Taking the leap to learn another language can be a difficult one. It involves selecting the proper program regardless of age group. Adults that want to continue learning a second language need a different curriculum than preschoolers or young children. Adolescents and young adults need different parameters and reading materials.
As a matter of fact, it also involves a notion of what you want out of learning a second language. Making a reflection plan can help you understand your language learning goals. Where do you start?
When you decide to take the big leap to start learning Spanish or even refresh a few words or phrases, how do you go about selecting the right tools to do so? When selecting Spanish reference books, you may want to consider a few features.
Ask yourself, what is it that I want this book or software to help me with? Do I want easy on-the-go lessons to refresh my Spanish or do I want a reference to help me with more concrete basics like grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and literature.
1. Grammar explanations
Are the chapters easily explained to understand the grammar? When books or textbooks can present materials in simple terms, it is a great reference book to keep. Spanish grammar is different in many aspects. But it doesn’t have to be difficult to learn about basic concepts. Chapters, lessons, and examples need to be related to daily life and tasks to truly grasp the concepts.
2. Ample Exercises
But a good explanation needs to be followed by plenty of exercises. The examples need to relate to the concepts in the chapter to better understand the topic. There needs to be sufficient exercises to make a relation between what is being learned and the explanation. Workbooks are great educational tools to practice Spanish grammar.
Pronunciation is key to beginning to understand Spanish. And dictionaries are great reference tools to understand the phonetics behind specific Spanish words. Some dictionaries can also include a special section on verb conjugation, useful when you need to transition from one verb tense to another.
4. Additional resources
When reference books make note to other great resources to further your learning Spanish, it amplifies your learning in numerous ways. Many books can present literature sources, which are great ways to see how stories have influenced Hispanic literature. It can also lead to other sources of how Spanish is used in other places like Spain, Central America, or Latin America.
5. Literature insights
Books are not the only way to learn about Spanish literature. Much of the Hispanic works are seen in magazines, short stories, and newspapers. Great contemporary and classic authors wrote for popular literary companies. And many of them described the political and social environment of the time.
Whether it is a paperback, hardcover, or electronic version of a book, it needs to explain Spanish grammar with simple concepts, plenty of exercises, vocabulary, and phonetics. But this is a basic structure to learning Spanish. Literature and more sources also emphasize the understanding of the Spanish language.
In learning Spanish grammar, have you noticed the different signs in Spanish such as questions marks, (¿?) and exclamation marks, (¡!), which appear at the beginning and end of questions or exclamations. These are used to either ask a question or express a concern.
How are question and exclamation marks used in Spanish grammar?
Let’s see how we use them:
Can you please pass the salt? ¿Me puedes pasar la sal por favor?
Where is the bathroom please? ¿Dónde está el baño por favor?
Would you like another book? ¿Quieres otro libro?
Would you like more color paper? ¿Quieres más papel de color?
Oh, this is so beautiful! ¡Oh, esto es tan bonito!
Happy Birthday! ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!
In all these phrases, notice the difference in context. In Spanish, you’ll see nouns are preceded by the following articles: the, a, an.
Also, notice the ‘can you’ is translated as ‘me puedes’ or ‘would you like’ is translated to ‘quieres’. These are ways to express wants and needs in Spanish. So next time you need to ask a question or request an item, you can use imperative verbs like ‘quieres’ or ‘puedes’.
How are gender and nouns related to learning Spanish grammar?
One of the basic grammar rules in Spanish is the usage of gender with nouns. Certain nouns are considered feminine and masculine. Most of the time, nouns are part of the sentence, which can give a clue of the gender. Articles are the specific part that can tell you whether a noun is feminine or masculine.
Feminine articles: la las (definite) una unas (indifinite)
Masculine articles: el los (definite) un unos (indefinite)
Examples when learning Spanish grammar of gender:
el vaso (the glass)
el sombrero (the hat)
los escritorios (the desks)
la casa (the house)
la silla (the chair)
las niñas (the girls)
un libro (a book)
unos platos (some plates)
una mesa (a table)
unas cucharas (some spoons)
In general, nouns that end in -o, -e require -el and nouns that end in -a require -la. But this may not always be the case.
Notice the gender is dependent on the nouns. But in some cases, the neutral form –lo needs to be use, when the noun in neither feminine or masculine.
Beginners in Spanish can find many differences compared to English grammar. One important difference is the use of gender with nouns, and use of double question and exclamation marks.