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Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how you... read more

How many times have I heard this: "I'm too old to learn Spanish." Or, "Only kids' brains can absorb new languages." While I would like to just say "phooey!" and leave it at that, I've come to see that adults who say such things are in one of two groups: Traumatized Former Language Students, or Victims of Ageism.   There's a problem with language education in America: we don't do it. Why is it that the average person from any African national speaks four or five languages, with no language lab, little money at the local school, and no fancy computer apps? Because the people around them speak multiple languages: It's part of the culture. But also, sadly, it's because of a history of colonialism and the predominance of English in the world. French, Urdu, English, Patois. These folks switch between numerous linguistic codes with utter facility from an early age. It's a natural part of their culture. People in Africa (and Europe) expect multilingualism... read more

I discovered my passion for the Spanish language on a church trip to the Dominican Republic ten years ago while serving a group of amazing people there. At the time I was a junior at Western Michigan University and was majoring in Creative Writing. I had only taken a few years of Spanish in high school and was very shaky with speaking. However, something amazing happened while I was there! I found myself being able to communicate and slowly understand. A little boy named Jorge was sitting with my friend and I one night and slowly repeating  "estrella" when it suddenly clicked. I have little Jorge to thank for igniting that passion in me. I went on to double major in Spanish and Creative Writing, then continue to get my Master's degree in Spanish literature. Through the years I have lived in Santander, Spain; Queretaro, Mexico, and finally Barcelona, Spain for the past five years. My husband (who is Spanish) and I just moved back to Michigan and are starting a new... read more

Structure is necessary, it keeps things organized but unplanned topics can also present great learning opportunities. If the student is excited about something, we talk about it! There are always chances to learn new vocabulary words and even hit up some practice with grammar. After all, conversation is just that, going with the flow and seeing where things go. Be spontaneous amidst the structure.    Another aspect that is helpful and fun is to center lessons around my students. It's their life and their experience they'll want to share, so we work around that.    Kids games are fun even for adults! It's okay to play "Ispy" (Yo veo) when we are learning colors or talking about specific vocabulary. We even play scrabble for those who really want a challenge. It's a wonderful opportunity to see how many words you already know and learn new ones when I play words you don't recognize. Jeopardy is also another great game I like to include. If... read more

These days I'm having so much fun living the dream!  While doing phone interpretations today in Spanish/English and allowing my latest intern Alaina to shadow me (a whole new way to look at tutoring), she asked:  "When we're listening to the clients, I still don't always know what they're saying?  When did you finally start just getting it when you were interpreting?"   I shared with her, smiling, that my first in person interpretation was ROUGH.  But to answer her question more directly, from my 20 years experience vantage point, I couldn't remember exactly HOW I finally got over the hump.    As I thought back, I could remember that it has a lot to do with smiling, laughing, being personable, and LOVING THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE you are interpreting.  I also recommend finding a close friend (and perhaps even better boyfriend/girlfriend) to get to know up close in your target language.    The most important... read more

Look for the Latin roots in Spanish and French words that may also be found English. This helps one remember vocabulary and appreciate the connection between languages!     Here are some examples!   1. Aprender is 'to learn' in Spanish (apprendre in French), which corresponds to the English word 'apprentice.'   2. Escribir is to write in Spanish (écrire in French), which corresponds to the English word 'scribe' (escribe = he writes).   3. Dormir means 'to sleep' in Spanish (dormir in French as well), which corresponds to the English words 'dormitory' and 'dormant'.   4. Abrazar is 'to hug/embrace' in Spanish (embrasser in French), which corresponds to the English word 'embrace'. Keep in mind that in French it means a "kissing embrace" versus a "hugging embrace".   And there are many more! Please add to the list!   It is important to note that the Latin... read more

10 Tips to Advance Your Second-language Learning Process Speaking a second language is a wonderful tool to have at your disposal. Not only is it fun and cool, but it opens doors to experience another culture in new, exciting and personal ways. And if you're working on speaking a language that others speak in your community, it can also open doors for you professionally. So, if you're itching for some tips to help advance your language learning process, have no fear…I'm here to share with you 10 of my trusty tips for how I learned to speak my second language! (How well do I speak it, you ask? Well, native Spanish speakers often think I’m a native Spanish speaker, just to give you some context.) These are all things that I did myself, so I’m confident in recommending them all to you! :) Let’s get started with some specific tips, and then move on to my more “philosophical” and general advice: 1. Watch television shows, movies and videos in your target language For those working... read more

If you have reached the present perfect and past perfect tense, you are a good way into your Spanish studies and it's time for a serious talk about grammar. I don't know of any shortcut around regular practice. However, you can do yourself an enormous favor by taking the time to discover what you mean to say in English before you attempt to construct the grammar in Spanish. It is possible to learn how to conjugate verbs in the present and past perfect tenses without truly understanding their meaning or where and when to use them in writing or conversation. If you are reading this, you've likely set higher goals for yourself. Let me begin by introducing the present and past perfect tenses in English. After we've grasped the purpose of these verb forms, we can move quickly and easily through the "rules." Recall that in the simple present or simple past tense we say "I live" or "I lived." "I love"... read more

Most language learning resources focus on the process of what YOU can do to learn a language. But what I'm interested in is how a language is an organic, living, naturally occurring phenomenon, like rivers, trees, and humans, and what that has to do with efficient language learning, as well as what it has to do with the nature of life/God/the universe (as a bonus). The mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci used a set of numbers (Fibonacci numbers) to describe how rabbit populations expand. The numbers are 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, ... (each number is the sum of the previous two numbers). This "golden" ratio also describes flowers, trees, rivers, seashells, galaxies, and the human face. Language also grows this way in your mind -- particularly if you're a child. My goal is that it grow that way also in the mind of the adult. The way it looks is that for every language you grew up speaking there are a number of situations you've experienced in... read more

