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3 methods in learning Spanish: Translation, interpretation and transcription

methods in learning spanish

When looking up for that word that has endless meaning or you just don’t know what it means, what do you do? Do you run to your electronic dictionary tucked away in your pocket or cellular phone? Or, better yet, do you have an electronic device that translates words for you? But let’s consider that using translators has to be the last resort to use when trying to figure out the meaning of a word.


Translate derives from the Latin L. translatus and trans- means across. Hence, translate signifies to move across to another place or to write or speak words into another language. Some translators may not even translate the word properly and others may not be in tune with the cultural aspect of the foreign language.

For example, if you’re trying to translate the Spanish word taco, it can be translated into several ways: Mexican dish, shoe heel, a wad of papers, book, cue, cube, and many more. Imagine if you’re trying to write a paper or essay and need to use the word taco. Which one would you use?

Which one would you know to use? You have to use a different source such as an encyclopedia or an educational Internet website. As a matter of fact, translators should be used very rarely in conversations, meetings, or speeches. In these cases, interpreters should be used to translate with accuracy from one language to another.



Interpretation derives from the Latin L. interpres to negotiate and inter- means between or among. Hence, interpretation is to explain or provide one’s interpretation of something. In this case, interpreters are an excellent source to provide proper information about a word or phrase based on the cultural experience.

Interpreters can provide the necessary tools to translate that unknown word, phrase, or article and give it the right meaning. But you don’t have to solely rely on a person interpreter to obtain a translation of a word.

Sometimes, to gather information about certain words and phrases can come from attending Spanish classes or immersion classes. To grasp a better understanding about the language, it is even better to live it – in foreign exchange classes. Sometimes you might need a transcription of certain words or phrases.


Transcription derives from the Latin trans, which means over and scribere, which means to write. In other words, transcription is the ability to make a written recording or copy of words. Transcripts are more commonly used in court hearings or medical professionals.

Court reporters or stenographers use a special device called stenography to record all court events. Medical transcriptionist converts medical recordings to text. Transcripts are also used for transcribing Spanish textbooks or workbooks.

Authors may transcribe recording notes. But Spanish learners would rarely use this type of language learning method.

Translation, interpretation, and transcription denote different meaning in many cases. Which one would you use to better represent that unknowingly word or phrase? It all depends on how you want to use it in context.

What method have you used recently to learn Spanish?

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Facts about illiteracy: Helping struggling readers


According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), more than 19,000 adults (ages 16 years old and over) in the US alone participated in the study. In fact, more than 1,200 inmates were evaluated in the program. Yes, that’s right, millions of people in the U.S. don’t know how to read or write. These are young adults or seniors who don’t have the capability to read.

In an extensive study compiled in 2003, NAAL informs that more than 30 million Americans who don’t know how to read or write in comparison to studies in 1992. The 2003 study further states that 15% of the total NAAL population did not graduate high school. These are alarming statistics that speak for themselves.


Helping Struggling Readers Succeed

As educators, the responsibility to promote literacy starts at home. Literacy begins at a young age and at home, not just school. No matter the cultural background, students can still learn to read and write. Perhaps, they might have a learning disability that was misdiagnosed or misrepresented. With so many new learning techniques and tools, the struggling reader can learn to read and write. As the National Right to Read Foundation (NRRF) better puts it,

“[t]eaching children to read is the most important objective educators have to accomplish. Reading is a prerequisite for everything else, not only in school but in life itself.”

It all starts at home.

Moreover, these statistics further suggest that young adults are not graduating high school or completing a General Educational Development or better known as G. E. D. program. It’s further represented in a yearly study by the U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. It states that the dropout rate has decreased from 14% (in 1980) to 8.1% (in 2009).

Yet, there’s still more that needs to be done. Enforcing the importance of continuing education and providing the necessary tools to succeed are vital to maintaining those low statistics. There are many programs that are free or low-cost, which can help someone in need of a GED preparation. Students can always find more information at the American Council on Education or their local library.

Finding the right educational tools to prepare for learning to read and write can sometimes be a challenge. But students shouldn’t feel frustrated. Asking for help is the first step in getting closer to learning to read better or improving those reading skills.