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How to Learn Spanish in 2014 from LightSpeed Spanish

school scale blog 2014How to Learn Spanish.

Those who massage the truth.

Firstly, for your own sakes, let us be the bearers of the bad news. Despite what you might see awash throughout the internet, the claims that some rather unscrupulous companies make about learning Spanish in three months are to be viewed with extreme caution.

Let us explain what we mean when we say that.

When you decide to embark on your learning journey, you have to be fairly clear about “WHY”  you are choosing to learn Spanish.  This will help you clarify just WHAT LEVEL of Spanish you want to achieve.

Some people believe that if they can order a meal, pass the time of day and buy a beer in Spanish then they are fluent.

Some people believe that if they can talk fluently in Spanish regardless of what it is they are saying (fluently crap) then they have arrived.

Some people believe that fluent means being able to speak in every tense available in Spanish without making a mistake.

And so it is for that reason that  the clear promises made to teach you to become “fluent” in three months, or overnight, or in a weekend, or with 500 words are ambiguous to say the least.

And so, the question for you is: “WHAT DOES FLUENT MEAN?”

Your perception of fluent may not be that of the person next to you and so, it is by knowing for what reason you want to use your Spanish that you will know which course is the right one for you.

How do I choose the right course for me?

These days, there is absolutely no need to shell out lots of cash to start learning Spanish. In fact, we would suggest to you that YOU SHOULD NOT pay large amounts of money to get started.

Why?

Because of one simple factor. In every beginners class that we have run, we have found that after ten weeks 75% of the class has given up!

Imagine investing 100’s of dollars, pounds, euros or whatever your currency is only to find after a few weeks that it just isn’t for you.

Far better to start off with the vast amount of free material out there.

But if I invest money won’t it make me more motivated?

If our experience is anything to go by, this is not the case at the beginning. We have seen many students who have invested a lot of money in books and more books and CD’s and anything else and after all that, they have given up without having even opened most of their material.

So what should I do to motivate myself?

This is easy. The biggest motivator for you is the time that you have invested in learning Spanish. The secret of how to learn Spanish is to invest as much time as you can in it. What happens is this: THE MORE TIME YOU INVEST; THE LESS LIKELY YOU ARE TO GIVE IT UP.

Time is our most precious asset and when we invest a lot of it in one area of our lives, we expect payback.

So, where should I start?

You start at the beginning. There are so many options but our suggestion is to choose the free ones. Here at LightSpeed Spanish we offer free video podcasts that help you through a step by step process of learning, from basics all the way through to Advanced. Our podcasts have been produced based on our years of teaching experience and follow a logical sequence using real Spanish in day to day situations.

Of course, we would never say that you should only use our materials. There is a wealth of material out there and we celebrate this fact as it helps us even more to help you. If you have an Android phone, there are some great Apps that help you work daily on your vocabulary and sentence construction.

When should I start?

There is no time like the present! To really get your Spanish moving, all you need do is to go to the very first beginner’s podcast of ours and start to work your way through. Repeat them, skip them, go back and watch again, if you have doubts, ask us. Study daily, become a little obsessed, get passionate and just do it!

We will be with you at every step of the way. Come and join us on our Facebook page and join an ever growing group of enthusiastic students who will show you how to learn Spanish in 2014.

Buena suerte, Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

 

 

Beginners Spanish Podcast 28 – Easy Spanish Tips and Suggestions

help button scaleEasy Spanish?

This may sound like a cliché and let’s be clear, what we are saying here is NOT the following:

Easy Spanish in one weekend!

Easy Spanish with 300 words!

Easy Spanish without verbs!

or even

Easy Spanish whilst you sleep!

and the best we’ve seen,

Easy Spanish without studying!

 

 Así no se hace.

No, no, no. Our suggestion is to steer clear of anything that claims to be magical.

When we say, Easy Spanish, what we are referring to are ways to make your Spanish easier to use. There are many great ways of learning Spanish and we certainly do not claim to offer you the only way to learn.

However, over time we have found that there are some things that really do make a difference. We already have talked in a previous podcast about ensuring that you READ, WRITE, LISTEN and SPEAK Spanish every day, even if it’s just a matter of a few minutes of each.

It seems that one of the best ways of learning a language is to chunk it down into small bites. When you look at the entire process involved in learning Spanish, you could easily become overwhelmed by the vastness of it all.

