Practice makes perfect; at a minimum it keeps your chops up
Mientras estamos en receso en BASE, esperamos que encuentren momentos para practicar lo aprendido y aprender lo nuevo. Aquí van unas ideas.
Got that? Although BASE classes won't be in session until the week of January 16th, we hope you'll find the time to keep your chops up and to learn new things. Here are some ideas:
Although BASE will officially be in recess, we can arrange private or semi-private classes for you regardless of the dates of our small-group courses. More info here.
Don't be shy. If you know someone who speaks Spanish who isn't too much of a hot-head who will be over critical and shame you with dirty looks, laughing and pointing, dig in!
Try to start with just five minutes, then commit to 15, then an hour, and so on. Before you know it, you'll have spent days speaking Spanish (or Portuguese and/or Arabic or whatever language you're trying to learn).
Propose a language exchange with a Spanish speaker who is learning English (and let them know about BASE's low-tuition English courses for Bostonians), and be strict with the English hour and the Spanish hour. Don't be a hog, and don't let someone hog time.
If you're a woman (ONLY FOR WOMEN), there's a Spanish/English exchange organized on Wednesdays at the Cambridge Women's Center. All levels welcome. Info: email@example.com
Sign up for private or semi-private classes if you don't want to wait until mid-January.
Although flashcards, vocab lists and free and/or expensive apps and software can't hurt, the best ways to build vocabulary are reading and conversing. For lower-level learners Spanish readers might be helpful. There are a few at BPL, or check your local library network for "Spanish reader". Here's an example of one on Amazon.
The local papers can't hurt, and keep your goals specific and realistic. You don't necessarily need to understand everything or anything. At a bare minimum identify cognates (words that look similar to words in English [in most cases the meaning is the same, but beware of the false friend]).
A los que tengan un nivel intermedio-avanzado quizás les interesen las noticias internacionales en ipsnoticias.net y los demás sinfín periódicos impresos y digitales del mundo hipanoparlante.
Si es de interés la literatura, quizás 100 Años de Soledad sea un salto muy grande a la hora de leer Gabo, igual como sus cuentos cortos y el realismo mágico por lo general. Comenzar con Relato de un Náufrago o Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada podría ser más de interés.
Mario Benedetti tiene cuentos cortos muy cortos y buenos (por ejemplo Los Bomberos), y Horacio Quiroga escribió cuentos para dar miedo.
Get an audio book out of the library, and have the clear goal of listening. Did you listen? Great, mission accomplished! Realistic expectations are key. If you understood something, that's great too.
Here are some free resources:
- Listen to the daily headlines dubbed into Spanish on democracynow.org
- Listen to the Radio Ambulante podcast
- Listen to the podcasts on Spanishpodcast.net for Iberian Spanish
- Watch the generous videos put together for Spanish learners by U. Texas Professor Orlando Klem
The last of these two recommendations have been made with the language student in mind. The first two are not.
All of these recommendations are for listening, but they all also have transcripts, which can be read separately and/or as you listen.
Ten to twenty minutes a day would be preferable to burning yourself out with 2-3-hr chunks, but do what works for you.
Dance like nobody's watching. Write like nobody's reading. It's good to get feedback/corrections, but a daily dose of writing (coupled with some grammar review before or after) regardless of whether you're writing correctly or not, will help you become more conversant in the long run.
Keep a journal or email yourself, and write whatever comes to mind. Nothing comes to mind? Translate something specific to your level. It doesn't always matter if you're right! It certainly can't hurt.
If you want feedback, and you can't make it in for classes. Contact us to arrange for writing classes.
In short, the more the better, and every little bit helps.