One of the keys to mastering Spanish is to learn new vocabulary. Many people find this difficult as busy lifestyles don’t allow you to spend as much time as you may like on learning new Spanish words. Many people do not have a great memory and struggle to remember even the most basic words. As a Spanish tutor, over the past nine years I have been creating new and inspiring ways to help learners memorise new words, which are described in this article.
* Make your own flashcards/cue cards. Write the English word or phrase on one side and the Spanish on the other. Alternate between looking at the Spanish word and saying the English equivalent and vice versa. Similarly, draw a picture on one side and have the Spanish word for it on the other side.
* A picture dictionary is an invaluable tool to learn vocabulary amazingly fast. Contact Viva Language Services to receive a Powerpoint Picture Dictionary – see the picture and say the Spanish word before it appears on-screen. Challenge yourself each time to remember more words and faster.
* Drawing and labelling your own funny pictures that will stick in your mind easily is a super-effective way to memorise words. Think of an English word that sounds like a Spanish word and create a funny mental picture to link them.
* Group flashcards or vocabulary lists into themes; food, colours, clothes, parts of the body etc. This breaks down your learning into manageable steps. Learning words related to food will help you in a restaurant or market, learning the parts of the body will help you at the doctor’s and colours/clothes will help you when shopping.
* Try to put words into context to help you visualise the word and its meaning. When learning vocabulary related to the rooms in the house or furniture, stick post-it notes around the house (provided this doesn’t annoy anyone!). Every day you will see the Spanish word with the corresponding item, e.g. mirror, washing machine, door, kitchen etc.
When you go food shopping, as you place items into your trolley, think of the Spanish word for it. Items that you don’t know or remember, make a note of when you get home.
* A highly effective technique is to record yourself reciting words in Spanish/English and transfer to CD/mp3/iPod to listen to when falling asleep, doing the ironing or driving to work. You may not realise it, but subconsciously you are absorbing the words which accelerates your learning. Download mp3 tracks of phrases for everyday situations from the VLS Downloads page.
* Test yourself: study the Spanish/English words, then write out just the English words. Write down the Spanish equivalent next to them. Highlight the words you didn’t remember or you got wrong and concentrate on learning those ones. Soon you will have learned the complete list.
* Make use of free online interactive exercises.
• www.quia.com features interactive flashcards, matching games, concentration and word searches.
• Watch video clips with transcripts on the BBC languages website of native speakers ordering tapas, finding their way around a town etc. http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/
• Hear words pronounced by native speakers: www.wordreference.com or http://imtranslator.net/translation/
Contact Viva Language Services for effective learning resources and tips, such as Powerpoint Picture Dictionary featuring over 800 everyday words, key phrase cue cards or mp3 tracks for everyday situations.