Archive for the ‘Language Learning’ Category

Forgetting your Spanish too quickly? Take a nap

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

(Philadelphia) If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter to sneak in some extra studying right before a test, you’ll be surprised to find out that your study spree was probably detrimental to your performance the next day. Assistant Neuroscience professor Marcos Frank, PhD and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have published research describing how cells change to promote the formation of memories when you sleep.

“This is the first real direct insight into how the brain, on a cellular level, changes the strength of its connections during sleep,” Frank says.

According to Frank, the brain is fundamentally different– in terms of biochemical, enzymatic changes– when sleeping than when awake. “To our amazement, we found that these enzymes never really turned on until the animal had a chance to sleep,” Frank explains, “As soon as the animal had a chance to sleep, we saw all the machinery of memory start to engage.”

This research focuses on how memories are formed or stored, not how they are recalled. But if you want to correctly recall Spanish vocabulary, it needs to be stored first. So, if you want to remember what you’re working to learn, sleep on it.

Source: Penn Study Shows Why Sleep is Needed to Form Memories

6 Reasons you Should Talk to Strangers in Spanish

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Practicing your Spanish is one of the things you’re going to have to do if you want to cross the border from Crossing The Border I took 2 years of college Spanish territory to the country of I can fluently converse in this language.

You should take every opportunity you have to speak with someone in Spanish, and use it for your benefit. You might start with just a word or a comment, and the other person will most likely welcome the conversation.

How to start? It’s as easy as “Hola”, “Buenos Días”, “Hace mucho frío”, “Hace mucho calor”, or “Gracias”.

If you do this you’ll start reaping the benefits.

Benefits of striking up conversation with strangers

1. You meet new people, and possibly even gain new friends.
2. You will get more respect– others who have a fear of talking to strangers will respect you more, as well as your interlocutor.
3. You’ll learn new things. The person you’re talking with has interests, ideas, and goals. Finding out what they think will open doors for you and you’ll learn all kinds of things.
4. Every time you do it, it will become easier. You will start overcoming fear if you’re fearful of speaking with strangers, and if it simply makes you uncomfortable, once you’re used to it, that uneasiness will be gone.
5. There’s really no risk– after all, you don’t know the person, so what would it possibly matter if they think poorly of you?
6. Your Spanish will improve. Every chance you get to speak with someone in Spanish is another chance for your conversational skills to improve.

So, when was the last time you talked with a complete stranger in Spanish? When was the last time you talked to anyone in Spanish?

9 Tips to Keep You Motivated, Commited and Inspired to Study Spanish

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

You want to learn Spanish. You’re inspired to study the language. You’re gung-ho about putting in the time and effort necessary to learn. You’re highly motivated.

How can you stay that way long enough to actually learn the language?

You’re motivated, committed and ready. Here’s some tips for staying that way.

Commit to 30 days. If can pass the thirty day mark in your language studies, you’ll form a habit. That habit of studying language will help push you to continue doing it.

Study every day. I’m convinced you need to take time every day to study and review what you’re learning. This can be 30 minutes, an hour, or more, but you need to have some input in your target language every day.

Reward yourself. I’ve said often that motivation is an important factor in language learning. Rewarding yourself after you reach certain goals is a great way to foment motivation.

Recognize that it’s painful. Learning can be painful. It’s not always easy. It takes time. You’ll have to sacrifice. Realize this and accept it. You’ll know that you’re paying a price, but the reward is great. As much as the natural language proponents want, you’ll never learn as easily and as naturally as an infant because you’re not an infant.

Remember it gets easier. Just as learning is a painful, costly experience, it also gets easier. As you learn the basic building blocks of Spanish, the rest will become easier and easier.

Get a partner. Find someone who’ll commit to learning Spanish with you. Compare your successes and failures. Encourage each other.

Keep it simple. At least at the beginning of your studies, don’t worry if you run into a complex grammatical construction that you can’t make heads nor tails of. Forget about it and go on. This will accomplish two things. You won’t bog yourself down and lose motivation trying to understand something that with you current knowledge isn’t feasible, and second, you will have more time to continue with the studies that are at your level. So forget about the things you can’t understand at the moment. In due time all things will be revealed to you.

