Category Archives: Spanish Blog

Follow Jessica as she tries to learn Spanish!

Spanish – Where do I start?

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So we’re off on our language adventure! Are you ready? Have you got your shelf or box with all of your resources?
Every morning I have looked at my different coloured post-its with growing excitement and today I am actually going to make a start! I’ve also told a few people about my project and frankly I think that they’re so relieved that my New Year’s resolution isn’t to go on a diet (again) that they’re almost as excited as I am!
I really need to know where I am at the start to see how much I have to learn, so I’ve given myself 20 minutes to write down all of the Spanish words that I could think of. Some of these are words that I have picked up on holiday, some I’ve learned on a Beginners course that I took years ago and others came from songs that I’ve heard – but don’t necessarily figure on my Ipod – such as Vamos a la playa! (bet you know it too…). It took me about 20 minutes to get them down on paper and the list is disappointingly short – but at least I know what I know now.
The first thing that struck me was that although I had come up with about 20 nouns, I had no idea whether they were masculine or feminine! In Spanish, as in French and many other languages, all nouns are either feminine or masculine and you have to learn the gender when you learn the word.
If I’m honest, I couldn’t even remember the different words for ‘a’ (un/una) or the (el/la). I looked each word up and wrote my masculine words on one colour post=it and feminine words on another and stuck them on different sides of my cupboard doors. As I was sticking them up, I also started to group them together – all the transport words in one section, all the breakfast words in another.
I then tested myself immediately and got out of 16 out of 20 genders correct! I remembered the gender by picturing where they were on the cupboard – particularly if they were part of a group like the breakfast stuff.
Challenge: Whatever your level, write down the first twenty nouns (naming words like cat, beach etc) that come to mind in the language that you want to learn, check the spelling in your dictionary or on http://www.wordreference.com. Remember to put the gender if appropriate and stick them in a place where you will see them every day. You might also want to add to them. I’m curious to know what a spoon is to complete my cutlery group ….
My 20 nouns….
1. El café
2. El tenedor
3. El autobus
4. El cucilla
5. El vino
6. El coche
7. El perro
8. El gato
9. El aeropuerto
10. El vaso
11. El azucar
12. El zumo
13. La mantequilla
14. La leche
15. La mermelada
16. La piscina
17. La casa
18. La taza
19. La bebida
20. La cerveza

Spanish – Before you start.

If you have been thinking of learning a language but keep putting it off, join me as we overcome our fears ! Week by week, I will share my experiences as I join a class, find suitable resources and start to learn. It doesn’t matter which language you’ve decided to learn or improve, the process is the same, so let’s start our adventure.

Now, you would think that as a language teacher, the idea of learning a new language would fill me with excitement! Think again! I’ve been wanting to learn Spanish for the last five years, but I’ve never really managed to get going.

I have at least three good reasons to learn;
1 Family – We have family in Spain that we visit at least once a year.
2 Business – My business teaches Spanish and I feel a twit saying “Actually, I only speak French…”!
3 School work – I want to be able to help my daughter as she does her Spanish GCSE.

So what am I worried about?
1 Failure! What if I can’t remember the vocabulary or understand the grammar?
2 Time! How can I can schedule in the 2 hours a week I tell my students they need to learn French?
3 Confusion! What if I get my French and Spanish muddled up?

Solutions…
1 I’m going to set myself an achievable goal. Instead of worrying about becoming fluent, I want to be able to order a meal and a drink, pay for it and ask for directions from a stranger next time I go to Spain.
2 I can carve out time to go to a class. I have a real giggle when I’m teaching so I will probably enjoy it as a learner too. I know that if I have to report on my progress to you, I’ll also manage to do a bit extra during the week.
3 I speak Dutch and never mix up French and Dutch, so why should I mix up French and Spanish? And if I do, does it matter? So long as someone understands me…

So there you go. Perhaps you share some of my fears about learning, or have your own, like speaking in front of a class and getting it wrong, a bad experience at school, saying something rude in the language by accident and everyone laughing! Perhaps if you join me, you might feel braver. Do tell me about your fears and what you’re going to do to get over them. But let’s do it and let’s start now!

Challenge: Go through your bookshelves and find any resources that you may have picked up over the years to help you learn your chosen language then find a box, a basket or a shelf for them. It took me five minutes to do mine – here is the photo! I’ve included different coloured post-its, a dictionary, my computer (the best resource there is) and some books I’ve picked up but never opened…