Top 10 Ways to Learn Spanish on Your OwnPosted by Kim
When we started the adoption process for the twins, I knew next to no Spanish. My brother Steven came home from Guatemala just 2 weeks shy of my senior year of college, so it was a little late to switch from French at that point.
So I began learning Spanish in the Fall of 2006 with the initial goal of obtaining enough vocabulary to be able to communicate the basics with the two little boys we knew were coming (food/animal/vehicle names, “it’s bedtime,” … “because I said so, and I’m the mom, that’s why!” … just kidding on the last one… although …).
Three and a half years later, with many interruptions in learning (homeschooling those aforementioned twins), I’m becoming conversant - but have a far greater understanding of Spanish than I can speak. Still working. Just waiting for a “language burst” to hit me.
But I know I’ll need it even more with this second adoption. The kid(s) will be older than the twins were, so he/she/they may well be nearly fluent in Spanish. There’s so much else to adjust to in an adoption that I’d like the language-barrier reduced as much as possible.
So for those just starting out on your own like I was, consider stocking yourself with:
10.) Spanish-English Dictionary - You need one as a reference, but don’t stop here. You’ll never memorize the whole thing because that would be totally boring! And bored minds don’t retain.
9.) Spanish Verbs Book - When you’re speaking to someone, you’ll want to know how to say “I went ____” versus “I am going _____.” You won’t memorize this one, either, but it will help to have one.
8.) Children’s “My First” Spanish Picture Dictionary - Why is this one more useful than the real Spanish dictionary, even though it teaches fewer words? Pictures, pictures and more pictures. So you associate the word with the image in your mind.
7.) Spanish Audio CD’s – There are a ton out there (rather than buy them, check them out at your local library). If you’re in the car a lot, you may as well redeem the time spent in traffic!
6.) Listen to Spanish Music – You won’t get all the words, but music makes the ones you do get stick in your mind. Pick a genre you already like (Pop, R&B, Romantic) and go from there. (Also available at your local library.)
5.) Read the News, Stories, Religious Sources in Spanish – I keep up on Central-American news, since we want to be able to tell our kids about their birth countries. I also read the Bible in Spanish and read children’s stories to the twins in Spanish. We don’t get every word, but our vocabulary expands noticeably over time. Online materials are especially convenient because you can copy and paste into online translator sites (like Google’s) when you get really stuck. [They are imperfect, however, so keep your dictionary handy for those times when the translation results make no sense.]
4.) Watch Movies in Spanish with Spanish Subtitles – It’s tempting to put on the English subtitles, but try not to, because that doesn’t really help you learn Spanish. You’ll miss what you’re hearing as you read along in your “comfort zone” language. By both hearing and reading Spanish, you’ll actually pick up more, more quickly.
3.) Children’s Cartoons – The action moves more slowly than in films, so you have a prayer at matching the words spoken to what’s happening on the screen. [If have cable and it's in your cable lineup, load up on V-Me's "NIÑOS" lineup!]
2.) Rosetta Stone Spanish - Yes, it’s expensive, but the commercials are absolutely correct: it IS the fastest way to learn another language. So if you’re serious, buy the complete set, and then set aside a few minutes a day, most days, to play with it. Most of the lessons can be done in 10-15 minutes, and you really do retain what you learn.
1.) Make Friends with Native-Spanish Speakers! I mentioned a while back that I joined the Hispanic Ministry at our church. So for two hours every week, I’m immersed in Spanish; and I have friends who help me along when I get stuck. The obvious additional benefit is that I’m learning about them as people and about their cultures as I hear their stories, so it’s no longer “just a language” I’m acquiring.
Learning a new language takes time, but by using the more efficient and enjoyable means most often, I’m sure you’ll find – as I did – that you can progress quickly enough to be encouraged, and then to build on those successes.