Diversify. You need to have a varied approach to learning language. You need to listen, read and speak some Spanish. You need a bit of grammar, as long as explicitly learning grammar doesn’t scare you off. If the idea of grammar causes such anxiety in you that you can’t learn, they don’t even study grammar. Take the slower, more natural approach of subconsciously deducing grammar from the language you’re learning. The key here is to take a varied approach to learning.

Keep your goal in mind. While learning can be a slow process, keep in mind that you don’t have to know all of a language to start using it. Very soon after starting your studies, you can start using your new language in meaningful ways. Your goal of speaking Spanish is closer than you think.

Happy August 24th!

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Happy Birthday Tomísimo Blog!!!
It’s been one year to the day since I kicked off posting on this blog. My first attempt was an uninteresting update on the Tomísimo logo, but since then I think I’ve been able to post at least a few useful things for you all.

I’ve sifted through all 113 posts from the last 365 days and the following are the cream of the crop, the most helpful posts of the year.

  1. Five common mistakes that English speakers make when learning Spanish.

  2. Seven tips for foreign language learning success.

  3. The right way to use a bilingual dictionary.

  4. Focus on learning the Spanish you’re interested in.

  5. The 24 most useful Spanish words you can learn.

  6. Nine vital factors in language learning.

  7. Have you got attitude?

  8. The one most important thing you can do to learn a foreign language.

  9. Memory tricks to help you learn vocabulary.

  10. Eleven way to learn Spanish or any other foreign language.

Here’s to hoping (and knowing) this coming year will be even better than this last one.

What Do Learning Spanish and a Brick Wall Have in Common?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

bricks.jpg
The Spanish language is not a brick wall, although you may feel you’ve ran you head into it more than once.

Nor is the language learner like a brick wall.

Building a brick wall uses the same process as gaining language fluency and offers us a solid metaphor for language learning.

Building Blocks

As a bricklayer begins building a wall, he joins the bricks together with mortar, placing each brick carefully, and ensures that the wall rises vertically at 90 degrees.

Each Spanish word you learn is a brick. You begin placing them at the base of your language learning, joining them together with the grammar rules you are learning. You place one word upon another, just as with bricks. One of the first words you learned was libro, then when the word librería came up, you easily placed that brick upon the first one and your Spanish language structure became stronger. When you learned of libreta, librero, and libresco those bricks were easily secured to the structure based on the foundation of the previous words.

Every time you learn a new word, it becomes attached to the language structure you are forming, strengthening the structure. As the structure grows and becomes more solid, it becomes easier and easier to add new words.

A House of Cards

We are building a brick structure, firmly mortared in place, and not a house of cards. Be deliberate with every new word. Give yourself a reason to remember it. Relate it to previous words you already know and use, causing it to adhere firmly to your structure. If you let words in one ear and out the other, it’s like throwing a brick at your wall and wishing it would magically find it’s place and stick there, even becoming a foundation for other new words.

It won’t happen.

Randomly studying the language without taking the effort to consolidate what you’re learning into a strong and well-understood foundation is like building a house of cards. You can only build so long before it crashes.

Drive-Thru Language Learning

We’re spoiled with instant this and while-you-wait that. People want a fast-food language learning experience. Instead of investing the time to properly marinate the steaks, they want to pull up, order, and drive away with a steaming bag of McSpanish.

Language learning shouldn’t be rushed.

Take your time to carefully lay just a few bricks, and wait for the mortar to harden before adding more. Take a single paragraph of real, live Spanish from a newspaper and force yourself to learn every single word in it. Use each one of those words in a new sentence. Then review those words every day for two weeks. You’ll be laying good solid bricks that will allow your language learning structure to grow larger than, and last longer than the Coliseum.

Bricks and Mortar Together

dry-stone-sm.jpgYou’ve probably seen ancient dry stone fences and walls. They can be strong and last a long time, but are usually made by interlocking the stones. You could build a dry brick wall with carefully laid bricks, but if you use mortar, it’ll be stronger.

As you continue to learn words and expand your vocabulary, you also need some grammar and some knowledge of how to put those words together and form sentences. Would you build a house using only bricks or using only mortar? What good it is to know grammar but not know any words so you can put it to use? And how can it help you to have a large vocabulary if the longest sentence you can muster consists of two words? Try to strike a balance so you can grow your language with the correct mixture of bricks and mortar.

Now go buy a periódico, pick a paragraph, and start laying those bricks.

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