When studying Spanish outside of class, I find it difficult to just study it from my textbook (hence, why I am utilizing this website). I was wondering what other things people find helpful to reinforce their Spanish skills.
What works for you?
I basically agree with all of the tips that Izanoni has provided for you.
In addition, try to set goals for yourself. I try to focus on areas where I am especially weak, and challenge myself to become extremely good in those areas. I have always been better with words than with numbers. So for me, I started to really focus on learning all of my numbers in Spanish, how to tell time, how to bargain in Latin America over prices, etc. Whatever I could do to improve this area of weakness, became my focus.
Sometimes I think we overwhelm ourselves thinking we have to do everything at once. Since this is impossible, break it down. Choose one area that you will work on for the next month or two, and you will be amazed at the progress you make!!!
I know for my english I read a lot English literature (you can find books for your level of ability) and talk, talk, talk! as much as I can will English speakers. If you can't find spanish speakers to talk with you, listen/watch the news in spanish.
I agree that talking is an important skill that you have to practice... but for some people this is really hard. For a true introvert, talking itself is exhausting, even in your native language (I say this from personal experience ) .
I think listening and writing can help a lot. I was really pleased that I ran into an acquaintance a couple of days ago and was able to talk with her significantly better than in the past, despite not having practiced at all. But I think it is all the writing I do on this site that helped me be able to put words together better.
I try to read as much as I can of Spanish literature. I use anything from children's books, to novels and newspapers. I also listen to Spanish radio stations whenever I am in the car and try to sing along or parrot the sounds that I hear until I start to recognize them as words. Spanish television works as well, especially if you can record what you are watching and play it back over and over. Probably the best thing that you can do, however, is to practice with a native speaker (if you have a bilingual friend, co-worker, relative, etc - all the better). These are some of the things that I do to supplement my learning along with this website and a myriad of grammar books. I have also tried Pimsleur and Berlitz Spanish CDs, but of the two, I only found Pimsleur to be useful.
You might also try doing a search of previous threads on the subject. I can recall many threads like this one that you should be able to find some helpful information from. Good luck and good studying!
For a true introvert, talking itself is exhausting
That's a realistic objection that I forgot about. I do understand though, because it took me years to not be so hampered by being an introvert myself, even before I started learning Spanish.
So in such a case perhaps conversing may need to be done in small doses. However the value of talking in Spanish, even to oneself or by reading aloud, can't be underestimated. Aside from the need for the brain to learn to communicate in Spanish there is a degree of training needed so that the vocal muscles (tongue, lips, etc.) cooperate with the brain. And like any other kind of physical training or exercise, those muscles will get sore. I can remember when I was starting to learn Spanish that my jaw would feel sore after a couple of hours of talking or reading aloud. It's much better now, but even still, my jaw was sore again when I just got back from a week-long trip in which I conversed perhaps 90% in Spanish.
Just remember if you talk to yourself or read aloud to be sure that you are pronouncing words correctly so mispronunciations don't become ingrained.
I actually try to put what I am using to use by writing and speaking. That way I can actually know where I am weak. With the internet, a lack of access to native speakers, is not an excuse. I belong to website lLenguajero There You write and receive feedback, which valuable when learning vocabulary and grammar. You can find people to chat with. Since it is a learning website, you don't have to be afraid of making mistake. The people I have spoken to there are friendly especially when you help them.
I would say: "If you can't find Spanish speakers to talk with you, then look harder!"
I love this!!!! This is so true. In the past eighteen months, I took two separate trips to Mexico and one trip to the Dominican Republic. I can honestly say that what I learned in each of these weeks was equivalent to approximately six months of study in the U.S. There is just something about being immersed in a Spanish speaking environment which can not be duplicated in any other way.
I know this opportunity might not be available to everyone. So, as Chaparrito puts it...you have to look harder to find someone in your area who speaks the language.I have never met or even heard of a Spanish speaking person who was not more than willing to help you learn their language. This is especially true of children and teens. They absolutely love to help people learn Spanish. You can see the joy and excitement on their faces as they help you. Don't be shy or embarrassed to make mistakes. Just put yourself out their and do your best.
I can't agree enough with adelita89 about talking in Spanish! I think that reading and writing and listening in Spanish, although essential to learning, exercise different parts of the brain than does talking. I have a few friends that can even follow a conversation and correctly repeat back to me in English what is being said, but when it come's to formulating their own words and expressing themselves in Spanish they have a hard time. And I believe it has to do with practicing talking. (Usually the root cause has to do with embarrassment about making mistakes, something that must be overcome.)
There's only one thing about adelita's comment that I would like to 'correct.' She said:
If you can't find spanish speakers to talk with you, listen/watch the news in spanish.
I would say: "If you can't find Spanish speakers to talk with you, then look harder!" I couldn't tell from your profile where you are in the world, but I'm going to guess that you live in a place that Spanish is not the predominant language but that has Spanish speaking immigrants. So there is bound to be some restaurant, taquería or market where help can be found.
And then when you find someone, start off by saying that you're learning Spanish and would like his help. 10 to 1 you'll get big smile and a helpful participant.