list. Nine! To be fair, though, I am only working consistently on two – German and Chinese. Still, that is a lot to put on an already overflowing plate. How does one find time to study another language?
Before we talk about making time, we need to establish what language is the most practical to learn. Let’s be honest. If we are already extremely busy, why waste precious time on a language that we will hardly ever use? I would like to make a strong case for learning Spanish. If you would like a more extensive list of why Spanish is the best language to learn, click here. For now, I will just leave you with this – Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. There is no need to worry about never using Spanish, as there are about 500 million native speakers worldwide – about 100 million more than native English speakers.
So, we’ve decided that learning Spanish is worth the time and effort. How much effort are we talking about, though? If you are serious about learning Spanish, you will need to be consistent in your study habits. You cannot expect to make progress if you think about Spanish once every month. When you learn a language, you must actually retrain your brain how to think about things. It requires consistency and repetition. However, it does not require hours of extensive study each week. There are several ways that you can study on-the-go or for just a couple of minutes a day. Everyone’s schedule looks different, so I will leave you with several different ideas that you can choose from.
This is probably the easiest way to fit Spanish into your crazy schedule because you can dedicate as much (or as little) time as you would like to your studies. Most of the best apps have a feature where you can determine what your daily goal is – 5, 10, or even 20 minutes. They keep track of your progress, reward your dedication, and remind you when some of your vocabulary words have become weak. My personal favorite is Memrise, but there are several other excellent apps to learn Spanish on the go. The application Drops actually limits you to only 5 minutes of learning per day, so you don’t overwhelm yourself with vocabulary.
In this technological age, most people don’t leave the house without their phone. We depend on our phones for everything – directions, transportation, games – which ensures that it is always with us. Instead of browsing Instagram the next time you look at your phone, start with learning a bit of Spanish. Find a time you have available every day that you can dedicate five minutes to studying. For example, I often study on the bus or in an Uber. However, if I want to use the pronunciation feature, I prefer to be alone. I have two 15-minute breaks at work, and I usually dedicate one full break to language learning with an application. So, find a couple of minutes in your daily schedule that you can spend on your phone – doing something productive instead of browsing social media.
2. Surround Yourself with Language
Where do you spend most of your time? Maybe you often find yourself in the kitchen, your cubicle at work, or perhaps even your car. Wherever that place is, look up the vocabulary for the objects that surround you and make small labels. These can be either handwritten or typed out, whatever works best for you. Tape the labels onto each object so that every time you use that item or walk past it, you see the word. This will help you relate that object to the word in Spanish.
A big step in language learning is being able to immediately relate an object to its corresponding word in the target language instead of having to translate it in your mind. Basically, when you start learning Spanish, you start by thinking about what you want to say in English, translating it to Spanish, then producing it. The goal is to eliminate any English go straight to Spanish. To get to that point, you need to repeatedly see the object and connect it to the Spanish word, which is where our labels come in; every time you use a labeled object, you will be reminded of its Spanish name. This will create new pathways in your brain and rewire it to associate objects immediately with their Spanish names.
Once you’ve moved past objects and would like to start forming sentences, you can do the same thing. For example, once you’ve learned the words ‘sartén, olla, and estufa,’ you can label those objects with phrases like ‘yo uso el sartén y la olla para cocinar en la estufa.’ This method may take a bit of time to get started, but you will be learning Spanish while doing your daily tasks, which will save you a lot of time.
3. You May Say I’m a Dreamer
Now, this one may sound a bit crazy, but it has greatly helped my progress in various languages. Talk to yourself in Spanish! Whatever you are thinking about, try to express it in Spanish. Instead of stumbling over words and phrases when you are in an actual conversation, practice with yourself first to make sure the words flow!
