Monday, April 28, 2008

Back home

As you might have seen (did a small comment yesterday) I'm back. I went to Málaga last week for a small intensive course (way too short, but it was something arranged by my college) and a stay with a family. Staying with the family was great, the people were nice and the mother was a teacher herself. So not only I learned a lot from her, we also discussed learning methods (in Spanish, of course). The language intitute was just great. Normally I think classes suck in general, especially my college classes (I still attend my college classes, but at times I hate them), but the way the people at the institute were able to explain things... WOW!

The trip showed me some things that'll be valuable to you (and me, of course), especially regarding grammar. So expect some posts on that.

In the meanwhile I urge you to stick to your sentences. This trip was the first trip to Spain after I started doing my sentences on a daily basis, and the results were stunning. The family I stayed with were impressed by how well I could express myself (the correct use of different words, the vocabulary range, etc., etc.) and that my grammar was correct most of the time (I know I'm arrogant, hehe). And although I did some serious grammar studying next to the sentences, most of my speaking abilities (yes, speaking abilities from reading) came from the sentences.

Now I first need to switch back from Spanish-mode to Dutch/English-mode.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cuentos en Español

Stories in Spanish. This is something I wanted to share with you earlier, but simple didn't have the chance to do so. Remember me writing about children's books, and how important they're for beginners? Right, I gave some tips for books, but unfortunately it's quite difficult to get them if you're not a member of Instituto Cervantes. Luckily enough there are some neat resources, of which I'd like to discuss one in this post.

Eleena of Voices en Español came up with the great idea of posting Spanish [translations of] children's stories on the web, with the exact audio done by a native speaker. The accent of the speaker may vary, as the speakers vary. Nonetheless it's a great source of reading-listening, next to the nice and simple (although real enough) language. Copying the audio to your mp3-player and printing out the text is a great way to learn while commuting. I'm actually planning to do so and just bring a marker with me so I can colour the unknown words and add the sentences to Anki.

The plan is to add one story per week, so there should be plenty of materials soon enough!

Click here for Cody's Cuentos.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

The coming up week I'm quite busy. I've got a psychology paper to finish and have a Spanish exam on Tuesday. So new posts have to wait after that. Besides, the week after, I'll be in Málaga for about one week.

So sorry for not updating much, but I promise I'll post at least one more thing before I leave for Spain.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reasons why NOT stop studying Spanish

People think of a lot of reasons before they start studying a language. How useful is it to be able to speak the language? (in the case of Spanish; VERY!) Is it possible for me to use it in the near future? (in the case of Spanish; probably, yes) Can I get enough materials to learn the language? (Spanish; YES!) Do I really want to learn this language? (that depends on you, hehe) Etc. Etc.

But when they eventually start studying a language and stop after a while, they don't even consider why they should stop. Has the language suddenly become less useful (this is possible, depends on your situation) or has your source of material suddenly dried up (don't give this as a reason regarding Spanish, because there's ALWAYS material for Spanish)? It doesn't matter actually, because most 'reasons' are no actual reasons, most people simply don't have a reason to stop studying Spanish (or any other language). It's simply lazyness. So here are a few reasons why you shouldn't stop studying Spanish.

1. Think about your reason to start studying Spanish
Is it because that cute Spanish girl you met last summer? Do you love the mentality of people in Bolivia? Do you like Mexican food and want to move to Mexico because of this (yes, Mexican food is good, so it's not that weird to move for this)? Whatever your reason is/was, it still counts in most cases. Just think about it every day to motivate yourself. Personally, my first reason to start studying Spanish was because I liked the sound of the language. It still like the sound, but also got some great Spanish friends who only speak Spanish and no other languages. Currently that's even a bigger reason to become better.

2. The time you've invested so far
How many hours have you spent studying Spanish? 10 hours? 100 hours? 200 hours? Again, it doesn't matter. Every 10 minutes well-spent counts. You don't want to be that person that invested a lot of effort in something to forget everything later on, don't you? Why would you start running 10 km to quit after 4 km and return? It's a waste of energy, even if just started studying. Every minute learning (and then I mean learning in a correct way) is spent well, no doubt about it.

3. Look back
This connects with the point above. You look back and see what you've achieved so far. What were your successes? How did you feel when you achieved these things? When I look a year back, I see this bilingual guy, who couldn't roll his R's and could only say hola ¿cómo estás?. Now, I see this guy who has several Spanish(-speaking) friends, can roll his R's, can fake accents and can simply have fun going out with Spanish friends and speaking nothing else than Spanish. I couldn't imagine what I know now, and I'm still not even near where I want to be (at times, I still suck. Actually, most of the time. But that doesn't matter). But I'm happy what I've reached so far, and eager to continue.

4. Think of the joy
Image yourself being in a Spanish-speaking country, hanging out with cool people, going to cool clubs and bars, and meeting cool new people. That's what can happen if you succeed in being fluent in Spanish. You just made it possible for you to get connected with over 400 milion people, on the same level of communication. IF you succeed. Don't be the person dreaming about being in a Spanish-speaking country and doing cool things with natives. Be the person who DOES these things.

5. Money
Although money shouldn't be your first reason to study Spanish, it's perfectly possible to make a nice amount of money every month if you're good at it. Moving to a Spanish-speaking country might get you a well-paid job (for that country, most likely) and living like a god in France (Dutch saying, hehe). Even if you don't move to a Spanish-speaking country, Spanish might get you the job you truly enjoy (teacher? translator?).

6. Integrate in other cultures
Although going to clubs and bars is fun, learning another language also involves learning another culture and customs. When I was studying Russian I was able to integrate in a completely other culture. Studying Spanish involves learning a slightly less extreme way of integrating, but it's still different to what you're used to in most ways. Especially in Latin-America there are countries with some cool, pre-Hispanic, customs. Getting to know these opens a totally different world for you.

7. ...
I can mention a lot of other reasons why NOT top stop studying Spanish, but I think the point is clear and that you should convince yourself. Just don't quit when you're having a hard time getting the hang of the language, just continue.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Andalucía Televisión

Just a quick post from my side. In the last post I talked about getting native materials and that getting a satellite dish might be a nice solution. For the people who can't afford one and depend on the internet for their Spanish materials I found Andalucía Televisión. As you probably know, Andalucians have a quite heavy Iberian accent (at least the majority, there are quite come ceceos), but it's great television nevertheless.

From here you can watch a live stream in a Youtube-like player (unfortunately it's not available in full-screen, I think). You can also watch previous episodes of their programmes by searching for them in the right frame. On top of this, there are some radio stations which are actually quite good (both the music and the DJ's).

I suggest you check it out (especially if you're learning an Iberian accent) and try to make watching/listening it a daily routine.

TeleMadrid got a similair service, but the quality of the stream is pretty bad in my opinion.