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is not... read more

Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means because... read more

Flashcards have been used for a long time by students that want to broaden their vocabulary, whether for learning a second language or increasing one's vocabulary of your primary language. Before computers, students often used index cards and wrote a word on one side, and the meaning of the word, or the equivalent word in another language on the other side. Now there are all sorts of flashcard websites and flashcard software programs available that basically do the same thing electronically. But regardless of the medium you use, there are some ways to use flashcards that are better than others. I'm going to recommend one way that I find very helpful. Instead of just randomly selecting 20 or 50 or 100 words, and trying to memorize them via flashcards, select vocabulary words that are in context. What this means is that it's better to create flashcards based on a reading passage or book or essay you've read, and then selecting words from what you've read and creating flashcards for... read more

You don't need to spend hours memorizing new words or making simple concepts more complicated than they need to be to learn Spanish. The best way to learn Spanish is to focus on the similarities between English and Spanish. The fact is that whether or not you realize it, you already know some Spanish.   One book that I highly recommend is Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish. This book takes you step by step to make you highly proficient in the language. I am not saying that this is a substitute for any class, but it is an excellent complement for nearly any Spanish class. I used this book after not taking Spanish for a while to make me proficient again. I also continue to use it when I don't like the class textbook and need to show a more clear picture of the concept.   Here are some examples of how to make Spanish easy in which Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish illustrates:   Do you recognize what any of this means?   Oceano Atlántico Oceano... read more

I'm new to tutoring and to WyzAnt, but I know I can make tutoring and lessons fun just by using the knowledge I have and what I have learned from my classes in Education.  Spanish is about communicating and the best way to learn Spanish is to use it in real-world applications. So, here are my top 5 suggestions on how to make lessons fun in Spanish:   1.  Put down the text book! Talk to the student as if you are having a real conversation   2.  When learning about everyday objects around the house have the student create labels in Spanish and post them on things such as:  Door, bed, slippers, toothbrush, ect.  So, that they will see them everyday and learn the words as they use them.   3. Find a book, comic book, or any other type of reading that interests them instead of just have them reading straight out of the textbook.  If it's a topic they are interested in they will want to read it!  They can read it to... read more

I frequently work with students who wish to improve their conversational Spanish skills. I strongly believe learning to actually speak the language is the hardest part for most students, because it is almost impossible to practice unless you have someone with whom to practice. I have certain students who I see on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and only tutor them in conversational Spanish. For me, keeping these lessons interesting can be a challenge, especially with shy students.  To combat this, I recently purchased a conversation starter game called Rory's Story Cubes. These are ridiculously great and have been a huge success among my students. Not only do the cubes give students the opportunity to use their imagination, they are also a great way to practice Spanish! I have challenged students to tell stories using only the past tense, or only the future tense, or by incorporating a command into each sentence. By putting stipulations on what they can and cannot say, you can help... read more

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world! It is the official language of nearly twenty countries spoken by more than 500 million people. Spanish is the second language of international communication, and is increasingly used in economics, politics and cultural relations. The rapidly growing number of students studying Spanish throughout the world have reported these reasons and benefits: 1. Better job opportunities 2. Improved memory 3. Aging more slowly (it has been scientifically-proven that learning a new language can delay the age-related decline in mental function, particularly as experienced in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s!) 4. Conquering that special person's heart (why not learn to speak with your loved one in their own language?) 5. Sense of personal accomplishment 6. Career advancement 7. Making more money 8. Reaching new markets 9. Making new friends 10... read more

Whether you're learning Spanish, French, English, or even new science or social studies vocabulary, developing vocabulary is the key to a world of new conversations. When approaching a new set of vocabulary, different techniques work for different kinds of learning. Watching movies, listening to music, and interacting with people in the new language are fun and effective means of immersion. When you hear unfamiliar terms, sound them out and jot them down to look up later. When preparing for a test or working with a textbook, a systematic approach can help reinforce and practice new terms. With a new set of thirty words from a textbook chapter, follow these four easy steps to quickly learn up to thirty terms in one sitting: 1. Make a list of new words in the target language. 2. Attempt to translate them on the same line in a second column, using cognates as clues to recall the term in your native language. 3. After attempting to translate all the vocabulary, use a dictionary... read more

I have found it very useful to take walks when my Spanish tutoree gets worked up. When we walk we discuss things around in Spanish. For example, we learned colors the other week, so we walked around and she told me the colors of everything she saw around her in Spanish.

Greetings! Today's post is about learning styles. One of the most important things that helps teachers provide better instruction is the knowledge of a student’s learning style. My belief is based upon the teachings of noted educational theorist, Dr. Howard Gardner. Dr. Gardner posits that there are “multiple intelligences,” that define our individual learning styles and complement each other (by working together) through our learning processes. His 1983 book, Frames of Mind, detailed his initial findings in this area. In my educational practice, I attempt to identify my students' learning styles by doing extensive diagnostic testing in the very beginning. In my tutoring classes this may consist of having students to write a paragraph or two in the target language we are studying or work some basic math problems. Diagnostics also include inquiring about student preferences, because students generally do better in the areas that they like. After diagnostics, I set a plan that... read more

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