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Archive for May, 2015

by CaptainCode

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May 15th, 2015

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Learning a foreign language is exciting! Soon enough, every learner understands that not everything can be translated directly and there can be double meanings, so language learners need to understand the difference in meanings of seemingly similar words.

Ser and estar (the pair of verbs that both mean ‘to be’ in Spanish) are not the only example. Do you know verbs saber and conocer? They fall into the same category and both verbs mean “to know.” Yet, they are different in a way that does not exist in English.

Saber is used in the context of knowing information, ideas or how to do something.
Conocer is used in the context of knowing a person or a place, or to be familiar with something (software, for example).

For example:

e.g., “Yo sé como cocinar.” I know how to cook.
e.g., “¿Conoces bien la ciudad?” Do you know the city well?

A few more examples:
¿Sabes tú leer música? – Do you know how to read music?
Yo sé escribir en español. – I know how to write in Spanish.
Ellos saben jugar a las cartas. – They know how to play cards.
¡No sé! – I don’t know!
Ellos conocen el sitio donde van a tener el concierto. – They know the site where they’re going to have the concert.
Conozco este modelo, como casi lo compré anteriormente. – I know this model, as I almost bought it previously.
No conozco al abuelo de Estefanía. – I don’t know Stephanie’s grandfather.

Want to learn Spanish verbs? Check out our courses:
Introductory Spanish Verbs
Advanced Spanish Verbs

by CaptainCode

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May 12th, 2015

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Have you recently started learning Spanish and already feel stuck? Our team at Visual Link Spanish has compiled these tips to help you learn Spanish easier. Keep these in mind and let us know if you have any questions.

  1. Read out loud ALL THE TIME. Reading out loud gives you all of the benefits of reading, plus you’ll get really good pronunciation practice. In fact, as a beginner, you should read aloud as much as possible. You may not feel it right away, but all those hours of reading out loud to yourself will help you speak Spanish more fluently.
  2. Find a partner. There are hundreds of communities connecting native speakers with each other! Browse the Internet and try to find a native speaker who can be your conversation partner and language tutor. And you can be the same for them, helping this person learn your native language (and it doesn’t have to be English).
  3. Patience is key. When learning a foreign language, do not expect to be making the same steady progress day after day – or week after week. In fact, progress in learning a foreign language rarely follows a straight line. You will experience struggle, setbacks and frustration because of the lack of progress – and that’s absolutely normal. Hitting plateaus is normal, so don’t let this experience discourage you. Just keep learning and never give up.
  4. Post-it is your friend. Expanding your Spanish vocabulary is easy: all you need is a dictionary and a pack of post-it or anything to make labels. Simply label all things around your house. For example: la pared (wall), la puerta (door), el escritorio (desk) etc. Don’t remove the labels until you have mastered the vocabulary to perfection, including spelling.
  5. Get used to flashcards – again. Haven’t used flashcards for years? It’s time to bring them back! This old school strategy still works. Make cards that are small enough to easily carry with you, and write the English on one side and Spanish on the other. Be sure to ALWAYS have some cards with you. This way, you study anytime, anywhere, be it during your daily commute or while waiting in line at a grocery store.
  6. Talk to yourself -no, this isn’t crazy and there is science behind this approach. When learning a foreign language, most people tend to develop their listening skills more rapidly than their speaking skills. This is why so many language learners may be able to understand a foreign language a lot better than actually speak it. To counter this problem, you can speak to yourself in Spanish as much as possible. Since you will be alone with no one else around, you won’t feel shy to try and speak your heart out in Spanish.
  7. Consistency matters. If you are serious about learning Spanish, you should be consistent in your efforts and consistently set aside the time you will spend learning. More often than not, it’s not about the amount of time you spend but about consistency. Spending 15-20 minutes learning Spanish every day is better than doing a few hours sporadically.
  8. Practice makes perfect. To learn to speak the language, you need to SPEAK. There are no grammar classes to substitute the importance of actually going out there and speaking. Practice with native speakers and other language learners, and you will be amazed how these conversations will improve your progress.
  9. Listen… and listen. There is such a thing as an “ear” for Spanish – or any other foreign language for that matter. The more you listen to the language and try to participate in conversations, the easier it gets to understand them. An easy was to develop a “good ear” for Spanish is by listening to Spanish music, watching Spanish movies, or watching Spanish TV.
  10. Remember: you won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. Don’t expect to be perfect! Learning takes time, so when learning a new language, expect that you will make mistakes, and don’t be embarrassed by them!

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