How To Help Someone Learn Spanish

Learning another language is a marathon, not a sprint.
Along the path to success, a few great guides are always needed. A supportive, competent guide helps set goals, plan a better course, and provide new ideas and materials. Here are a few ideas to get your language-guide skills up and moving:
  • Encourage speaking in Spanish. Ask questions at dinner, have them name items around the house/town, etc.
  • Host a foreign film night! Either select a Spanish-speaking film or switch the language track on the DVD to Spanish. Turn on the English subtitles – or the Spanish ones! – and settle in with a bowl of palomitas.
  • Point out news items of global interest and discuss the multicultural implications and various points of view possible.
  • Become a “Flashcard Master“! Encourage consistent review of material every three days (incorporate new terms as you go – but don’t lose the old ones!). If it can’t be remembered about three days, it most certainly won’t be remembered in three weeks or months! Place flashcards on the stairs with the challenge that the reponse be correct before “advancing” up or down.
  • Buy some dry erase markers and race them! They can write the English or the Spanish for any word given on a window or mirror of your choosing. (No worries, dry erase markers wipe off with a rag.) The unusual writing spot will entertain their brain and make it more memorable.
  • Applaud and encourage learning often! Remember that it takes years to become fluent, but proficiency with certain topics will come much faster with practice and encouragement.
  • Invest in a voice recorder and record practice sessions, make mini-podcasts of vocabulary to play back on iPods or computers, etc.
  • Visit the class website and keep up with them.
  • Encourage speaking and using Spanish as much as possible – even if it is mixed with English, etc.
  • Point out signs, brochures, magazines, newspapers, etc and make a game of picking out the cognates you see. (Cognates are words that look like their English or Spanish counterpart. But be warned – there are FALSE cognates too! False cognates are look-alikes with very different definitions!)
  • Visit local stores, markets, bakeries, restaurants, etc where Spanish is spoken and encourage participation!
  • Listen to the radio (1360AM and 99.3FM), listen to international broadcasts (on the web or via iTunes), find podcasts (like ABC news in Spanish (5 minutes long only!), etc.
  • Watch TV shows in Spanish. Turn on the Spanish subtitles on your TV when watching a show. Every little bit helps!
Do you have an idea that works for you? Please send it along to me! I’d love to add it to the list and give you credit too!