That’s why it’s better just to look at the next step, whilst being vaguely aware of what lies ahead without worrying overly about it.

Another important requirement is repetition. Just because you’ve seen one thing does not mean that it’s logged into your mind. It’s the dogged repetition that does that.

I’ve lost count of the times in which I have covered a particular subject or grammar point for the fourth or fifth time with a student and only then have they had that wonderful “lightbulb” moment in which it all fits together for them.

Quite often they say to me: “Ah, I get it now. Why didn’t you tell me that before!”

Of course, I had done, many times before, but they simply weren’t in the right place to understand it.

Learning language is like working on a giant 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and the problem is that you’ve lost the box top that had the whole picture on it. You can recall vaguely what it was, but the details aren’t available.

So, what happens is that you have to start forming the corners, the edges etc. and little by little you get pieces of the image, but not the whole picture.

Sometimes you manage to get a little cluster of pieces that fit together but you have no idea where they fit into the whole puzzle.

And so that’s why you can have lots of information and still feel confused about what it is you are doing. It’s only when one important piece links lots of others that you get that “KERJING” moment and you see the bigger picture.

Remember the 80/20 rule and you’ll be much calmer and more patient with yourself.

Learning Spanish is 80% frustration and confusion and 20% clarity. Expect it to be like that and you’ll find yourself enjoying the whole process. Welcome the confusion, because we’ve always found that just after confusion comes clarity.

Sometimes, you have to wait a while for it to arrive, however! 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Early Intermediate Spanish Podcast 27 – To Ask in Spanish. Pedir and Preguntar

pizza scale earl inter 27To ask in Spanish.

This may seem like a fairly straight forward subject for the more advanced student of the Spanish language, yet it should not be underestimated.

There are a number of issues that come along with these two verbs and because of that, we often hear our students committing errors when they formulate sentences with them.

Firstly, perhaps many of you know that PEDIR means TO ASK FOR. Whilst PREGUNTAR  simply means TO ASK in Spanish.

Examples.

So when we want to make a sentence like:

I want to ask for a map. = Yo quiero pedir un mapa.

It’s very easy for us to choose PEDIR.

 

And when we want to say:

I’m going to ask. = Yo voy a preguntar.

It’s obvious that we should choose PREGUNTAR.

 

Test your Spanish.

But what about when we want to ask in Spanish the following question. Which verb should we use?

I wonder, should I ask the gentleman over in the corner with the brown jacket and black trousers for directions to the town centre?

Now, which verb should we use, PREGUNTAR or PEDIR?

Decide now before reading on.

Sometimes it’s not so clear due to the way we  structure our sentence. We are listening for a clear “ASK” or “ASK FOR”  and so we can be tricked into thinking that we should use PREGUNTAR when we really should be using PEDIR.

If you chose PEDIR…muy bien hecho.

If you chose PREGUNTAR, look at the sentence again.

I wonder if I should ask the gentleman over in the corner with the brown jacket and black trousers for directions to the town centre.

So, as you can see, sometimes the words “ask for” are separated by other information and yet we must be aware of them.

 

And then the redundant pronouns…

To add a little confusion into the pot, when we use these verbs we have to be concious of the need to use the pronouns in third person EVEN IF YOU MENTION THE PERSONS NAME.

Now, before you go cross eyed and close this page down, don’t worry too much about this. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t so difficult. We have already covered this in our previous podcasts.

If you are not sure about what we are talking about, take a look at these two podcasts: (Unfortunately they are in Spanish only)

Podcast 15 Adv Inter

Podcast 14 Adv Inter

Our best advice is to listen in to the podcast and take from it what you can get. There’s something for every level. Remember, Spanish is learnt through a process of little steps and not with one big leap. Some things you hear this time may not fit into the puzzle until much later. That’s very normal.

Pues, buena suerte chicos. Esperamos que os guste y que os valga.

 

Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

El Aula – Ser and Estar Getting them right (1 of 3)

persons scale ser estar el aula

Ser and Estar.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that as students of the Spanish language, we choose the wrong one, VERY OFTEN. lol. One of the reasons that we have problems with these two verbs is that, normally, in our own language we have only one.

Also, errors occur when we don’t understand how the two verbs work and what they really mean.

The idea of this video blog is to help you understand how these verbs work and in what situations you would choose one against the other.

