Four Essential Tips When Beginning to Learn Spanish
The idea of learning a new language can feel overwhelming like looking into the vast deep ocean. Yet, armed with some easy to understand essentials and learning tools, you can transform that overwhelming feeling into one of excitement and intellectual curiosity, as you channel it into your learning strategies.
Below are 4 tools to put into practice when beginning to learn Spanish. And trust me, they have worked for me in refining my Spanish speaking, reading and writing skills, since I began that educational process in mastering my Spanish 10 years ago.
- Develop Your Listening Comprehension:
Developing your accuracy in listening when learning Spanish is a key component to distinguishing meaning in words, phrases and sentences. Improving your listening skills in hearing the pitch of the sound develops one’s pronunciation in intention and intonation when personifying the Spanish language.
The following are key sounds to listen for and accurately distinguish as you begin to learn Spanish. This will help to separate sounds into clear and digestible learning components:
Casa is house in English. It is pronounced with the “a” sound as used in the word phrase “Haha” in english, not the “a” sound as in “cat, hat or mat:”
The pitch of the intonation is lower. Look at the pronunciation process as musical pitches. Pay attention to the pitch of: low to mid to high, and assign them to words in English that have the same sound pronunciation with its intonation.
Elefante is Elephant. It is pronounced with the “e” sound as used in the word “met, in its past tense,” not the “e” sound as in “me” and the “a” sound in Elefante is the “a” sound as used in “haha:”
Again here, the pitch of the pronunciation of “e” is lower and sounds exactly as in the english words “ted, let, bet, set.”
Now, this is where another interesting guideline in spanish pronunciation comes in handy when dealing with the letter “e”:
The letter “I” in Spanish is pronounced exactly as in the English pronunciation of the two letter combination of “ee or ea,” pronounced as in “feet, meet, seat, leak.”
Look at it like this, the “I” sound in Spanish is the vowel sound of “e” in English. Now, always remember that language rules are applied 99.9% of the time since pronunciation changes when letters are combined as in the English language.
You will see that as you remember to apply language guidelines, the strange discrepancies of language will begin to pop out and be highlighted. And you will see how there are many words and phrases that do not have a clear logic that explains its grammar or pronunciation. This success, in your part, will grab your attention and intellectual curiosity as you begin to identify, see and hear these discrepancies.
- Vosotros versus Nosotros:
Spain uses the word “vosotros” instead of “ustedes” to refer to “us” or “we”. “Nosotros” is the proper way to say “us” primarily in USA. Offices, industries, schools and other environments follow this grammatical rule that applies from Alaska, down south past Mexico, to Central America.
So when you and your brother or sister want to learn Spanish, then it is “nosotros queremos aprender Espanol.”
- The adjective comes after the noun 99.9% of the time:
This guiding rule will provide you clarity when reading Spanish phrases and sentences. Plus will add to your understanding of flow and rhythm when speaking in Spanish
In English it is “black panther;” in Spanish it is “pantera negra.”
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
adjective noun noun adjective
In English it is “beautiful day;” in Spanish it is “dia hermoso.”
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
adjective noun noun adjective
- Practice Verbally in Front of a Mirror:
This tool will improve your Spanish speaking and listening skills, even when you don’t have someone to converse and practice with outloud.
Begin to get comfortable with standing up and speaking towards a full body mirror or the bathroom mirror. After a grammar and comprehension lesson, take those words, phrases and sentences, and begin to input intention with your pronunciation into your body. Look at your mouth and see how it moves.
Communicate with your body towards the mirror as if it is someone or a target of your communication. Repeat and repeat with different intentions in order to hear and see how the sound intonation changes in the pronunciation. Practice again and again, until it becomes memorized into your body and mouth, like you were rehearsing for a theatre play, speech or rap song.
The sooner you get up and begin to verbally practice, the sooner you will see and hear results. This practice obligates you to personify the words, phrases and sentences into coherent and grammatically sound expressions as you pretend to be in real social situations.
Syllables → Words → Phrases → Sentences
Body and Mouth