Do you love setting goals, taking ownership of your language learning and building a following? You need to keep a language journal. A simple record of your progress in Spanish class can be the difference between attending class and rocking it.
Even if the thought of a daily journal doesn’t appeal to you, there is a way to make this practice work for you. HSA wants to see you succeed, so here is a quick guide to help you set up and use your new language journal.
Designate, Decorate and Design your Journal
Your journal practice should be easy and fun, so keep your habits in mind. Think of how you record items for yourself or your work and let that inform your journal. Don’t force yourself into something new; keep what you like at the forefront to help you stay active in your practice.
Here are three fun choices:
Invest in a notebook with a beautiful cover, nice heavy paper and maybe even a bonus like pre-written dates, room for images or a calendar at the top. Get yourself a nice pen you love to write with and some good pencils for extra notes. If you live for office supplies, go for highlighters, organizational tabs or stickers to use as you like.
If you live to draw or paint, go for an unlined book or choose a large pad that can handle heavy ink, charcoal or paint. Turn your entries into comics, illustrated images or fun doodles to help you record what you want to save.
A Journal App
Note taking apps have become more popular because they help people do more than write; they can add photos, audio, and video to what they want to remember. If you love music, you can record live performances in Spanish and notes about where you heard it, your favorite lyrics or what the song reminded you of as you listened. If you live on Instagram, you can recreate your posts in your journal and caption them in Spanish.
For phone journals, you can try several apps. Google Keep is good for lists and adding images. Penzu is an online, private diary you can access from your phone and can share with a teacher. Microsoft OneNote is a nice choice for longer entries with additional media attached.
Find one you like and keep it on your home screen to remind you to update it often.
A Published Blog
A blog is a set of articles written in first-person about your real progress as a Spanish learner. It’s an interesting twist on a journal because with this option you can gain followers and get comments on your writing.
Not for the faint of heart, a blog can be a great tool, but only if you’re prepared for it. It requires maintenance, special tools to block spammers and regular updates. Good bloggers post at least once a week and only fully-developed, polished pieces.
The benefit of publishing your journey is that you can interact with readers. You can ask for comments on a theme, (in Spanish), share it with a classmate and even use it to share other parts of your life. Be ready for the critics and enjoy the fans. If it’s your goal to improve as a writer, a blog is a great place to start.
What to Write and Why
You have your journal of choice. Now, you need to write something.
The more organized learner will want to create sections within their journal. They can Reflections on class, Vocabulary, Progress and Beyond. If you aren’t much for organizing or subsections, use these ideas to get you started.
The reflections section is to help you cement in what you learned at your last lesson. The idea is to find a place to journal right after class and then note down things you remember. Get out your workbook or class notes to help you along. What joke did the teacher make about a certain phrase? If in a classroom setting, which classmate had the best pronunciation that day? Did you speak up in class or hide in the back?
Don’t judge yourself here. Record what happened so you can look for patterns. Maybe you’re more open to language lessons on Tuesdays rather than Fridays or you perform well in class if you switch out your morning coffee for water. It’s easier to notice these things if you keep a record of your own experience.
Vocabulary is where you can take note of words to ask your teacher about, words you’ve heard but don’t understand or confuse with similar words. This is also a great place to practice verb conjugations and tenses. Building words is a valid practice that many language experts recommend, so add it to your regular entries.
Track Your Progress
Personal progress is an important section. This is where you can set goals for yourself like Order an entire meal in Spanish or Joke to José over the phone. If you write your goals down, you are much more likely to strive for them. When you achieve one, write about it. Show yourself that you can speak Spanish. Remember, confidence is half the battle – build it with your journal.
The beyond section is where you can go further than the learning in class. Translate a song to or from Spanish and record yourself singing it. Illustrate vocabulary words into a beautiful story. Do anything you like that helps you stay excited about Spanish.
The Benefits of a Language Journal
Journalling alone is great – it helps you keep a clear head, organize your thoughts, develop ideas. However, a language journal has a laser focus that empowers you in your language acquisition.
- It helps you remember new words to ask your teacher about or to look up later. This builds your vocabulary faster and easier.
- Take notes on what kind of exercises are your favorites and help you remember. When you analyze these reflections you will see a record of your learning style. Once you have a written record of what works best for you; songs, readings or something else – you know how to practice on your own and optimize your homework time.
- Your journal is a physical reminder of everything you learned in class. When you have off days and feel frustrated, you can look back at all of your accomplishments. That’s enough to motivate you on any day.
- Record your mistakes. This sounds negative, but it’s an effective way to avoid repeating the same mistake over and over. If you throw an s into deporte or switch the number tres with trece, write it down. Once you record that mistake and see it on paper, you’re less likely to make that flub again.
