Spanish Help 101 for Beginning Spanish Students

So, you’ve decided to learn how to speak Spanish!  First off, congratulations!  It is a fantastic language with many speakers across the globe.  If you’re looking for some help as you begin this journey learning Spanish, read the advice below that’s especially for beginners:

Label Everything: When you begin learning any language, growing your vocabulary is one of the most important things to focus on.  With an immense number of words to learn in order to become mildly proficient, one of the best ways to speed up the process is to surround yourself in the language.  Use post-its to label your house and household items with Spanish vocabulary.  That way, every time you see your computer, you’ll see ordenador and every time you see your window you’ll see ventana.  Slowly but surely, after looking at each object a few times, it will start to sink in.

Learn to Pronounce Vowels: One of the difficulties in learning Spanish is learning the vowel sounds, which differ from English.  To avoid problems when reading new words, get your vowels down from the get go.  Learn the pronunciations, drill them and you’ll be ready for great pronunciation.  Luckily Spanish pronunciation is fairly straight forward, so once you learn how to pronounce each letter (especially those pesky vowels), you’re set for success.  Here’s a quick guide if you’re not sure how to pronounce vowels:

ah

e – eh

i – ee

o – oh

u – oo

Chart Your Verbs: For beginners, it’s important to get a handle on conjugating verbs for each person – in Spanish meaning:

yo (I) nosotros (we)
tu (you – informal) vosotros (plural you – informal)
el, ella, usted (he, she, you-formal) ellos, ellas, ustedes (them masculine, them feminine and plural you – formal)

Example in present tense Hablar (to speak)

yo – hablo nosotros – hablamos
tu – hablas vosotros – hablais
el, ella, usted – habla ellos, ellas, ustedes – hablan

Use this chart for charting all new verbs you are working with and learn the endings.  Then practice plugging in as much as possible.  You can check your conjugations easily on the Real Academia Española website in the dictionary section.  Type in a verb and choose option to conjugar and it will magically be laid out for you!  Drill as many of the basic verbs as you can and make sentences until you’ve got it down.

 Get Additional Practice

Whether or not you’re taking formal lessons or doing it on your own through programs such as Rosetta Stone, extra practice with a Spanish speaker is helpful to fast-track your success.  Find a friend, tutor or use online options such as skype for the occasional lesson.  This practice will give you a chance to learn what you’ve studied and practice speaking.  You can drill and write and practice reading as much as you want, but nothing will replace thinking on your feet and speaking practice.

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