learning spanish for beginners

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so if there are any beginners like me with spanish i was wondering if we could share strategies and things that help you learn better.

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updated SEP 16, 2009
posted by andrew

5 Answers

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Andrew, here are a few points that have helped me along the way:

One of the best ways to learn a language is to avoid translating from the beginning. In learning a new language, I try to learn the concept of the word, not just the English equivalent. For example, lets use the word dog. When I say the word dog in English, you have a visual image that just pops into your head. It should be your goal for this to happen in Spanish, or any other language.

In English your brain works like this : dog = image of a four-legged animal that goes woof.
In an English-speaker-learning-Spanish's brain, things work like this : perro = dog = image of a four-legged animal that goes woof.
Your goal should be for your mind to work like this : perro = image of a four-legged animal that goes woof.

One good exercise I do when I learn a new word in Spanish is to just write the definition in Spanish and not even look the word up in English. I will also draw a picture of the word so that I can visualize it.

This mentality has helped me a lot because it allows you to understand the word and its usage in the new language. Just because a word's dictionary definition in Spanish translates to a certain word in English does not mean that it is used the same in both languages.

Keep in mind that your brain "thinks" in English, and you have to teach it how to think in Spanish. Try to forget what you know about English and avoid comparisons. Something that doesn't make sense to us in English may make perfect sense in Spanish.

Next, try not to ask the question "why'" too much. I have never seen a 3-year-old child ask their mommy a grammatical question about their native language. A child hears and repeats, and you should try to do the same. You will find out that many answers to questions about grammar are "Just Because." Save yourself the headache of trying to understand exactly why. Obviously, you want to study grammar, but the most important thing is to practice and repeat. Eventually things will just "sound right" to you just like in English.

Finally, make mistakes! Don't be afraid to speak or write or anything. You will learn the most through your errors.

I hope this helps.

updated SEP 16, 2009
posted by swally13
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thanks that makes soooo much sense

updated MAY 29, 2008
posted by andrew
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Swally, GREAT POST!!!

updated MAY 28, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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that was fantastic advice!

I am a visual learner so swally13's advice is right on point for me. I really like the method rosetta stone uses - which is with pictures and the phrases in spanish. But in general there are soooo many free online resources to learn spanish, google them and make use of the ones that you like best!

updated MAY 27, 2008
posted by Mademoiselle-M
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i'm not quite a beginner but that's really great advice for me too. thanks!

updated MAY 27, 2008
posted by 003487d6