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Language Study Tips
Everyone wants to learn a second language as quickly as they can with the least effort possible. Hopefully the language study tips on this page will give you some ideas how you can study more efficiently, or maybe even more enjoyably.
One point to recognize is that different people have different learning styles so use whichever of these language study tips suits your personality and style.
Make it a routine
Set aside a certain amount of time each day, or at least several times each week, to study Spanish. You want studying to become a habit. One to two hours a day would be ideal if you have the time.
Read or study immediately before bedtime
I'm not sure if has been scientifically proven that studying before bedtime is best, however, I have had great success using this method. If you read something in Spanish right before bedtime, it seems that your brain has time to digest that information and process it while you sleep. You may even dream in Spanish, repeating the new phrases or vocabulary you just learned. Sometimes if you learn something during the day then move on to work or other things in your life the information gets lost or "overwritten".
Listen to Latin music
Even though you might not hear or understand all of the words, listening to Latin music helps reinforce the pronunciation of words and tunes your ear to the sounds of Spanish. Through the repetition of choruses you will pick up new words and phrases. A few favorites of mine include the romantic songs of Luis Miguel and José José, and the Puertorican hiphop group Calle 13.
Watch Spanish television programs
When I first started learning Spanish, I got hooked on Mexican telenovelas. These are soap operas that run for a fixed number of episodes before the último capítulo (final episode). What makes these programs great for learning is that the dialogue consists of simple, practical conversation.
In these telenovelas you'll learn handy phrases like cállate la boca shut your mouth or or te amo (I love you).
A few of my favorite telenovelas are Alborada, Rubí and Destilando Amor.
Practice all four componenets of language learning
To learn a new language, you need to practice reading, writing, listening and speaking. Make sure you spend time on each one of these four aspects of language learning.
Set learning goals and write them down. Check back in a month and see how you did. Writing the goal down makes it real and holds you accountable to yourself. You'll be able to track your progress and you'll know if you're study methods are working.
Join Spanish meetup groups
Most major cities have Spanish meetup groups. These are reuniones (meetings) of native Spanish speakers who want to speak in their native tongue and people who are studying Spanish and want to practice. The meetings usually take place at a local cafe or restaurant.
Label things around your home
This is a fun tip for new learners. Get a roll of masking tape or sticky notes and label every item around your home with the Spanish word. For example, on the table, put a sticky note that says la mesa. Note that when you are in the kitchen, pan means bread. It is not a frying pan!
Read out loud
Whenever you read, read en voz alta (out loud). This way you will practice your pronunciation along with your comprehension. It's a more efficient way to study.
Make flashcards to expand your vocabulary and help you remember difficult words. Whenever you encounter a new or difficult word, make a flashcard and add it to the pile.
Get a good dictionary and highlight it
When you check up a new word in the dictionary, highlight it. At the intermediate level, you should practice using new words in sentence.
Consider using software
There are quite a few Spanish software programs available at download.com and elsewhere on the net. Although this is not a method I use since I already spend too much time in front of the computer, I know that some people find it useful.
Set a spanish site as your home page
Esmas.com is a popular Spanish portal. I currently have my home page set to clarin.com to get the latest Spanish news from Buenos Aires.
Learning a language takes time but you will see progress along the way. Don't give up.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will say crazy things. Have fun and laugh them off. It's all part of the learning process.
Do written translations
This is a good study method for intermediate and advanced learners.
I once met a language teacher from Michigan who spoke multiple languages fluently, including Spanish. I asked her what her secret was to learning languages and she said she would take news articles and other written materials and translate them. She found this the best way to challenge her brain to communicate concepts in the new language.
Check out these sites for more language study tips:
Spanish Study Tips - Article with memorization and homework strategies from About.com
BBC Languages - The BBC site will send you Spanish tips by email
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