Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Tricks in Learning Spanish

I have had some queries and comments on my post about learning Spanish. In it, I mentioned how I finally got to progress in my learning the language through free lessons on the internet at http://www.spanishdict.com (it does indeed help that I get to practice daily what I learn).

What I found most helpful, besides the fact that it's entirely FREE, I love that one, was that I could choose the speed at which I could assimilate the new language. We each have our unique learning style and capacity to memorize and recall; that's the immense advantage of progressing at one's own learning rhythm. And, away from a classroom and bombarded by everyone else's learning style, which I sometimes found was an impediment to my own. With spanishdict.com, I virtually breezed through certain lessons while for others, I had to go back two or three times before they would sink in. It was like having my own private tutor.

Look. I am not paid to tout spanishdict.com. I simply found it the most effective of all in my learning the new language rapidly and easily. When I had foster children, many of whom were afflicted with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder), I devoured all information so as to teach "my" children who were thus disadvantaged. I recall mention of a book or an article written by a psychologist (whose name I forget--come to think of it, he may have been an educator), who said that one should not ask "...how intelligent is my child", but rather "...how is my child intelligent". This to determine the style in which a particular child is apt to learn as opposed to another. Is he/she more of a visual learner, auditory, kinesthetic, or a combination of these? I applied this information with great success in tutoring my foster daughters. Now, in my case, strict memorization, a rather dry affair I might add, does not work. I need context.

Another trick of mine, which I'm actually finding most helpful in acquiring vocabulary, is the Reader's Digest monthly edition. I buy it here in Spanish, of course, and start with the simplest (and shortest) articles, underlining each word that's new to me. Strangely enough, the first article I read was on how to develop mnemonic aids. The suggestion was to arrange a context in which to recall a selection of words. For instance, memorize the word table and imagine yourself next to it. Then you disappear and a vase appears on the table; then the table disappears and a rose appears in the vase, and so on. I guess you could call it "...recalling by association". When I learn a new word, it is thus in a context that situates it into a logical association (namely a storyline); furthermore, it helps me to get a clear image of it. I check the dictionary, write the translation for the word over it, and re-read the whole article once or twice over to "gel" the meaning in my mind.

It works for me.

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