No matter how you keep a language journal, the key is to use it in a way that feels natural and helpful. Make it fun, keep it personal and a true expression of your linguistic journey.
Do you have a great language journal? Please comment below and tell us how it’s helped you in your journey to learn a foreign language.Read More
Conversation is a great way to practice the skills learned in a Spanish language class, but many kids switch back to their native English the moment class is over. How can you keep them practicing beyond the classroom?
Conversation Techniques with the Textbook
A straightforward way to show your child you want him or her to speak Spanish with you is to get out the book and review. Here are quick review techniques that your kids can use anytime.
1. Turn Exercises into Quizzes
This one lets you take a short, five-question practice section about a topic and use it as a quick, verbal check. Find a section where your son or daughter filled in the blank for their vocabulary, then turn each one into a question. For example, if your child is studying nouns for objects around the house, you can go to the window and ask, in Spanish, “Is this a window or a door?” Do four or five more and be sure to celebrate correct answers with a high-five.
2. Fill in the Gaps
Students are sometimes shy to ask their teacher for a breakdown of a concept or grammar rule. That’s where you can come in. Go over each section and be sure to ask, “Is anything unclear? Can I help?” Make yourself available as an additional tutor to show your child he or she is free to speak Spanish with you.
3. Become the Student
One of the most fun ways to help someone review is to ask them to teach you. When a student gets to switch roles, it helps them organize their thoughts and break down an idea. For fun, you can get a small chalkboard or fake pair of glasses for your son or daughter to use when they’re in teacher mode.
One of the best ways to learn and internalize new information is by having fun. So take advantage and be sure to play and laugh in Spanish with your kids.
4. ¿Que Es? (What is it?)
For this game, you need the Spanish name of different objects written on individual cards or flashcards. Separate them into the categories of your choice, such as Things Mom Likes or Things that Make a Mess.
The first player holds up a card so the rest of the family can see it, but the player can’t see anything. Then, the player has twenty questions he or she can ask, in Spanish, to guess what’s on the card. If the player guesses correctly, they keep the card for a point. An incorrect guess ends the turn and cancels out the card. The person with the most cards wins.
5. Verbal Tic Tac Toe
This one requires planning on your part. You must make a set of cards with Spanish verbs, get a whiteboard or chalkboard for each player and then a reference sheet to be sure your conjugations are correct.
The players write a subject in each square. For example, one square reads ellos and another says yo. Each square should be different. Then you let the first player pick a verb like comer. Players have to tell you the correct conjugation for the square they want. If they want the ellos square, they have to say “Ellos comen.” A correct answer wins them the square, a wrong one gets a pass and the opponent has a chance to steal. Wins need to be marked with an X or O and three in a row win.
6. ¡Simon Dice!
This is a simple twist on the classic game Simon Says. Lead your kids, (and their friends if they’re available), in a simple game of commands in Spanish. These can be “Toca tu cabeza” or “Doble sus rodillas.” However, no one is allowed to move unless you start with “Simon dice…”
Anyone who moves without permission is out. Keep going until you get down to just one player and then make them the leader for the next round or next game.
7. Sports in Spanish
A lot of kids are more open to a conversation once they get outside and start moving. If your son or daughter has a sport they love, grab a ball and invite them to a game. Before you start, explain that speaking in English will earn them a penalty. Decide together what the penalty should be. You can make it fun like a silly dance in the middle of the basketball court or they have to sing “Cucaracha.”
Your child will love that you took some time for them and you’ll love hearing their cheers in Spanish.
Other Fun Techniques
We don’t always have access to games or textbooks, but that shouldn’t stop us from practicing Spanish. Here are some additional ways to get the conversation going.
8. Tell a Story
Sharing a story with your children opens them up to the possibility of sharing with you. Tell them about how you learned a language, a time you embarrassed yourself in class or a time you made a mistake. Be sure to tell it in Spanish or, for a twist, sprinkle in Spanish words and ask your child to translate them for you. After you finish, ask your son or daughter to tell you a story about their day, about their earliest memory, anything you feel is appropriate to the moment.
9. Tell Jokes
Something funny happens when we tell jokes in a new language – sometimes they’re funnier! Of course, not every joke translates, but that means you can use them as a challenge. If a joke isn’t funny, look at why it doesn’t work and how it can be edited to make a Spanish speaker laugh. This is also a great chance to talk about cultural references from other countries, what they mean and why they’re funny.
10. Draw Together
If your child is a burgeoning artist or on the younger side, try having some Spanish drawing time. Get down on the floor or get some easels up and talk about colors, memories, scenes, anything. You can also let your artist have some space to create and then have a conversation about their work in Spanish afterward.
Have other conversation starters to add to this list? Share with the HSA community by commenting below.
