Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In the Now

Want to increase your vocabulary? Read more native material.  The articles in your text books are contrived out of vocabulary you pretty much already know; however, authentic material will have varied conjugations and vocabulary. You'll be surprised how quickly you can pick up what the words mean simply out of context.

Here are a few informative and light hearted articles from the last week.

La "app" Instagram anuncia su llegada a la web, ya no solo es para móviles -Instagram is making its way from just a mobile app to the online sphere by opening a site that can be accessed on personal computers and laptops.  This is a good article to pick up some Spanish technology terminology.

Los Huracanes del Norte If your interest way of connecting to Spanish is through music, the famous Mexican band "Los Huracanes del Norte" (The Hurricanes of the North) have released a new CD.  This is a fairly popular band and apparently they've picked up some new styles to add to their old school flair. This is a good piece to pick up a few colloquial music terms.

Sacerdote "pop" inaugura gigantesca iglesia en Brasil  This is an interesting article just barely touching on some of the friction between the Catholic and Pentecostal faiths in Sao Paulo. It involves a pop star, a big church, and buckets of holy water.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spanish Present Tense Verbs

A correctly worded Spanish sentence has verb that go through a process called conjugation. Conjugation is what helps the sentence have verbal agreement. This means that the verb, tense, and pronouns need to agree. The pronouns are pretty simple. They are basically
Yo- I
Él, Ella, Usted- He, She, or You (Formal)
Nosotros/Nosotras- We
Vosotros/Vosotras- You all (yah'll) (Informal) (Used mainly in Spain)
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes- They (masculine and feminine) and you all (formal)
All original verbs end in a vowel followed by the letter "r". The combination will either be -ar, -er, or -ir. Each of these are conjugated slightly different.

Common verbs
There are a few verbs that are very common and tend to stick by the standard pattern of conjugation. These are called "regular verbs." A few are:
Bailar- to dance
Cantar- to sing
Comer- to eat
Correr- to run
Escribir- to write
Vivir- to live
When conjugating regular verbs you simply drop the "ar", "er", or "ir" and then attach the correct ending that agrees with the prounoun.

-Ar verbs

A regular Spanish present tense -Ar verb will be conjugated in a simple pattern. We will use the verb "hablar" as an example.
Yo hablo- I speak.
Tú hablas- You speak. (Informal)
Él habla- He speaks.
Ella habla- She speaks.
Usted habla. -You speak. (Formal)
Nosotros/Nosotras hablamos. -We (feminine or masculine) speak.
Vosotros/Vosotras habláis- Yah'll speak. (Informal)
Ellos/Ellas hablan. -They speak.
Ustedes hablan. -You speak. (Formal)
-Er verbsWe will use the verb comer (to eat) as an example of -er present tense verbs.
Yo como. -I eat.
Tú comes. -You eat. (Informal)
Él come. -He eats.
Ella come. -She eats.
Usted come. -You eat. (Formal)
Nosotros/Nosotras comemos. -We eat.
Vosotros/Vosotras coméis. -Yah'll eat.
Ellos/Ellas comen. -They eat.
Ustedes comen. -You all eat. (Formal)

-Ir verbsVivir (to live) is a good example of a regular Spanish verb ending in -ir.
Yo vivo. -I live.
Tú vives. -You live. (informal)
Él vive. -He lives.
Ella vive. -She lives.
Usted vive. -You live. (formal)
Nosotros/Nosotras vivimos. -We live.
Vosotros/Vosotras vivís. -Yah'll live.
Ellos/Ellas viven. -They live.
Ustedes viven. -You all live.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Investing in Your Education

Since language is all about the communication between people, I'm a firm believer that you do not need to spend a lot of money to learn a new language. You just need to get out there and talk to people; however there are a few things worth spending money on, such as, a good dictionary and verb conjugation manual.

Although you can find a lot of very useful tools for free online, like online dictionaries, there's nothing that beats your very own hard copy dictionary. This is especially true, if you're a kinetic or physical learner. The hands-on approach helps to reinforce what you are visually learning, and it allows for you to make personal notes about things that are important to you.

Also, no matter how important the cultural aspect is in language learning, the base of all languages are vocabulary and grammar.  If you want to be an effective communicator, then you need to make sure that you are saying what you think you're saying, and since Spanish relies so heavily on conjugation, making sure you have at least a few verb tenses down pat are extremely important.

You can never go wrong with the classics, many schools rely on the Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary for Students, Second Edition, and for good reason. It's accurate, easily available, and easily understood. It's always on my bookshelf.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Know Your Limits

One of the hardest things for some students to grasp is exactly how much they don't know about a language.  Therefore many people unwittingly put themselves into an incorrect level of learning. Challenging yourself is always a good thing, however if you believe yourself to be more fluent in your language than you actually are, then you run the risk of burning yourself out with all the difficulty.

One of the quickest ways to help solve this problem is to take one of the many free online tests that help to place your level. BBC has a very usefull test as well. It is good idea to keep in mind that these sites are slightly biased, and may try and lead you to either use their products or buy their services.

You can also find simple tests like this in just about any language learning book that you could find at your local library.