I studied Spanish for several years, but I just could not speak it for the life of me. I traveled to Peru, thinking I could speak fluent Spanish, but as it turns out, I could barely get a few sentences out. There is a big gap between understanding a language and actually being able to reproduce it – those are even two different types of fluency. So, to help me get used to thinking in Spanish and quickly forming sentences, I tried to think in Spanish, and I spoke out loud at times to make sure I could pronounce what I was imagining. I specifically remember one morning at home. I was doing laundry and talking to myself in Spanish. If you had seen me, you may have thought I was a bit on the crazy side, but this really helped me when there were no native Spanish speakers around to talk to. You can still flex those speaking muscles by yourself while doing one of the million tasks you have for the day.
If you spend most of your day around other people, I wouldn’t recommend speaking out loud. However, you can still work on thinking in Spanish. Try and remember how to say a certain phrase in Spanish that you just said to your coworker. Look up some words if you need to. Practice it in your head. Remember, learning a new language is retraining your brain, and training takes consistent practice.
4. Classes with a Native Speaker
All of these previous choices do not give you the ability to actually converse with a native speaker. They are great tools to supplement but to reach fluency you need to actually communicate with someone else who speaks the language. However, that would involve hours of classes a week, loads of money, and lots of travel time to get to the class. What if I told you there was a way to learn Spanish wherever you are (in your home, at a café, on your lunch break) for a fraction of what normal private tutors charge. It is possible!
Here at Spanish Academy, we offer online Spanish classes at a cost you can afford. If you don’t believe me, click here or here to see our price comparisons with some of the other leading companies. Our company is located in Guatemala, so all of our teachers are certified, native Spanish speakers. That means that instead of relying on the conversations you have with yourself, you can ask someone who actually speaks Spanish for some help with your pronunciation and sentence formation.
Even if you have a crazy schedule and only have a half hour free during your lunch break, you can take a class then. Our flexible scheduling ensures that you get to take a class at the best time of day for you. You can even choose from over 50 teachers to find one that best suits your personality and learning needs. As I have learned, nothing beats immersing yourself in the language. I have done all of the above practice habits and they have definitely helped, but they are more of a supplement to my real-life conversations with a native speaker.
Now it’s up to you. You have four methods to chose from to make sure you fit learning Spanish into your busy schedule. You can’t use the excuse that you’re too busy anymore! Choose which of these options above would be best for you…or do them all! Take a Free Class with us today to see how our program can meet your specific needs and start supplementing with the other methods mentions. You’ll be speaking Spanish before you know it! ¡Estarás hablando en español antes de lo que piensas!
If you are looking to get a good handle on Spanish in just a short amount of time, check out our video and accompanying PDF!
It’s 2019. The internet has given us so many more connections than we ever dreamed possible. News travels the globe in just minutes. We can interact with people from other countries and cultures…if we have a common language. Even though English has become the international language, knowing only English can greatly inhibit you in the global community. If you are thinking of learning a second language, check out these top 6 reasons to start with Spanish!
1. Second Most Spoken Language
You may be surprised by this – a lot of people think that Spanish isn’t that common worldwide. However, in terms of native speakers, Spanish ranks number two as the most spoken language in the world.
The first is Chinese, of course, with about 1.2 billion native speakers, or 15.6% of the world population. Spanish takes the silver with 400 million native speakers, or 5.2% of the population. In third place, we have English, at 360 million native speakers, or 4.7%.
If we count the number of non-native speakers, English, being the international language of business and commerce, comes in at a close second with almost a billion speakers. Spanish is then bumped down to number 4, with 527 million native and non-native speakers.
If you are trying to pick a language to learn to be able to communicate with a large portion of the population, it would make sense to learn either Chinese or Spanish. Spanish, however, has something that gives it a special draw.
2. Category 1 Language
This special draw comes in how easy it is to learn as a native English speaker. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has created a ranking system to show how long it would take a native English speaker to reach a proficiency level in each language.
Category 1 languages are closely related to English and take about 575-600 hours to reach proficiency. Before you say that’s a lot of time, Category 5 languages, such as Chinese and Arabic, take about 2200 hours to reach proficiency! Yeah – let’s go back to those first languages that take a quarter of the time to learn.