Once we have addressed the SER and ESTAR conundrum, we´ll move on to look at the Preterite and Imperfect tenses. The reason for this is that we have found that many students get the rules mixed up between SER and ESTAR and PRETERITE and IMPERFECT. As you can imagine, this can make what was already a tricky situation into a distaster!

The last video in the series will the one in which we pull together everything and look at the WAS words that have caused us all so many issues and frustration.

Why are there two verbs TO BE?

So many times I’m asked that question and my answer tends to be the same every time.

I have no idea…they just do.

This is not the answer that the students expect, but, in my opinion, it’s the only one that has any validity. Why? Because sometimes asking why doesn’t help you at all. Some things just are, an my suggestion is that when faced with strange situations like  SER and ESTAR, it’s best just to accept it and get on understanding HOW to deal with it.

When to choose SER

Ser is a verb that principally deals with the expected, the normal, our shared beliefs or what we perceive as permanent things.

In the video I cover a range of situations in which SER is used along with a way to think about it that might help you make the right choice in the future.

Think about this:

What colour is grass?

I imagine that the first answer that came to mind is “green”.

This is what we call a shared belief. It’s what we expect.  AND THIS IS “SER

However, that doesn’t get away from the fact that grass can often be others colours, right?

If it gets no sun, it can be yellow. If it is dying it can be brown. However, this is not normal. It’s not the colour that we expect grass to be.

When something does not fit into our shared expectation, or even our individual expectation WE USE ESTAR.

 

So, for example:

La hierba ES verde. (SER, what we expect)

La hierba ESTÁ marrón. (ESTAR, outside of the normal.)

La hierba ESTÁ amarillo. (ESTAR, outside of the normal.)

Using this system along with all the others that you already have will help to plug the gaps in the areas in which the other rules either don’t apply or are not as clear.

Remember: Native Spanish speakers don’t need to know these rules, nor think about them. They know them naturally, from having spent years hearing every possible combination there is.

As students of the language, we don’t have that luxury.

So, listen in and watch on and together “podemos lograrlo”.

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

 

The Present Spanish Subjunctive 2 – Hopes and Maybes

maybe scaleSubjunctive and Indicative.

For us to study the Spanish Subjunctive, we must also understand the way we refer to the present tense. It’s called the “indicative”, which is purely the present tense, the one that we learn when we first begin to study Spanish.

Most times, when talking about this subject we ask: “Subjunctive or not subjunctive?” when really a better question would be: “Subjunctive or indicative?”

The Triggers.

Now that we have gotten into the meat of this subject, we can start looking at the real triggers that signal the need for the present Spanish subjunctive.

Probably, the most common element in 90% of all subjunctive sentences is the word QUE. As I explain in the video, QUE is I heavily worked word in Spanish and often causes confusion with students as they see it appearing “por todos lados” in their studies.

If you want to refresh your understanding of QUE, then why not take a look at our video blog on this subject.

What you must be cautious of, however, when working with the Spanish subjunctive, is not to imagine that it’s QUE  is the only word that triggers it off.

Rather, it is the appearance of QUE with other sentence structures that normally creates a need to use the subjunctive.

A frequent confusion.

Many students get a little confused about where to place the subjunctive verb once the trigger has been fired off. I explain in the video blog that normally the subjunctive is placed in the verb that FOLLOWS the trigger. Sometimes I have heard students placing the subjunctive on the trigger verb. This is not correct.

Ejemplo:

Here’s an example of how it works most times :

Espero que (trigger) mañana venga (following verb) temprano.

or

Tal vez (trigger) no quiera (following verb) decírnoslo.

So, as you can note, the Spanish subjunctive appears in the verb that follows the trigger and not in the trigger itself.

Also, typically, once the following verb has been used in the subjunctive, that’s everything done and you don’t need to continue adding each verb in the subjunctive.

Ejemplo:

Él espera que ( trigger) yo le llame (following verb) cada día porque se siente (normal indicative) muy solo.

 

Two or more in a row.

Of course, the exception to this suggestion is when there is a continuation of the “hope” across more than one verb.

Ejemplo:

Mi amiga espera que (trigger) vaya (following verb) a su fiesta y que (continued trigger) traiga (following verb) comida y bebida, también.

Here, you can see that although there isn’t a new trigger verb, by adding QUE, the trigger is extended and thus requires another subjunctive verb to follow it.

With this in mind, now it’s time to look at the video and start adding these handy triggers to your spoken Spanish.

 

Buena suerte.

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson