Writing an essay in Spanish is a rite of passage for Spanish students reaching a certain level. Most students dread the thought of writing an essay in general, and when it’s in Spanish, well that just makes it all the worse. The good news is that writing essays in Spanish will only get easier with time. Once you’ve got one under your belt, the next one won’t be so bad. The other good news is that there are some concrete. Here are some tips:
Warm Up: Before you open up a word document and settle down to stare at a blank screen, get your Spanish brain moving. I know, you think you don’t even have a Spanish brain, but you do! You have to pull it out. Listen to a bit of music in Spanish or watch your favorite telenovela. Once you hear some Spanish, your brain will kick into gear and come up with the phrases you need to write more easily. Then do some reading or research related to your essay to get some more academic language bouncing around in your head. Now it’s almost go time!
Make an outline: If you haven’t made a habit of organizing your thoughts for essays in the past, it’s time to give it a try. Writing in your native language is challenging enough and requires some planning so that your writing is well-structured and makes sense. Writing in a second language is even more challenging, so help yourself out and make a well-structured and detailed outline. This will give you direction while you’re writing. With your outline in hand, expand upon each point as much as possible.
Try to write in Spanish…don’t translate! This is probably the most challenging tip. For those truly looking to learn the Spanish language, it’s important to take the plunge and make the effort to write in Spanish from the start. It takes some practice, but once you start thinking in Spanish, your writing will sound more natural. When translating, although you’re still practicing Spanish, you’re losing out on the most advanced stage of language-learning: production. Practicing this ability is the best way to improve. Make sure you write your outline in Spanish as well. Your outline is your guide and using Spanish will help ensure your thoughts initiate in Spanish as well.
Keep wordreference.com and rae.es open: Inevitably you’ll run into words and conjugations that you can’t remember. Two excellent websites to help you with translations, definitions and conjugations are Wordreference and RAE. Wordreference is most useful for translations and even includes a forum for phrases and idiomatic expressions not usually found in just any dictionary. RAE is the Royal Academia Española’s official website. Here there is a dictionary, only Spanish to Spanish obviously. For your purposes as a Spanish learner, a comprehensive conjugation of each verb is included by searching for the verb in the dictionary, and then clicking on the blue “conjugar” option.
And, of course, if after finish your writing you would like to have your Spanish essay proofreaded drop me a message!