In this first category we see languages such as French, Italian, and – yup, you guessed it – Spanish. As someone who learned Spanish and has moved on to other languages, I can attest to this rating. The alphabet, sentence structure, and basic grammar are very similar to English. Even the vocabulary is sometimes so comparable that I get confused about whether I’m using the English or Spanish spelling. I often must stop and think about which language I’m using because a large portion of the vocabulary is either the same (like with neutral – neutral) or extremely close in spelling and pronunciation (like with direction – dirección).
When I first started learning Spanish, I was amazed by how much I actually understood – I could make out vocabulary I had never learned just because of its similarity to English.
Now, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. There are some difficult aspects to any language. However, if we compare some of the other world languages, Spanish starts to look a lot easier – even with that tricky subjunctive tense and all those verb conjugations.
3. Growing Number of Spanish Speakers in the US
So we’ve established that Spanish is one of the most common languages in the world and that it is fairly easy to learn. But … why should you decide to learn it over, let’s say, Dutch or Portuguese (which also fall into Category 1)?
Well, it’s close to home. The vast majority of the countries in North and South America speaks Spanish. It’s not like Spanish is spoken only in a remote country on the other side of the world. No. It is spoken in over a dozen countries that neighbor the US, and the number of speakers in the US is growing each year.
As of 2015, there were 53 million Spanish speakers in the United States alone. That’s 16.5% of the population. In 2017, Hispanics accounted for over 18% of the population, and that number is expected to increase by 1% every 5 years.
Spanish is all around us. It makes sense logically to learn Spanish as a second language so that we can communicate with 18% of our country’s population. Why spend hundreds of hours learning a foreign language you may never use when Spanish is becoming so prevalent right here in our own country?
4. Travel Options
Of course, I know that not everyone wants to stay in the States. I completely understand that – I started traveling at 16! For me, speaking at least a little bit of the native language is so important – not only to show respect but to survive in that country and be able to talk with the locals. It can be really frustrating to be in a foreign country and not be able to ask for what you need or have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Trust me. I’ve been there.
So, you may be in a similar situation, looking to learn a second language for travel purposes. I’m actually doing the same right now – I love Korean culture, so I am learning the language in hopes that I make it to South Korea someday! The downside of my language choice, however, is that only two countries speak the language – my travel options are quite limited.
However, there are over 20 countries and territories that speak Spanish worldwide – there’s even a country in Africa that speaks Spanish! Therefore, if you are itching to see the world, start learning some Spanish! It will take you to North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa! Whether you are traveling for work, pleasure, or education, speaking Spanish gives you so many more choices on where to go.
5. A Whole New World
Or should I say ‘worlds.’ Since there are so many places that speak Spanish around the world, there is no one specific culture that comes with the language. If you took Spanish in school, you may have learned a bit about Mexican culture, with Day of the Dead and Cinco de Mayo. However, there are well over a dozen other countries and territories that speak Spanish. If you decide to take the plunge and learn this language, you will gain access to numerous cultures. Remember learning Spanish isn’t just about learning vocabulary and grammar – it’s so much more.
“A different language is a different vision of life.”– Federico Fellini
One of the most interesting things about being bilingual is how I change when I speak each language. The way I express myself, how I think about things, how I communicate – it all changes depending on the language I’m speaking. Why? Because language is so intertwined with the culture that you cannot learn one without the other. It is a beautiful experience!
Now, I live and work in Guatemala, so I learned (and am still learning) about the Guatemalan culture specifically. However, I often speak Spanish with people from other countries, which gives me the opportunity to learn about even more cultures that speak Spanish. I could learn about these countries and their cultures in a classroom at school, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Speaking the language of the country gives us so much more insight into the inner-workings of the culture. Take slang for example. There are about 20 different ways to say ‘how are you’ or ‘what’s up’ in Spanish – it all depends on the region. By learning some phrases from each country, you get a glimpse of how the people think and interact with each other, which is something a textbook could never teach you.