Ready to try your free class? Don’t wait – contact us today and get started in Spanish.Read More
Your child is ready to take on Spanish as a second language and you want to give them all the support you can. You want a program that can be tailored to his or her pace of learning, that gives them access to a great teacher and that you can trust to teach your child as authentically as possible. Simply put, you want to find the most effective online homeschool Spanish program for your child.
Homeschool Spanish Academy offers more than just a new computer program. It helps your child build confidence in their language skills with the help of a true, one-on-one class made especially for them. Here are a few reasons why HSA has so many success stories among for homeschool students.
Student to Teacher learning
Many programs offer a pre-fabricated, software-based language-learning system that are exactly the same for each student sitting in front of the computer. While this isn’t necessarily always a negative, it comes with complications. Students can’t clarify vague points in the lesson, there is no homework or review assigned to the learner and, most importantly, no emotional connection between the teacher and student.
When a learner has a teacher to greet at the top of each lesson, it changes how e or she interacts with the program. Knowing that someone is there to help, to cheer them on and keep them motivated turns what would otherwise be a passive experience into an active one. Most importantly, teachers can customize the lessons to each student; making the lesson and application real to them in a way that will stay with them. Students at HSA love their teachers and truly enjoy their time with them.
A Smart, Kid-Centered Curriculum
It can be difficult to develop a language program, particularly when it’s creators don’t know much about their demographic. Most assume the people taking their coursework will be adults, not kids, so they gear their program towards formal and professional language.
At HSA, we take opposite approach. We help students who want to start early and keep learning for a long time. By creating their curriculum with children in mind, we help students learn how to talk about their families, friends and interests – the things that matter to THEM – in an authentic way. Instead of asking, “What is the cost of the caviar?” they learn to say “I have a new baby brother!”
A Personalized Program
No two students learn the same way at the same pace. We are focused on making the experience of learning Spanish one the is effective for each student, delivered in a way that will make using Spanish is real life effortless and fun!
When students have difficulties with topics and concepts, you can communicate with their instructor about finding the right approach to help them succeed. If the lessons are a bit easy, our instructors can provide more unique challenges, a faster pace or for ideas on what more you can do to keep Spanish fun and challenging.
Students love Homeschool Spanish Academy because we teach them to use Spanish in real life conversation. To be able to read in more than one language, watch foreign films or call up a relative in Columbia feels like acquiring a super power. HSA understands their perspective and uses it to give them the best speaking and comprehension skills they can.
Ready to try our effective online homeschool Spanish program? Click here to sign up for your free class today.Read More
The decision to study a new language is the beginning of a wonderful adventure. It’s a look into a new culture, a great way to meet people with different backgrounds and stretch ourselves intellectually. As a parent, you can jump in on the fun with some interactive practices to help your child both effectively and quickly learn Spanish.
Make it Visible
A great way to enhance comprehension and build confidence is to let students listen to directions in a new language and respond physically as opposed to verbally. This is a low risk technique that a lot of classroom teachers use because it shows students that they already know the words, all they have to do is apply them.
Ask your child to “Abre la ventana,” (open the window), or “Prueba la sopa,” (try the soup), without the stress of responding in words, actions only. It’s a small thing that shows them they’re learning a lot. It’s also a great chance for you as a parent to get involved in the language learning process, something your kids will really appreciate!
Make it Physical
Everyone learns new things differently. Some people love to sit and read for hours while others find the practice nothing short of a nightmare. It’s important to be honest about how your child learns and then follow their style rather than fight it.
Many kids learn through physical activity. If your child lives for soccer practice, ask a friend who is fluent in Spanish to play a game with your family using only Spanish. Your child will learn in a natural, organic way as they have a great time on the field. Dance, art and theater are also great opportunities for learners to practice Spanish away from a textbook.
Make it Emotional
Ask a person what they did last Tuesday and they’re likely to struggle to recount a normal day. Ask someone what they did for their birthday or Christmas and the stories are endless. That’s due to the fact that our memories are much more colorful when we associate them with strong emotion.
A great way to to do use this to learn Spanish is to use a sad song, a powerful film or an emotional story. Print out lyrics or turn on subtitles, (also in Spanish), to help your child catch the words, associate them to a melody or a moment, and then incorporate them into their own vocabulary.
Another great method is to give your child the chance to make friends with a Spanish speaker who doesn’t live nearby. Ask around for anyone who might know a student in a Latin country that can write emails or text messages to your child in Spanish. They’ll want to know what their friend is saying and respond the best way possible. This will help them see that language connects them to people and inspire them to keep learning. Best of all, they might just make a friend for life.
All students learn differently, but with some fun, creative practices you can help your child become fluent in Spanish in a much shorter time. Friendships, games, music – all of these can be effective methods in learning a new language.