Do what you do, but in Spanish!
The title pretty much says it all, and it may be obvious, but some people don’t think about these things. Many of the students I work with in the library lack practice partners and perceive this as a barricade to learning . Pittsburgh has a growing but very small Latino population. Even without native speakers you can learn and progress or maintain your Spanish. Just do what you usually do, but do it in Spanish (for intermediate learners)!
Reading is a great way to do this. I’ve always loved reading the news, but if I switch to reading the news in Spanish, I’m killing two birds with one stone. This may be laborious for the novice, who should probably read short articles with a dictionary handy. If you are not interested in the news there are Spanish websites about everything. Whether you like movies, gossip, sports, or business you can find reading material. (I’ll list some websites at the bottom of this post). Even children’s books are a great way to practice. Check to see if your local library has the Diario de Greg series (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) for some laughs!
Watching TV, like reading, builds language muscles. In my opinion watching tv may be even more valuable than reading. You can tune your ear to the language and become accustomed to different voices and accents. If you like soap operas you’ll love Spanish tv. If you don’t there are plenty of other options. Sabado Gigante is a variety show on Saturday nights that has segments ranging from singing contests, to comedy, and everything in between. Sports programming is something on almost all Spanish networks, so if you love sports you can learn some great sports vocabulary watching futbol or boxeo in Spanish. Often you can watch american programs in Spanish by going to the SAP option in your tv settings. Media isn’t the only way to practice, and you can actually practice with nothing but yourself and your own thoughts.
Thinking in Spanish is a great way to keep Spanish at the forefront of your mind. I know that noone is there to correct you and you very well may make errors, but that is okay. The benefit of keeping your vocabulary cycling through your thoughts is much more important than thinking perfectly correct grammar. Don’t commit to thinking in Spanish all of the time, that would be overwhelming! Just try to run through some things: Translating recent conversations you’ve had, recite what you’ll talk to your Spanish speaking friend at work about, even run through your imaginary grammy acceptance speech!
Our success in learning Spanish will be the direct result of our learning habits. For those of us who are past the beginner level, doing some of our regular activity in Spanish can help our Spanish progress or keep us from forgetting. Try out some of these approaches to see if any will fit your life! Feel free to share any Spanish websites you like to read!
Good Spanish Websites:
www.bbcmundo.com The BBC’s Spanish language site. Great coverage of Latin America and the world.
www.univision.com - Great news from Latin America and news relevant to Latinos in the United States, plus lots of great entertainment and music news.
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Portada Wipedia’s web portal, if you want to learn about something you might as well do it in Spanish.
http://latino.msn.com/ - msn’s spanish content