6. More Opportunities
Learning any language can open the door to a myriad of opportunities. The moment you say you know a language, people start to depend on you for their communication needs. This makes you that much more valuable in the workplace, especially in this era of technology where everyone – no matter what language they speak – wants to stay connected.
We are a global community, which means we need to find ways to bridge the communication gap. By speaking Spanish, you can connect with the 400 million native speakers or over 100 million people who speak Spanish as a second language. Let me tell you – it is immensely rewarding to meet someone and communicate with them in our mutual second language – Spanish. It is actually more common than you think!
The opportunities given to you by knowing a second language are endless. You can work abroad, go to school in a Spanish-speaking country, volunteer and truly connect with the community…and the list goes on and on. Learning Spanish is the perfect stepping block to building the future you want.
Alright. I’ve given you several great reasons to learn Spanish. Now go start learning! But…how, you ask? Well, there’s no search for a private tutor near you because we offer live, tailored classes online right in the comfort of your own home! Nothing beats having an experienced native Spanish speaker teach you the ins and outs of the language. Try a free trial class and start changing your future today!
Learning a new language can be daunting – the pronunciation, the grammar, the slang, the social nuances. Even when it’s a category 1 language like Spanish, the learning process can be quite intimidating, especially when you don’t know how to start.
There were two main things that held me back several years when learning Spanish: fear of making mistakes and lack of exposure. Now, I was exposed to Spanish as young as 5 years old, and I took classes and used audio books for about 6 years in middle school and high school. One year before I graduated, I took a trip to Peru. I was expected to be a translator since I was at the top of my Spanish class, but when I got there it was a complete shock. I did not understand one. Single. Word. Then, a few years later, I went to Guatemala and truly focused on my Spanish. Once I committed myself to Spanish immersion and practice with native speakers, I was holding conversations after one month and translating for my friends by 4 months. Now, complete fluency took a few years more, but that had to do more with learning the local jargon and perfecting the dreaded subjunctive. In those first months though, I did not take one single Spanish class. So, how was I able to learn so quickly? Well, I’ve put together some important points that helped me learn Spanish as a beginner. Hopefully, they will be of service to you as well!
1. Language Journal
I’m a visual learner. Still to this day, if I learn a new Spanish word, I cannot remember or reproduce it until I see it written. If you’re a visual learner like me, keeping a language journal is critical to the learning process. You can write down new words, make connections between them, study sentence structure….and the list goes on. Even if you’re not a visual learner, a language journal is still a great idea when learning Spanish as a beginner. You can write down new words you hear in a conversation or in a movie, mark down the pronunciation, and return to your notes at later times to keep practicing.
When learning a language, you are teaching your brain to think in a completely different way. Up until now, it has always thought and used English (unless English is not your first language!). In order to work towards Spanish fluency, your brain needs to create new pathways; it’s like digging a riverbed in a desert. At first, it will be extremely difficult, but with practice and repetition, the water will start flowing with ease. That’s where the journal comes in. You can’t expect yourself to remember every word you hear in class or in a conversation – you need reinforcement. With the language journal, you can write things down how you best understand and remember them. You can refer to your notes to practice or if you forget a word that’s on the tip of your tongue. It’s also extremely useful to have a small language journal to carry with you if you know you’re going to be situations that require Spanish conversation. I can tell you from personal experience that a language journal can be a lifesaver when you start learning Spanish as a beginner.
Like I said before, lack of exposure held me back from Spanish fluency for 6 years. 6 years! When I had accurate exposure to the Spanish language, I was conversing in months. Exposure to the language is absolutely essential when learning Spanish as a beginner, whether you’re 5 or 95! It may seem absolutely overwhelming initially, but remember what I said about building riverbeds in our brain? At first, the water trickles, but with practice, it will soon start flowing.
Taking Spanish classes with a native English speaker may seem easier for you, but in the end, it will cost you – possibly even 6 years! Take the leap. Expose yourself to the Spanish language. This doesn’t necessarily mean traveling to Latin America and completely immersing yourself in the culture and language (Although, if you get the chance, I highly recommend it). There are plenty of opportunities for exposure right where you are.
- Movies and Television – You may think that it’s not possible to learn a language this way, but I have met so many people who learned to speak English just by watching movies and TV shows like ‘Friends.’ It takes commitment, but it’s possible! This is a great way to get Spanish exposure at no extra cost, especially if you have young learners. Netflix is a great option as well because you can choose from shows in Spanish (like Narcos or Reina del Flow) and shows that have a mix of English and Spanish, or ‘Spanglish’ (Jane the Virgin, One Day at a Time). Subtitles are another great tool to increase your Spanish exposure and comprehension. Learn more about how to use them to learn Spanish as a beginner here.
- Community – About 51 million people speak Spanish in the United States. Get out and make some friends! I know it can be awkward to start speaking your second language with a native speaker – trust me, I avoided it for a very long time. However, nothing can help you more than taking that step and initiating conversation with a native speaker.
- Online Classes – Here at Spanish Academy, we offer high-quality online Spanish classes to students of all ages around over the world. These classes are unique because they are taught by native speakers whose goal is to improve your Spanish fluency. You get great exposure to the language, a personal tutor to answer all your questions, and reinforcement materials. Instead of traveling all the way to Latin America, you can get the same benefits right in the comfort of your own home. Try a Free Class today to see if it’s a right fit for you!
So you have your vocabulary words written in your handy-dandy notebook. You increased your exposure to the language using one of the suggestions above. Now comes the scary part. Actually talking. I avoided conversing in Spanish for such a long time, thinking I wasn’t ready yet. Turns out, it was what I needed most of all. If you just do bookwork and never practice speaking, you’ll never be ready to hold a conversation. As uncomfortable as it may be, you need to start conversations in Spanish even as a beginner. In my personal experience, many native Spanish speakers wanted to speak English with me so they could practice. However, when I expressed my desire to learn and improve my Spanish, they were more than happy to help me. I am forever grateful to them for their patience as they listened to me stumble through sentences and repeated themselves various times until I understood what they were saying. Find someone you feel comfortable with (possibly even with a personal instructor from Spanish Academy) and ask to practice your Spanish with them.
Of course, learning a language doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Everyone learns in a unique way at their own speed. You will make mistakes – I still do, in both languages! However, if you are persistent in learning Spanish and use the right tools, you will progress towards fluency. Don’t get frustrated!
Also, you will be surprised at how patient people are when you try to speak to them in their native language. When I was learning Spanish as a beginner, I was afraid they would get frustrated or not understand me. However, it was quite the contrary. The people around me understood what I was trying to say and helped me express myself in a more natural way. They were incredibly forgiving and so delighted that I was making an effort to communicate with them in Spanish.
‘La práctica hace al maestro.’ Practice makes perfect. This is especially true when talking about learning a language and creating those pathways in your brain. The more you practice, the easier Spanish will come. One great tool I can recommend to learn Spanish as a beginner is language apps. They aren’t the same as having your own Spanish teacher, but they are a great way to reinforce what you are learning in class or what you heard in your Spanish conversations. Check out our top 4 apps of 2019, and pick which one would best for your language needs. For complete beginners, I would recommend Drops.
To learn Spanish as a beginner, you need to make sure you have some sort of exposure to Spanish every day, whether that be through apps, TV, conversations, or classes. Taking a class here and there or using Duolingo once a month will not get you to fluency. Keep practicing diligently, and you will see impressive results in as little as a few months!
To learn more about our Spanish program and the classes we offer, click here. If you want to know why our method works, check out this blog, which also explains more about the way our brains function. And, of course, don’t forget to sign up for a free class today! When learning Spanish as a beginner, it really helps to have a native speaker help you through the process and answer all your questions. Choose your personal instructor from our 60+ teachers to guide you on the path towards Spanish fluency. ¡Empieza hoy!