You’ve already bought a Spanish at Home books, so you’re well on your way to a fun and effective Spanish-learning experience. Good for you! With plenty of features—like a combination of vocabulary and grammar, exercises, common mistakes to avoid, and accompanying CDs with pronunciation guides and live recordings of private Spanish classes—our books cover a lot of ground that many other books don’t. How you approach all of this information can make a big difference to how much of it you remember and how easily you learn it. So, what’s the best way to use our Spanish at Home books? Read on, brave language warrior.
Step 1: Read the Vocabulary
Every chapter will begin with a list of vocabulary words on a certain topic. Before you do anything else, read through the vocabulary list a couple of times and try to commit it to memory. Say the words aloud to yourself. Cover the English and try reading through the list and remembering what each word’s translation is. Don’t worry if you can’t get them all, because you’ll get more practice later, but try to get a good grasp on most of them.
Mnemonics are a learning technique where you try to come up with tricks that will help you remember something, and they are a fantastic tool to use in your language learning. This can be a rhyme, an acronym, a play on words, or anything else you can come up with. For example, you can remember woman is mujer because women have more hair! It’s fun, and incredibly effective for helping you remember unfamiliar words.
Step 2: Read the Grammar
After the vocabulary will come the grammar. The grammar will usually have a lot to do with the vocabulary: for example, a vocabulary list of numbers will be followed with rules for talking about time. So going over the grammar is a great way to gain more familiarity with all the new words you just saw. Like you did with the vocabulary, read the grammar sentences aloud to yourself. You might find it helpful to copy down the grammar rules in a separate notebook—physically writing something can do wonders to help you remember it later.
Step 3: Listen to the First Part of that Lesson’s Audio
Once you’ve got some familiarity with the vocabulary and grammar, start listening to the lesson’s CD. The first part of the audio lesson will go over the chapter’s vocabulary and grammar. Now you’ll be able to picture the words as you hear them spoken, and hearing the words spoken will help you remember how they’re written. It will also teach you how to pronounce them correctly. The grammar will also be explained a bit further in the CDs.
The first time you listen to the CDs, it’s good to have the book as a reference. After that, you can listen to the CDs in the car or put the audio on your mp3 player for a great way to review wherever you are.
Step 4: Complete the Practice Exercises
Now that you’ve learned all the grammar and vocabulary on your own and reviewed it with the CDs, it’s time to try your hand at the exercises. Complete these as best as you can—and try not to look back at the grammar and vocabulary! Remember, you’re trying to practice what you should have already learned. In case you make some mistakes, it’s a good idea to do the exercises on a separate sheet of paper. Once you’ve finished all of the questions for that lesson, you can check your answers in the back of the book. It’s okay if you don’t get everything right—that just helps you see what you need more practice with. If you see you’ve made some mistakes, then you can go back and review that part of the lesson.
Step 5: Listen to the Second Part of that Lesson’s Audio
The second part of the lesson’s audio will feature a live recording of a private Spanish class covering the chapter’s topics. In the recording, you’ll hear a real Spanish student try learning the same things you just have, and you’ll be able to hear the teacher explain the concepts and correct the student’s mistakes. Listening to the second half of the lesson is a great way to review and reinforce all that you’ve learned, and catch some of the mistakes you’ve made yourself. The end of the audio, as well as the end of the written lesson, will go over common mistakes that many students make when learning the material from that chapter. Make sure to take note of these, and review them in your own exercises!
Step 6: Review As Much as Necessary Before Moving On
Even after all of this practice, you may still not have everything completely down. That’s okay! Learning a new language is tough business. The most important quality to have is patience, patience, patience. So after studying all of the grammar and vocabulary, listening to the first half of the lesson, completing the exercises, and listening to the live recording of the class, return to the chapter’s exercises. Did you make any mistakes? Redo those problems. Even if, in your head, you can say what mistake you made, write down the correct answer anyway, just to reinforce it. Then, before moving on, make one final sweep through the chapter: go over everything one last time to make sure you’re comfortably familiar with all of it. Cover the English translations of the words. Do you know them all? Without looking at the book, ask yourself the grammar questions, then answer yourself, and then check what you said with what’s written in the lesson. Did you get it all correct? Yes? Great! Time to move on to the next lesson!
This may sound like a lot, but the lessons are well-structured so that the grammar and vocabulary reinforce each other, and you’re not trying to remember too much in any one lesson. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun and incredibly rewarding! Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged, and don’t try to rush through the lessons without making sure you’ve really absorbed the information. And before you know it, the book will be done, and you’ll be speaking Spanish!