In English we have 5 vowels orthographically(in spelling), but phonetically(in terms of speech sounds) there are 14 different vowel sounds! Spanish only has 5 vowel sounds! This can make it rather difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce English words. For English speakers learning Spanish, this means that we have to narrow down our vowel pronunciations.
When it comes to pronunciation, I always tell my students to practice their vowel pronunciation in Spanish:
a-e-i-o-u is pronounced, in Spanish, "ah"-"ay"-"ee"-"oh"-"oo"
The good news is that these vowels never change in Spanish pronunciation. Once you get those down, you can pronounce any Spanish word with confidence.
In the perfect tenses, we express, for example, "I have lived" or "I had lived." Both these tenses are compound tenses, meaning that they require an auxiliary verb (have/had/has) and a main verb (live) in the form of a past participle (lived).
The auxiliary verb we use in perfect tenses is "haber" meaning "have."
To create the past participle of a verb, we drop the "ar" from AR verbs and replace it with "ado." We drop the "er" or "ir" from ER and IR verbs and replace them with "ido." So, if the main verb is "live" or "vivir," the past participle becomes "vivido."
The construction in Spanish looks like this:
Present Perfect: ("Haber" conjugated in the present tense) + (past-participle of the main verb); "He vivido"/I have lived.
Past Perfect: ("Haber" conjugated in the past)...
I highly recommend WordReference.com for Spanish language learners. There you will find excellent and thorough definitions of Spanish words, conjugation charts, and the extremely useful forums. The forums are great for explanations of idiomatic expressions and other topics that a dictionary cannot fully explain. Check it out!
So the warm months are here and I'm ready to meet students interested in bettering their Spanish. Are you going to be studying abroad for the coming school year? Do you want a head start on next year's Spanish courses? Are you interested in giving the gift of bilingualism to your son or daughter? Send me a message and let's talk! No tienen nada que perder, y todo el mundo latino les espera!
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I work with students of a variety of levels to improve their Spanish speaking ability. Meeting with a student twice a week can make it quite difficult to keep sessions fresh and exciting and to come up with conversational topics that haven't previously been covered.
Today one of my more advanced students wanted to practice using the correct imperfect and preterit conjugations and so he described to me, in great detail, his favorite movie. Since most people can talk for a long time about their favorite movie, and it is easy to prod more shy students into engaging on this topic, I thought it a great topic choice on his part and will steal this idea to use with other students.
Pretend you are Christopher Columbus, writing to the King and Queen of Spain to beg them to finance your trip to the Americas. Explain to them what you need, why it is necessary, what you hope to gain. In Spanish this requires the use of the subjunctive! I have often struggled with finding a fun activity to get students to practice writing the subjunctive in context, and came across this idea the other day. I used it this past weekend with a student who found it a fun yet challenging task.
One piece of advice I would say is to have a mini word bank of phrases that might be useful for them, as this was the only real obstacle to my student's success!
I have used this website for years. It is a free source of tutoring for any student wishing to understand Spanish grammar. You can read or print out the explanations. There are several quizzes to help your comprehension. It is also very USER FRIENDLY.
You can find my mini-lesson on Wyzant >> Resources >> Lessons >> Spanish >> Grammar
Spanish Grammar: Direct and Indirect Objects
My goal is to simplify concepts so they can easily be memorized and generalized. Que disfruta su leccion en espanol!